Patching and reinforcing a dress

What I did:


This red/striped woven dress had been worn by my client's mother and then by my client, who in turn was going to pass it on to her sister after I'd mended it. As one might expect from a two-generation dress, the fabric had thinned considerably, and was frayed and split in several places.

Before: front view, with some visible holes at the shoulders

Before: you can see my finger poking through one of the holes in the underarm

Before: a large rip in the neck/shoulder

Before: front view of a rip at the neck

Before: ripped and worn fabric on the other side of the front bodice

Before: ripped side seam at the bottom of the dress


I made an interior patch from an old red silk shirt and used it to reinforce the rips and worn fabric in the bodice. I did some hand-stitching around the visible edges where the old fabric met the patch, as well as some machine darning over the original fabric and patch to reinforce the many small holes and rips. I did a lot of zig-zag stitching (not really visible in the pictures) to repair and shore up various seams, including the ripped side seam and various places where the woven fabric had started to unravel. I made slits at the bottom of either side of the dress (calf length) for ease of movement.

After: front view of the bodice. The darker red visible through the neck slit and at the left shoulder is the red silk interior patch.

After: back view of the bodice and upper torso of the dress, with visible red silk patch at the right neck/shoulder

After: bottom of dress (calf length) with repaired side seam and finished side slit. My hope is that the side slits will prevent further rips in the seam by allowing for easier walking.

After: underarm area, now with no visible wear and tear. If you look closely, you can see some machine darning.

After: a closer view of one side of the front bodice

After: closeup view, from back, of the bodice with visible interior patch and machine darning