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Forum > Fitting Woes > Adding length to a ready to wear sweater dress ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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Adding length to a ready to wear sweater dress
Sweater Dress Hem Alteration
Heavenly Design
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Date: 11/9/13 8:31 PM

I've sewn garments before, so I didn't think I'd have a problem when asked to add 4 inches of length to a dress for a friend. When the dress was passed to me via a 3rd party, lo and behold, it was a sweater dress. It has a bit of an A-line to it. What would be the best way to go about adding length to a sweater dress?

beauturbo
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Date: 11/9/13 9:28 PM

I have seen some knit stuff in the stores lately, even sweaters, that have a sort of fake under piece and layer attached to them, on the hem of them, top or a skirt/dress. What seems to be "in" for that just this fall, is one or two layers of a very soft matching color, floaty polyester georgette or chiffon for that. One layer would be still, rather see though, 2 or more layers of it, less so probably.

Most times it's just a strip of fabric either regular narrow hemmed or maybe rolled hemmed on a overlocker. And they just tacked it to the underside of an existing hem, so when it hangs down from there, it does not look sewn onto the outside of it at all. Depending on how sporty your sweater dress was, that might work. If it was striped or something probably not though. But if that would work, you could even attach that strip of it, even by hand sewing it on, onto the inside under edge of it there, more invisible to the outside of the sweater dress existing hem.

I have lengthened a whole bunch of stuff, but if you add a whole another element and fabric to something to do that, most times it does look like an afterthought, and more just a lengthening measure, unless you really use more of the same stuff, to make it look like a more planned design element in the garment someplace else at the same time. With the above, maybe you would not have to really do that at all.

Or maybe stick a band or even a skirt of fake leather on there, to make it seem longer, or maybe some kind of woolly fringe?

The person that gave you that dress to make it longer though, must of known there was really no way at all to do that, and have it look just the same, and all really 4 inches longer at the same time, but a whole 4 inches longer, so whatever you do, I think you are going to have to get kind of creative and contrasty when you do it.

Heavenly Design
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Date: 11/9/13 9:38 PM

Thank you so much for your suggestions! The dress does have horizontal stripes, skinny ones and there is a strip of horizontal lace in several places (a few approx. 1" wide and then one at the hem at 4 1/2 inches). I like the idea of adding a piece of chiffon at the hem, I have seen that at the bottom hem of T-shirts. Thanks again (:

EleanorSews
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Date: 11/9/13 9:39 PM

You might want to have a couple options to discuss with the dress owner before you do anything. She needs to know what her only options are. Sometimes people expect the impossible.

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"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin

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BrendaR
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Date: 11/10/13 0:50 AM

Maybe you can lengthen it at the waist by inserting a yoke or a band. That way the hem would remain the same. But it's a good idea to discuss with the owner as suggested.

Heavenly Design
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Date: 11/14/13 9:42 PM

Reporting "success" as I finished lengthening the sweater dress today! Glad that's over. The search for the exact materials and then the job itself was very labor intensive and the materials were somewhat expensive ($30) and the dress was only $50! I think the customer will be happy with the results. Just my opinion but, I don't think anyone will be able to tell (unless they are aware) that there is an additional 4 inches attached to the hem that wasn't supposed to be there to begin with. Wishing I could post a picture of the steps but I'm not that tech savvy (:



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Date: 11/15/13 4:11 PM

What did you eventually decide to do?

Heavenly Design
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Date: 11/28/13 9:34 AM

The customer wanted 4" added to the length. The dress was red with a sort of a black faire isle look and some black lace embellishments overlayed horizontally at the bust, waist and hem. The lace towards the hem (and at the bust) was scalloped slightly with fringe along the scallops. The tricky part was finding a lace that matched. Once I found the matching lace (which was actually a lace fabric, 36"wide with the fringed scalloped edge on both sides) I cut 2 continuous piece's of the scalloped lace (so there would end up being only one seam) and placed this over a "dead on" matching red piece of cotton material (I didn't want anything to heavy as the dress had a slight "A" line to it and I didn't want to compromise that line) making two overlapping pieces of the scalloped lace over the red. Once I had the hem piece all together I hand stitched it "under" the hem of the sweater dress with two rows of hand stitching about an inch or so apart. Then I carefully machine sewed over my hand stitching being careful not to stretch the original sweater dress hem.

The lace was a black bridal lace (not sure who uses black for bridal lace) and the material cost almost as much as the dress with the entire job costing over the actual dress price. However the customer "loved" the finished product and that was my goal!

Wishing I could post pictures of the process as I was very happy with the end results (after panicking when I took the dress out of the bag which had been passed to me by a third party). I also learned a lesson and that is to look at the garment before committing to project (:

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