Beads on a Gown…..Removing and Reattaching

Many of you out there have been asking me how to take off beads and reattach them.

I don’t have a “rocket science” answer, but I’ll tell you what works for me.

I just begin by assessing the area where they are to be removed.

If I am taking in the side seams or bust of a dress, I will start by removing the beads closest to the seam line.

On this dress, the beads are huge and vary in size and shape, so I need to remove them or my presser foot will not be able to move over the surface of the fabric when I take in the dress.

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As I assess the area, I look to see if the beads are sewn on individually with a long thread or if they are attached onto a separate piece of fabric, like a netting.

This dress didn’t have the netting.

The beads were sewn on individually, but probably done by a machine.

I can usually follow the thread with my eye, even while it is still sewn in, to figure out which beads should come off.

I use either my seam ripper or a pair of small pointed scissors to clip the first thread.

Once that is done, I pull the bead off and store it in a small bowl or baggie.

Now, I gently pull on the thread to see where the next bead is coming from.

I try to keep the thread as long as I can without cutting it because I may be able to use that same thread later to secure the beads that are not going to be removed.

We’ll talk more about that later.

Once all of the beads are off, I do the alteration.

Then, I find a needle that is narrow enough for the beads to slide over.

Thread the needle with thread that matches the color that was used originally.

Tie a knot on the end.

I come up through the dress from the back, or if that is not possible, or I don’t want the knot to show on the underside, I come up through a spot where I will later attach a bead so that the knot will be hidden:

Anchor the bead down with several stitches. The bead above needs to be sewn by coming up through the middle of it and then down the outside of it.

Sometimes, you’ll have to go through the middle of the bead like this:

And sometimes, you’ll have to sew it on the edge of the bead like this:


Just continue to sew beads on. If there was originally a pattern or sequence to how the beads were sewn on, then follow that sequence. Sometimes you won’t be able to match it exactly, but do what you can to make it look as good as possible. In this case, the beads were sewn randomly all over the dress bodice, so I will do the same and fill in the open spaces until it looks good:

When I get to the end, I will pull the thread to the back of the dress (if that is possible).

Remember the long thread(s) that you had from pulling beads off at the beginning?

Thread those onto a needle one at a time:

Then pull it to the back of the dress and tie the two threads together into a knot that is secure:

If you’re not able to pull them through to the back of the garment, then tie your knots under a bead or in some spot where they can’t be seen.

And that’s all there is to it!

When you’re finished, it should look the same as before you started.


French Bustles…Making Them Even Easier Than Before!

A big thanks to Christy, at Alterations by Christy, for telling me about an even easier way to put French bustles in your gown!

Many of you have seen the post I wrote on Putting Bustles on Your Wedding Gown. Christy saw it too and wrote to tell me about a step in the process that will save you lots of time.

Please refer back to the original post and then come back here for the short cut.

This time I am using a red formal gown that came with some bustling on the back already as part of the design.

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Don’t let that throw you, if your dress back doesn’t have this poofing.

Your dress can have a simple plain train or a fancy one. The technique is the same.

This dress needed three bustles to keep it off the ground and the dress had three seams in the back, so it worked perfectly.

I always try to pin along the seams so I can hide the mechanics of the bustles under the dress.

Here is one of the bustles I pinned up.

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Then I put pins to mark the upper and lower parts of that bustle, carefully took out the original pin, and laid it out flat:

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Then, I transfered the pin marks to the underside of the skirt where I need to work on the bustles:

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Instead of creating the loops like I did in my first post, Christy suggests using these instead:

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I found them at my local Joann Fabric store for about $2.00. They were in the section where the snaps are.

Ideally, you want the ring to sit above the top pin’s mark.

However, sometimes, that isn’t possible, as in this case:

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Because of a previously sewn in bustle, my ring can’t sit above the pin mark.

You may find that this situation arises if your zipper tape is in the way as well.

So, let me tell you how to adjust for this problem.

I went ahead and stitched in the ring by hand onto the seam allowance only.

Then I measured the distance between the bottom of the ring and the pin mark:

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In this case, it’s only 1/4″, which may not seem like enough to bother with, but I do anyway.  If yours is a greater amount, you’ll want to make the adjustment or your dress will hang too low when bustled.

So, I take that 1/4″ measurement, and go 1/4″ lower than the bottom pin mark and stitch the ribbon to the seam allowance only at the new mark:

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Now, just thread the ribbon ends through the ring…

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and tie in a bow like you tie your shoelaces, and you have it!

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This bustle will stay put all through the reception and dance!

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Thanks, Christy; you saved us all alot of time!

Taking in the Waist and Center Back on Denim Pants and Skirts

One of the more common alterations I do is taking in the waist and center back on pants and skirts.

Most people try and solve this problem by just making a dart or two in the back of the pants.

That doesn’t work too well if your pants or skirt is made of thick fabric and has double stitched seams.

This is when this alteration comes in handy and it works on pants and skirts alike.

For this illustration, I have a skirt:

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Pin how much you need to take in and record the amounts along the waist and the center back seam as I did in the second photo of this post.

Or use your favorite method of transferring markings.

This skirt has a belt loop at the center back. With a seam ripper or a pair of small pointed scissors, take off the belt loop, making sure you pay attention to how it is attached because you are going to reattach it in the same way after you make the alteration:

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Remove any tags that are sewn in:

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Open up the horozontal waist seam by about four inches or more (2″ on either side of the center back) with your seam ripper or scissors:

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If there is stitching along the top edge of the waistband, take out about 3 inches of that (1 1/2″ on either side of the center back seam).

Now, this skirt does not have a center back seam. Most pants and jeans don’t either.

If yours doesn’t have a center back seam, don’t worry, we are going to put one in and it won’t show, as I’ll illustrate later.

This skirt needed to be taken in 3/4″ total in the waist. So, that means, I need to take in 3/8″ on both sides of the center back.

I took a ruler and marked the skirt 3/8″ away from the center back (make sure you mark to the left of the center and to the right of the center), one  at the top of the band and one at the bottom of the band:

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See the blue pen mark in the photo above? Well, you probably don’t want to use a blue pen, but I thought you’d be able to see it better than my marking pen.

Make these marks on the outside waistband and the inside waistband because you have to take in both!

Just to clarify, your markings should look like this:

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As you can tell in the photo above, if you don’t have a center back seam, you can draw one with a washable marker, or press it in, or eyeball it.

When you don’t have a center back seam, you are going to create one to take the waistline in. Don’t worry, it will be covered by the belt loop. The best way I’ve found to insure that my seam is hidden under the belt loop, is to sew it to the right (or left) of the actual center back seam that you see double stitched below the waistband. See how it doesn’t line up exactly? That’s what you want. In this case, I moved it over about 1/8″ inch.

To take in the waistband, fold the waistband along the new imaginary seamline, right sides together. (If your garment came with a center back seam, of course you’ll just stitch a line parallel to the seamline.) Match the blue dots to each other and pin them in place:

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Stitch in that new 3/8″ seam:

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Most of the time, I cut the fold and spread the new seam out flat to reduce bulk in the waistband area.

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However, if this is your first time with this alteration, wait and make sure everything is going fit together well before you trim it. If you have taken in a small amount, you may just want to leave it alone and not trim it. It’s up to you.

Now, we’re going to move to the skirt (or pants) for a few minutes, so leave the waistband until later.

Turn the skirt or pants to the underside. You need to take out the topstitching next.

Sometimes, the manufacturer will stitch the topstitching with a chain stitch. These are great because you can grab one thread and pull and the whole seam will come out. Just make sure you don’t pull out more than you meant to!

On this skirt I had one row of chain stitch and one row of regular stitching:

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Take out the topstitching with a seam ripper or scissors.

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Take in the skirt or pants the desired amount, tapering the seam towards the original seam like this:

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Again, I don’t just guess on how much to take in, I have pinned it first and then transferred the markings so I know exactly where to stitch the new seam.

Once you have the new seam stitched, turn the garment to the right side and topstitch the seam just like it was originally:

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In the photo above, you can tell where the old seam was, but don’t worry, that will fade quickly and most people don’t notice it anyway.

Here is where you want to reattach the belt loop.

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Stitch the labels back on:

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Now, topstitch to top of the waistband:

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Stitch the waistband to the skirt (or pants). I usually topstitch this area closed:

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Topstitch the top of the belt loop and then the bottom to hold it in place:

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Here’s a look at the inside:

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This is what it should look like on the outside. It should look the same as before you started, only smaller!

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