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Enlarging a dress

Oopsidaisy | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I bought a fabulous silk dress with heavy embroidery on the bodice at the recycle shop. I knew it was waaaaaaay too small width ways but I thought the beading part alone was worth the cost of the dress. I had thought I would cut the beaded section off and attach it to another skirt, or even adding some (of the silk that comes from the skirt) to the sides under the arms and just having a top.

The dress is black and sleeveless with a low V neck both front and back. The beading covers the front and back in a V shape as well with the beading ending at about the navel.  It’s a fitted sheath and the moiré is beautiful, I hesitate to mess too much with the original style. I wonder if there’s some inspired person out there who can help me decide or who has a tip for me. I’ve also considered putting a stripe down each side under the arm the length of the garment, hoping, as it’s black that it wouldn’t look too obviously like an add-in.



  1. stitchmd | | #1

    As I was reading your post I was thinking of suggesting the insets down the sides. The only question is what kind of darts it has, they'd need to be repositioned.

  2. SEWWRITER | | #2

    The trick to integrating another fabric is to use it in more than one place.  In other words, if you have to add side panels, put the same fabric somewhere else: you could bind the neckline, add bands to the hem, or make an accessory such as a scarf or tiny purse, etc.

    Stephanie Corina Goddard                                                                                Member, Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC)

    1. sewphaedra | | #3

      Also it depends on how small the bodice is. If you gusset the sides with a strip of fabric you don't want the seam to be at the bustline, for example! If it's more than an inch or two you need to add at the sides then I'd do something else with it.

  3. carolfresia | | #4

    I like Stephanie's idea of incorporating the new fabric in more than one place, such as side seams that continue in bands along the hem. And if you decide that just adding fabric won't do the trick, have fun taking the dress apart and using the pieces in some creative way.

    In a couple of weeks we'll be posting the finalists and winners of last fall's "Inspired by Threads" challenge, and you'll see (I think I can scoop us here on this!) that Becky Fulgoni, the winner of the Must Successful Embellishment award, took an 8-inch square of beaded, embroidered tulle, and turned it into the centerpiece of a really wonderful top with a matching skirt. You can to a lot with just a little!


    1. Oopsidaisy | | #5

      Thanks for all the suggestions already!

      I guess the next step is to unpick the side seams and see just how much I need to add and if it would need too much other adjusting, like darts.

      Guess I'd better get on with it, eh?

      1. kai230 | | #6

        Incorporating black w/black can be tricky, as there are so many shades. If you choose to do that, maybe use a very different fabric. You could also make a skinny tie or belt of the same contrasting fabric if you can't find a convenient place to place it on the dress aside from adding to the side seams.

        1. Oopsidaisy | | #7

          Thanks Kai.

          You're right about matching the blacks.

          Well, I unpicked the side seams and got really excited because it had obviously been taken in by about two inches on each side....except...the seamstress had trimmed the seams so unevenly that some parts of the side seams were trimmed to about 1/2". I'm pretty sure she must have been drinking at the time!

          Anyway, I was able to pop the dress over my head and see what could be done.

          The answer to my question about adding to the side has now been resolved. It's not going to happen, that's for sure.

          What I'm going to do now is cut around the bead section and turn a seam under by hand, then I'll make a new bodice/skirt section and stitch the bead section over the top, maybe putting another row of beads over the top of the join. The neck, shoulder and zip are already in place so there's not much I need to do really.

          Thanks again for all replies


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