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Scale Down a Beaded Gown for a Petite Figure

Assess the fit, mark needed adjustments, then stitch carefully
Threads #225, Spring 2024

For many years, I have altered better ready-to-wear clothing for my clients. My specialty is tailored clothing, but occasionally I get a request to do a special-occasion garment, as in the case of a recent request to alter a beaded gown.

It was adorned with large faceted beads as well as smaller seed beads. The large beading was arranged in flower patterns, with the small beads stitched in a grid of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines. All the beads were attached to netting. There were obvious challenges, due to the type of fabric the garment was made with. Needed alterations required the work be done by hand.

You can alter even bead-encrusted garments for a petite figure, with some unobtrusive stitching.

I’ll walk through my process of altering the dress for a petite client. Try these methods if you need to make similar changes to your own garment. The techniques can be applied to other garments for petite figures or to embellished pieces for any size.

When my client came for the final fitting, the midriff panel, empire waist, V-neck, shoulders, back vent, and the overall fit were spot-on. She was happy with the result and comfortable wearing the dress. That’s all I could have asked for. My job was done.

Assess the Garment’s Fit

You’ll need to figure out what alterations are called for and then determine the sewing techniques required to complete them. Before you begin, be sure that the person wearing the garment has put on the necessary undergarments and shoes.

Needed skills

It always works in your favor to learn a variety of sewing techniques, even if they are unconventional. They will serve you well when handling alterations. Sometimes, alterations require cutting and shaping in an unusual way, or involve a combination…

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