Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category
This type of gown has an encased skirt. The lining is attached to the hem allowance and usually there is a plastic mesh strip which is attached to the top of the hem allowance and is the width of the hem allowance. Usually the strip is joined on at the same time the hem allowance is attached to the lining.
The only ones I have altered have also had a train, so I have only shortened the section beginning at the sides and around to the front.
The first step is the pin the correctly. See my book Clothing Alteration Secrets Revealed for how to pin or see Tags for other blogs similar.
Transpose the pin measurements, unpick the hem from the lining and separate the mesh strip from the hem allowance.
Measure up the amount to be shortened at the front tapering around to the sides but remember to come back down the same hem allowance as before.
With the lining, measure up the same amount as the outer fabric was shortened, at the same positions, but only come down the hem allowance for the lining.
Cut the outer and the lining. Pin the mesh strip and the lining back together, and iron when completed. If the lining is the correct length it should not need anything to hold it up, however to be sure lightly stitch by hand to hold up hem allowance.
Judith aka genie
The types of hems I am talking about are the full skirt gown. Gowns like this are generally worn out for a special function, or a bridesmaid gown or wedding dress. The skirt is full, and this means that at certain sections the skirt will fall on the bias. The fabric drops at this section which causes the skirt to be uneven. Shops that sell gowns have them hanging on the rack ready for the customer to come and view. The longer a gown hangs, the more the gown will drop.
The other extremely important point is that when a gown is manufactured, the hem is not always completed accurately. Added to this is the fact that we are all different body shapes, so that means when the gown is on the body, it may dip in the front or dip in the back because of a large bust or round bottom. The most common problem I found was that the back was usually higher than the front!
So imagine what happens, when a person brings in a gown and says, “Take it up 10 cm (4”)” and doesn’t try it on. I have had people bring me gowns that are shorter in the back than the front, and are looking for solutions. If this ever happens to you and you then you can insert a panel across the bottom, but make it look like it was meant to be by having one side longer than the other as if it is a triangle. This is just another good reason for saving off cuts from alterations.
Another tip when pinning a gown is to make sure that the straps are correct, BEFORE you pin the bottom. Even if they do not need to be altered, check to make sure they are sitting correctly on the person. It is very frustrating when you have spent time pinning the bottom – all the way around the gown, only to have the person give a tug here and a tug there AFTER you have done all that.
Generally I will say something like, “Before I pin the hem, I need to be sure you are comfortable with the top section. Because if that changes then the hem will change.”
Pin the front of the gown first; getting the length the person wants. Make sure they are standing with their spine straight. A person’s first reaction is to bend down and look at what you are doing! Then they look up and it’s too short! Work with the person wearing the gown. They have paid a lot of money for that gown, and having the hem straight it important.
Have you ever noticed at the Oscars how the hems are all over the place! Seriously, the ladies gowns are very seldom straight, and men’s trouser hems are generally way too long! I watched a show on Oprah one day where they did a transformation of these men. The transformation was amazing, but the only thing that I felt let it all down was the fact that the trousers had not been hemmed to the persons correct length. They were so long; they bunched up around their knee and thigh area. But I am digressing…
Once you have the length at the front, measure from the floor to the new fold. Whatever this measurement is move around the gown folding the hem up the same amount. Double check the side seams because they may have pulled up slightly with the stitching.
If you have a hem chalk marker, you could have the person stand on a stool. Place a pin at the new fold, and drop the hem. Then set the chalk marker at this new length and puff chalk around the new hem line. This is a major time saver, and saves your back.
Sewing your hem
1. Most domestic sewing machines have a rolled hem foot. They can be an excellent method for sewing a small rolled hem on a gown, but they are not without their frustrating points. When you hit the bias of a gown the fabric is harder to feed through. And when you come to side seams, the thickness can be a problem. Try sewing a row of stitching around the bottom of the hem just in from the cut line. This may help you a little to stabilize the fabric.
2. Use your normal sewing foot and stitch around the bottom of the gown, then fold this over and stitch around again. The first row of stitching makes it easier to fold and gives you a nice tiny hem.
3. Instead of sewing around the bottom just up from the cut line, fold the fabric over .5 cm (1/4”) and stitch in place. Once you have stitched all the way around the garment, fold this section over and stitch around again. This also gives a tiny hem.
4. Convert your overlocker to a three thread machine. Take the needle out of the left hand position and only have one needle in the right (next to the machine). Set the overlock width to as wide as possible, and overlock the edge of the garment. When you are finished, use your normal sewing machine to fold the overlocking over and stitch a small hem.
5. If you want to create a flounce on the bottom of the gown, switch to zigzag with a medium width stitch and lay some fishing line underneath the gown. Zigzag as you go and make sure you catch the fishing line as you stitch.
6. If you own an overlocker, and the gown is a chiffon or similar soft fabric, you could put a rolled hem on using your overlocker. Switch to the rolled hem foot, or if it has an adjustment only, make the adjustment. I find that turning the blade down so it is not cutting the fabric gives a nicer finish. Also consider putting an embroidery thread in the middle. This gives a really great finish. For some fabrics, I will go around once, and then go around a second time over the top of the first. It makes the rolled hem thicker and looks great.
Tip – Instead of hanging a gown in the wardrobe on a hanger, either lay in flat in a draw, or place it inside a clothes bag which you can hang in the wardrobe, but have the bag folded in half and attached back on the hanger, so that there is no weight pulling the skirt down.
Judith aka genie
On page 135 of my book I cover taking up Long Dresses, gowns and skirts. This may seem like an easy exercise and it should be, but it is important to pin all the way around measuring from the floor up as per my technique in my book. Let me tell you a story about what happened at my nieces wedding.
I live in the Gold Coast, and I drove down to Sydney (about 1,000 kilometres) for her wedding. Her younger sister met me when I arrived and told me that she was very concerned about how the alterations to the dresses would be. Now this niece worked with me for many years, and knew all about gowns and what was required. She told me that at the fitting, she had asked the lady to please measure all the way around on each of the girls. Apparently the ladies response was, ‘I know what I’m doing. I’m a professional.’ Well the “professional” put one pin in the front for the hem – and that was it. She put one or two pins in the side of my niece’s bridesmaid dress, and pinned the straps up. On the other two girls she did the same with the hems, and put a few pins in the side where they needed to come in.
So here we are, it’s Friday night and the wedding is 4.30pm the following day. I asked if everyone could come around and try on their dresses. (Even though they had been purchased months before, they were not available for pickup until the Thursday)
So here is the scenario……….
All three dresses had one side of the hem touching the ground, and other sections were 3” (7cm) off the ground. They had the wonkiest hem I have ever seen. But on top of that my young niece’s dress was so tight she could hardly breathe, and the straps had been taken up too much. The other two bridesmaids’ dresses were too loose.
On top of all this the workmanship was bad. The hems had been turned twice, but the frayed edges were showing.
‘I think I better try on my wedding dress,’ whispered my niece. ‘I think that would be a good idea,’ I said. As soon as she took it out of the plastic carry bag, I could tell we had problems. The back had been taken in through the zip, but it looked like a 5 year old had done the work. The tulle was pulling away from the dress, the fabric had been cut and zig zagged, not overlocked. And there was no hook and eye at the top of the zip. I knew my niece would want to keep her wedding dress, so I wanted to have it looking brand new. I unpicked the zip; stay stitched the tulle to the fabric and overlocked the edge. Then I reattached the zip correctly. Finally I put a hook and eye at the top of the zipper, which is an absolute must at the top of any zipper.
Next problem was the bridesmaids’ dresses. By releasing the sides and straps for the gown that was too tight, it became a little longer; I then took in the sides for the other two. There were 18 people staying on the farm, so all the women got together and unpicked the hems, including the lining, then once the hems had been ironed flat, the girls stood on a small table (shoes on) and I straightened the hem as best as possible. Because I wanted them to be as long as possible, I borrowed an over locker and changed it to a rolled hem. The dresses were pink, so I put an embroidery thread in the middle spool which gave a nice finish. The last dress was finished half an hour before the girls were taken to the reception area.
1. Almost every gown (bar none) MUST be pinned all the way around to ensure that the hem will be the same measurement from the floor up.
2. When taking in a garment, it is imperative to use a technique that ensures WHERE YOU PIN IS WHERE YOU SEW.
Judith aka genie
One of the most difficult jobs for a wedding gown or bridesmaid gown if it has many layers is ironing the garment. This may not work on all fabrics, but try hanging the gown in your bathroom when you are having a shower. The steam from the shower usually drops out the creases, and saves a lot of heart ache ironing.
Judith aka genie