Confession: I really don’t like doing alterations.  I feel the same way about swimming laps in the pool–glad to be done.   So, when Emily blew into Fairfax Father’s Day weekend with this bridesmaid dress in tow, I had my work cut out for me.  Actually, it wasn’t so bad.  Only the bodice needed alterations.  Emily’s convinced the bridal shop had her order a size eight instead of her usual six on purpose.  (Perhaps she’s really just prejudiced against the establishment because it has the word “shoppe” in its name. Like her mother, Emily dislikes that sort of thing on principle.)  To be fair, I think they suggested size 8 because she is tall and rather long-waisted.   Probably the smaller size wouldn’t have been long enough in the bodice.

Here’s the dress:

bodice view
 Luckily, the dress has a back zipper, not a side zipper, which means I could easily take in the side seams .  Unluckily, being strapless, it also has boning.  About halfway through the job, it looked like this:
boning, ready for re-insertion
wrong side view of lining, before I trimmed the side seam allowances and re-sewed the boning

While Emily had the dress on, I dutifully marked the seams with my trusty tailor’s chalk, measured the new seam allowances to ensure uniformity, and stitched up the wretched thing.   In case you’re wondering, I measured 3/4 inch at the top of the bodice, tapering to 3/8 inch at the waist.  Of course, no one’s perfect–including me, so I left the bodice-to-skirt seam open, as well as the side panel seams.  Good thing, too, because at the second fitting, the dress was too tight!

Sewing strapless garments can be a real challenge: the seams MUST be perfect–especially at the top.  There’s no room for error.   As a precaution, I measured to be sure the left and right sides matched precisely.  At the side seam, the bodice length is 8 1/2 inches.

Unfortunately, taking in 5/8 inch on each side (my new measurement, after Emily couldn’t zip the dress!) means that the inner seams must now be carefully trimmed.  I’ve learned to take my time during this step, patiently matching the outer fabric to the lining, and carefully trimming the seam allowances, if needed.   As you can see, I didn’t have to trim much here at the top–only at the lining.

inside seam

In a couple of weeks, I’ll take the dress back to Bryn Mawr and see how it fits.   I’ve replaced the boning now, closed the bodice back up, and redone the understitching at the top of the lining.  Next, I’m going to hem the dress–both skirt and lining of course–all on the machine, using an automatic blind-hem stitch and monofilament thread.  Fast and easy!

Although my mom might judge this green to be un poco fuerte, it’s actually very becoming.   Emily will look great.  What’s the next challenge?  The bride has yet to decide on shoes!


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