Back in April I previewed a wedding dress I had taken on as a refashioning project. Our bride Jamie really wanted to wear her mother's wedding dress. I don't think she actually liked the dress all that much (and her fiance actively disliked it), but she really liked the idea of wearing something of her mother as she walked down the aisle.
Yep, classic 1970's wedding dress: floor length skirt (as opposed to 1960's wedding tea dresses), fitted lace sleeves, high neck lace overlay on top of princess neckline bodice. Jamie's mom looked gorgeous in it:
Isn't it funny how context changes everything? The dress looks perfect on Jamie's mom in these photos. I think it's because everything goes together - the hair, the hat/veil, even the flower arrangement. It looks old-fashioned on the dress form, but on Jamie's mom it looks sexy and hip. It's harder to like the dress in a modern context, and it needed some help to work for Jamie.
First, even though it had been packed away carefully by a dry cleaner (we had to break the seal to get at it!), it had yellowed a bit in places and was certainly not the bright white color it once was. After researching online, I decided it needed a bath. I removed all the metal bits (buttons, hook and eye, zipper) and soaked it in our tub for 24 hours in cool water. I discovered that our tub will not hold water for that long, so I had to add more water every few hours. This may have helped as the dirty water was replaced by clean multiple times during the soak. And it worked!!
|After (with sneak peek of corset back)|
The second step was to remove the lace sleeves and yokes. I carefully removed the lace applique that vined up from the bust and the back, and picked away the mesh from the bodice. Jamie wanted this preserved in case her own daughter someday wants to incorporate it back into a new design. I love imagining what this dress might become in 30 or so years!
|Back of lace applique|
|Mesh, lace, and inside of bodice|
For the third step I needed to tackle the straps. I very luckily had a 1/2 yard of perfectly matching silk satin in my stash. I found a pattern with straps and neckline similar to what Jamie was imagining and made a muslin. Jamie came to try it on so we could tweak it for fit and placement.
|Pattern pieces for straps/neckline|
Now it was time to tackle the back closure. The dress was a titch too small, and Jamie loved the idea of a corset back. I follow the blog Fit for a Queen, in which Mrs Mole tells stories of the brides and wedding gowns she tackles in her alterations business - it's both hilarious and informative. I knew she had added corset backs to a number of wedding gowns, so I wrote to her asking for help. And Mrs Mole delivered: she sent me to a step-by-step photo tutorial she had written up for Sew Much Talent AND gave me guidance on where to buy satin cording. I was so pleased I didn't have to try to figure this out on my own!!
|Loops sewn from cording and Petersham ribbon|
|Snaps to hold modesty panel in place while lacing|
|Modesty panel backed with cotton for support/comfort, |
boning to stop it from flopping.
|All laced up! The ribbon is as close to "Cubbie blue" |
as I could find. Thank you, Soutache!
I found this strange, but the dress bodice wasn't lined and it had no boning for structure. I wanted it to have both, so I made an internal corset from the same pattern (Vogue 2237) I used for the wedding dress I made in 2013, and hand stitched this into the bodice.
Finally, all that was left to be done was adding back the lace applique and bustling the back for dancing.
|Jamie's sister under the dress to learn how to tie the bustles!|
And finally, here are some pictures of Jamie from her wedding day in the finished dress (nothing was ruined!). Isn't she a beautiful bride? Her photographer was Brittany Lynn from Brittany Lynn Studios. I love when I get to see dresses in action, and Brittany is good photographer.
|Getting tied up|
|(I lent my wedding earrings to Jamie so she |
would have something borrowed.)
|Congratulations to John and Jamie!|