the dress

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I haven't done anything lately except work and gardening. So let's talk about the dress!

You won't be surprised to find out that I'm going vintage for the dress. I had settled on this pattern which the most amazing Santa Salsera found for me. The short version (in yellow in the picture), without the drape. If the drape was attached to the waist I would have done it, but I don't like the look of a drape from the shoulders. I was originally planning to make it with a little standing collar, but I tried that on a sample dress and it kind of stuck out funny. I might try again or I might just skip it.

But then a couple of weeks ago my friend Judith showed me her wedding dress from her first wedding, which she had made. It was an a-line in peu de soie with a jewel neckline and short sleeves. It was absolutely adorable. I remember she said, "It's so short! And at the time, I thought it was so long!" It looked just above the knee. It was a lot like this pattern of mine actually. Which is the pattern of my very favorite polka dotted dress. Which, alas, I can't find a photo of right now. Trust me, it's cool. And it looks good on me if I do say so myself.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of fabric, maybe not enough for the second pattern. It's one piece down the whole length, no seam at the waist, so it takes a lot of fabric. The other one has a seam at the waist so there's a lot more flexibility in cutting. Though I must admit, with these short mod dresses we're only talking about 3 yards of 35" wide fabric. Anyone who ever made a modern wedding dress is probably making the gesture of the world's tiniest violin at this point. A gown with a full skirt and train uses who knows how many yards. (Seriously, I don't know. I never looked at those dress patterns.)

Speaking of which, the fabric was a major score. I went to Mulberry Silk first; they had a bunch of bridal fabrics but nothing that really rang my bell. Next was the Cotton Boll, and I have to admit I was concerned because I think of Mulberry as the better of the two, and there really aren't any other stores that carry high-end fabrics. But Cotton Boll had a funky lace that was perfect. I would never have described that in advance, but once I saw it I knew it was exactly what I wanted. The ladies in the store dubbed it "very Marlo Thomas." So of course I had to show them the pattern. They were very nice about letting me open it up and lay out all the pieces so I'd be sure to get enough fabric. The fabric is expensive so I wanted to be absolutely sure I had enough.

(Speaking of Marlo Thomas, Jane Espenson described the funniest That Girl gag ever in a spec script someone used to get a job on another show. You have to read it, it's hysterical.)

I had originally planned to have a layer of dupioni silk under the lace, but the ladies in the store convinced me to go with a less expensive synthetic. It made sense because the underlayer will hardly be visible, but now that the wedding has been rescheduled for summertime I'm kind of wishing I'd spent the extra money for the silk. I want Georg and I to walk around Vegas in our wedding clothes taking photos of ourselves instead of getting professional portraits, but I don't relish the idea of wearing a polyester dress in 100° heat.

On the other hand, I had been berating myself for using up this gorgeous piece of white satin that i got from a super clearance sale to line this dress two years ago, when it would have been perfect for the wedding dress. But no, heavy satin would have been even worse in the desert heat. So now I'm glad I used the satin on the backless dress. It went really well with that sheer red fabric.

At least the poly layer won't be against my skin: the dress is going to have both underlining and lining. It seemed excessive but the lady in the store convinced me to do it. The underlining will give it structure and the lining will make it more finished. They tried to sell me this horrible poly lining fabric, but I insisted on a nice soft cotton. I wouldn't wear that crap next to my skin in a regular dress, much less my wedding dress! And really, there was no need to go cheap on the lining. The fabric came in exactly at my $200 budget.

It was funny because the Cotton Boll lady launched into this explanation of how underlining works, and I was like "yeah yeah I know I know -- I make vintage patterns, remember?" I wouldn't be surprised if I were the first person my age she's dealt with who already knew what underlining is. It's just not done anymore typically. Not that I'm all that young, but I'm at least a decade too young for underlining being a matter of course.

(I think there's an explanation of the difference between lining and underlining in this post.)

So I think that's all up to date on the dress. I haven't started sewing it yet, because all the yardwork has been making me lose a little weight. So I want to wait until closer to the wedding to make sure it fits. My plan is to put it together so that it will be easy later on to replace the underlayer with a new fabric of another color. Soft green or light blue or something. Then I can wear it again as a summer party dress.

I was going to write about the accessories next but this is getting long, I think I better start another post.

2 Comments

the dress seems like the best part of having a wedding--but maybe less so, if you're sewing it yourself. :)

well, I think for me the best part of the wedding is probably the groom :)

But making the dress myself makes it *more* fun, not less. If I bought the dress I could easily spend 10 times more and end up with something I didn't like nearly as much.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah published on March 28, 2006 9:36 PM.

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