Fancy Band Frustrations!

You know what I’m talking about – those beautiful fancy bands that grace the special heirloom dresses.  True labors of love!  I love working with lace.


It is such a delight to see these beautiful creations being worn by the special little ones in our lives!  They look so angelic and sweet.  Then that moment comes, that horrifying moment when those sweet little feet step on the band and the damage is done – the beautiful band is torn.  Well, I have 2 of those mishaps that needed repair work.  Ugh!  A truly dreaded task!!!

As I cleaned up in the sewing room last week, I came across the more recent disaster.  I’m sure that you’ll recognize this dress.  This dress was originally made for Australian Smocking and Embroidery magazine (Issue #84).

picture me

Then a few short years after publication, I was thrilled to see Ella wearing it for Easter and her little sister Eva wearing a blue dotted Swiss day gown to co-ordinate.  They were adorable.

Dotted Swiss Heirloom Dress


Isn’t that the sweetest picture ever!!!  Cousin Livvy also wore a dotted Swiss dress and was equally cute.

Livvy Easter 2013 a

This dress was featured in SB #146 and was appropriately called Olivia’s Easter dress.


However, before we could get pictures of all 3 little girls together in their dresses, the dastardly deed happened and the fancy band was torn.  🙁  Thank goodness for a pretty slip underneath!

The time had come to fix this dress while I still have enough eyesight left to pick out those stitches.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had already picked out the torn lace on the blue dress!!!  Oh the joy!  The job of repair just got infinitely easier.

While I was at it, I knew that I should also fix the torn fancy band that has been waiting for 19+ years for repair.  This was worn by our youngest daughter, Lauren, for Christmas when she was 4 or 5 years old.  She wore that dress several times before the band was torn.  I pulled that one out as well – might as well get both of them done.

Here’s the only picture I could find of her in the dress.  I kindly cropped out the rest of the kids in their very 90’s outfits!  LOL!  They will be happy for the cropping!

Lauren 2


I wish I could say that I had already picked out this torn lace, but alas, that wasn’t the case.  Not only had I not picked out the lace, but I apparently had the bright idea to cut away the torn lace close to the header.  Bad idea!!!  I also managed to make a bad mistake even worse.  Before realizing that I had not properly removed the damaged lace, I starched (aka: glued) the lace heavily in preparation for sewing.  Oy!  Now the nearly invisible stitches were glued to the fancy band!  What a horrible job that ended up being!!!  I think I spent 6+ hours un-sewing.

Finally, I was ready to begin the actual repair work.  As I mentioned – I heavily starched all the lace areas – the laces attached to the dress as well as the lace to be re-inserted.  I soaked the laces with starch and let them dry over night.  Once dry, I pressed everything and began.  (excuse the wrinkles – I wasn’t pressing the entire dress when I knew they would need pressing once finished!)

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The new lace was attached to one of the sides (doesn’t matter which side you chose to start with).  I started and stopped the lace about 1-1/2″ away from the side seam so that I could accurately sew the lace seam and have it fit properly.  I marked the lace with a blue wash out marker exactly where the side seam should be, then french seamed the lace.  At that point I was able to stitch the final section of lace on.




As you can see in the top picture, the original lace band top edges don’t meet exactly.  As I stitched the new lace to the original band, I carefully stitched over that section making sure that I caught the header threads of both laces.  It ended up smooth when I was finished.  Disguised very well.

Next in order was re-attaching the band to the dress lace section.  Before doing this, use a blue wash out marker and mark the dress/lace as well as the band/lace in sections.  Side seams and center front and center back should be marked first . Then mark half way between these marks as well(see red arrows).  This gives you guide lines as you stitch the lace band back to the dress.  Without marking, it is likely that either the upper lace or the lower lace will feed through the machine unevenly and the result will be that there will be extra lace on either the upper or lower band that will be too much to ease back in.  Marking the sections allows you to ensure that everything fits back in place.

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Once the bands were back on both dresses, they needed to be washed to clean and remove all that starch.  The white dress had really gotten dingy looking from years of storage.  Finding that I was out of Biz, my usual go to for brightening/whitening, I remembered purchasing another whitening agent – Retro Clean.  I cannot remember where I purchased this fromThis was purchased at the Peanut Butter and Jelly Kids  booth at the SAGA 2013 convention. It was quite pricey at $15.  I do remember being assured that I would be happy with the product.  Time to put it to the test.

IMG_9588 A couple of hours of soaking the white dress and it looked new again.  I’ll let the “before” and “after pictures speak for themselves.  I didn’t Photoshop the colors on either of them.

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As you can well imagine – I highly recommend this product!  It worked wonders in just a couple of hours.  I can’t wait to try this out on a couple other things that are in need of some brightening.

So, a day of work is done.  Both dresses are fixed and ready for the next wearing!  Hopefully the next wearing won’t involve torn fancy bands.  However, if they do, well, I’d rather have the dresses be worn rather than just decorating the closets.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Lauren’s Christmas dress will fit Ella this year.  That way I’m ahead of the game for Christmas dresses!

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I hope that you don’t have to repair fancy bands.  The job isn’t fun, but in the end, it was well worth it!

Keep on stitching……


10 thoughts on “Fancy Band Frustrations!

  1. Judy Gallagher

    Sure hope I never have to do that! You must have the patience of Job! The dresses look beautiful, though and no one would ever know they were “repair jobs”. I’ll have to check out your whitener, too.

    1. Kathy Post author

      Thanks Judy – I think I may have purchased it from Peanut Butter and Jelly Kids booth at SAGA convention last year. I’m a fan, that’s for sure!

  2. Meg

    I have a fancy band in need of repair….it has been aging quite nicely. Thankfully the tear occurred when the dress was just about outgrown. I do need to hunt for some new lace that will coordinate well.

    1. Kathy Post author

      Thankfully the torn lace on my dresses was just beading, so easy to find. I hope you find something suitable Meg.

  3. Gayle Franklin

    Kathy, what did you use to “un-sew” those tiny stitches on the lace and did you need special lighting? I have a repair to make and, while the stitches are very difficult to see, I don’t even know what to begin to do to remove the stitches! Gayle

    1. Kathy Post author

      I sat by the window – great lighting – and it was still a challenge to see which threads needed to be removed. All that super fine thread to be invisible is great when you’re putting it in, but taking it out is extremely difficult. Good luck!

  4. Kay Briley

    I really enjoyed this as I have a job like this coming up. May I ask which starch and type you use? Thanks for the whitener tip also, I need it

    1. Kathy Post author

      I normally use Niagara heavy starch, but any starch will work. The Retro Clean is fabulous! I haven’t seen it elsewhere. So glad I picked it up when I did. Good luck on your repair.


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