In the month of April, I worked on a lot of prom dresses and bridesmaid dresses, but I had one very special original project, an original wedding dress!
The bride, Amanda, wanted something simple and lovely for her tropical destination wedding in the beginning of May. We discussed many options and, in the end, Amanda and I decided on the following attributes:
1. Initial muslin fitting
Amanda actually lives several hours form the studio, so was not available for me to measure her before the first muslin. To get around this problem, I had her mail me a dress of woven fabric that she liked the way it fit her. I made the initial muslin based on that dress. She then came to the studio and I pinned the muslin to fit her exactly.
2. Pattern making and second muslin
I used the pinned muslin to create the pattern that I would actually use for the dress. I also made a second muslin. Typically I would fit that muslin as well, but Amanda was unable to make another trip to the studio and was comfortable going forward without another fitting.
3. Cutting and sewing
Amanda wanted white chiffon, a very sheer, gossamer fabric to give her that floaty, ethereal feeling while on the beach, so we needed to line this bad boy, a lot. The chiffon was flat lined to silk dupioni, which was then lined with habotai silk on the inside of the dress so everything was tidy and neat and NOT see-through when people saw Amanda in the tropical sunshine. Additionally, the bodice had fusible interlining, Rigilene boning and spiral boning to give enough support to the dress to allow for both a sweetheart neckline and a corset back.
4. Figuring out those roses!
So we had decided to make the roses "melt" away. This was the trickiest and most time consuming part of the dress. It is also (IMHO), what makes it so unique and special (other than the bride wearing it!).
The roses were to stop being quite so compact around the high hip, but if I cut the rose fabric off there, then it would destroy the flow of the flowers onto the bottom of the dress. Instead, I picked the stitches out of the ribbons that made up the roses along the cut line then cut chiffon BEHIND the ribbons, leaving the ribbons intact and the chiffon to separate. I couldn't simply use the rose fabric the entire way down and remove the unwanted roses, for a number of reasons. The first and most important was that the stitches that were in the ribbons left scars in the chiffon and we wanted a smooth flawless chiffon at the bottom of the skirt.
I then had to pick off the rest of the roses, eliminating some as I went along to thin out their numbers more and more as I got closer to the bottom. It looked like this while it was happening:
5. So after I carefully detached all of those roses, I had to reattach them, creating new spirals and roses with the ribbons that had been hanging. At first, I thought I'd be able to machine them back on, no such luck. Work this detailed needed a detailed hand. So I stitched them all back on, by hand; it took two viewings of Frozen and the entire Harry Potter series to get them all sewn back on. (Okay, Frozen was actually played three times, but since I had never seen it before, I just kind of sat on the couch with the dress in my lap, I can only sew with movies on when I have already seen them.)
7. Breathing deep
The roses finished... whew.
6. Corsetry fun
I used spiral boning to create enough support for a corset in a chiffon dress.
Clipping all threads (there were lots due to those roses). Hemming, I did a rolled hem on each layer. I did it organically, meaning there was about a 1/2" that I played with making some layers (skirt had 4 layers) longer than others... it reminded me of the dunes and the patterns that blowing sand makes, which seemed beach appropriate.
Congratulations Amanda and Scott! Wishing you a lifetime of happiness!
I'm Denise Meyer, apparel designer in State College, PA, saving the world one clothing problem at a time!