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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bustling a wedding dress

This has been wedding dress weekend. I was intending to do some sewing for myself before I head off at the end of the week for my jaunt in London to see Nat, but one of my daughter's friends has had a dress emergency. She is getting married next weekend and her dress, ordered and paid for 5 months ago at this city's biggest bridal shop, just came in. Seems the partners have been having issues with accounts and the dresses were held back and only recently shipped. Apparently this shop also has a policy to tell brides to order larger because it is easier to take in then let out, so this girl, who is a 4 if she is anything, has come home with a size 10 dress from a store that told her "sorry we can't do any alterations, no time." 

Statements like this are prompts for my daughter to say "don't worry my mom can do it." Of course I love this bride, she actually lived with me for a while. In second year of university when Katrina decided to move downtown to live with friends for a while, this girl, present bride, just moved in to her room to live with me. Typical- kid moves out, friend moves in.

So back to the dress. I took in the back seam, added a few small darts at the top right under the arm (it's a one shoulder dress and the left shoulder is fine, but the right and strapless side sort of drooped) and then had to add something so she could bustle the back for the dance.

I have limited, as in none, bustle experience but thank goodness for the internet and the ideas it shares. There are two ways to bustle, up and under, which means hooks on the inside - the easy way - and the up and over which means visually acceptable fasteners on the outside of the dress - of course the way the girls wanted me to do this.

I am posting pictures of my solution. They are:

1. I opened the center back seam along the train at the point where I needed a hook to pick up the skirt and fasten it to the back bodice, about an inch. I back stitched either side of this opening so it was secure and wouldn't tear.
2. I made a silk loop and covered a button. Due to the magic of fabric stashing I had a perfect match in a box in the basement.
3. I sewed the loop on the inside to each seam allowance on either side of the opening in the seam.
4. I stitched the covered button at the bottom of the bodice on the center back seam.

When worn you can't see the opening or the loop. When it is time to bustle the train one of the attendants has to reach into the opening in the seam, pull out the loop and attach it to the button. The train is really quite light, so I am not sure if I will need to add further loops in other seams or not. The girls are coming for a fitting this afternoon and I will find out then.


Anonymous said...

How did the bustling work? I loved your idea for how to do it. Question. You sound like a sewing guru, who has experience with wedding dresses. I just got a dress from a mother-in-law to be. Her future daughter-in-law is coming over tomorrow night so that I can measure her. There is one problem. I have seen a recent picture of the bride, and the size dress that she purchased is NOT going to work. What I am trying to say is that she would need approx. 3 inches on each side, under the arm! The dress came with 4 inches of extra material on each side, but I think it's going to look terrible, especially with the beads and pearls. I can't just tell this girl that she is too large for the dress, I was thinking about taking out the top of the zipper, adding a shear backing with embroidered rhinestones and ribbons for a bustle. Your thoughts? The dress has sheer material straps with rhinestones, etc. So, I was thinking that is my best chance.

Barbara said...

Hi there thanks for the comment.
Really hard to say without seeing the dress (can you send me pictures?) but the standard alteration would be to the side seams - that's why the seam allowances are so large, and in fact might be the easiest alteration. You will have to remove the beads etc., let it out and then re-bead, probably adding more to cover the stitching lines. Brides these days like their gowns super tight so don't be surprised if she is happy and you think it is too tight. A shop would just let out the side seams and they often sell dresses many sizes too big or small and alter.

Your idea of adding to the back is interesting and I would almost have to see the dress to see if it would work, or in fact it might be too much work. Good luck and let me know how this goes. Bridal work is stressful