Don't you love it when you're dress shopping and you find that PERFECT dress!? I mean, the dress that pretty much has a halo hanging on it and light descending from above shouting, "Pick Me!"
Then you try it on, only to find that it's too small or doesn't quite fit right...
No need to fear!
I'm going to show you how to add a simple corset back to your dress so it fits in all the right places. :)
Step 1: Go Shopping
If your dress is like mine, it may have some delicate fabric on the back (in my case, I had lace), so we will need to first add "lining" to the areas where the corset will go. To do this, we need to go shopping for just the right fabric that will match the dress.
I went to my local thrift store and found this white fabric (that perfectly matched the front fabric of my dress) for just 50 cents! I also picked up these supplies:
- Champagne pink thread (found at the same thrift store for 10 cents)
- An eyelets kit from a fabric store (about $10)
- Cording of your choice from a fabric store
Step 2: Seam Rip the Zipper Out
Try on your dress INSIDE OUT and determine how much of the zipper you need to take out in order to have your dress fit you correctly.
IF YOU CAN ZIP UP THE DRESS AT ALL:
- Zip the dress up as far as it can go, mark this spot on your fabric with some chalk (or washable fabric pen, etc).
- Take off the dress. Re-zip it up to that mark. Seam rip the zipper out just above the mark (NOT at the mark).
- Cut off the excess zipper from the top part that you seam ripped out. Sew down any loose ends of the zipper.
- Finally, add a "hook and eye" just above the zipper that you're keeping (so it keeps your dress closed to this point) before proceeding with the next step.
IF YOU CAN'T ZIP UP THE DRESS AT ALL (what happened to me):
- Seam rip the entire zipper out.
- Proceed with the next step.
Step 3: Make a Pattern
Now you are ready to make a pattern for where you want your lining to go. I wanted mine to cover the back of my dress down to the waist with white fabric (because after the waist, it is a different color of fabric), but I wanted to keep my sleeves the see-through lace.
To make the pattern:
- Get some paper. I used whatever pieces of paper I could find and taped them together. It can be as fancy or simple as you want. :)
- Open your dress out to the width you need it for your corset when it's fully open. (Basically whatever width you need to get into your dress comfortably!) This step may require trying on your dress multiple times to make sure the fit is right for your pattern.
- Lay your dress inside-out over the paper (with the back facing you).
- Draw a line on the paper around the seams of your dress where you want your lining to go. I added about 1/2" seam allowance around all edges.
- Cut the pattern out on the lines you drew.
- Put the pattern up to your back (while looking in a mirror, or have someone help you) to make sure it fits correctly. Add or take away anything that you need to.
- When the pattern is done, fold the paper in half to make sure both halves are the same. Trim where necessary.
- Iron out your lining fabric.
- Lay your paper pattern over your fabric and trace around it. Cut out the fabric.
Step 4: Sew the Shoulders
NOTE: For every seam I sewed the lining to, I used a zigzag stitch (because my machine doesn't have a serger stitch setting). My tension was set to the widest setting (4).
To sew in the lining, I decided to sew it directly to the previously sewn seams. I didn't want to take out every seam just to sew it in. And quite frankly, this worked just as good as if I had sewn the dress from scratch myself! :) Plus it's faster, easier, and more convenient. BONUS!
The first step to sewing in the lining is to sew the shoulders on both sides first:
- On the first side, while your dress is still inside-out, attach the shoulder lining to the seam that goes from the base of the neck to the outer edge of the shoulder/arm. See the first picture for what part of the shoulder seam to sew it to.
- Sew a zigzag stitch along this straight edge. Repeat on the other side.
*Remember to backstitch every time you start and stop sewing.
Step 5: Sew the Rest
Now you are going to flatten out the dress and sew the lining around the armholes and down each of the sides. Be sure not to sew it through all layers (just through the back layer). Use the same zigzag stitch here.
Follow this same sewing technique for attaching the lining at the waist and at the neck. Only sew until you reach the wide open area (where the corset will go) on each side (at the waist and neck). Also sew the raw edges of the lace (where you took the zipper out of) to the lining.
Step 6: Sew in the Different Fabric
I realized after I tried on my dress (with just the area where the zipper was having been taken out), that I needed to seam rip further down the dress to make it fit me the way I wanted it to (and not look so bunched up). This, obviously, created an extra "V" opening in the different colored fabric part of the dress.
If you have this too (for any reason), follow these steps to add in your different fabric lining here.
- First, I luckily found that a slip I owned was the EXACT same color as my dress! Yay :) So I used this for my different colored fabric. (I used the matte side of the slip, not the shiny silk side, so it blended with the look of my dress better.)
- Put a piece of paper over the "V" opening, and trace a 1/2" seam line onto the paper around the edges of the "V." Basically make a paper pattern for this area (just as before).
- Cut the pattern out of the fabric, as you did before.
- Pin the wider straight edge of the new fabric (champagne pink) to the base of the back fabric (white) so that the point of the new fabric is pointing upwards, towards the neck of the dress. Make sure the RIGHT SIDES ARE FACING TOGETHER! (So the dress itself will be right-side out, and the "V" fabric that's facing you will be the wrong-side, so that the two fabrics (from the back and the "V") that are touching are both right-sides together.)
- Sew a STRAIGHT STITCH along the base where you pinned it. See picture.
- After you have sewn this, when you pull the tip of the "V" fabric (that was pointing up towards the neck) down, it will create a beautiful seam along the waist line of the dress.
- Push the "V" fabric into the dress, turn the dress inside-out, and sew the fabric down to the inside of the dress. Make sure your BOBBIN thread is the new color of the fabric (because this is the side that will show when the dress is right-side out again.
Step 7: Add the Eyelets & Cording
Once you've sewn the lining into your dress--and tried it on to make sure it fits right!--it's time to add the eyelets and cording. Make sure your dress is right-side out for this part.
I spaced my eyelets 1" apart down both sides. I marked them a darker color for the pictures, but I would suggest using a pencil or fine-tipped pen. Better yet, use a washable fabric pen, quilting pen, or fabric chalk that's designed for this exact purpose.
My eyelet kit came in German. 100% German. No English instructions anywhere. The pictures also didn't make any sense to me because I am someone who has NEVER done these type of alterations before (adding a corset to a dress) or put in eyelets before. So I simply asked the nice cashier lady at the fabric store how to use it. Moral of the story: don't be afraid to ask for help! :)
- Use the longer metal "pole" (inserted into one of the holes of your plastic tool) to poke the holes through your fabric. Make sure the open hole of the pole is on the fabric (that's the cutting part), and the closed metal part is facing up (that's the part you hit with the hammer). Also, BE SURE to have the black "base piece" under the tool BEFORE you hammer (for any step), or you will put deep dents in your table or work surface! It's always advised to work on a table that can be damaged with no worries (ie: a craft table) because sometimes the base piece will move out from under you.
- Whack the top of this metal pole a bunch of times until a small hole is made through the back of both fabrics.
- In the same plastic tool, switch out the metal pole for the "female" and "male" pieces that go one in each side of the plastic tool.
- Take one eyelet and one washer and push the eyelet (the one with the raised part on it) through the hole of the dress (that you made in step 1), then put the washer on the raised part of the eyelet (on the inside of the dress).
- Put the "male" part of the tool through the washer, and sit the "female" part of the tool on the eyelet. So the "female" side of the tool is on the right-side of the dress (and this is the side you will hit with the hammer), and the "male" side of the tool is on the inside of the dress underneath.
- Hammer the top of the plastic tool many times (I had to do about 10-15 hits). This will smoosh down the raised part of the eyelet to secure it to the washer and the fabric.
- Repeat this until all of your eyelets are done on both sides.
- String the cording through the eyelets like you would lace up a shoe. AND YOU'RE DONE! :)
Step 8: Before & After
CONGRATULATIONS on your wedding or vow renewal!
Go take all your hard work and put it to good use by strutting your stuff in confidence...it's you and your spouse's big day!
Many blessings :)
(Vow renewal pictures done by: Honey Deer Photography www.honeydeer.ca)