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Jazzing up a plain dress

Michelle58 | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi – I’m new to this so hope someone can assist me.  I have a plain red – princess style dress (Simplicity 4921 – I think its that type) – the front is made up of three pieces – and I would like to jazz it up a bit.  I was thinking of outline stitching by hand in a charcoal colour both sides of the 2 front seams or creating a couple of flowers on the front.  I do not have any artistic ability and my machine only has a few decorative stitches on it.  There is also a short sleeved jacket to match.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Many thanks  


  1. GailAnn | | #1

    I'd just wear a scarf.  But don't go by me, I'm not all that creative.  Gail

  2. jatman | | #2

    Have you considered adding a single row of beads to the neckline and sleeves?  Maybe do pick-stitching with beads in the same charcoal color?  Let us know what you decide to do.  Maybe even a before and after picture?



  3. Gloriasews | | #3

    Can you wear the jacket with other outfits?  If not, you could consider trimming the jacket with applique flowers or another fabric, or, as the other ladies suggested, beads.  You could also applique a few flowers on the dress, depending upon where they are situated & whether or not you'll always wear the jacket with it.  You could also trim it with your decorative stitches.  Also, as Gail suggested, you could wear scarves - those could be different every time you wore the outfit - same as jewellery.


  4. suesew | | #4

    You could zigzag over a rattail down the seams or use a cording foot and do decorative stitching over something as simple as embroidery thread. I like to use different coloredthreads in the seven cord foot and do a 3 step zigzag over it.
    The color combinations are endless.

    1. Josefly | | #5

      I'm not the person who posted the question, but I liked your idea for the stitching. I've seen knit dresses and other garments embellished with coverstitching on the outside instead of inside, in a contrast thread, and like the look very much, as well as simple zig-zag. But what is zigzagging over a "rattail"?

      1. suesew | | #6

        Rattail is a shiny cord - it actually may be too thick to apply to a princess seam. My local fabric store actually keeps it in the craft department. But once you start looking at the different things that are out there you may find something that would work in whatever application you want to try.

      2. starzoe | | #8

        Look for soutache braid at a fabric store, it is thinner than rattail. You can zigzag over yarn, crochet cotton, metallic threads, braids, almost anything, but try it out first on scrap fabric.

        1. Josefly | | #9

          Good suggestions. I'm laughing at myself for forgetting what rattail was (is)...one of those famous elder-blankouts...I thought for a moment it was some kind of tool to make the couching stitch (zigzag or whatever) look different. Now I see it's an extra decorative element. Thank you.

          Edited 11/13/2007 8:29 pm ET by Josefly

  5. Teaf5 | | #7

    If you have an amazing figure, you might want to go with the contrasting stitching to outline the seams; however, contrast--especially on a red dress--is going to make the outfit very, very memorable, so you won't be able to wear it very often without people thinking that it's your only dress!

    I like the other suggestions of scarves and jewelry, as those allow you to vary the look and make the dress look fresh each time you wear it. 

    If you'd like to add some elegance without contrast, simple beading in the same color red around the neckline or just in the lower front of the neckline adds a nice touch, and you can still add scarves and jewelry to vary the look.

  6. mygaley | | #10

    In my snoop-shopping I fell in love with self-fabric roses made of a long strip of folded fabric, finished rose about 1" wide. If you have scraps from this dress you could use these roses to trim the neckline. Since they would be color matched, you could still wear a scarf over them. God bless you Galey

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