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Shortening a scalloped hem lace dress.

Hi, I am shortening a dress that has a scalloped lace hem. I do not want to ruin the hem as it looks lovely. But the dress is too long. I have hemmed the lining with no problem, but now I am trying to pin the lace up at the waist and then sew (hand or machine?) it so it lies as a fold under the waist. I do not want to take the waistline off this dress as it is not mine. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I have been trying to pin up the wrong side of the lace fabric by the waistline. It is so slippery and soft I feel like I am getting nowhere!  Thank you so much for your time!

mole12 years ago

Lots of questions... Is the whole skirt lace? How much shorter does it need to be? Is it washable? Is the waist gathered? Can you post a picture of it?

Just off hand and without knowing the weight of the fabrics involved, I would think about making a tuck at least 4 inches from the bottom (or farther from the hem if it's floor length). The lace would be three layers thick where it overlaps... (Think N with the \ being the amount it needs to be shorter.)

I've picked machine stitching out of lace and don't recommend it... it's very easy to damage the lace. Careful hand stitching will be easier to take out.

On most dresses there will be two issues to deal with...

1) A change in color where the lace is folded because less of the lining will show through. If this is a problem you could add a piece of matching lining fabric within the tuck - to make the tuck inconspicuous.. so there is only one layer of lace over it. The other two layers of the lace tuck would be behind it. Or you could use a contrasting colored strip of lining to make the alteration look like part of the dress design.

2) Unless the skirt is very straight, the amount of fabric going around the hem and and a parallel line farther up the skirt will be different. If you want the skirt to be as smooth as it is now, you'll have to deal with the excess fabric... like little tucks within the hemming tuck at the seams. Depending on the lines of the dress you might be OK with the fabric below the tuck being kind of ruffled.

These are just suggestions that may or may not work depending on the dress design and fabrics. With more information, others may have more helpful ideas.

rickharris2 years ago

This is going to be harder than you think :-) professionally it would be unpicked at the waist and shortened there and re-sewn to preserve the hem.

Your idea may be the best compromise or pay the money and take it to a pro dress maker who will do alterations (a bit of a rarity these days).

My mum was a trained dress maker and I watched her spend hours altering dresses like this - Often wedding dresses that were shortened to make a cocktail dress. Dads opinion was often it was more trouble than it was worth!