|Elle's mother Mary in the dress 1980. Source: Wednesday Journal|
This project came to me via Linda. The public high school in Oak Park requires that graduating ladies wear long white dresses. The daughter of Linda's friend needed a family dress altered but Linda didn't have room in her schedule. I almost passed but then found a way to stretch my schedule and I'm so glad that I did. The dress was written up in a local paper with
|Dress as it came to me|
The dress had been worn by four women in the family so far: Elle's mother Mary, Mary's older sisters Nancy and Peggy, and Mary's oldest daughter Maranda. Now it was Elle's turn, but the dress just didn't fit - Elle is a small person, but bustier than her aunts/sister. Linda passed along some suggestions when she passed me her client and I took it from there!
First I carefully unpicked the side seams and took out the side seam zipper (this dress is now 35-years-old). Then I basted fabric scraps at the side seam so that I could see how much extra room was needed (when Elle first tried on the dress for me, she couldn't pull it down over her girls!).
I used the scraps to make a pattern piece for what needed to be added at the side seam:
|I balanced out the two sides before creating a pattern|
The dress has a tie that was just barely wide enough to use in the side seams, so I reduced the SA to 1/4", crossed my fingers and cut. Taking out the side seam stiches had left small but visible thread holes in the fabric. The holes bugged me now that the seam allowance was smaller, so I fused white knit tricot interfacing to the back side of the fabric, and voila! no more holes.
I sewed the new side seam panels in place, replaced the old zipper with an invisible zipper, added a button hole and button to the tie, reduced the seam allowances in the lining to 1/4" and we were ready for the day. Not an ideal alteration, but it worked!
I loved that I got to help extend the life of this dress. It was both exhilarating and terrifying to work with something that had so many memories attached to it. Elle's face made it so worthwhile!