April 25, 2013

PROM: New Sleeves, a Hem & a Good Fit

A good prom dress is so worth it, right?

(Do you recognize him?  And her?  They were both in Singin' In The Rain, that I was so lucky to be costume director for a few months ago).

This is the group of four girls' dresses I was lucky enough to fix for prom this year.

She tried  it on for me and we forgot to take the very first picture of her very long train that came with it.  It was at least 6 inches too long in the front and 12 inches or so of a train.  So this is her "Before" picture, after all the length got cut off. 

She wanted to keep the original sleeves and add a little more width to them, for modesty and coverage.  There were two options for this: on the inside edge, or the outside under the lace.  (If you look closely, you can see that part of the lace sleeve has the dress fabric under it and the other part is just lace.)  The original sleeves are very loose if they stand up straight, they want to flop to the side.  We decided to work with that floppiness and add to the inside edge, nearer the neck.  

*UPDATE:  Her mother just emailed me a great "Before" picture!  I should have thought to ask her in the first place...  ;)  See how crazy long that train is?  Yay for me, that meant a lot of fabric to with!

I had marked the hem with pins and now cut a new hem, all the way around.

Another view of the hem in process.

This is very full skirt, with a lot of different grainlines, especially bias grain.  After the hem is cut, it has to hang for a while.  The weight of the bias grain does funny things (like drape and stretch) and sometimes you have to recut it later because it can hang unevenly after a few days.  

Front and back views of the bodice with the original sleeves.  That beautiful ruching is a detail that makes it breathtaking, don't you agree?  I must do it justice...  

That muslin shape up there is the pattern piece I draped at our first fitting (see the picture with the four dresses).  After the hem was cut off, we had a lot of fabric to make the new sleeve addition.  I cut four lining pieces from the pattern.  I cut a large enough piece of the chiffon to gather it to the same ratio as the dress ruching, and attached these to two of the lining pieces as a base.

I prickstitched (invisible) the gathers into pleats to mimic the bodice.  Then I attached them inside the bodice lining (remember it needs to look like it was "born there").  It sits just tucked underneath the original sleeve.

At the next fitting, I adjusted and pinned the sleeve addition, to fit and lay perfectly.  

That hem has settled a little (see that little peek on the left?)  A few tweeks and I can hem it now. 

Won't that be pretty with the lace hanging down nice and airy on the outside edge and around the back, then the middle section of lace-covering-fabric, then the pleated fabric next to her face?

We also realized that it needed to be taken in under the arms and out at the waist a little.  Can't have it too tight for prom dinner.  

Sleeve additions complete.  Hem is now final - I did the narrowest rolled hem to keep the airiness of the chiffon.

Note on how I completed the sleeve addition:  I used the last two lining pieces and sewed them right sides together to the inside edge.  Then turned it all out and understitched to make it look like those pieces were born there.  I serged the other edge that would lay under the original lacy sleeve.  I handstitched the inner edge in place.  

You can't even tell it's addition, can you?  I think it was meant to be there all along.  

Front and back views of a happy bodice with new sleeves and a happy girl!  The waist looks better now too, let out.

I love this transformation!  Perfect dress for a perfect prom night!

What more can I say?  Happy.

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