A couple months ago my niece asked if I could make her a Belle dress for her birthday. She had outgrown the one I made her a few years ago and really wanted to have a new one. My sister-in-law had managed to snag an unwanted prom dress for free that she thought might be good for this refashion project. I said I would do it and honestly was expecting to end up needing to go buy some close fabric to make it actually work, but really lucked out on the amount of material in the dress, it was lined with the same 100% silk that the dress was made from and gave me plenty to work with! I really adore how cute it turned out.
To get my sizing I referenced a couple size charts to get some approximations. I knew my niece is pretty tall and thin, so she is a size 6 in kids but needs to add about 4 inches to most dresses. If you have the child close by you can get their exact measurements and work off of that, or you can make patterns by tracing around clothes of theirs that you already have to make it a bit easier.
My first step was to completely dismantle the dress. I just used a seam ripper and went to town taking it all apart to see what all I had to work with.
then I made a quick sketch and wrote out my measurements.
I just altered the bodice from an adult size to a kids size
– first I measured out the length I wanted the front to be and added an extra inch for seam allowance and then cut it down from the top, since I would be taking out the added chest volume anyways.
– Next I took it in at the seams, more in the front then in the back seams because the front needed to straighten out significantly to reduce the chest size. I also was taking it in significantly more at the chest than at the waist, so I would measure how much I needed to take it in at each interval and mark it, and then draw a line between the two points.
-Next step was to break off the beads. This is a super important step because if you get the beading caught under the needle you could definitely break the needle (or 3 of them, in a row, ugh). TO do this I just got a pair of pliers and crushed the beads. It’s also a good idea to wear glasses during this step cause the pieces can get everywhere.
-I then actually sewed the seams when they were safely bead free.
– I evened out all the edges and hemmed the top and bottom
-I first just measured out how long I wanted it and added an inch and a half for seam allowance, and then cut it all as straight as I could.
-Then I decided which order I wanted the panels in
-Then I basted 3 rows at the top of each panel (at 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 inches) and gathered them
-Next I sewed all of the side seams together, leaving one with a few inches undone where you can add the zipper in the back middle
-Then I basted and gathered the bottom of the silk chiffon in 6 places, with one row of stitching, and tying it and knotting the strings at both the top and bottom of the gathered area
-I sewed the chiffon to the rest of the skirt. making sure there was a seam undone slightly to add the zipper in more easily.
-The next thing I did was attach the bodice to the skirt, sewing along the same line as where I hemmed the bodice.
-I gathered the sleeve fabric where I would begin and end sewing it to the bodice.
-I handstitched the sleeves to the bodice
-I handstitched the jeweled piece in the center front
-I added the zipper using a zipper foot
-Then I hemmed the skirt and I was finished!
It was a fun project and went pretty quickly for completely refashioning something. I spent about 10-12 hours in total including taking the original dress apart and a long time spent doing all the math. I think it turned out pretty well, there are only a few things I wish I had done a bit better, but my niece still loves it! Also, I plan to make a petticoat to go with it for special occasions and extra fun 🙂 look out for that tutorial coming soon.