A Pleasant Alteration

Phase Eight Ninette after straps adjustmentMy client, a first-year student, was shopping for an outfit to wear at a wedding and spotted this beautiful, expensive dress in Phase Eight.  She waited until it was in the sales then bought it for a fraction of the original price.

That’s the kind of thing I like to do.

Except that when I play chicken with the shops, my coveted item sells out, thereby becoming ‘the one that got away’ I spend years afterwards searching for on Ebay and in charity shops, just in case….  🙄

I suspect the reason why Phase Eight didn’t sell out of this number is that the straps are too long.  This size 8 had an excess of 5cm (2inches) that I took out.

Normally I baulk at alterations (there are some horrid ‘prom dresses’ in suburbia), but I loved this dress at first sight.  The colours remind of me of staining you get picking and eating cherries!  The skirt conceals a tulle underskirt between two layers of white lining: the outer lining stops the netting catching on the dress fabric and the inner lining makes the underskirt more comfortable against the skin.  The fabric is polyester: stiff but not organza.  The bodice is interfaced with a soft backing which prevent it from being too sheer and it is also lined.

This is the wrong side of the strap, before the alteration.  Observe how ‘helpfully’ the white bodice lining is a few mm narrower than the bodice.1 Before

I felt I knew what to do – though that did not stop my hands trembling when I unpicked the stitches!

1 Opened up

Step 1 – opening up. It’s important not to be afraid of removing enough stitches to make room for sewing of the shoulder seams. P.S. Notice the white interfacing on the fashion fabric.

1 right sides together, stitch straps

Step 2 – press right sides together, pin and stitch bodice 2.5cm away from original stitching line. Trim and press open.

1 Right sides together, stitch lining straps

Step 3 – the fiddly bit. RIght sides together, sew the lining straps 2.7cm in from original stitching. (Ok, so I did sew 2.5cm the first time, but as it lies in the inner curve, the lining ended up longer than the bodice and had to be redone).

1 slipstitch lining to fashion fabric

Step 4 – press opened seam allowances to the inside, pin and slipstitch together.

1 After

Inside of adjusted strap

1 after, right side

The right side

Does my method look right?  Would you have improvements to suggest?  I charged £15 for about 90 minutes work (opinion welcome…)  It’s one of those tasks that would take a third of the time once you’ve done it so often that you’re more confident.

I really enjoyed this job.  It came at the end of a week which began nastily on Monday.  On Monday, I spent hours sewing double layers of crinkly chiffon for a client who wanted them turned into two gift shop scarves.  It worked out a fraction of the minimum wage.  I might write about that some day 🙄  🙂

But whilst on the subject of lovely RTW dresses and summer, here are a couple of links:

Almost Famous, one of my favourite shops (though I tend to look rather than buy) is also having a sale.

Fancy picking cherries and blackberries?  It’s time to make Summer Pudding!1 summer pud

A Quick Alteration

My mother asked if I could shorten her Liberty Lawn dress to make it less swamping.  The original (top left) was nearly floor length.  The fabric is fresh and the colours very much classic but the voluminous, dropped waist style….  With shoulder pads??  I didn’t dare whisper the embarrassing question: “Mum, is it from the eighties?!”  😯

We agreed to slice off 20cm which would have been a 15 minute job had I just taken them off the hem.  But that would have made the dress unbalanced, with a long waist and a relatively boxy skirt.  Instead, I took 10cm off the bodice and 10cm from the hem, a more time consuming job which involved:

1. Basting the skirt pleats in place

2. Unpicking the bottom of the zip from the centre back bodice

3. Separating the bodice from the skirt, trimming off 10cm from the bodice, creating a centre back seam in the skirt and re-attaching the zip to run into the skirt

4. Shortening and hemming the skirt

I’m not sure if the alteration (top right) is a particularly flattering improvement as I haven’t yet seen the dress on, but I hope that it gets a few outings over this summer, something this dress hasn’t had in a while.

The job took 2.5 hours.  Ok, so I did stop off for at least one dreamy tea break during which I wondered how much I’d charge for this kind of job had it been for a client rather than mum.  “Twenty quid?  For shortening a dress?  I can get a new dress for that,” I imagine the indignation. 

When I came back from the kitchen, I found this:

And this: