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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What You're Altering...Removing Beads to take in a Formal

Our question today comes from Carolyn. She writes:

I began alterating formal gowns this year. There were two dresses with beads on the bodice. These dresses needed to be let in, and of course the beads were in the area. Could you give some pointers on altering dresses with beads around the bodice. Sometimes I would be so afraid of losing lots of beads when cutting out the beads around the seam area. Thanks


I am a big fan of digital cameras. I take pictures of everything I work on. That way you have a reference to the way the garment looked originally.
If you have a digital macro setting on your camera, learn to use it. You can see that my photos are up close and clear. This is the setting I use most often and it will be great for your beadwork. You can also photograph from a distance, in your case, if you need to remember the pattern of the beads.

I use a seam ripper when removing beads. It is tough to see the nylon thread sometimes, but a good light will help point out where to insert the seam ripper tip. When working on a dress with lots of beads, I put a sheet underneath the dress, to catch the beads that I don't see falling. As you know, they are often strung together and many come off at the same time. I put loose ones in a bowl.

Remember, you don't have to stress about replacing the beads as perfect as the original design. The client will not notice. You have a much keener eye, since you are doing the work. All she is looking for is the sparkle and the fact that there are no gaps where beads used to be.

Don't leave out the sequins, though. They are surprisingly effective at reflecting the light. They look tiny and useless, but they really do the job to add sparkle.

One last thing. Be sure you charge enough when altering these kind of gowns. They are time consuming. Inform your client up front as to how much work is involved, telling her that each bead must be sewn back on by hand. If you aren't getting paid enough, you will quickly resent your job and maybe your client. Wanna guess how I know this?? Yep, been there done that.


Anyone else have any tips for Carolyn?

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