Continued from Part 4
Before I did any hand work- sewing on the trim, hemming the dress, attaching all of that heirloom lace-- I thought Amanda should try the gown on. Plus I wanted to make sure Amanda loooved her gown and was excited about it. She wasn't disappointed!
As you can see, the straps are just the foundation and there is no heirloom lace attached in any area. The fit was perfect though, so we parted ways again and I got back in the studio and got acquainted with my needle, thread, and thimble. If you are still following along on the making of the Fair Willow, thank you! I know it's been a long process, but the end is worth it, i promise!
Continued from Part 3
With the minimal amount of changes needed to the fit of the gown, we decided it was safe to skip over a second muslin and go right to the real fabric. I ordered the silk and lace that Amanda chose (the top left!) and made the necessary adjustments to the pattern. Then I pinned, placed, traced, cut, and began to sew.
I made the bodice and skirt of the gown first. This gown used nearly eight yards of silk, five yards of alencon lace, various interlining and boning. Additionally, it was trimmed with the heirloom lace, hand dyed silk ribbon and heirloom pearl jewelry.
Because the straps were to be made of the heirloom lace, and would be supporting much of the dress' weight, I decided that the straps themselves would need a backing to support the heirloom lace. I chose a peach silk organza for it's strength and sheerness. I wanted the lace to stand out against Amanda's skin and look like it was supporting the dress on its own.
At this point the mock-up still existed and I was using it on the form to measure and compare it to the real gown.
Next time, Amanda sees the REAL dress in person for the first time, I hope she likes it! I hope it fits!
Continued from Part 2
Amanda and her lovely mother made the 3+ hour journey to State College on a cold Sunday in January for Amanda's first fitting. They made it safe and sound and settled in for an afternoon of all things wedding gown.
Amanda graciously allowed my business photographer (and awesome friend!), Sadie of By AE, to stop by for a bit to grab a few photos of the process. It's thanks to her that this is documented at all!
The first thing to tackle was fit. after pinning out some of the bodice, and attaching the straps, we discussed the overall look of the gown-- the shape of the neckline, the shape of the back, the strap placement, the fullness of the skirt, the length of the train. When the dress is made just for you, you get *exactly* what you want!
Amanda showed me her swatches and we chose a lace that would work for the majority of the overlay. Then we talked about that gorgeous heirloom tablecloth. Finally, I did it. I cut it.
I have to give Amanda and her mom credit-- they didn't even flinch, or at least, they didn't let me see them flinch! It felt great to have their confidence that I could use this most special fabric to create an extra meaningful dress for Amanda as she married the love of her life.
As we worked and cut and placed lace pieces and layered fabric swatches, I could tell that Amanda could really start to see the gown come together in her head-- the way it had been in her dreams, as a flowing dress of vintage lace that carried the love of generations past.
(Continued from Part 1)
While Amanda was fabric shopping for her lace, I got busy with the pattern making and first muslin (a muslin is a type of fabric, it also refers to a mock-up or prototype of a garment made for fitting purposes before it's cut form the real fabric)
As you can probably tell, I didn't actually use muslin fabric for this mock-up. I used a yellow fabric that had a drape and hand similar to that of the silk charmeuse that we had decided to use for the base of the actual gown, paired with a cheap craft lace, so Amanda could really get the feeling of what a sheer overlay would be like on her true gown.
Amanda saw lots of pictures but did'n't actually see the mock-up until she tried it on at her first fitting, which I'll share, next week.
The Fair Willow. That is what Amanda named her bridal gown. It's formed from her dreams of the perfect dress. Here's the story of a woman and her dress.
Amanda contacted me in the autumn of 2014 to inquire about an original gown for her May 2015 wedding. We chatted a bit about her expectations for a gown and the timeline.
I asked Amanda to describe her wedding day, how she saw herself, and how she was hoping the day would feel. She used words like "garden, country, lace, vintage, warm, intimate, heirloom, romance". I was starting to get the picture. I asked her to start a Pinterest page for her gown so we could both pin and comment on dresses she was drawn to. This wasn't a matter of "I like this dress, please make it with a modification" This was about me seeing the common attributes of dresses that drew Amanda's eye. In the first few of our 100+ e-mails back and forth, words such as "lace, silk, romance, and drape" appear repeatedly.
Additionally, I asked Amanda to find a few pieces of clothing from her existing wardrobe that fit her great and she feels fabulous wearing. This helped me to determine what type of style lines would suit Amanda on her big day.
Finally, since lace was an important factor in the look of the gown, and family ties were very important to the couple, I advised her to start to look for lace heirlooms that she might like to incorporate into her bridal look. Right away she said she had a tablecloth that her family believes was handmade between 1890 and 1910. It was handmade by her great-great-great-great grandmother using a combination of needlework techniques. She wanted to incorporate the piece, but not look like she was "walking down the aisle wearing a tablecloth" Understandable, but that is exactly what she would be doing in about 6 months!
I came up with two original designs for Amanda's consideration that incorporated the tablecloth without it being the entire gown.
Amanda loved the straps, train and overall shape of the first dress but loved the waist feature of the second. So I came up with another sketch:
She loved the third combination so I got started making the muslin. Amanda's homework was to find a lace for the overlay of the entire gown that she loved and that would compliment the heirloom lace nicely. we agreed to meet in 6 weeks. You don't have to wait that long though-- I'll be writing the next part of the story and post it next week :)
I'm Denise Meyer, apparel designer in State College, PA, saving the world one clothing problem at a time!