Do you have a beautiful dress that you would love to wear, but it's too tight and just doesn't fit anymore? Don't get rid of it, just give it a new beautiful corset back that will add some inches to make it fit perfectly.
I've been altering formal dresses for 5 years and have learned that one easy and lovely way to make a dress bigger is to remove the back zipper and replace it with a corset/lace-up back.
A great advantage to a corset back on a dress is that it gives a lot more flexibility on sizing of waist and bust than traditional zipper dresses do. You can tighten the dress where it needs tightening and loosen it where it needs to be looser resulting in a more accurate fit.
In this Instructable I'll show how to create and sew in the corset loops as well as create the tie and modesty panel.
So grab that beautiful dress out of the get-rid-of pile and add a new beautiful back that will help your dress fit just right.
Step 1: Materials Needed
- Dress with a zipper back (zipper removed)
- Matching fabric 1 yard
- Medium to heavy weight Interfacing
- Rotary cutter and Mat or Scissors
- Sewing Machine
- Matching Thread
- Measuring Tape
- Pins or Clips
- Turning stick or safety pin
Step 2: Lacing for the Corset Loops
- Cut 1.5 inch wide fabric strips on the bias. Cutting on the bias is done by cutting at a 45 degree angle to the selvage. There are YouTube videos that show how to cut on the bias if you need a better visual. You'll need about 6 - 8 strips for the lacing for the loops and the back tie.
- Fold one of the longer strips in half lengthwise with right sides together. The wrong side of the fabric should be showing on the outside. For the corset back I made, the shiny side of the fabric was the wrong side.
- Sew a seam 1/4 inch from the open edge the full length of the strip making a tube.
- Turn the tube right side out. There are a couple ways to turn the tube:
Put a safety pin through the end of the tube and close the pin. Then push the closed safety pin through the opening of the tube until it comes out the other end of the tube. Pull it through and it should be turned right side out.
Sew one end closed then use a turning stick to push that end into and through the tube to the other end and pull it through.
I used the turning stick method.
Step 3: Corset Back
- Measure the back opening length and decide how close together you want your loops. My dress opening length (length of where to zipper was) was 12 inches long, and I decided to have my loops close together at 1 inch apart.
- Cut the lacing into 2.5 inch segments. I decided to place the loops close together at every inch. So total I needed 24 segments for my loops. Your number may differ depending on the length of your opening and how close together you want your loops.
- Cut 2 pieces of interfacing 1 inch wide by the length of your opening. My interfacing strips were 1 inch by 12 inches
- Using a pencil mark the spacing of your loops on the interfacing. I made a line every inch.
- Fold your interfacing strips in half lengthwise to make them sturdier.
- Sew each segment onto the interfacing creating loops in each marked space sewing 1/4 inch from the edge of the interfacing lining up the edges of each segment with the open edge of the folded interfacing.
- Sandwich the interfacing with loops between the top dress fabric and the dresses lining where the zipper was and pin/clip in place.
- Top stitch 1/8 inch from the edge of the opening down the length of the opening sewing the loops into place.
-Repeat with the other side.
Step 4: Modesty Panel
- Try your dress on and measure how wide the gap is at the top of the back opening. The top gap on the dress I'm working on is 10 inches.
- Measure the length of the opening. (You measured this in step 3, it's the same measurement.) The length of the opening on the dress I'm working on is 12 inches.
- Add 3 or more inches to both your measurements to get the top width and length measurements for your modesty panel. The modesty panel I made was 13 inches top width by 13 inches length (the length turned out okay, but would have been better with a couple more inches).
- For the bottom width come in a couple inches on each side so that it creates more of a trianglish shape rather than a square. This will help it not be do bulky under the dress.
- Fold fabric in half and use your measurements to cut out 2 layers of the modesty panel.
-Pin the two cut pieces right sides together.
- Sew a 1/4 to 1/2 inch seam around the sides and top of the modesty panel leaving the bottom open.
- Flip the panel right sides out, push out the edges and press them flat with an iron.
- Fold the bottom edge in a 1/2 inch and press.
- Top stitch along the bottom edge to close it up.
- Pin the modesty panel left edge to the inside of the left edge of the dress opening overlapping a 1/2 inch.
- Top stitch along your stitching for the corset loops to stitch the modesty panel into place.
The modesty panel is only sewn to the one side. When worn, the other side lays across and stays in place once the corset is laced and tied.
Step 5: Lace Up Tie
Using your bias strips you'll sew them the same way you did for the loops but you'll need it to be much longer for your tie so you'll have to join the bias strips together.
- Lay one bias strip on your table with the right side up, then place another bias strip on top with right side down (so right sides together) perpendicular to the first strip.
- Sew from the top right joining corner to the bottom left joining corner (see picture).
- Trim off the excess, open the seam and press it with an iron.
- Join the remaining strips together. Joining them in this way should make a long continuous bias strip. My bias strip was about 3 yards long. Add more strips if needed.
- Fold the bias strip in half lengthwise with right sides together and sew a seam a 1/4 inch from the open edge all the way down the length of the bias strip creating a tube.
- Turn the tube right side out using the same method you used for the corset lacing.
- Try your dress on and lace it up to decide what length is best for the lace up.
-Trim off any excess to make them the right length.
-Turn the ends up inside the tube 1/2 inch and top stitch across each opening to close them.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Put your dress on, lace up your new corset backed dress and enjoy the great fit!