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First formal dress

Elaray | Posted in General Discussion on

Very soon, I’ll be starting my first formal project — a dress for my DD’s junior prom. Luckily, she’s chosen a simple design (Simplicity 3826) so I’m confident about the basic sewing. I’m reading through Bridal Couture (Khalje, 1997) and Sewing for Special Occasions (Singer Sewing Reference Library, 1994) before I begin the muslin.

The Singer book states horsehair braid “can be used for subtle shaping of princess seams” (pg. 59). Here’s my first question — is the horsehair braid used in addtion to boning, instead of boning, or is it optional?


I sew, therefore I am


  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    If it is going to be strapless you will need substantial boning to keep it up.  I don't think horse hair would be stiff enough to do the trick.


  2. Teaf5 | | #2

    The horsehair would be used instead of boning, as doing both would be very bulky; however, I agree that horsehair wouldn't give the support a strapless top would need.That said, even professionally made strapless dresses are hard to wear; the boning has to very stiff, so that it will support the top by resting on the hips, and that also makes it impossible to bend over while wearing it! A boned, strapless top has to fit the wearer exactly, and she has to stand/sit in perfect posture every minute that she wears it--not very fun for a prom.If your daughter likes any of the strapped or sleeved versions of that pattern, you'll have a lot fewer headaches, and she'll be a lot more comfortable in it. On my daughter's prom dress, we used a thin, delicately beaded and embroidered trim as the straps, and I was able to leave the rest of the dress smooth and soft. It was beautiful, and she didn't spend any time hitching up her bodice the way her friends in expensive strapless gowns did.

  3. Sew Lady | | #3

    Sorry this is a little late, Elaray. I have the ultimate answer for your daughter's dress. Insert about 1-1 and 1/4 inch long 1/4 inch elastic into the under arm seam (the side of the bodice)of her dress. It hugs the bodice very snuggly to the chest and give the wearer some "breathing room". something sorely needed in formal wear. I learned this little trick years ago when working as a seamstress in a bridal salon.

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