This heavily beaded dress needed the hem lengthened about 1” to 1 ½”. Usually I take about a week to gradually ease the length down. But this one went down in two days easily.  In this first picture you can see the vertical stretch happening to the front of the dress.  I could have sent it out after one day, but I had more time, so I worked it another day and it was ready to go.

The original length of the dress from neck point to hem was 51”.  You need to always take an original measurement, or you won’t know when to stop.  Chiffons will crash to the floor if you pull too hard on them. They must be done very gently. This outer layer of beaded netting needed a stronger hand to send it down. I start by steaming the front of the dress to get the fibers to relax.

measuring tape and a wedding dressa wedding dress with spools of colored thread

 After about 10 minutes of heavy steaming I can begin to gently pull the hem down.  You will want to send it down farther than the needed hem length when doing netting. Most fabrics steam down to the exact length just fine. But not English netting, so I’m glad I had opportunity to show you how the vertical and horizontal stretch play against each other. Mine now measures 55 ¼”. Even the hem out with more steaming and pulling and blend into the side seams.  Hang weights on the hemline and let it set over night. I use clothespins inside of serger thread spools. There are official weights available.  I just like being resourceful, I guess. The next day I put it on the mannequin to test my measurement.  As the dress gets stretched out horizontally to go on the dress form or your bride, it pulls the vertical stretch length back up significantly.  This is common on netting.

measing tape and lace

That’s why you need to steam it longer than you think it needs to be done. Mine now measurers 52 ½”. This should be enough length, but a little more won’t hurt just in case of more horizontal shrinkage. I re-steam it a bit more just to be sure I get enough length for when the bride tries it on.  I put the weights back on to let it set overnight again.  The next morning, I lay down a fluffy towel on my ironing board and turn the hem upside down to protect the beadwork. Then I press out the clothespin marks on the bottom of the hem. The edge will smooth and even out into a straight edge as you gently press it. It is just a bit longer than needed, but the bride loves it and thinks the length is perfect. This dress also needed the sides taken in through the zipper.  Not easy on a heavily beaded dress.  But I enjoy beadwork.  It’s good therapy. Fit was nice and length perfect.

Another dress out the door!