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.
That sentimental dress. That heirloom blanket. That nostalgic sweatshirt.
How do items seem to hold memories for us? I have no idea, but they do. It makes it hard to part with them through donating or throwing them away. So we keep them, "save" them, but generally, don't take the time to appreciate them.
I firmly believe that we should love the things we have, use and enjoy them. Recently, three different people brought me those things-- the sentimental dress, the heirloom blanket, and the nostalgic sweatshirt-- and I made each into an item that they will see, use, and enjoy everyday.
Here they are:
Sara brought me a blanket that had been passed down through her husband's family. Unfortunately, it was tattered and torn beyond repair so could no longer function as a blanket. I made it into a set of pillows for her home and her mother-in-law's home so everyone can appreciate and enjoy this bit of family history.
Lara had an old Sorority sweatshirt that, although no longer worn, she could never quite part with because of all of the fond college memories associated with it.
Finally, was Julia's project. Julia decided that instead of retiring her wedding gown to the back of her closet or a box to preserve it, she would continue to enjoy her dress in every way she could! While she lived in another state she had her original wedding gown shortened into a cocktail length dress:
However, the dress had a substantial train which Julia also saved. She brought it to me and here's what happened:
It was important to Julia that the pillows were reminiscent of the style of the gown, so a pleated detail was added much like the bodice of her original gown.
As a rule, I only work with apparel, but I always seem to make an exception when it comes to a sentimental upcycle, and I'm glad I do :)
(continued from Part 4)
Before I knew it, prom was here!
Excuse me while I swoon........
Okay, well if you want to see the rest of Lea (and Noah too) on her prom night, Click HERE to check it out!!!
I hope you enjoyed the journey of Lea's vintage gown, from 1979 on her eighty year old great grandmother to her high school prom today!
(continued from Part 3)
Now for my favorite part.... bedazzling! I use Swarovski Hotfix Crystals. If I had endless time and money, I would probably just bedazzle everything I could reach, and do nothing else. There ended up being about.... (72 * 3 + 110 + two more packs I had opened already....) roughly 400 crystals on the gown, not including the belt, the banding for that came pre-beaded.
Before I knew it, Lea came and picked up her dress, prom was nearly here. Next time, see Lea on her Big Night! Here's a teaser...
You will definitely will want to check those pictures out!
Remember THIS PROJECT?
The snow finally melted in Central PA, so here is the finally of the #CollaborativeCouture Project! Thanks to Sadie of By AE for the stunning photos of the gold gown that YOU helped to design! Also thanks to Heather who agreed to model this gown one last time!
That's a wrap! I hope you enjoyed the process and end results as much as I did!
Continued from Part 2
I created a pattern for the top illusion portion of the bodice, and cut it from what had been the sleeves. I shortened the back torso at the waist, put in a new zipper, stitched in the darts, and got the belt together:
Once it was together, I called Lea back for a fitting. We also picked out exactly which shades of rhinestones would look great with the dress... (we chose Diamond and Chrysolite). I wanted to make sure everything was in the right place and fit correctly before I put any rhinestones on. This was a fun fitting because I could tell that Lea and her family could really see that this dress would be suitable for prom :) I did need to make a few tweaks to the back to get everything juuuust right, but it was mostly there.
I loved how this dress is coming together, and I love sharing the process with everyone! Stay with me, next time, I get a lotta bit sparkly!
So, in February, high school junior, Lea, contacted me with an idea for a project. She wanted to use her great -grandmother's gown and turn it into her prom dress with some big updates. (Read about it HERE) Anyway, it was a big undertaking to transform a classic 1970's style gown worn by a woman in her eighties, into one a teenager would want to rock at prom, today.
With some BIG vision, Lea and I came up with a plan:
...and a sketch:
Here's what needed to happen:
I decided the best method to really give Lea a picture of what the dress would look like was to, well, just start cutting. There are some projects that the only way to start is to start!
Once all of the extra fabric was gone, I did a bit of tweaking for fit, shaping with darts around the bust to eliminate a lot of the bulk in the bodice.
Then Lea went home. And I got to work.
I'm Denise Meyer, apparel designer in State College, PA, saving the world one clothing problem at a time!