When the zipper on the back of your dress breaks, it’s not the end of the world. With basic sewing skills, you can save the gown from the trash and transform it into one that has a chic corset. Replacing a zipper with a corset back is also a great solution if you have a dress that fits too small. While you can add a corset-back zipper replacement to any zippered dress, using a dress with a Basque waist, corset bodice or dropped waist will make the dress look more like a corset with an attached skirt.
Removing the Zipper
Carefully remove the zipper from the dress, using a seam ripper. Take care to only remove the threads that attach the zipper to the dress. Otherwise, you may end up taking apart the seam at the back of the dress. An easy way to help ensure you're removing the correct stitches is to turn the dress inside out and remove the thread that's along the zipper. If you don't have much experience using a seam ripper, take your time as you remove the stitches, so you don't accidentally make a hole in the dress with the tool.
Pinning the Zipper Replacement
Pin the corset-back zipper replacement in the same location as the old zipper, on the wrong side of the fabric (or inside part of the dress). The corset back should be the same length as the zipper on your dress. When you pin the zipper replacement onto the wrong side of the dress, the only part of it you should see from the right side are the loops for the ribbon. Before you sew the zipper replacement onto the dress, ensure both ends line up well.
Sewing the Zipper Replacement
Sew the corset-back zipper replacement onto the dress. Ensure the needle on your sewing machine is strong enough to sew through thicker materials -- and that the thread you use is appropriate for the fabric on your dress. As you sew the zipper replacement onto the dress, remove the sewing pins. As you sew, use the same seam allowance used for the old zipper. If you need help remembering the location of the zipper seam, use pins or fabric chalk to create a guide on the dress.
Thread a length of ribbon through the holes of the corset back. Start at the top of the dress and thread the ribbon through the first holes, so the tail ends of the ribbon hang inside the dress. Then thread the ribbon as you would shoelaces on a pair of sneakers. After you lace the ribbon through the final loops on the dress, tie the ends into a bow.The amount of ribbon you need depends on the length of the corset-back zipper replacement. Use enough ribbon to tie a generous bow at the bottom of the corset.