When I moved to this rural town 14 years ago, I had heard about a woman who was selling wedding gowns out of a shipping container. It seemed to be a strange thing to operate a business with no dressing room or storefront, just meet her in an alley and buy a dress from a huge metal box. She has since folded up shop and I never thought I would ever see one of her gowns…until today.
The bride called telling me that she had this precious gown in a storage box for 10 years after waiting and living with this man 32 years and having his children.
She was adamant that I would have to take in all the side seams to get it to fit her now smaller body after losing 35 pounds. She sent me lots of photos of the dress packed in the box but nothing could prepare me for the real thing.
I was told that what was most important was the moment she appeared to walk down the aisle, she wanted EVERYONE to GASP!
Let’s all take a deep breath and figure out what has to be done besides the obvious…a corset back. The front hem with lace borders will have to be removed and re-attached higher up and there will be a bustle for dancing. What you don’t see is the 7 foot long detachable train also heavily beaded that will have to have some sort of contraption to make it attach once the corset is laced up.
Another thing I noticed was a huge rusty water mark shape on the lining. It must have been acquired as it hung in the shipping container. I have placed arrows along the edges.
What about a modesty panel, surely there will be too much skin exposed even with all that ribbon:
Here are both sides of the panel, one side using the dull side of some satin and cotton pocket lining (drill) for the back against the skin. I mark the location of the boning to be inserted and stitch them together and turn right side out.
Second fitting shows the lacing dimensions…we start with 4 inch spread at the top 2 positions and work our way to 6 inches at the waist. I write these numbers down for the bride as on the day of her wedding someone will have to get close to these numbers to make it fit. You can see her bra straps will show so she will be wearing a different bra and I have made bra strap guides inside at the shoulders. She was wearing basically a tube of Spanx for this try-on.
She will be using red grosgrain ribbon as her theme is “Christmas in July”…imagine…108 degrees and she will expect the guests to be dressed in holiday attire and everything will be decorated in red and green. She will be carrying a red rose bouquet and dragging the 7 ft train.
She was happy with the results, she was sent off for 2 weeks while I finished attaching all the lace at the hem. When she arrived for her final 3rd fitting, she had a new sort of Spanx contraption. Instead of just being a tube of tight elastic, it had straps up over her bra and is extra, extra tight, industrial tight. It managed to pull every bit of tissue up from her hips to her waist and no matter how hard I tried to pull this corset thing down lower, it was almost melted into her body, in fact I could barely get my fingers under the edge of the spandex to yank it down. The main reason for all this struggling was the fact that when the lacing progressed from the 4 inch width at the 2 top places, it widened out to 10 inches at the waist.
OK…no big deal, Mrs Mole, you have lots of blue ribbon, just let it out….but remember the tapered modesty panel? It is about 7 inches wide at that point and all I can see is bulging Spanx in this huge 3 inch wide gap!
I told her that there was no way this dress will get laced up today or any other day unless something happens…aka a freaking miracle!
At this point I would have taken her final photo but I decided this would only make me sadder than I was and I had her change back into her clothes. Then I asked her what has she been doing in the past 2 weeks. Well, she had this long list of possibly why the dress is not fitting:
I went away to a family gathering and drove through a couple In-N-Out Burger fast food places.
I have been eating protein bars between every meal.
I have been eating all the summer fruit I can get my hands on.
I have not been riding my exercise bike.
Everything my husband eats has been jumping unto my body.
So, she has been warned that she has to get real now…3 weeks to the wedding of her dreams and she is the only one to make this work. She left with her train and told me everything will be all right…
Mr. Mole wandered into my room to find me in utter despair…my job is to make the dress fit the best I can…the client is supposed to keep her weight stable in partnership with me. She has let me down, she has gone hog wild eating and enjoying the freedom of having a very adjustable corset back dress. I want to cry, I want to shout.
The final try-on went much better and here we are with the red ribbon minus the train, short single bustle point and she is thrilled…Lordie…I am thrilled…sometimes you just have to get tough with the brides and spell it out and cross your fingers.
Once her shoes are on, hair hanging down in curls, she will look like she imagined on her special day.
Wishing you all much easier alterations and here is a sneak peak at something growing in the garden: