Just over a year ago, I had the challenge to get a volleyball playing bride into her “Crying Thighs” tight-fitting dress. Wedding gown manufactures require salons to measure the bride in the bust and waist and hips but sometimes it is the thighs that can get you into trouble when the dress is dropped waisted.
So once again, beautiful dress, beautiful bride and a challenge.
I leave the bride and her mother to get her dressed while I step out. All I can hear is groaning and rustling of fabric and grunts and that is when I ask, “Is everything OK?” The poor mother is beside herself and overwhelmed that they cannot get the dress on the bride either by stepping into the dress or pulling it over her head…why? The dress circumference at the thighs is smaller than the girl herself. Finally we manage to get her in, smooth her down and the result is drag lines everywhere and she cannot raise her leg to walk never mind the thought of sitting.
You can see that the tightness of this dress does not flatter her figure and really draws attention to her tummy with drag lines. The back butt curve is so tight that she cannot move her legs. Not a great look!
The front waist wrinkles can be helped with double spaghetti straps on each side which she has asked for although only one strap is shown. The bust cups have had push-up pads pinned on but there is still a need for some extra padding later.
Ready for some real custom work? Open the lining and let out the center back seam. Like with other gowns, once I snip the lining threads, the dress almost sighs with relief as the lining is 1/2 inch smaller on each side of the zipper.
The lining is hand basted to the zipper leaving the lower half open. I explained to the bride and her mother that we may have to leave it open for the final fitting just so the girl can walk.
The lining is opened further down along with the layers of petticoat netting now involved as well. The lining seams vertically over the thighs are already fraying with the strain so all 4 seams are let out 1/2 inch each hoping it is enough.
The dropped waist seam is opened up to access all seams. Can you see the fraying after only one hour of wearing?
Second fitting appointment, even with the extra ease…this will never work! You can see the lace motifs that have been folded back to work on the seams. The solution will come with work done on the last 7 buttons area where the stress is the worst!
One reader asked me last time on how do I figure what shape the new panels have to be….well, I want to add 2 inches to the bodice and the same 2 inches to the skirt. I cut the strips and wedge from the center back skirt train so no one will notice. Then using some white satin and 4 layers of white and blush tulle, they come alive. The lace motif on the lower wedge has to be removed like all the others one stitch at a time…tedious work.
In the meantime, while I am inside the dress I wad up tulle into a ball and stitch it into the very pointed bust area to eliminate wrinkles on either side of the boning. Push up bust pads help but are too rounded to make a difference this time.
Back to the back…upper panels in and ready for the zipper:
Panels in and waiting for 7 buttons to be re-attached and all the lace motifs to be attached to the tulle layer and the 3rd fitting appointment.
Want to see what is under all this? The first layer (hidden) is satin lining hemmed with 2 inch wide horsehair braid that will have to be shortened 2 inches. Then the next layer is white tulle, then 4 layers of netting, some gathered which will be trimmed by 2 inches.
The next layer is thin satin and then another layer of white tulle the same circumference as the satin (the problem child) and then 3 more layers of blush and white tulle.
The bride and her mother are in love with the train and want all of it bustled up. I start with a 5-point bustle of the tulle and a 1-point bustle of the satin layer.
3rd fitting appointment and the butt and thighs are still very tight and you can see the lining seams are trapped up under the bodice layer so I have taken this picture to have the bride show her helpers where they have to pull down to get all the wrinkles out.
At least on the outside, the zipper works but it is still very tight under her butt. She still cannot sit down or walk up steps…but she says she will not be doing either on her special day. I tell her that she will not even be able to pee without taking the entire dress off and she says she is OK with that. The remainder of the lace motifs will cover all the spaces and seams all hand sewn onto the tulle layer alone while watching TV.
The side view is still exaggerated but the bride calls that her “drama” and doesn’t want to lose it…well, it sure ain’t going anywhere!
The inside tells another story…see the new panels and end of the zipper? See the edges of the lining…yes…you got that right…12 inches of ease has to be left open just to get into this dress.
But, from the outside…it looks fine and the bustle will need 7 points to get it all off the ground. Wait…what is that white stuff hanging? Remember the one white tulle layer the same shape as the satin? Well, it cannot be bustled with the other tulle layers and cannot be bustled with the satin as it is somehow stitched into the lower half of the zipper so it will just have to be trimmed off.
Did you think we were done??? Ha ha…oh no…let’s think about adding a blinged out belt too along with those double spaghetti straps. The bride is off to find ribbons and do-dads and sparkles.
Meanwhile, I have finished 7 bustle buttons/loops and left the 2 extra safety pins in case we go with 9 points. The lace motifs look really nice when spread out:
The bride went crazy in JoAnn’s and bought wide satin ribbon and wide rhinestone trim but even though her mother and I said this belt would not add anything to the dress, she stopped everything and Facetimed her wedding planner to get her opinion. Who does this?
The mom and I stood there while the bride tried on all sorts of other versions of belts and ribbons, glittered and beaded while the bride and her consultant talked back and forth on her phone video chatting. Finally, the professional told her she didn’t need a belt and I could finish the appointment by trimming off the white tulle layer that hung below the bustle.
Now, we have a very neat bustle and they decided that they wanted a 9 point bustle for the tulle layer.
She is ready to dance up a storm and no one will know what is going on under all those ruffles…just you and I.