So now let’s talk details.
Jenn touched on it a bit, but the process of transforming this gown from “Rachel’s Dress” to “Jenn’s Dress” had many, many steps. A few weeks after the handoff (where I’d offhandedly offered to alter it … and then freaked out about Jenn accepting), Jenn asked me to come over and see her try it on. She wanted me to gauge how much work I’d need to do to make it fit. Oh, and she had a couple ideas of ways to change it.
I still maintain that she looked gorgeous in the dress from day 1 … but we all know how important it is to FEEL gorgeous, too. So, holding my breath, I started opening the hem to see what we had to work with. Whoever’d done Rachel’s alterations … BLESS THEM. They’d used what I call a “theatre alteration” * (no cutting) and we had quite a bit of extra fabric in all the seams. So, that’s easy. Next it was the design.
Through some miracle, Jenn had found a ton of BEAUTIFUL ivory lace for ridiculously cheap. She’d been toying with the idea of creating a lace and ribbon sash. So we snipped off the bows and other adornments (carefully … we wanted to be able to put them back, should she change her mind), and carefully pinned the lace on. And everyone LOVED it.
From there we spent a few months going back and forth on the details of the plan … should the sash be removable? Should the ribbon be attached? Should we create a ribbon bow? What about the hem? Lace? No lace? How thick of a ruffle should it be? Should it just be flat? Should should should … designing is a tough, detailed (no pun intended) business.
Finally, we had a plan, and it was time to sit down and work.
The story is long and boring, so here are the details:
– Total sewing time was around 25 hours. Many movies were consumed during this time.
– The lace (all 8 yards of it) was gathered by hand, with the help of a long machine stitch. All other work was done by hand.
– I never ONCE stuck my finger during all this hand sewing. I did, however, have satin safe stain remover, just in case.
– The intensity of the gather and the length of the ruffle varied from short/loosely ruffled in the front to long/tightly ruffled in the back. Much pinning and repinning was involved. ::winks::
– The lace needed to be attached in two ways … first to the inside of the satin, and then layered with the lining. I only had to re-do one bit. I call it a win.
– The sash was basted on while Jenn (ever trusting) was wearing it. I still don’t think I stuck her. She may disagree.
– The ribbon was designed to allow for a clip adornment, should one be desired.
– 10 of the buttons needed to be removed and reattached. It was the easiest, yet most nerve-wracking bit of the entire gown.
– I finished the final bit while Jenn waited … so I was about 10 minutes over my deadline. Whoops!
All in all, I love how it turned out. And while I realize my opinion wasn’t the one that counted, I was pretty damn proud of myself. I’ve done a lot of designing and executing alterations, but never with so much riding on it. It occurred to me on the day of Jenn’s wedding that while I knew she loved how it looked on the dress form, I wasn’t there to see if she loved it just as much, once she was wearing it. And that, of course, was super, super important to me.
I’m not sure how I’ll be able to convince myself that she did (and she did, according to her post). But then again, you’re always your own worst critic. ** So, in the meantime, I’ll sate my pride by the involuntary catch of breath I get looking at the splay of lace on their overhead ceremony shots … and by the compliments Jenn received. Through that, I consider it a job well done.
Thanks, Jenn (and Rachel!) for letting me feel and play a tiny role in the big picture of the Sisterhood!
All photos by the amazing Jenn Link Photography. Go. Hire her. You won’t be disappointed!
* You NEVER cut out the extra fabric when you’re altering for theatre. Especially in school settings and lower budget productions, that costume may very well be used again … so you need to be able to let it back out for someone else. Same with hems. You have no idea how many times it’s saved my butt.
** For example … it kills me that the lace pattern didn’t match up on either side of the buttons down the back. I know it was out of my control, but GAH!