By now, you all know my feelings about J.Crew clothing. While they are always in need of alterations thus making good money for us seamstresses, they are also a nightmare for the client as they NEVER fit.
Here is the latest example of what looks so great on the website for $3000 and is sold out, this dress in reality bears little resemblance to the fit on the model. On the outside it is all asymmetrical layers of silk organza folded back on itself trying to look light and breezy. But this dress weighs a ton and is weighted down with extra layers and bindings and double zippers that rarely allow a seamstress to alter in the right sequence without removing so many sections just to get to the real problem.
Inside there is a boned knit corset with the smallest bust cups I have ever seen! Also makes me wonder why adding boning to knit makes any sense at all as it is stretching larger than the woven fabric of the dress and linings? The fabric is silk throughout, mostly organza and relies on copious amounts of 2 inch wide horsehair braid in the hems to give this dress some shape. The skirt has HH (horsehair), each of the 2 layers of petticoat layers has HH over a plain flat lining and then another lining under that. Are you guessing that every single hem has to be shortened? Yes, you are correct. The circumference of all the skirts is 5 yards/meters, yes, 15 feet to hem for every layer.
Pulling this dress out of a clear plastic bag, no hanger, no garment bag, I notice that the entire lower half of the dress is covered in black dog hairs. I ask the bride if this dress used and been worn before and she says, “Oh no, I bought it online at an outlet mall and those are MY dog’s sheddings”… how nice.
She starts by telling me that the top of bust cups hit her right on her nipples as they are designed for a Barbie doll and not a human being…no surprises there…thanks J.Crew.
Her mother who does not know anything about sewing wants every single hemmed edge to be professionally sewn as to have no raw edges or anything to catch on twigs during the ceremony. So, I am thinking that this will be some grand wedding in a garden setting with formal attire and trays of champagne flutes and harp music… more about that later.
The bride also mentions that her groom has a closet full of J. Crew clothes and they fit him well so why does this dress fit so badly? My answer is always the same…women have boobs and these clothes don’t address that.
Let’s get started: You know you are in trouble when the label has been swiped with a black marker…why? Because it means it has been tried on by many girls and no one wanted to buy it off the rack. To start with the bride is probably a size 0 with a 30 inch bust. So translated, that means that the circumference in the bodice is 4 inches too large for her. The back princess seams will each be taken in 2 inches and the knit corset as well and linings. The waist stay ribbon will also be shortened by 4 inches all around.
The knit corset has an edge binding top and bottom that has to be removed to start. There is also a corset zipper that has to left in place. Boning will have to be removed just to take in the 2 inches each side. The top edge of the corset will also be removed from the lining.
After the tuck is made, the binding is re-attached by hand to the top and bottom edges before being hand sewn back to the lining.
Thread tracing shows the back princess seams with the new seam lines.
Even thought the inside bust cups are tiny, the outside bodice needs to be taken in to eliminate one inch of excess each side.
So with bodice sections all taken in 4 inches…of course we have to take in the skirts as well and the linings. The waistline seams are opened up first to manipulate the others. The top skirt involves 5 layers of ruffles which will be again folded back in themselves and most definitely adding to the immense bulk/
rooster tail in back. The under skirt will be taken in as well as the lining.
With the new 2 inch tuck in the skirt layers, you can see the waistline seam pinned with everything together…lots of bulk!
With that mess basted, we move unto the hems. All hems had 2 inch wide HH Horsehair braid. The skirt hem was shortened 5 inches and the double ruffled petticoats had their HH turned under twice for a total of 4.5 inches shorter and now nice and thick and stiff.
With top and bottom basting done, the zipper has to be re-attached for the try-on. Let’s not forget the grosgrain ribbon guard as well.
The second try-on shows that some of the ruffles hang below the new HH hem length and have to be altered. Wouldn’t you know it…to shorten them you have to remove the 1/2 inch wide strip of bias binding.
Trim off the excess fabric and re-attach the strips by machine…shortening it also as needed…can you spell tedious?
Can you get an inkling of where the venue will be? Does the thick leather belt give you a hint? Under the dress the bride will be wearing knee-high leather hiking boots…come on…guess…a barn? a backyard, a winery, some gorgeous outdoor scene with those white gloved waiters with trays? NOPE!
This steamed silk dress after all the extensive alterations will be stuffed into a rucksack and backpacked into the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the most inaccessible spot on the West Coast where the happy couple will be saying their vows on a remote cliff in the forest. To complete this scene, the bride will be wearing knee high hiking boots that are required for this monumental backpacking excursion as the terrain includes snakes and bears and cougars along with enough twigs and pine needles to start a bonfire to signal any search and rescue teams.
I’ve asked the bride for photos of the wedding…if she remembers, that should be quite something!
Have a super sewing week!!!