Another vintage dress was going to be arriving with the bride and her mother. I was sent the original wedding photo from 1984…remember poofy sleeves and fishing line ruffles? Oh yes, this had them all.Of course, the bride wants to make this her own dress and make it modern.
The appointment is set and as she is driving 3 hours south while her mother and father are driving 3 hours north, they will meet in the middle at my house. In the meantime, her sister writes to me about coming early to surprise her sister as she lives in the Midwest, 4 hours away by plane. Without thinking, I agree to this scheme.
The sister arrives on time and I settle her in the kitchen to wait for the rest of the crew. She shows me a champagne bottle and asks if it is OK to present this to her sister. Without thinking again, I agree.
The father and mother arrive with the bride and huge gold box concealing the dress. I settle them down in the room and tell them I have to leave to get my camera and then call the sister to sneak in to surprise them. She bursts into the room with her cell phone on video setting to record the excitement and the mother bursts out crying, the sister is shouting and the father just wants someone to hug.
The dad leaves the room while I start trying to button up all those back buttons and the mother starts asking about when are we going to get her husband back in the room and why hasn’t the champagne been opened already and her husband been brought back in for the party. I realize that I have lost control of this appointment and calmly tell her, “this is not my party, for me this is my work and you have to let me get this girl in the dress”.
As soon as the bride is dressed, I grab the bottle and open it while the sister is shouting, “Get the champagne glasses”. Once they are all holding their filled glasses, I can get to work asking the bride about the main reason why they are all here…”what do you want me to do with this dress?”
The bride says she wants the sleeves to be removed, the train to be removed and the whole hem to be tea length. The mother almost faints and begs the daughter to reconsider as she loves the double ruffled train.
The bride asks if I can remove all the fancy lace motif edging and use it on the new tea length hem. Sure, let’s remove the basketball-sized sleeves and lace edging:
Another issue she asks about is the lace trim on the back and hips…how did it get so yellow after being cleaned 33 years ago? The answer is…I don’t know but I will see if I can do something about it. I remove one side and experiment.
Below you can see the results…back in the 80’s we were still using cotton edgings and with a little soak in a weak bleach solution…voila’, we have white lace. So all the rest will be done that way and re-attached. Lots of hand work here and tedious fitting back into position! See the puckered zipper lap?
The bodice front has only one issue…can you see the wrinkles at the armhole? either that extra fabric will be taken out just above the lace edging or at the shoulders. We can’t have that gap there before the extra lace edging is applied to make a small cap sleeve.
Skirt is shortened and hem folded under and stitched with invisible thread in the needle and white thread in the bobbin. There are many lace motifs that will have to be removed before I add the lace edging otherwise we will have soft and hard sections.
All the flowers have been stitched flat after being bleached.
Adding the lace edging to the armhole front and back and making a tuck in the princess seam:
Can you see how tight the buttons and loops will be when fastened? Something will have to be let out. So many horizontal drag lines as well…what to do? Even with her separate corset tied as tight as humanly possible it is not a good look. But then take a look at the original photo of her mother…holy cow…those are the same wrinkles!
Taking in the lining of the princess seam lining at the armhole:
What would happen if I restored the dress to its original seams at the zipper? Would the drag lines relax and disappear? The first seamstress took in the center back zipper and left all that fabric wadded up. Have to be grateful that she didn’t trim it all away!
So let’s move the zipper back and gain 2 inches in circumference. Does this seem like a pattern with all these wedding dresses??? Add 2 inches to make things fit correctly…2 inches…the difference between two RTW sizes.
The previous seamstress gathered all the extra fabric and double stitched it into the seam. The rest of the skirt was pleated.
In her haste to finish the dress, she caught a fold into the seam to add more bulk.
Once released, you can see there was 1/2 inch caught.
I removed the gathers and now the skirt can resume its original place at the edge of the bodice thus gaining an inch on either side of the zipper.
All the edges now match up, the gathers have disappeared and with a small repair to the organza layer where the pins are, we are ready to insert the zipper again.
A close up of the first step on the hem after all the random lace motifs have been removed from that area.
First, the hem is folded under and sewn and the edges pinked to blend in better.
Then with the lace edging sewn by machine with invisible thread on top and poly thread in the bobbin like the hem:
Underarm edges are bound with bias strips and hand tacked. Lace hem is done and cap sleeve treatment hand sewn on.
The back view after all the 27 buttons and loops have been removed and re-attached and the tulle released to gain almost 2 inches there too. The zipper stitching has tiny puckering but it is 2 layers of satin with the lining also in that seam. I think originally the lining must have been separate and laid nicer but I can’t change everything about this dress and labor costs are mounting up.
This week our temps have gone from the 70’s (great for gardening) to the high 90’s…not so nice for gardening!
Our birds like the new fountain and have discovered the best way to drink without getting their feet wet. They perch between the frog’s eyes and bend forward.
As always, my photos reflect a desire to share possible solutions to real challenges that you readers may encounter in your sewing adventures. If I can help you in any way, then I have achieved my goal.
Happy Cool sewing everyone!