This dress started with a marvelous find at a local thrift store. I wish I had taken a picture before I ever started, but I didn’t. This is the original dress . . minus one part.
The dress is aqua and gold. The top is lace which is embellished with sequins and beads. It has waist detailing of gold lame. The skirt is gold lame with an overskirt of aqua tulle. The original dress also had a diagonal overlay of a greeny-blue-gray gauze (this is used to make the sleeves later). This gauze must have gotten wet or something, as it had clearly shrunk. When I purchased the dress the skirt was all squished inside this ugly weird gauze overlay. I honestly bought it strictly for the bodice. Imagine my surprise I got it home and pulled the overlay up and out popped this beautiful dress.
Obviously, the very first thing we did was cut the overskirt off (one of my daughters did this for me, hence the lack of “before” picture).
The dress is shown over a hoop, but it also had a huge petticoat underneath.
I cut out quite a bit of the petticoat net. The dress was also too long for the cast member. These dresses have to be a little on the shorter side as the girls are dancing in them.
I wanted to make the bodice a little bigger, and was pleased to find out that the side seams were deep, with no boning, and would be easily opened up. There were lace appliques over the seams in a few places. I cut the stitching and divided the appliques.
While the bodice had nice deep seams, the gold lame did not. The skirt had some gentle gathers, and I was able to let them out, and between that and taking a slightly deeper seam (taking advantage of the A-line shape of the skirt) I was able to add some width to the waistline as well. At this point I had a fitting to make sure the bodice would fit.
I wanted to raise the skirt about 2″. Laying the dress on an ironing board, I measured down 2″ and securely pinned the two top layers of the skirt together. I then ran a line of stitching along this pin line. I folded the skirt up, and pinned it to the waist, pleating as needed. This was secured with a row of topstitching. Shortening a dress this way eliminates the need to mess with the hem and also preserves the fullness in the skirt. Since I don’t cut the skirt off, it theoretically could be opened back up at some future date.
This made the lining too long. I just cut it off with a pinking shears.
The back of the bodice was quite sloped, and didn’t really lend itself well to making sleeves. I decided to make some puffed straps.
I cut strips of a base fabric. These were 7″ x 17″.
I scientifically calculated the size of the gauze pieces to make the sleeve puff (not really, lol. I just cut 17″ strips that were wider than 7″, based on what I could fit in the discarded overlay).
The gauze was stretchy and the petticoat net was wrinkly. I felt like I was herding cats.
Eventually however, the net was basted on to the gauze.
I ran gathering threads down the long edges and attached it to the base piece.
I turned it right-side-out, and stitched the ends shut.
Since it looked reasonable on one side:
I made the second strap.
I finished the bodice with an extra little ruffle for modesty.
I love this dress. I like the colors, and I really like the effect of the gold lame under the tulle. I hate sewing lame, but, I would be tempted to try this for a different costume sometime. The sleeves are a little dramatic, but I like them. I am really anxious to see this dress under the stage lights.
Cost: dress: $10.19, scraps of petticoat net