Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Wedding Dress and Other Things

Last night DH said there was nothing on TV. Well, I disagreed. Once he went through about 10 shows (on 200+ satellite channels) and said, "The Notebook", well YES! There was something on that *I* wanted to watch. Just a couple of days ago I was thinking I would like to rent that movie again. A sucker for romance I guess. DH doesn't like the movie because of the ending, and said it leaves him depressed. But it's a love story! Just a simple sappy love story. One that makes me think of DH and reminiscing about the good 'ol days ;) . And it's fitting because we celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary this week. Has it been that long??? Seems like yesterday.

And also fitting that Lindsay was talking about wedding dresses and asked if anyone had made theirs. She asked about posting them so that is what I worked on today. Here is my wedding dress I made circa 1986.

My wedding dress was indeed a labor of love. A year to be exact. I spent two months looking through Bride and Modern Bride in 1985/86. Lots of very oppulent, Mermaid styles with tons of beading and sequins. Long, flowing veils with fancy headpieces. I wanted that. It was the '80's, you know. Excessive everything. Even the price. I couldn't afford an $8,000 gown on a poor college student's budget. DH was still in college, too, while I was making it. I didn't make the veil. It was loaned to me by my boss who made it for her daughter's wedding two years before. However, the headpiece is mine. I bought it at a fabric store, probably no longer in existence. $68 I think. I had to attach it to the veil.

The silhouette (sp?):

Who knows where I purchased my fabric, maybe SoFro in our local mall? The lace overlay on the bodice and sleeves...I really have no idea. That might have been SoFro too. Or maybe a long-gone independent. The beads and sequins were purchased from a long-defunct craft store in our area. I bought $200 worth of them for the gown. Each painstakingly handstitched one by one.

The pattern was a Butterick. It was heavily altered. My sister who can drape and do pattern design helped me redesign the gown to the pics in the magazines. It originally was a boatneck with not-so-big sleeves. I told my sister, "Low V-neck, big sleeves...They have to be REALLY big just like the magazine!" So we redesigned it together because at the time I didn't do anything besides lengthen/shorten. I made two muslins from some cheap pink taffeta-like fabric until the fit and design was right. The bridesmaids dresses were the original pattern design and were made by independent seamstresses, not me. I had no time.

Here are two of my bridesmaids in the original pattern design. My mom and dad got fancy in the tux and mermaid style too :) .

Each piece was cut and worked on independently. I remember working on the sleeves so many nights. I basted the partial lace overlay to the fabric sleeve, then worked on the sequins and beads. I tell you, it was so many hours of work. Every time I thought I had it right, it was time to add more. The bodice took FOREVER. Me and Mr. Right...doesn't he look thrilled while I'm working on the sleeve. (Get used to it buddy ;) .)

The bodice was a lace overlay with the fabric too. I'd try it it on, add more here, more there. The dress was not lined as per the pattern. It just had a facing which was fine by me. I couldn't use a cheapo zipper and used a very sturdy, kind of metal-looking on the inside one. The dress was ultimately somewhat heavy.

I didn't know about couture techniques back then. Whatever books I could get my hands on is what I used for info, along with asking my sister. She wasn't a whole lot of help other than the redesign in the summer time because she was away at college. So basically it was "Make it work any way I can."

The night before the wedding she helped me with one last issue--the button/loop for the train. I couldn't do that by myself and didn't trust anyone but her because she knows how things are supposed to hang and cascade just the right way. Here are two pics of the train up and "hooked".

These are the closeup pics of the piece of wearable art that I am most proud of, in the days when I was an absolutely fearless sewer. Yes, I took them out today to take the pics. I never had it preserved and now it's a lovely cream shade.
The front:

Closeup of front detail:

Closeup of the back and sleeve. I had a devil of a time putting on those big beads going down the lower half of the sleeve.

Here's those darn sleeve beads. Hmmm...notice a little v-neck gapping? These days, I would have caught that quickly. (Maybe I didn't want to back then ;) !)
Back closeup.
The two sorority date party gowns before the wedding dress were a big help in me working out the kinks of working with slippery, ornery fabric. Before I knew people were actually somewhat afraid to work with slippery fabric, and that maybe I should be a little afraid too.

I hate being afraid. It has been one of my resolutions to "feel the fear and do it anyways", a quote from a knowledgeable PR member. Something I never used to feel, but with the wealth of knowledge given to us via the Internet also comes fear that maybe we should be afraid. But...fear NOT! Pick up the scissors and just do it. Even if it's a wedding dress.

I always loved that dress, and I can't part with it. It's kind of like a who-I-am dress. When you make something that takes so much time, you can't just give it away, just my opinion. It's a "to death do us part" kind of thing. Maybe one of my grandchildren will want it as a keepsake some day.


Sewfast said...

Dear Kat,
What a beautiful dress you made for your wedding. My boyfriend, soo to be husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. I made his suit for the wedding...a turquoise polyester (Hey, it was the 70's)I drew a design of my perfect wedding dress and planned to make it, but we were walking through the mall one evening when he said "'s your dress!" It was exactly what I sketched an it fit beautifully. We thought it was a sign,so we bought it. It was a thin linen Gunne Sax type dress. Last year I cut it up to make hankies for my daughter's bridal party. There is still enough fabric and lace for a christening gown for my first grandbaby! Thanks for sharing your beautiful gown with us. Mary

Kat said... I remember Gunne Sax! BEE-U-TIFUL dresses! Any pics, Mary??? Do share :) !

Lindsay T said...

Aww, I'm so glad you shared this! I can understand the sentimentality of this dress--keep it for your granddaughters.

Jillian said...

What a lovely story. Thanks for posting all of the photos!

kasizzle said...

Wow! You put so much work in to it! How did you manage that and school at the the same time? Gorgeous bride, BTW!

Cennetta said...

Your dress is beautiful. Truly a labor of love. It was a treat reading about the making of your wedding gown. Priceless.

Audrey said...

Your wedding dress is beautiful. The intricacy and amount of beading blows me away. I can understand why you have kept it. I had to smile at the 80's hair. Oh yeah I remember that too.

2BSewing: said...

Kat...thank you for sharing your wedding gown pics and your sewing experience. All I can say is...Wow! You made a beautiful dress. Congrats on your 22nd anniversary! This is turning out to be a special week for you...Susan ;)

Linda said...

Truly beautiful dress. You were a lovely bride!

I nominated you for the Premio Award, please go here to see the nomination:

Marji said...

What a beautifully made dress. And of course, a labor of love.
Thanks so much for sharing it.
I was just thinking this past week, as I'm working with some challenging designs and fabrics, that I worked with a lot of this stuff before I knew it was supposed to be "hard". My biggest challenge with my first silk charmeuse project was being able to afford it. I didn't have too much trouble sewing with it, mostly because I didn't know I was supposed to have trouble.