Friday, May 18, 2012

Pretty In Pink!

A few months ago, I had a new client come to me. It was the usual request, with a twist.

This client is a more 'mature' bride, at 65. She will be getting married for the second time, and didn't want the traditional dress or gown, especially at her age. She had an idea in  mind of exactly what she wanted; so with pencil in hand, I drew out her ideas onto paper.

What she had in mind was  tea length, full skirted, princess seamed, with no waist seam, slight sweet-heart neckline, with a sheer (chiffon) overlay with a high neck and 3/4 sleeves. She wanted it made in a soft pink with the neck, sleeves and hem trimmed in light beading.

The lining is a Bemburg lining; and the bodice of the lining is underlined with a cotton/poly that is also interfaced. This layer forms the foundation with sewn in bra cups and boning at all the seams, that end at the hip line, to reduce any creasing at the waist.  A crinoline is attached at the hipline to the foundation. The main layer of the dress is a crepe back satin. Because it is such a fluid fabric, I underlined it with a very lightweight cotton batiste to give it a little more body. Finally, is the very lightweight, breezy chifffon. The skirts hem is finished with a horsehair braid that is sewn between the crepeback satin and the batiste. The neckline, sleeve hem, and skirt hem are all trimmed in a bugle beaded trim.

The only part that really gave me trouble (and it REALLY gave me trouble!) was the back zipper. There are actually 2 back zippers; one for the foundation, and an outer one for the dress. The foundation zipper was a no-brainer. But the outer zipper had to go from the hip to the neck, where as the foundation zipper only had to go from the hip to the mid back. Where the foundation/lining layers met the outer layers is where I struggled. Here are a couple pictures to try and explain -

Here, you can see the foundation zipper underneath, and the outer zipper which goes all the way up the back.

In this picture, I have pulled the skirt up in back to reveal the foundation and crinoline. The lining is attached at the top of the bodice, on the inside of the foundation.

                     Here, you can just see the slight beading at the neckline and sleeves.

                                                 And, finally, the completed dress!

After fighting for almost a whole day with those confounded zippers, I was ready to pull my hair out, as well as stressing about whether it was going to fit properly. My client hadn't been able to come in that day for a fitting, and being pinched for time, I decided to trust my measurements as well as my instincts, and 'go with it'!

The next morning, she came in and put it on. I almost cried when it fit her to perfection! She loves it - and looks beautiful in it, as all brides should! All I had left to do was the beading and adding a bit of fullness to the crinoline. It now just needs to be steamed before she picks it up on Monday.

Another Happy Bride!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beading, beading, and more beading . . .

It's been a while since I've posted here, only because, well, I've been a bit busy. It is high season for Bridal alterations, and though I am learning to pace myself better than years past, my days are still very full.

Embellishments seem to be the thing this year, and at the top of the list is beading. Lots of beading. I have done several dresses that have bodices covered in beading. Covered. As in, no fabric to show through. Lots of work, but even when you are finished taking in  a heavily beaded gown, it really looks no different from the original.

This dress was different. 

The bride chose a lovely gown from
 Essence of Australia, with a fully beaded                   
bodice and straps, cumberbund waist, and
 full, pleated taffeta skirt.

The back, though cut low, also had the beaded
straps for coverage. 

The back of the bodice fit quite well, but the front of the bodice was about an inch too wide across the breast width. Pulling it in in the center
seemed to fix the problem, so (and bless beading for it's forgive-ness!)
I took about an inch wide dart right down the center front, from the top of the bodice to the waist.

She also wanted to get rid of the straps completely.

4 hours of alteration work, and 6 hours of bead work later, and this is how it now looks!
Front of bodice
Back of Bodice

It's fun to do a dress where you can actually see the difference a few hours of work can make!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

BG Disorder

Seems that there is a disorder for everything these days, right? There are learning disorders, eating disorders, drinking disorders, work place disorders, sleeping disorders, physical and mental disorders, social disorders, well - you get the picture. I could go on and on.

Dare I present to you another disorder to add to the growing list. I call it Bridal Gown Disorder, or BD Disorder, for short.

This disorder happens when a stressed out bride forgets what her wedding is really all about. This usually happens because too much importance has been put on superficial aspects of her upcoming wedding. Symptoms of this disorder may include, but are not limited to - showing unreasonable impatience in the ETA of her bridal gown. She may call several times a day to see whether her gown has arrived yet at the bridal shop. When said dress does not arrive on ETA, the affected bride may go ballistic and begin making threats and demands.  At this point, it is usually fairly easy to calm the bride down, and reassure her that there is still plenty of time for her dress to arrive and still have any needed alteration done.

However. Should your calming voice and words not do the trick, you may choose to have your seamstress give her a call to give added assurance that the gown can and will be ready in time.

Another symptom on this disorder is when the bride tries her gown on for the first time. Normally, this is a happy, perhaps tearful event, in which the mother and bride share 'a moment' when they both see the bride in her glory. It is a moment of shared memories, and hopes for the future. Normally, it is a very special time. If the bride has this unfortunate disorder, though, any tears shed will be tears of another kind. Perhaps she see's herself differently than she had hoped. Perhaps the dress doesn't fit, yet, as she expected it would. Perhaps, the dress isn't what she thought it would be. Whatever the reason, she will find reason to be unhappy with the dress. Again, reassurance is needed. Your seamstress can be quite helpful at this point. She can help to reassure the bride that fit issues can be fixed, design issues can be looked at, discussed and worked on. Most of the time, the bride can be reassured adequately at this point.

A third symptom of this distressing disorder is much more difficult to deal with. Often, at this point there is nothing that can be done, but to let the bride go. This symptom shows itself, usually at the final fitting; although you will usually get glimpses of it at earlier fittings, and thus be able to prepare for it.

At the final fitting, your bride may show lack of enthusiasm when trying on her gown. Upon having it on and standing before the mirror, her lack of enthusiasm will manifest itself in frustration and even anger. She will find fault with everything about her gown. She will find invisible threads that are distorting the smooth look of her gown. She may find a bead out of place, or a seam that is too visible. She may find that the lace at the hem does not graze the ground at the perfect angle, or that while the dress fits well, it doesn't show off her cleavage just right. The sash may be just a tad too short or too long.  A pick up may not be in the right place. There may be too much rusching on this side, not enough on that. You get the picture. The best thing to do at this point is to reassure your bride that the imperfections she is imagining are just that - imaginations. Compliment her on how beautiful she is in her gown, suggest some lovely jewelry, have her put on the veil. It will be a good idea to get mom involved at this point, in helping to convince the bride that everything is really ok.

Hopefully, your bride will leave the shop, gown in hand, feeling that she will be the most beautiful bride to ever walk the aisle. But there is also a good chance that your bride is so deeply submerged in her disorder, that nothing you or anyone else can say or do will help her to feel better. Her only 'cure' is to get through the wedding, and wake up the next morning and realize it is all behind her, and that nobody noticed those tiny imperfections she was so sure were going to ruin her wedding day.

Your reward, however, for surviving her disorder in one piece, is a glass of wine and a warm bath. And maybe a hot fudge sundae while you're at it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Oohh La-La! Very Paris!

I always make Christmas gifts for my sisters and mom - this year was no different.
In the past, I've knit scaves (about the only thing I can knit!), painted tee-shirts, made lightweight knit cardi's, and even tried my hand at silk painting. That one didn't turn out so well . . . .
This year I made them each hats! They each were different, to suit each of my sisters' personalites. I wish I had gotten photos of all of them; but the only one I got a photo of was sister Cheryl. Cheryl is a flight attendant (her dream job!). She loves to travel, and one of her favorite places is France. So, as I was putting together my ideas, her hat and neck wrap just had to reflect that stylish French woman hiding inside my beautiful sister!

        Hope your Holidays were as wonderful as mine! Happy New Year!