Thursday, September 8, 2016


Geez, so much drama. I know some people feel that something vintage should be left alone and nothing changed on it, not even buttons. When vintage pieces are used in theatre, sometimes that's no possible.

Last week my work assignment was this dress.

 I'd say it's late 1950's/early 1960's. Off-white netting over off-white taffeta, with scattered gold sequin. Pretty dress, perfect for the show. My assignment? "Make the bodice 4" bigger", says The Boss.

 Stop reading now, ok?

At some point, the bust seams and the side had been (badly) altered. This dress was donated. It turned out, after I fixed those alterations and let out the 6 seams, it ended up needing only 2" added.

 The added fabric and facing. Inside the dress

 Here's the outside. We had some netting that almost matched and some fabric that was also pretty close. I use the 10 foot rule. Can you see it from 10 feet (on stage) away? If not, it works.

 Because the waist of the skirt also had to be enlarged, I put a panel all the way down the side. When I sewed the skirt and bodice back together, I loosened put the net gathers on the outside of the skirt. I also had to change the sash to match another costume.

 The finished alteration from the front.

 The back

And the side. I may have to add a few sequin, or not, seeing as the actor's arm will be covering the side of the dress, it may not even show.

Most costume department have a crazy amount of vintage clothes. Some of it isn't going to fit the modern body. The actor who's going to wear this dress isn't that big. You can see the size of the dress form in the last photo. Our option for the needed costume were: build it for the show or alter something from stock. Making the dress  would have taken time and money. We have no fabric shops where I work, so that would have meant shopping on line. That would have taken at least a week to get the fabric delivered, a pattern being made, a fitting, cutting out the fabric, sewing it together, another fitting then finishing. Time and money. I spent about 6 hours and zero money on the alteration. All the fabric was pulled from our fabric stock.  I don't  cut up beautiful vintage dresses for fun, if I can use them slightly altered, I will. I'd rather do that than have a piece hanging in the warehouse, rotting on a hanger.

On to the next costume...... 


  1. You did a great job! And, as you say, some of those vintage garments are soooo small, totally unwearable.

  2. What fantastic work!
    I have too many dresses which are too tight now but I hang on to them in the hopes that one day they will fit again, by which time I will probably look like " mutton dressed up as lamb!" JanF

  3. i never feel an ounce of guilt when recycling clothes , im a big girl so it happens a lot .

  4. That's funny, I've spent this afternoon altering an ugly Little House on the Prairie style 1970s maxi into a 1950s style square dancing dress. Unless it's an antique or made by a top designer I've no qualms at all.
    Great job! xxx

    1. would never change up an antique piece....wouldn't put it on stage either.

  5. You're a genius! Well done, and in only six hours. If it's vintage and not getting worn because of sizing issues, I figure it's worth a little tinkering. But like you and Vix, not on antique or truly stunning pieces best left as is for someone else.

  6. So now we have a title for that book about creating costumes I keep prompting you to write: "Thorne's Ten-Foot Rule"!

  7. Well done, and great job!, it looks nice and it's going to be enjoyed both by the public and the actress. I've no problem in altering vintage clothes, but I'm really cautious as my sewing skills are few and shy!