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Date Posted: 14:34:59 05/31/17 Wed
Subject: I've done lots of ID dress alterations, so some tips inside for buying if you want to keep a dress.
In reply to:
's message, "Looking back, what do you wish you'd known about the process of buying a solo dress?" on 03:47:04 05/29/17 Mon
The measurement across the upper chest (between the seams at the sleeves) cannot be altered, and this width varies considerably by dancer (even of the same age). So make sure this is going to fit and give room to grow.
A typical seam will have 5/8 inch on either side of the seam or 1 1/4 inch total fabric showing. Only consider fabric in excess of that to be "let out." If the seam has been cut (slits make toward the seam) it is useless for letout.
"Let out" in the zipper, in my experience, is mostly useless in ID dresses for waist and higher since it cannot create any additional space in front. It can be useful in taking in/letting out hips/skirt, though.
If lengthening a dress, the excess fabric should come from bottom of bodice. If skirt itself is lengthened, it often throws off proportions or hang of skirt. Carefully check fabric along most of the seam, many times BNDM will trim excess fabric at bottom center of bodice so ask for photos to make sure it can actually be lengthened.
Someone already mentioned this, but make sure that any let out or let down has the appropriate embroidery or design to allow that to happen. Especially sleeves and at bottom of bodice.
When a dress is let-out or let down, traditional velvets will show alterations more than satins. Darker fabrics show it more than lighter. Side seams are hidden by arms, and embroidery will hide alterations as well.
You want to be able to see and access the seams and seam allowance inside the dress. If it is fully lined (where the lining hides all the seams) it may look cleaner inside but is much more cumbersome and costly to make simple alterations.
Odor can be one of the worst issues. It's awkward, but ask about odor specifically. We bought a dress online that was unwearable and I had to take it apart and risk handwashing the bodice. My DD always wears a wicking undershirt with short sleeves and we put pantiliners in the armpits. No odor issues with our dresses.
ID dresses are more complicated than most in terms of design/construciton, so don't assume any tailor or seamstress can handle them. The weight, the stones, the specific designs of the skirts and skirt frames, are all foreign to most tailors I've worked with. Taking down a sleeve, letting out a waist, or replacing a zipper is basic, but for complex alterations, ask your TC for recommendations.
Lastly - some general observations that don't have anything to do with alterations:
1. I've seen so many parents buy really dated dresses since they aren't familiar with the ins/outs of ID fashion. The price should vary dramatically with age, but some list old dresses for prices of a new dress. Asking veteran parents can help, but please consult with your TC before any purchase - both on style and price. Ours saved me some ill-advised purchases until I got the eye for what I was looking for.
2. Like buying real estate, if something has been on the market for a while, try to negotiate. If it's a new listing and you want it, jump on it right away.
3. Styles change rapidly. A novice or prizewinner dancer can wear an older dress, but an open champ will often be noticeable in a dress several years old.
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