How to Change a Zip-Up Dress to a Lace-Up Dress

A laced-up look can give your dress some sexy, stylish detail.

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Before the zipper became the closure of choice for modern dresses and other clothing, laces reigned supreme. Fashionistas from days past wore lace-up closures on bodices, corsets and even undergarment chemises and skirts. Unlike zippers, laces can give a girl space for size adjustment on a dress that doesn't quite fit. If you like the sexy, romantic look of laces or just need a little breathing room, you can swap out your zip-up dress's closure style for a sophisticated laced look.

Zip-Down to Lace-Up

Zipper dresses, from day wear to formal nighttime garments, may zip at the front, the side or the back of the garment. You can convert the zipper to a laced closure at any of these positions, but if too many thick layers are sewn directly into the zipper seam, as often is the case in tulle dresses, a girl may find herself struggling. Conversely, dresses with flimsy single-layer polyester fabrics may pull and wrinkle awkwardly when laced. Unless you're up for stabilizing the fabric with corset boning or a new lining layer, sturdy fabrics typically fare best.

Zipper Be Gone

Switching a zipped dress to a lace-up look starts with taking out the zipper closure. A zipper is sewn directly to the dress opening with a single line of stitching on each side. Stabilizing stitches or pins beside the zipper help hold the dress together when you remove the zipper seams with a seam ripper. If a girl wants the formerly zipped opening to have open lacing but doesn't want to bare her skin, she can attach a rectangular modesty panel to the inside of the opening now.

Hardware Happenings

If a stylista wants to convert to a laced-up look, her dress needs a little something into which she can slip the laces. You can place ribbon loops, eyelets or grommets along each side of the dress opening, spacing them evenly apart from one another. While you can simply sew loops to the fabric, you'll have to set eyelets and grommets with a punch that permanently pinches the metal to the fabric. To avoid breaking the fabric threads, push holes into the dress with an awl tool before you set the grommets or eyelets.

Lovely Lacing

Part of the fun of a lace-up dress is adding detail through different lacing styles. Corsets usually feature a basic shoelace style, which gives a girl the strongest cinch; but with dresses, a girl can go for decoration over utility. Some alternate styles include bar lacing, in which the laces loop straight across and up the sides of the closure, lattice lacing, which features long crisscrosses, and loop lacing, in which the laces hook around each other. If you're not into the shoelace style, you can swap the laces out for cute, colorful ribbons.

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