Solange Cody, a French-born seamstress who designed and tailored dresses at her Georgetown studio for two decades, died June 18 at her home in Zephyrhills, Fla. She was 81.

Mrs. Cody came to Washington in 1972 with her American husband, whom she had met when he was stationed in France with the U.S. Army.

Mrs. Cody opened a dress shop on Connecticut Avenue and with the help of local newspaper ads and word-of-mouth publicity, soon gained a client base of prominent Washingtonians — including, she told The Washington Post in 1988, “a number of nice girls in the Carter White House.”

Within several years, she had opened Cody Couture, a boutique on M Street in Georgetown. She specialized in ball gowns and black-tie attire, and every four years around the presidential inauguration was among the most sought-after designers in Washington.

She employed several seamstresses but said good help was hard to come by. “It’s a dying trade, my dear,” she told The Post. “And it’s not enough money for what it is. People who gladly pay $3,000 for a dress have a stroke when the alterations cost $200. These days, young people would simply rather go into computer work.”

Mrs. Cody closed her shop in the 1990s and moved to Florida about five years ago. She continued sewing wedding gowns, evening dresses and draperies until shortly before her death.

Solange Lucette Moulinier was born in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, a town in Dordogne in southwestern France. She learned to sew as a girl.

Her husband of 39 years, retired Staff Sgt. David Cody, died in 2001.

Survivors include a daughter from a previous relationship, Nicole Lambert of Upper Marlboro; a son from her marriage, Fitzgerald Cody of Tampa; a sister; two grandchildren; and a great-grandddaughter.

— Emma Brown