Here is a strapless gown that a customer brought in earlier this week:
Sometimes, I can just tack the dress up at random spots and stitch a bar tack in to hold up the hem.
Most of the time, that is how I hem these bubble dresses.
But this dress needed to be taken up 2-5 inches at various spots around the hem.
The bride tried this dress on, and I stuck pins in every 4-6 inches around the hemline:
Once I was ready to start the hem, I made myself a diagram to show myself how much needed to be taken up at the various points on the hem.
I make diagrams because I like the visual.
You may come up with a different system of transferring those measurements.
This is how my little diagram looked:
CF stands for Center Front. CB stands for Center Back. SS stands for Side Seams.
The four darker lines represent side center seams (princess seamlines).
The numbers near each of the lines represent how much needed to be taken up in inches.
Just remember that when you turn the dress inside out, check to make sure that you have the left and right sides of the dress correct. It may now be a mirror image depending on what system you used for keeping track of the measurements
When you look at the hem of a bubble dress, usually, the lining is attached to the dress at the bottom of the hem. The dress side has gathers and the lining side does not.
So, I opened up a seam somewhere where it wouldn’t show or be a bother to the bride.
Here, I decided to open up the center back seam:
When I pulled the dress inside out, I pulled that hemline seam as flat as possible before I began to measure what I need to take up.
Here at the center back, I needed to take up 5 inches, using my seam gauge, so I put a pin at that point:
When I put a pin in place, I poke it through the topside:
and then I poke it through the bottom so that I can see that the seamlines match up:
I’ll put a pin at each corresponding seam and at all the points in between.
You’ll find that this does not have to be done perfectly as you would for a regular dress hem.
In fact, I just begin sewing at the center back and “eyeball” it as I sew along, using the seam gauge to guide my sewing:
You’ll notice that you have much more dress fabric than lining fabric as you sew along, so you’ll need to work in gathers as you sew.
I suppose you could spend the time to stitch in a long basting stitch and pull those threads up, but it would take much longer and this method works just fine.
No one sees the gathers when the dress is hanging.
When you are finished sewing, trim the seam and turn the dress right side out.
Here are how my gathers look. (They aren’t too bad, are they?)
Once you turn the dress right side out, just machine stitch that opening closed.
And that’s all there is to it!
If you’d like to do any other alterations to a bubble dress,
here is a link to a post that I think you’ll find helpful.
The biggest fear people have in altering a bubble dress is how to get in and tackle it.
Once you know how to get into the dress, you just do the alteration the same way you do with other dresses.
Knowing that makes it much less intimidating.
Just have confidence in your ability and you’ll do great!