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Subject: Updating Used Dress & Redo Cape

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Date Posted: 12:28:58 03/15/01 Thu
In reply to: K 's message, "Contruction Problems-Technique & Tips" on 15:45:15 03/10/01 Sat

Recently we bought a used velvet solo dress. It is my daughter's first dress. It is somewhat old fashioned and has been through at least 3 dancers. It did not come with a cape or crown and the skirt seems very "limp" to me. I do not sew and there is not a seamstress experienced in solo costumes nearby. My questions are: can a seamstress who does embroidery on other types of clothing possibly match the cape to what is on the dress now? How should I tell her to construct it (ie stiffening)? How long should it take and how much should I expect to pay? What can I do about the limp skirt ( I notice all the new ones are very stiff, this one is a split panel).? How difficult would it be to replace the collar ( it is currently a thin material, I think it would look better in velvet)?

-Without actually seeing the dress, it's hard to say, but here goes...First, can the velvet be matched? For the crown, a shade off might not be noticeable, but for the cape you'd want it really close. Sometimes matching velvets can be a problem, but not always. Since it's an older dress, is the embroidery chainstitched by hand, or a machine satin-stitched? You could also consider the option of having a satin cape made with no embroidery. As for the stiffener, Vilene or a product similar should be used, but I wouldn't suggest having someone who is not experienced do it, as the entire skirt has to be taken apart and reconstructed. I charge in the neighborhood of $100 for new stiffener, but that can change according to how it was made, if the lining will then need to be replaced, etc. Is this a dress that your daughter will be able to wear for a while? Hopefully so, but if not, consider how much money you really want to put into it, and if you'll get a decent return with resale. Overall, you could easily be looking at $200-$300 to get it done - possibly more. Does you teacher have any suggestions? What area of the country are you in? Perhaps one of us can come up with someone to help you out.

--Thanks for the reply! I think I have matched the velvet, it is black and so, not as difficult a shade. I believe it is machine embroidered, and I know that these days they can replicate almost any pattern. You make a good point about how much money to put into this project. I kinda thought $200 would be in the ballpark for what I want done. This dress should last her a year but maybe only a half, considering her growth rate right now. Hopefully with the changes I am making it won't be too old fashion to sell again at that time. I have a question. I see Vilene mentioned a lot on these pages. Is it what is in the new dress that stand out so nicely? Thank you for your suggestions. Our teacher is very busy with the Oireachtas and I am more or less on my own with this. I live in the metro Atlanta area if anyone knows of someone who is experienced with these dresses.

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[> [> Subject: Update your Dress

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Date Posted: 20:16:13 03/15/01 Thu

I was at a feis this weekend, and I got quite a few rude comments on my dress. I have my solo, but it is somewhat old. It is kelly green and lime underneath. It is embroidered in a very simple design with my family name on the cape. There is a split pleat in front and it is made of velvet. I have to admit I got the dress (as a 2nd hand) 3 years ago. I am not ready to get a new dress, and my mom has no time right now to sew one. For now, is there any way that I can update it at all? I have some experience sewing but not enough to make a whole new dress. I wouldn't be afraid to try something small. I was wondering if I made a two shoulder cape would that help? Also adding rhinestones? If you really think that I should just wait and not spend the money on this dress, please let me know all your ideas! I don't plan to keep this dress for more than a few months, though.

-A square shawl might help, but a better idea might be to change the sleeves. You could do something with sequins, lace, or a fabric to match some of the embroidery. Do you still have a cuff that you could attach? If you do remove the sleeves, keep them intact so that you can use them as a pattern for the new ones.

-I agree, the easiest way is to change the sleeves. There is one dancer I have seen from another school who has changed hers 3 times. Confetti dot fabric will definitely brighten it up. Also, if the dress doesn't already have rhinestones, add some. They can be glued on with drycleanable jewel glue. Another thing you can do is to hand stitch some attractive cording along the collar and seams of a princess bodice. All this can be done pretty inexpensively. Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

-Believe it or not, it's already done. The sleeves look great! My mom's friend who is an amazing seamstress also made a new cape (2 shoulder). The dress looks so much different that I can't believe it. Also, some of the "pretend" rhinestones were added. I am so thankful for all your suggestions, I will definitly visit your new board!

-You could also add an overlay type yoke if the embroidery on the bodice would accomodate it. Perhaps a lace, hologram or glitter ball fabric outlined with a color from the embroidery.

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