How to Make a Vintage Gunne Sax Dress Larger
It all began when I was searching for the perfect casual, no fuss, wedding dress in my small town. It was winter and there wasn't one white or cream wedding dress in this entire county that wasn't over the top. They were just too fancy, and $100's for huge gowns that just didn't work for me. I wanted something soft and comfortable, and classic, like those 1970s Victorian style Gunne Sax dresses, I have sold over and over again in these past years.
I had one dress stashed in my storage room, buried but didn't know it. I went through everything and finally pulled it out. I gasped! It was the perfect style, color, fabric. It was totally me. There was only one problem...it was about two sizes too small around the bust, a little snug around the waist and too long. Even so, I was determined to make this work, as I didn't want to search anymore, when I found the most perfect style dress for my casual wedding.
Most of the Vintage Gunne Sax dresses from the 1970's were made for Jrs., and all sized for Jrs. So the biggest size you can find is usually a size 13. Here's the dress I had to work with.
I had no idea how to alter it but thought it could be done. I took the dress to a fabric store, found some cream polyester stretchy fabric that matched the dress and headed home. Here's the fabric I bought. A fairly good match.
After realizing I really didn't know how to do this. I opened the local paper, called a seamstress and begged her to help me alter the dress. She was a very busy lady, and I could tell when I got to her home that she wasn't interested in the project. She then says to me, "You could do this yourself it's not a big deal."
With about ten minutes of instruction, she showed me how to create little inserts to make the top of the dress larger. It was so simple, that even I could do it.
First she opened the stitching below the arm seam on both sides. Then she took the fabric I bought, and cut out little inserts that were to be sewn into the side seams of the dress. She pinned one of the pieces onto the dress as I watched. Then she sent me on my way to do the rest. As soon as I got home, I continued to complete the alteration so I would not forget how it was done. Here's what it looked like from the inside of the dress after I had sewn one side together.
Here's what the insert looks like from the outer dress.
I was amazed. You couldn't tell that extra piece didn't belong on the dress. Here's a better view of the altered part showing the sash attached to it.
I couldn't believe how great it came out and that I had altered it myself. To alter the waist, I simply re-attached the sash which was on the bottom part of the alteration and had to be moved anyway, and that gave me another 3-4" or so around the waist. I then pinned the hem to the length I needed, and finished it on my machine. These stretchy added side panels gave me around 3" of room on each side, with a total of 6" around the chest. I crossed my fingers. Slipped the dress on. And jumped for JOY!!! I could finally zipper it up. It fit perfectly and comfortably around the chest and waist. And this is what I wore on my wedding day.