Lorraine Baines Back to the Future Prom Dress Alteration

Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan came and told me if I didn’t figure out how to make this dress from Back to the Future, he was gonna numb my brain. I’m glad I accepted the challenge because it has worked my brain in areas that couldn’t afford to go numb.
My favorite dress makes are cinematic screen grabs with re-wearability versatile enough for a variety of occasions. Such is the Lorraine Dress, been wanting to make it for a while. I finally completed it for Spring Dapper Day 2020.

Update as of early 2023: This blog has brought me quite a lot of requests to make this dress for others! I thank you for your interest. Mine appears to be one of the more authentic looking Lorraine Dress makes out there. While I have a new fancy version of Lorraine’s plaid dress upcoming that will be for sale in a range of sizes, the Lorraine Prom Dress is not for sale, and no longer customizable as materials for this authentic look have since gone out of stock. I have therefore updated this blog to inspire fellow makers in making their own. I hope you find an even better peachy pink fabric than I did. I really lucked out with this autumn weight pink cotton suiting. It is sadly no longer available where I found it in Joann Fabrics’ suiting department. Neither is precisely this lace available, but similar dotted laces still exist at Joann.

Read on to find how this BTTF nerd crafted Lorraine’s prom dress, with tips for making your own.

As I do for all cinematic makes, I did a lot of screen research to see how the fabric moved as she moved in it and how it was handled. I believe the dress worn on screen was 1950’s vintage.

Don’t let the discoloration of this image fool you. The dress is a fine line between peach and pink, but in correctly white lighting probably tends towards pink. Look for heavier weights in fabric. The bust cuff material in the left photo here almost looks like a fine denim texture. You’ll find this color fairly easy in satins and taffetas, but those fabrics are much too lightweight to get the swing of the skirt right for a 1950’s style. Satins also have a shine to them, which isn’t accurate for the Lorraine Dress. If you’re going for color accuracy, you’ll probably have to compromise with satin. Try to find a “brushed satin”, less shiny. Shiny makes it look too costume-piece and less Actual Lorraine.

I was able to utilize a good amount of infrastructure from the bodice of this old Goodwill dress (this is actually an iridescent peach pink taffeta). I altered it to become the inside of the new dress. If you are making your own, you’ll want to create boning for your bodice. Most strapless dress patterns instruct you pretty well how to install boning (boning is stiffened material cut and placed near seam lines for bust support — add bra cups and you’ll have everything set up top).

The original pinkish fabric in the film looks like it has a tiny checked pattern embroidered into it, but the continuation of that onto a separated lace overlay skirt confirmed that the whole thing was an overlay on the bodice, so I went with a dotted cream colored lace design that similarly matched the aesthetic. Research from other makers who have tried creating this dress made me realize how very important the correct weight of material is; many others (including Amazon and Etsy knock-offs) utilized too thin a fabric or too opaque a lace, which gives the dress more of a costume aesthetic rather than a vintage feel. Remember, fashion used to be tailored better than it is today, and none of it was fast fashion. Allow yourself time to venture to multiple shops to find just the right fabric! I don’t recommend shopping online for fabric unless listings have videos where you can see drapes of fabric in motion, and close ups where you can see the textures precisely. And images shot in proper white balance. 🙂 So, don’t shop online if you can help it.

Take note of the dress pattern piece in the image above for the pattern I used, although I altered it to make it strapless: BUTTERICK 5882. Play with re-shaping new pieces from tissue paper to make your alterations before cutting any fabric. A you-sized mannequin is recommended to make this efficient.

This dotted lace is so sweet.

Cut a lace overlay for each bodice piece and stitch it into each seam. Create basically a second skirt of the dotted lace as well. The lace skirt will be re-shaped to be shorter than the pink skirt (for mine I geometrically mathed out a rainbow-shaped front hem). You’ll have to lay this out symmetrically and work your brain a bit to visualize the cut for the shorter bottom of the lace skirt. Practice in miniature with scrap fabric.

Stole my zipper from the upcycled infrastructure too. Follow your dress pattern’s requirements for zipper length and other notions such as boning, buttons, etc.

Zippers are tricky, especially with a layer of lace added. Have patience. Play with pins more than you stick things under your machine. Ensure all those pieces come together nice and flat.

The bust cuff is a pattern piece I fashioned myself. It’s basically a long rectangle that measures from center bust to center back, at the zip. One on each side.

Dapper Day 2020 was a Dapper Day At Home event due to COVID-19, which ended up being a great backdrop for these photos in my neighborhood. Had so much fun wearing this dress!

Back to the Future CosplayLorraine Baines Prom Dress

I’m not very busty, but you could stitch a push up bra into your bodice instead of regular bra cups if you prefer that look.

And a little Chuck Berry for the road.

Stay tuned for my fancy version of the plaid Lorraine Dress which will be for sale, coming soon to my Etsy shop.

Follow me on Instagram @imagemariastudio for updates, all things fashion and photo.

 

More BTTF in this Back to the Future III engagement session!

 

If you’re interested in a totally revamped alteration of a dress you’d love to give new life to, I am currently taking thematic gown alterations. Consult with me to see what we can do!

Posted by admin / filed under: Behind the Scenes, Fashion

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8 Comments

  • Dawn says:

    This is perfect. You did an amazing job replicating the dress and the pictures are so cute! If you are ever interested in making another one or selling that one I am looking for a replica of her dress.

    • Manda says:

      Thanks for saying so, Dawn! I’m not currently taking custom dress orders, but I plan to ease into doing so in 2022 for formal pieces. Do follow @imagemariastudio if you’d like to keep up!

  • Dana says:

    I would love to buy this dress from you! Please let me know if you’d be interested in selling it!

    Thank you!

    • Manda says:

      Hi Dana! I may someday sell this dress, but right now it’s being lent to a sister, and at the moment I’d like to keep it around a bit. I only have one size, it’s pretty petite. I am not currently taking full custom orders, but may in the future. Feel free to follow me on Instagram or FB @imagemariastudio for updates!

  • Jasmine Nicholson says:

    hey lovely I am so proud of you for being so amazing and so very talented and creative to make the exact same dress that Lorraine wears, I am currently also trying to remake to dress and I am having a lot of grief trying to find the best peach fabric that’s pretty similar to Lorraine’s prom dress and I can’t seem to find the pokal dot overlay that goes over the peach fabric to and where do I find the measurements to put the dress together just like how you have done like yours, this is my very first time making a dress and i would love for it to make out nicely..

    • admin says:

      Hi Jasmine! I commend you for taking on this project as a first time dress maker! I really lucked out finding the peachy pink suiting I did, it was from Joann, and no longer available as of checking again in February 2023. The dotted lace you can still find a variation of there, but what I found recently was stretchy lace (original was not stretchy, but what exists now at Joann Fabrics still suits the look lacewise).

      It’s really tricky to comment how to make this fit perfectly, but essentially your dress pattern needs to hug you tightly. Play with the pattern pieces and fit them to you before you even cut them from fabric. I didn’t use boning in this as my recycled bodice already had some structure, but look into bodice boning to shape the top part.

      Since I’ve had a lot of interest in this dress from this blog, and the main material no longer available as of quite some time ago, you’ve given me some ideas to edit this blog soon to be more of a DIY help to others looking to make it. I’ll be sure to send you the update soon!

      Manda

  • Brande Stotts says:

    Oh my word!!! Do you have the Lorraine dress for sale?? My niece just messaged me to see if I could help her make it. I’m not that good!!! I’d love to see it and the price.

    • admin says:

      Hi Brande! I am not currently making this dress to order as materials I used for this one are no longer available. I’ve included tips in here for making, if you know someone handy who’d like to make it on their own with similar materials. Thanks for checking it out!

KC Union Station Retro Train Portrait Typewriter CameraManda Marie Kar

Photojournalist | Thematic Designer

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