First Work Done!

I took out my first seams tonight! The bodice had been taken in along the side seams and front darts, so I took out the alterations and it gave me over two full inches of extra room in the bodice! The waist itself is still a little tight (I’m going to try to hit the gym to resolve that), but now I can be zipped into the dress with relative ease.

One challenge is whether or not the creases from the old seams will go away or not. I’m going to hope and pray they do, but if not I suppose I’ll just sew up the seams again and put in some new pieces.


In other news, I removed the first piece of lace from the dress! This is the sort of lace that I’ll end up having to re-net. There seems to be miles of it!



Alteration Game Plan

Below is a quick sketch I threw together of how I think I want the dress to end up looking. I have an unfortunate tendency to ignore hips and waists in my sketches, so bear with the optimism — I’m not that thin.


The main changes to the front are removing all of the ruffles and changing out the front panel since it’s made of lining fabric and will probably tear. The lining is also shiner and a looser weave than the rest of the skirt fabric, so even if it did hold up it would still look out of place. One of my biggest challenges is going to be finding a matching fabric for the new front panel.

I’ll be using the fabric from the front ruffles to change the structure of the bodice. Right now I’m leaning towards princess seams, though I don’t know exactly how I feel about that since I’ve never really liked the look of exposed princess seams on a wedding dress — I think they bring the overall formality down quite a bit (and scream 90’s).

Whether or not I do the princess seams I will have to somehow make the bodice bigger. I’m toying with the idea of a corset insert, though that would really take away from the vintage feel of the back and would make me get rid of the buttons, which would be a huge shame.

I’ll also be using the ruffle fabric to drop the waist about three or four inches just so I don’t look so short waisted. I’ll be making a beaded belt to cover the seam where I lengthen the bodice since it miraculously hits me at my natural waistline. Ignore the weird sketch there — I was trying to recreate the chantilly lace pattern and obviously I failed.

Finally I’ll be changing the neckline from a scoop to a V/sweetheart. I’ll leave the lace overlay because I’m so incredibly in love with it, but I may attempt to either drop it down a bit or make the neck wider.

Next to the corset vs button closure my biggest indecision right now is what I should do with the sleeves. I’ve never thought I’d have a long-sleeved gown, but the detail on the sleeves is so incredible (especially how the white fabric cuts away at the shoulder and upper arm) that it would be a huge shame to take them off. If I did end up getting rid of them I know I’d have to make them into some type of a jacket so I could still wear them. Since the wedding is in February though I have every reason to leave them on. So decisions, decisions.

The Damage

Below are a few pictures of the damage I’ll be dealing with as I remake the dress — just to give you an idea of what I’ve got to tackle.


50 year old stains on the hemline and train




Damaged lace that will need to be re-netted (my first project)




Tear in the rotten lining fabric of the train





More stains, loose beading, and some lace detail

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More torn lace on the sleeve that will need to be repaired



One of the more serious stains in the train



On a lighter note though, look at that lace! I can’t believe how intricate it is.


The main problems with the dress are:


1. Rotten lining

2. Weak/rotten/damaged lace

3. The bodice is too small

4. Stained hem and train

5. Intense wrinkles

6. Yellowing and overall fabric weakness

Starting Point

I figured the best place to start would be by posting the dress itself — both the initial pictures that made me fall in love with it as well as the pictures when I tried it on the first time.

On the original photos I’ve obviously adjusted some of the contrast so the detailing is a bit more obvious. The last picture of the train is the one that really made me come back to the dress over and over again. Honestly I don’t like the ruffles on the front of the skirt, but I can’t get over how incredible the train is.






I wasn’t expecting the dress to be so small when I went to try it on, so it was admittedly a bit startling that it was so tight. You can see from the first picture that it was pretty much skin tight on me. After wearing it for about ten minutes I had to make my friends take it off of me so I could breathe.



As I’ve already said, it was the back of the dress that totally sold me. Check out that train!




One of the most incredible things about this dress is how huge the skirt is. What you see in the pictures of me wearing the dress is solely the dress itself — nothing else holding the skirt out at all. I love how much volume it has, but boy is it heavy! One of the challenges is going to be figuring out how to reinforce the skirt so that it doesn’t tear as I walk just from the sheer weight.