Sunday, May 2, 2010

Prom Again

There are a few requests I simply cannot deny: "Can I have some more broccoli?", "May I do the dishes?", and "Can I do my homework now?" But right near the top of the list is this one: "Sister Wells, can you help make my prom dress more modest?"

As the mother of three (soon to be four!) girls, I am heavily invested in making modest both lovely and popular. And when faced with a young woman from church who wants to feel comfortable at prom while still wearing this gorgeous dress of her dreams, how could I say no?*

The situation was different from last year, however. Chloe (from last year) had a high enough front, but felt exposed in the back. Sarah's strapless sweetheart neckline (and I wish I had taken an unmodeled before picture) made her feel uncomfortable in the front. Luckily, she needed eight inches hemmed off the bottom (of that fantastic tucked and gathered skirt--LOVE it!), which was the perfect amount to extend her bodice (the plain black in the picture below) and add two gathered sleeve portions.
Both the front and back additions were simply tucked into the bodice and handsewn into position. (I didn't want to risk the beading with my sewing machine.) The pink camisole in the picture below was something Sarah wore during fittings to show me what she would like covered, if possible.
I didn't use the same pattern as last year because the issues were different, but this worked out to be just as simple. I measured the bodice from one princess seam to the other (at the neckline). This was ten inches. I knew that Sarah wanted 4 added inches of coverage at the front center, so I wanted the extension piece to be at least 6 inches tall. Then I measured from one underarm seam to the other (I don't remember what that measurement was), and created this drawing.
See the orange trapezoidal shape? That's the bodice extension. I made a pattern with the correct measurements, plus 1/2" seam allowance, and cut out one piece of the dress fabric and one piece of lining. Since I had a long 8" strip from hemming the dress up, I simply cut two long (probably 8"x30", just to be safe) rectangles from that strip, and hemmed the other side of the rectangles, and gathered up one short side on each "sleeve". I put the two trapezoids right sides together, with the sleeves between the two pieces, centered on the top rounded corners, and sewed the piece. Slap that sucker into the top of the dress, and BAM! instant modesty. (I have some concerns that these instructions are about as clear as a gravel pit, but I promise it was not hard. You could do it. If you can run a sewing machine, you could do this.)

If I can get some prom pictures from Sarah, I'll post them here. They'd have to be more elegant than the loveliness of my sewing room.

*However, I'm not going to imply that I didn't have some SERIOUS anxiety over this dress. Every time I sew for someone else, I have nightmares that I am going to flub it up horribly. This was no exception. The night before I realized this solution would work, I dreamed that I had cut a huge chunk out of the front of the skirt to drape artistically over one of Sarah's shoulders. Dream Sarah had been sobbing about her dress being ruined before Dream Emilee realized that probably hadn't been the best solution.

14 comments:

adventure knitter said...

oh my goodness! That dress is gorgeous!! At first I thought you had made the whole thing....but I'm still totally impressed with your modifications! I know I'll be calling you in 11 years when Meg is asked to prom.

John said...

My only concern with the entire project was that it was sketched out on St. Joseph Regional Medical Center paper. Being a family medicine resident at Memorial Hospital, I'm not sure I appreciate the free advertising my wife has given to our chief rival.

karen said...

You are a miracle worker. We may need your talents soon, on a wedding dress. I botched an expensive prom dress....I dont think I can risk my non talent on this one!!!!

Jake said...

It's a conspiracy john. We're targeting resident families first.

Kate said...

You make it sound so easy! It looks so great. I may require your services in, um, about 14 years. :) Or maybe my goal can be to learn to sew better before Paige & Allie go to prom.

Irish Cream said...

I, too, wondered about the free advertising for St. Jo Hospital. Where did you get the paper?

Emilee! The modifications look AMAZING! You know I've already recommended your services to another friend to make her wedding dress into a baptism gown for her daughter. You are so wonderfully talented.

I even love the dress all the more for the changes. I think it actually accentuates the beading even more! Very nice work!

Shelly and Ken said...

Wow! Amazing! I am so impressed.

Jeff and Larissa said...

WOW. Way better than I imagined it, and I imagined that you did a great job. Nice work! It really has a cool style, and so perfect for Sarah.

Jeff and Larissa said...

Oh, I also noticed the St. Joe paper. We can't help it if St. Joe inspires creativity, can we?

Bonnie said...

You are so amazing! I love it!

The Busy Butler Family said...

Well done! I recently got to do the same thing for a girl in our branch, with the leftovers from her dress being hemmed as well. I wish I'd seen this before I'd started. I think it would have simplified things for me - I'm all about letting someone else figure out what to do and then I just follow the directions! :)

brittani c. said...

You make dreams come true, Emilee. You really are meant to have daughters with all of that fairy godmother magic up your sleeves! Great job!

Mags said...

i don't think i could do this. i had to google: "changing percentages into fractions" the other day to help quinton with 4th grade homework, so my math brain is deteriorating faster than the rest of it and i'd probably implode if i tried. kudos!

The Gardner's said...

You did such a great job! The dress looks beautiful!