I bought a super cute dress to wear to a good friend’s wedding…
…And it was super cute when it arrived, and fit like a dream…except, in that dream, my torso is apparently 2 inches taller than in real life. Wah wah. Side effects of this reality include seeing the top 1/2 inch of my bra, and looking generally quite frumpy from the waist up. Not cool.
But it was cute, and I decided I would just alter the dress (since it arrived about a week before said wedding, I had *some* time…). I started pinning in the side seams of the bodice, but that didn’t fix the bra-showing problem. I tried on every bra I own, and all of them peeped out above the neckline–boooooo.
So I unpinned everything and debated 1) bra-less or 2) different dress. If only the neckline were higher! And then it hit me! Pin up the shoulders and make the neckline higher! I press-ganged John into helping me pin up the shoulders and poof! It suddenly fit! Turns out the waist was a bit low, too, come to think of it. But! Alas, the necklines do not match front to back…the straps in the back are much wider just a little ways from the shoulder seams:
So pinning up an equal amount front and back did not look so hot. For serious. I turned to the trusty Google and looked at several tutorials (of varying degrees of quality…some folks may not mind seeing the former straps haphazardly hand-stitched under the new seam, but um…I’m not one of those people). There are lots of good tutorials out there, if your front and back strap are the exact same width. Or if you speak Chinese. There are lots of tutorials where the pictures looked promising, but they were talking a million miles a minute in Chinese.
I finally landed on this awesome tutorial (from a local lady, no less!) that explained how to take the shoulder seam apart, That got me thinking. If I took the seam apart, then took up the excess and sewed the seam back together, I could do a little whiz-bang reshaping on the neckline and be done. (My deep-set fear of messing with armsyces had me a little afraid to reshape anything on the arm-seam side of the shoulder…plus, I didn’t want to lose the nice vertical line you get in a sleeveless dress like this…best not to poke sleeping mountain lions). This was my basic plan….
Taking the seam apart didn’t take long…I ripped out (carefully!) about 3 inches on each edge from the shoulder seam back. Then I pinned my new seam together on the fashion fabric (thus removing about 3 inches total) and sewed it together (right sides facing) using my sewing machine for a nice straight seam.
Then I tucked under the lining until it fit the new seam. Hand-sewing now, I used the mattress stitch to attach the lining back to the side of the arm hole, first, since I wanted that to be super invisible. Then I tackled the neckline side. To fix the different widths that the straps now were, I tucked the back neckline in on itself ever so slightly to make the edges meet up, then hand-sewed the lining down on the neckline side, too!
Once the sides of the lining were firmly attached, I hand-stitched the folded edges of the lining together and poof! It looked like you’d never taken the shoulder apart at all! I top-stitched (in black thread, b/c I didn’t have any navy–oops!) where I’d taken out the top-stitching when I pulled everything apart and it looks awesome!
The second side was super easy compared to the first (the mental gymnastics were already done, so that helped, I’m sure!). And now I have an awesome dress that fits super well! The only thing I didn’t think of…raising the shoulders an inch and a half ALSO raises the hemline and inch and a half! So instead of being knee-length, the dress is now just above. But it’s still cute (and totally appropriate for most occasions, though I might not wear it to a super formal affair!).
Overall I’m pretty happy with the alteration. It sounded complicated, but I think if I had more time (i.e. not starting the alterations two days before the wedding!), I’d have been less stressed about it!