Every day that the phone rings I hope that it will be a new bride with a simple alteration…OK…that’s just me the “ultimate optimist”. So this next dress was a little difficult for the mother to describe over the phone.
It seems that her daughter was not going to have a normal dress bought off the rack so they made a trip to a fancy Los Angeles boutique to custom order this dress from Australia. The models on the website are all very tall and sophisticated so that is the first indication of trouble. My bride is very petite and very young and nowhere close to having the dramatic body and attitude that commands such extravagance.
The dress is all silk and the beaded/rhinestone collar must weigh over 5 pounds on its own. All the rhinestones are set with 4 prongs which catch on everything else on the dress especially the lace skirt. It consists of 2 sets of wrap ties, an elastic waist and its own set of 13 steps of direction on how to tie them:
There is also a lace tail that has to be tucked into the back waistband and this controls the entire position of the heavy metal collar. Of course there is nothing holding that strip of delicate lace TO the waistband…just divine intervention. My first idea was to make a new longer loop for the 4 ties to slide through and a wide tab of silk fabric with 3 snaps to attach it to the elastic waistband. OK, first problem solved…what else do we need to do to this custom made-to-measure dress? How about the gap at the center back of the collar? It pokes out away from the body and need to have some of those precious rhinestones removed along with seed beads and sequins…tedious? You Bet! Here is the back side to see the thread tracing for a dart…Lordie…a dart in a beaded collar…I must be nuts!
Remove everything inside the dart and then hand sew the 2 edges together front and back.
OK, collar done, what else? Well, the first set of ties come off the front panels at a weird angle and will not lay flat after going through the back loop…the mother asks for a vertical dart on the outside and inside of the top ties…sure thing…the ties have only one seam so the entire top edge has to be opened to get to the inside to make the darts…but hey, it’s only labor. Let’s hand baste the darts first.
Oh, and while you are in there, how about adding another strip of boning, this time one that goes from the very bottom edge to the top, not like the skimpy original one? How does one add boning to a strip of silk without showing or managing to use a sewing machine? How about covering the boning with silk and hand sewing it to the lining…sure, it’s just labor. The first photo shows pinning the covered strip of boning to the outside for perfect placement before hand sewing it inside.
And are we almost done? Wait…we have to remove 5 inches off the hem of the lace and lining and then the mother produces a little bag of something hidden in the garment bag…what could it be??? M&M’s perhaps or a Snickers candy bar? Nope…something white!
How thoughtful of Anna Campbell, the designer, to include 5 yards of lace edging for the seamstress to attach to the hem. It’s only labor after all…let’s do it…and the final try-on…remember the little loop on the big loop earlier? Well, there is a small button that makes the train into the bustle and here is the back view and front view minus a few tattoos:
So with just 5 hours of labor and lots of hand sewing, we have a “custom” dress that fits…finally! After working and thinking so much on this dress I was just a little disappointed when the bride announced that she was going to sell this dress right after the ceremony…really? Try to find a bride who wants a $3000 altered custom dress…that may be harder than you think.
A friend sent this link of a deserving group of ladies who made this video for a competition to earn money to buy supplies for charity sewing. Each viewing is counted every 24 hours towards their goal of the most votes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBaIl4uRTac
Please share the link if you can !
Happy Easter everyone!