Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Bridal alterations: converting a zip fastening into lacing

Hi! I thought I'd write a sewing blog today, showing an alteration I performed recently. I took photos while I did it so that I could file them away as a teaching resource.

As some of you may know, I've been spending a lot of time over the last couple of months doing fittings and alterations for a lovely bridal shop here in Bath. It's a really interesting job, meeting lots of people from all walks of life who have one big thing in common: the stress of organising a wedding! Finding the right dress can be difficult, and even when you find it there can be issues of fit. That's where I come in.

Mostly I take in side seams and shorten hems, but every now and then something like this comes along,. when the bride wants to change something major.

In this case it was swapping the zip and buttons at the back for lacing. This was both for style and to facilitate fit. She had purchased a sample dress which was too big for her, especially across the back, and this was the perfect solution. (We had the designer's permission to make this change.)

Yes, it's the same dress - the lighting was just very different on both days!
In the first picture you can see where I pinned the outline I needed for the lacing gap.
Here's how I did it. I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking here, so look closely at what my fingers are doing to position the rouleau ready for stitching. If your dress has beads and sequins, like this one does, remember to remove them from the seam allowance and the reach of the presser foot. Even after doing that I managed to break two needles because of the thickness I was sewing through, and the unevenness of stitching over fabric rouleau, so take it easy. Us the fly wheel instead of the pedal if it makes you more comfortable.

First I cut the new outline, being very careful to arrange all the layers of fabric correctly first. Check once, check twice, check again and then cut. I cut through the lining at the same time, then separated the lining from the top fabrics - which I then basted together just inside the stitching line. Next I marked the distance between the rouleau loop stems, using a piece of cardboard marked at 2.5cm. I found this easier then fumbling around with a tape measure or ruler, and I could slide the pins in through the notch I cut in the cardboard edge. Check that they line up on both sides (you can see where I've already stitched the rouleau onto one side).

In polyester taffeta I did not find the rouleau easy to make. It refused to turn nicely, either with the string method or a loop turner. So I cut the long strip I had made into shorter lengths and turned them with the loop turner. Much easier.  

Okey-dokey. Here's where you get to look at how I'm manipulating the rouleau. I didn't measure the loop lengths on the rouleau; just went by eye and carefully gauging the relationship between the rouleau and the presser foot. I never cut the rouleau. (I probably should've pressed the rouleau first :D )

Tip: don't have any loops in the bottom 4 or 5 cm of the new back opening. This is where you'll need to leave a gap large enough to tuck the lacing ribbon ends away, and that can be pretty thick if it's made in fabric.

Here's the new back opening with its loops attached and ready to be lined. Turn the dress inside out, pin the lining in place, baste if necessary (with slippery or napped fabrics, usually) and stitch right around the whole opening (second picture). Shape the bottom of the opening as you wish. Clip at the bottom, understitch if possible and turn through. Press.

I made a modesty panel to go behind the lacing, to cover the flesh and allow for the client's bra. The lacing ribbon was made out of a bias strip of the taffeta stitched into a tube and turned through (with great difficulty!). After the fitting with the lacing in place, I've decided to go back in and stitch around the opening again, a little further away from the raw edge, to make the loops a bit narrower.

Let me know if you liked reading this. I can post more of this kind of thing if you like :)


1 comment:

  1. Nice ideas to alter Zip to laces. I love to read Tips for Bridal alterations. Thanks for Sharing. please do post more alteration ideas.