As costume designer for the upcoming home-school play, Little Women, I get to play with all kinds of fabric and clothing. As most of you Louisa May Alcott fans already know, one of the sisters, Meg, gets married during the story. This means creating a wedding dress for this character.

One of the moms of the show found this gorgeous wedding dress at Goodwill for $20. It’s vintage, but has a lot of stains and wear: the perfect candidate for re-purposing! Before you cut up clothing, check out my list of questions in one of my previous posts, Re-purposing Children’s Clothing.

Although this dress is old (and still sporting the Goodwill price tag), it’s still about 100 years off. Little Women is set in the 1860’s, which is during the Civil War time period. I was hoping for a dress more like this:

Notice the open sleeves, lower neckline and full skirt. In order to be more accurate, this dress needed some re-styling. I grabbed my scissors and started cutting. I worked with the neckline first. I wanted an open neck, but I also had a high zipper to deal with, so only a little trim was possible (still have to trim off that Goodwill tag!).

Next I trimmed the sleeves. Because the sleeves were already poofy, with some pressing, the sleeves flared out nicely to look similar to the 1860’s style.

As you can tell, the skirt itself was completely changed. I cut the original skirt off at hip length making the top a bodice. Thankfully this dress came with a very full and long train. I converted the train into a full skirt which will accommodate lots of poofy under-skirts!

I sewed the skirt onto a ribbon lined with interfacing (to keep it stiff and straight). The skirt slips over the bodice and snaps in the back for the quick change it requires during the scene.

Voila! With just a few minor changes, this outdated wedding dress is now ready for the stage. Can’t wait to see it on the actress with the crinoline and headpiece.  Oh, yeah! The headpiece. I guess I just named my next project. Off to the sewing machine!

Artfully sewing,

Angela Jean

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