Thursday, August 9, 2012

A fifties (wedding) dress fairy tale.

Once upon a time, there was a lovely bride to be. 
Amy was her name and what did she see?
She came across a dress from the mid-centurty, 
an ivory satin gown that needed TLC.

As you can see the gown isn't the best fit for Amy's frame. It's a 50s dress and the gown was cut for a busty gal, or a gal that has a really, really padded bust. The satin of the under dress relaxed so the hem is uneven. The good news was the integrity of the fabric was very good, so it could stand up to alterations.

Let's just say this dress needed a lot of work.
I was honored that Amy trusted me with this project. She brought the dress over for the first time and tied it on for me. The main objective was to reshape the bust. Because this garment is ivory, I had to do all the markings with basting thread, so precision was crucial.

Amy also wanted the side zipper to be extended all the way to the armpit, which was easy. I couldn't extend it down, because the sheer netting was sewn into the skirt, and that might affect the drape of the skirt if I altered it.

Basting the bust for a fitting.

To reshape the cups, I had to carefully take off some of the buttons and open up the front bodice. I did a basting line to see if this is what amy wanted then I asked her if it was alright to now cut the garment. She siad yes and than I did the deed.

An early attempt at curving the cup.
Reworking a vintage garment is kind of like walking backwards in snow steps, you have to be careful of where you stitch, how you stitch and what you do so you maintain the integrity of the dress but also so you can re-use the stitching lines.

After three tries, I was able to curve the bust 
(and the reinforcement netting beneath the curve) 
to her liking.

The hem of the skirt was an intensive challenge. I had Amy try on the dress and marked the hem with pins. I then marked out the over dress and sewed the satin. The satin was done by machine and hand tacked, but the satin overlay I had to hand roll the hem and hand sew it. That took three hours. But LOOK AT THAT HEM! It's bitchin'!

She loved the dress and it was a great fit. She was very happy with the outcome and because it's not necessarily a wedding dress, Amy can wear it to other places too!

I'm glad I could be there for you with the abilities I have, Amy! Congratulations to you and David! Good luck in your new life! :)


Sarah said...

You did a great job tailoring this delicate dress to the bride's figure, she looks beautiful in it!

Regena said...

fab job!!!

Jane said...

That's wonderful! How fortunate Amy is to have a friend like you, Shelley.

Cleverclogs said...

That is a beautiful dress!

Valerie said...

Great job on the alterations--I don't know if I would have the courage to work on such a fragile dress. The finished result is amazing!

Foodycat said...

You did an amazing job Shelley! Well done! Amy looked so beautiful in the dress too.

Haley said...

Looks great! Nice job.

Amy and David said...

Thank you, Shelley, for your time, patience, friendship, and incredible skill! I am so lucky to have you as a part of my celebrations, which were in every way a perfect fairy tale. I got so many compliments on the dress and your work preserving the dress' historical integrity, and the hem you labored over photographed beautifully. I can't wait to share pictures for your portfolio you when I receive them.

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