April 27, 2013

PROM: Bodice Redo & "Yule Ball" Sleeves

Ready for prom?  Ohhhh yeeeaaaahhh...!

This dress was the 4th of this particular group I got to fix up and get ready for the big night!  Would you like to hear it's story?

Here was my client's inspiration.  Hermione's dress at the Yule Ball - sleeves in particular.    She liked the pieced bodice , too.  But the sleeves - oh my!  Very dramatic and breathtaking - this is what we are going for!

This dress has an amazing story actually...she found it at a thrift store.  It was the perfect length for this tall, lovely girl.  She knew it had great potential and she trusted me to bring it out.  It was a simple princess-lined bodice that just needed to fit properly.  And, the straps.  Just skinny, boring straps.  (But - the beading there is pretty).   She just wanted something with much more excitement and flare to suit her, and a little more coverage, too.

First, we needed to address the fit.  The bodice needed taken in a bit and the center front was not left out in this operation.  (Refer to the inspiration above).  

And that beading detail was not just a trim that was laid on, by the way.  It was all hand-stitched individually, so it could not just be removed as one piece of trim and re-laid.  It had a running stitch through all of it, so the beads could not just be cut out, they had to be cracked at the new seams, so they would lay flat.  (Sorry for the details, but you should know it was not as easy as it may look ;)
Now, I need to prepare you for the next picture.  I already explained how this dress needed sleeves.  I am going to add them underneath the straps and make them look like they were "born there".  But one needs matching fabric to do this!  So...

This dress had 3 layers to it!  One lining of course and 2 skirt layers!  2!  No, this is not unheard of, but, not that common.   It was probably to create more fullness and drape, or to act like a second "lining".  But most of these types of dresses have a lining and a skirt layer - that's it!  So she bought this dress with the thought that somehow that extra layer of fabric could be used for the sleeves - which is exactly what I did!

Here I am, cutting out the middle layer of the skirt.  (And holding my breath just a bit ;)  So the lining stays and the main skirt layer stays!  And you won't even be able to tell...

Ta-da!  Now I have fabric to work with! 

So I measured the straps, and determined how long the sleeve should be.  Then I made a pattern draft for a circular sleeve.  This will make that ruffly flowy shape we wanted. The inside circle of the sleeve will go along the length of the strap.  We can press later ;)  

Here she is at our first fitting.  One strap and one sleeve being fitted.  Do you recognize this beautiful girl?

A couple views of the work in progress - yes it photographed two different reds. The left is most accurate.

Do you love how it's laying so far?  Don't look at the wrinkles - those will steam out later ;)  I  shifted the sleeve angle slightly to raise it up in the front a bit more.  All pinned and ready to go.

So the shape of the pattern changed slightly.  I adjusted everything to be pretty again and mirrored the second sleeve.  Pressed.   Serged where it will attach under the strap.

I finished the sleeve edges with a perfect narrow rolled hem.  

Hem close up.  Don't be shy now.

Final fitting.  It is just what she wanted!  All fluttery and covers just right!

Back view.  I could faint, it's so pretty the way it hangs and flows down all ripply like that.  It's crazy how one piece can transform the dress's personality!

I think we nailed it, don't you?  How fun was this alteration?!

I link up to these parties. ~If you are interested in receiving updates and future posts from this blog, please sign up to "FOLLOW" on the top right of this page. Let's keep in touch!~


  1. Wow- how in the world do you do such perfect narrow rolled hems? I try and try with my rolled hem foot and seem to fail every time...that is super impressive work! Nice job- Shannon

    1. Oh, it was tricky for me too, but lots and lots and LOTS of practice to get it just right. Someone gave me a great tip a while back that the key is how is feeds in to the foot. It has to be fed at just the right curve, the right roll. I use my right pointer finger to keep that fabric curved just right when it enters the feed. Just keep trying - good luck! Thank you for visiting and for your kind words!

  2. Wow! That looks beautiful. You'd never know those sleeves weren't originally part of the dress.

    1. Thank you - that was the goal! I appreciate your comment :)


Please feel free to leave a comment so I know you stopped by! I love to hear from you!