This episode’s inspiration comes from a very last minute set of bridal alterations that Mallory, with Zede’s guidance and support completed in September 2018.
The dress being altered was sold to a bride who needed over a foot of length removed and didn’t have the time or means to do it herself. This and a number of other questionable things they’ve seen recently have left Mal and Zede asking, “What is going on in the dress selling world?”
Normally hems are no big deal but bridal hems can come with extra considerations and challenges. The dress Mal altered had beaded lace appliqués all over the bottom skirt and covering the hem area of course. Mallory did learn some things, like how the beads were attached through all layers of the dress not just on the appliqués. Zede says she would have beaded the appliqués first and then applied them to the dress since most dresses need to be hemmed (they are made longer to accommodate a wide range of heights). Mallory noted how from a manufacturing perspective it makes sense that the beads were put on last; manufacturers won’t have to sew around them or hem them.
What was Mallory’s process in altering this dress?
- She put the dress on the bride. The dress is a boned corseted top with lace on the back.
- Corseted dresses are supposed to be held up at the waist, for more information on how to fit a corseted top check out this past podcast episode
- Mallory used every tip from the fancy month zine on this dress and encourages any one making or altering a formal gown or fancy wear to take a peek because the zine is brimming with knowledge and helpful tips and tricks.
- Mallory marked the dress hem but when returning to the dress noticed the satin dress under the sheer overlay was getting hung up and bubbling up.
- Zede and Mal discovered the dress lining (under the satin part of the dress) is only attached to the dress at the neckline and hemline, thus the hanging straps attached to the sides of the dress are pulling the lining up.
- They unpinned and kept the hem landmarks; at this point they also noticed the satin part of the dress was misshapen as well. Zede believes the dress needed more support straps while hanging and that is the reason for the lining riding up and the satin hem being out of sorts.
- Before cutting they looked at their landmark pins and took notice of the appliqués placement.
- Mallory cut the hem and they either had removed the whole appliqué or trimmed around it. If the appliqué was right above or just touching the cutting line they left the appliqué on the dress and cut under it.
Before cutting the hem Mallory had to decide where she would shorten the dress -at the waist or the hem. Zede explains this decision depends on the dress. Does the dress have a train, is it a full skirt, is the waist clearly delineated, etc…? Mallory made the decision to take the dress up at the hem because the sheer overlay was one piece with no waist delineation.
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Mallory and Zede list and explain how they mark the hem on a bride’s dress.
- Make sure the person you are fitting and marking alterations for is wearing the same shoes (or shoes the exact same height) and undergarments they will have on the day of the event.
- Zede says less undergarments (aka no bra) are best for strapless corseted tops because there is less you have to worry about – less shifting.
- Will the dress require a petticoat or crinoline? These things can shorten the length of the dress.
- Where do you want the hem? For a floor length dress Zede likes to hem them so the dress is just off the floor and when the bride walks you see the very tip of their shoes peek out.
- Consider safety! When the bride asks for a long pooling dress just like on the red carpet or in the bridal magazine you don’t do it. This is a tripping hazard and does not work to move in.
- Mallory made the sheer overlay slightly longer than the satin dress. Zede said that was correct and that you usually want your overlay longer than the dress.
- Make sure the person can walk. Zede says avoid a toe catcher hem, don’t hem the dress to a length where the tip of the shoe catches the front of the dress hem.
If you fold up the hem 2″-2.5″ and blind hem it like dresses were done in the 60’s and 70’s, Zede assures everyone that people will think you don’t know what you are doing. The modern look and trend is to cut the hem where the dress will hang. Zede says to leave 1/4″ to 1/2″ more than where the dress is going to fall when the person is walking. Apply a tiny hem or rolled hem and make sure the bridesmaids’ hems are shorter than the brides (if the bridesmaids’ dresses are long as well). It is ok for their shoes to show. Safety is always a concern so make sure they can safely walk in them.
We have a tiny hem blogpost that includes a great video with 4 ways to accomplish the tiny hem. The tiny hem technique is easier than you think and doesn’t require a serger. Check out how to make a tiny hem here.
On the above mentioned dress that Mallory altered she found the June 2018 edition of Sew Long and Sew Happy Zine especially helpful because not only was it full of information on making your own wedding gown but also with tips and tricks for altering ready to wear garments – like she was doing. Mallory added a long hanging ribbon strap from the center waist on the inside of the dress. This strap was long enough to go around the hanger neck. She also tacked the lining to the satin dress to prevent it from riding up. She made hand crochet support guides for the hanging straps too. These additions are all throughly explained and photographed in the zine.
That same month (June 2018) Zede showed the ZigZag Members her technique for applying stitches to the bust line on a strapless dress live in the SelfSewn Facebook Group. These stitches allow the chest area of the dress to cup over the bust better and avoid gapping. Of course Mallory used this technique too, and with great success. This technique is great because it doesn’t change the dresses’ design, just the fit. To get access to exclusive content like this live Facebook Video Zede did become a SewHere Member.
- Sam is remastering old podcast episodes starting with episode #1 Thread with Your Presser Foot Up!
- Everything is a performance for Mal and Zede. Speaking of, Mallory is auditioning for Sweeney Todd (September 2018).
- Zede solves a zipper malfunction and Zelda learns to sew a button on fabric.