You may recall the knockoff Atonement dress
that I bought myself for my birthday last year. As I recall, the eBay listing from which I got it said it was a commission that they were now reselling, so I think it was a custom fit. That original owner was petite but even less curvy than I am, and remarkably short-waisted, so I was never quite happy with the fit. I considered altering it, but the biggest problem for me seemed to unfixable, as the slightly-two-narrow hips liked to ride up on me and make the front all crinkly. Still, the dress has interesting bones, so I hated to just donate it or something.
It occurred to me then that I could work it to fit somebody else. That would give me practice altering fit, as well as make a nice present for somebody I like. I immediately thought of Carolyn, my favorite model, who is also more petite than me and might not have the same hip issue as I did, nor the problem with the zipper and the broad rib cage. I've been meaning to practice taking things in at the side anyway. So I asked her is she was interested, and she kindly obliged.
When she tried the dress on, shockingly it turned out to be a bit of a tight fit. She too is longer-waisted than the dress is designed for, and despite her much greater delicacy in the trunk than me, the zipper just barely closed and make it pretty tough for her to breathe. It didn't need taking in on the sides at all. But still, it looked pretty damn good on her, better than it ever looked on me, and could work if tweaked in some other ways. It was too long, and it definitely needed the straps shortened. It also occurred to me, because I never could get the damn thing zipped, to slide the zipper down a couple of inches. Carolyn said it was much more comfortable that way, and it fixed the creasing problem in the front. Now that is something I can work with!
So here's what I did. I opened up the top seams on the back of the dress. It's really sturdily and cleanly made, with a complete lining of another layer of the fashion fabric. You can see where the two layers are seamed together here.
I took my seam ripper and picked the two layers apart. I also removed the straps while I was in there, to resew them in place a good bit shorter than they were before. I also detached the zipper from the lining-- but not the outer fashion fabric, you'll notice. You can also see the slightly spongy interfacing they used to pad the bodice here.
Then I folded each of the two layers of dress material inward, along a straight line going from just inside where the strap attached and the point to which I had pulled the zipper down. That spot would be the new top of the zipper. I noticed that the way it was designed, the zipper had no stopper, the track just disappeared into the seam between the two fabric layers, so I decided to do the same thing. I folded in the zipper above that point in between just the same way. The I sewed the folded over parts of the two layers together, so that the stitches would not show on the outside.
I did the same thing on the other side. Here's the current state of the dress's back, finished and pressed.
It's not perfect, I could not make the new seams quite as clean as the old ones, but no switches show, and the fabric stayed smooth and everything is still symmetrical. I also managed to make the zipper disappear into the seams such that it now terminates at a lower point! I can't wait to try it on Carolyn again. I think it will work much better.
I still have to hem it, and figure out how a shortened hem is going to interact with the giant train it's got. But one thing at a time, and I think I pulled off the first stage nicely.