View Full Version : altering a dress made from linen with smocking on the back

21-09-2010, 02:37 PM
I bought a dress from a high street shop and the dress itself is quite baggy around the waist on me. I was thinking of altering it to make it smaller.
The dress has a band around the waist at the front, smocking on the back to make it stretch (no zips). I was looking at it and thinking of undoing the side, removing 1 or 2 inches from the back and sewing up the join again.
I would be grateful for any thoughts on how to do it, or if it is even worth it.
I saw the dress and thought it was a little different to normal, so I have 14 days to return it if i can't do anything with it. I have taken some photos if it is alright to post them, or I could pm someone with them.


21-09-2010, 04:43 PM
Its fine to post the photographs. Either pop them onto this thread or upload them to your album and we'll se if we can help from there :)

21-09-2010, 08:53 PM
ahh thank you.
Ok so I will upload the photos first.

21-09-2010, 08:58 PM
Image 1 is the dress atm. It is a bit baggy on the band at my waist.
Image 2 shows the smocking on the back, this is also hanging loose.
Image 3 shows the side at the moment where the smocking and front join.
Image 4 is in more detail
Image 5 and 6 is inside out to show the stitching.

So my inexpereinced head was thinking of undoing the smocking and the rest of the dress on both sides, cutting off 1 inch either side, then stiching the sides back up?
Also what is the name of the stitch seen in photo 6, which sort of seals the edges of the two bits of fabric, the stitch with lots of threads?
If this is completly wrong or stupid, please say as I am just trying to learn and figure it out.
Thanks guys : )

21-09-2010, 09:23 PM
The stitch in Pic.6 is done on an overlocker but you can get the same effect from using zigzag stitch on an ordinary machine.
I think you should be able to unpick the turned over bit at the top of both sides. Then unpick a section round the waist and this will enable you to take in as much as you want on either side. You need to unpick enough at the waist to be able to 'lose' the extra gathered up skirt fabric evenly. Finishing off re hemming the top and using your zigzag to tidy it all up.

22-09-2010, 08:20 AM
I completely agree with all Carol has said above. the elasticated section at the back is made using a method called shirring. Sometimes the shirring will tighten up significantly if you give it a good blast with a steam iron, try that first see if it makes any difference.

My only concern would be the skirt section, I can't really see too well from the photographs is it seamed both sides or just one seam up the back? As the skirt is gathered you will need to detach it from the bodice section, sew in a gathering stitch around the raw edge then once you have made the adjustments to the bodice pull the gathering stitch in so that the skirt is sized correctly to fit the bodice. Once you are happy with the size of the skirt match the seams and the centre front and back pin it all together then serge or zig zag stitch the raw edges of the bodice and skirt this will stop the fabric fraying in the wash. Finally straight stitch the bodice and skirt together with a 1/4" seam allowance, press the seam allowance up towards the bodice and topstitch 1/8" from the seam edge.

22-09-2010, 03:24 PM
Some thoughts:
linen is usually looser woven than cotton so expect it to fray...unless it's feeling stiff, in which case it's been starched, which is like a gentle glue holding everything together - until you wash it. So give yourself generous seam allowances.
Where the shirring is, is the elastic free to move between the stitching? It might be easier to just pull every strand tighter and knot it off. no unpicking or restitching required.
If not - just go for it. Unpick the sides and re-sew up where you want it. You'll feel a million dollars once it becomes a dress that fits.
You might want to consider doing it all by hand. Dresses are made up in an order and if you alter one you're probably jumping in at an early step and everything is very fiddly to get at as the later steps are holding stuff in place and getting in your way. it probably won't be a problem here as you are attacking the side seams but hands are far more versatile and flexible than a sewing machine.
Have fun!

26-09-2010, 11:18 PM
Thank you to everyone for the advice. I will probably give it a shot tomorrow so will keep you updated.