Thursday, January 31, 2013

My First Fairy-Godmother Tale

So I promised when I first started that I would post about my re-design of my friend's dress - here goes!

My friend Jacqui got married in June of 2012. I actually had known her husband since pre-teen years, and only met her when they started dating. She's absolutely amazing, and one of the sweetest women I know.

In March/April, one Sunday morning at church, she approached me and asked if she could speak to me after the service. When we were sitting down and talking, Jacqui shared with me that she had been praying a lot the night before because she didn't know what to do with the dress she had bought.

I had seen a picture of the dress from when she had bought it, but never seen it in person. As we were talking, I asked her what she had originally envisioned for a wedding dress, and what she told me was exactly in line with sketches for bridal gowns that I had drawn the night before!

We agreed to get together later that week so that I could see the gown and we could discuss what had been done and what could be done.

Here's the pictures from when Jacqui tried on the gown initially. Now, when I first heard from her that she had bought a dress, I offered to fit and hem it for her. But because her mother didn't know me, and heard "I have a friend who sews," she refused. Not that I blame her - I wouldn't let just anybody work on my daughter's wedding dress. But I'm not just anybody with a sewing machine.

So they took it to a seamstress - whose idea of fitting the dress was to put elastic inside to hold it up. Jacqui had lost about four inches around her waist from when she bought the gown to when she brought it to me. So the elastic was intended to do the work that a good fitting would do, because this seamstress told Jacqui it would be too expensive for her to fit the gown, as she only did hand-sewing.

Which was a blatant lie, having looked at the gown.

Not to mention - the elastic had a red and green stripe, which didn't match up on each side - one half had the stripe on top, and the other on bottom. And, it was held together with velcro. Velcro? Really? On a wedding dress? And you allow the elastic to fray?
You must be kidding me.

Needless to say, I told Jacqui I could fix it. But she needed to decide whether or not she wanted me to fix it, and leave it as is, or I could make her a whole new gown from scratch, or we could go buy another gown and I would fit it to her.
She said, "Couldn't you use the fabric of this gown and re-do it?"
It honestly hadn't occurred to me to do that. But I said that yes, it was possible.

So we got to work. I completely deconstructed the gown - top from bottom, lining from shell, front from back on the bodice.

Whoever originally sewed all of the bias/spaghetti strap appliques all over the satin managed to do a brilliant job of scuffing up the fabric.

Challenge: What do you do when the fabric you have is covered in imperfections?

Cover them up of course!

I found an off-white tulle with just a hint of shimmer to it - ruched it over the bodice and hand-stitched it into the seams, then double-layered it over the skirt.

So I re-imagined the spaghetti straps to be a woven-belt waist detail, and the glitzy appliques to act as a buckle and studs.

I had to re-do the hem completely, because it was sewn unevenly from side to side. Note to brides: ask to see samples of work the seamstress has done - or go with someone who knows how to sew!

And in June, I was able to be at the wedding of Kevin and Jacqui, and to see her look incredibly radiant! ...And it wasn't just from the gown, it was from the love that they shared and continue to share to this day.

There's a row of beading which I did just underneath the satin strip at the top of the bodice, to tie in with the veil and the appliques on the belt.

Probably the best shot I have of how the belt turned out - and an adorable picture of the bride and groom!

The bustle shape stayed the same, but the dress wound up completely different - a real wow!

This is probably my favorite gown to date - but I've got a new commission which is completely from scratch and a really awesome design! More on my current gowns later.