Thursday, 23 July 2015

Corset back

Whew.  I had a client job to do for a bridesmaid dress that was too small.  I've been following Mrs.Mole's blog for about a year now, and all I could think of was "this is not your dress".

As seems to be the trend, the dresses were ordered online from China.  Measurements were sent in, ignored, and dresses were sent out.  3 ladies had dresses that fit well enough, but this one ended up with the dress that was 6" too small.  Sigh.

I didn't take a photo of the dress itself, but it was similar to this one

photo from

photo from
At first, I was surprised at how well structured the dress was.  It had boning galore inside and no visible stitching on the bodice.  Then I noticed that the straps were topstitched in the back.  Ah, it was a strapless dress that had straps added to it, that explains all the boning.  The straps were sewn in the front at the wrong spot, making the bodice gape at the underarms. Ick.

I started by shortening the straps, fixing the gape, and making a corset back.  At the first try on, however, the back was now 9" too small and looked so awkward.  So I sent my client away and took it apart.  I took out the darts I had sewn in and did a better corset back.  This one was longer, spaced out a bit more, and the modesty panel was made wider.  On her return it fit much better.

Lesson learned: You can't fix everything on a completed garment.  Fix what you can to make it wearable first, then see if the other problems can be addressed.

I took a couple photos of the corset loops in progress.  This was a bit of a panic for someone like me who usually avoids pinning if possible.

These are the first loops I did.  The ones that made it onto the dress were spaced at 1.5cm instead of this 1cm.  I didn't want to have her lacing up the back of the dress all day!  

I also made a bias tube about 4 m long for the lacing.  Sewing down the seam allowances on the joins and using the bobby pin method really made it pain-free.  I cut the strips 1.5" wide, and sewed them at a 1/4" loop.  Just the perfect size to get the bobby pin through without snagging.  The extra 1/2" of fabric inside the tube made it just a little bit sturdier when all done.  I advised my client to use a crochet hook or angled tweezers when lacing to save frustrations.

In the end, it all turned out well.  She will be able to breathe at the wedding and wear a dress that fits. (-ish.  The worst part of being a garment seamster is noticing how few people wear clothes that actually fit them.  And noticing how few people mind that their clothes don't fit right.)  She said that bridesmaid dresses and double sided tape go hand-in-hand.

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