Thursday, October 6, 2011

Help Wanted: Altering a Backless Gown to Suit My Style

I am thrilled to be able to tell you I am going to a wedding soon. I have been waiting for a wedding to come my way for years so you can image how very excited I am! I love weddings... I think. I am not sure actually, as the only one I have ever been to was when I was 7. 

But this one ... this one has to be awesome. My cousin, Scott, and his very longterm girlfriend, Josie are such cool & beautiful people I cannot imagine any thing of theirs not living up to their standards of awesome. Plus, both the ceremony and reception are to be held in late 1930s theater! What could be a better venue to re-introduce me into the magic of matrimony (or at least the party bits of it!)? The theater is gorgeous, from what I've seen of it, and I finally get to get dressed up in period-eque attire and get to fit in with the atmosphere! I am sosososooooooo excited. 

I have a huge problem though... I have no authentic 30s or 40s fancy dress. And I'm far too broke to buy any of the ones I like. 

My (hugely conflicting) solution: Altering a 1980s silk hand-me-down gown to look more similar to the style I like. This could be easy if this dress didn't have an open back. I'm not talking open down to the waist, but open all the way to right above my bum. It is distressing. I am trying to figure if I can craftily add some fabric to the lower bit without it looking bad. I have to go through all of my potential alterations for this dress mentally since the dress is with my mom. It is a problem. 

the back, from what I can recall, is very much like this one. Only not as nice looking on me....
The neck on my dress is high and moderately wide. I think I would like it to be more like this though:
the colors are similar to this dress, as well.
Do you think making the front like this (rather than the 3/4 length sleeves and wide-ish neckline it currently has) would go okay with such an open back?
Now, here are some open back designs I could be very content with if I had a choice (which
I don't)

That said, any feedback, suggestions, recommendations and such would be appreciated. I only have a little over a month to figure out what to do, so I would prefer that any work I need to do be quick and easy (because people generally want things to be difficult and time-consuming...)

Thank you in advanced to who ever can help me!

xx Gee


  1. There are various ways you could do the back, a lace modesty panel perhaps.
    They did however have quite low backs as well.
    I think that neckline would look lovely however it may prove a little difficult unless you leave out the sleeves and make it a backless halter neck gown.
    Have a flick through here, I really love it for inspiation =):

  2. A small piece of lace (with fabric behind) could be added to make the back slightly higher :)

  3. Sounds like a perfect venue! I adore the 30s, can't wait to see the pics =)

    About the dress... Holksleeves tends to need some extra width, and it might therefore be a bit tricky to add those to an existing gown (if I understood correctley that the gown doesn't already have such?).
    However, how about attatching a band that cowls in the back, sort of like the dress to the left in the first pattern above? It would also be easy to gather the front against it.

    Good luck with the sewing!

  4. Alas, I have no wisdom to impart, being rather ignorant when it comes to sewing, but I wish you good luck and you'll have to show us the final product!

  5. Thanks for the suggestions. I will certainly let you all know what goes on once I get my paws on the dress.

  6. Have you seen Decades of Style 3301? The back in this pattern as an adaptation may be possible in a contrasting fabric. It will still hold the neck up and won't make sleeve reconstruction so difficult. The insert around the bottom of the back won't be so large as to be dramatic.I recommend a matching evening jacket with a slight drape in the back as a cover up. Retro Butterick and Vintage Vogue both have options. Please show your results!

  7.'s probably too late but I came across this pattern as well - Vogue 8361 (ebay- 300619876765) - the overall pattern is not much but the diamond drop back insert is kind of 30s sexy/cute and would make a fabulous "modesty panel".

  8. Don’t get me wrong, but I think it would be easier for us to suggest our recommended style if you posted a photo of the actual dress. But I guess it's a bit too late for that. It’s been a long time, so I guess you’ve already figured out what to do. Even so, I would love to see how you did the altered version.

    Serena Hartigan @ The Zip Yard