from a hot mess to the perfect dress...follow the adventure as the old lady and I attempt to make my wedding dress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Something old: Grandma Rusty's buttons, antebellum reenactment hoop skirt? That'll do.

So in the past week we've been working pretty hard. Last weekend we were finally able to sew the side seams together and I actually got to put it on and look in the mirror. I think at that point we were watching "Say Yes to the Dress" and for the first time I put on my sassy shoes, looked in the mirror, got a little teary, and said "Mom! Look! I'm a bride." Mom replied, yeah you sure are." Last time we talked about this I was wearing the sample dress and I asked Mom if I looked like a bride and she said, "Ummmm....yeah?" at the time I was secretly crushed by the response, but the "WOW!!" I got when I showed her the final dress once the side seams were in was totally worth the initial disappointment.

Before The side seams.

My bride moment!

Directly after the few minutes we took to have our "moment" we
 started picking it apart. We realized that during my battle with the bodice that I took in the front princess seams too much to have the princess seams on the bodice line up and so the back wouldn't close at the top.  I decided to put in the zipper and then see where we stood, but it still didn't close.I thought we'd let the side seams out but of course I had trimmed all of the seam allowances to see if that got rid of enough bulk to close the zipper. Not only did it still not close, but  having trimmed the excess seam allowances meant that letting those seams out wasn't as much of an option as we'd hoped. We both slept on the problem and Mom had the idea that we put gussets. Gussets are pieces of fabric inserted into a seam to add room-- think wrapping a Christmas present and you didn't cut quite enough paper so you stick another piece under the gap, use double- sided tape and think "HA! They'll never know!" The gussets seemed to work but naturally one side was a breeze to do and the other was a little more tricky.

See? NOT closing!!!
Once we got to the point where we were thinking about starting the crinoline, and I was really not excited, we got to talking Mom said "What about that hoop skirt?" About a million years ago I was driving back from rural Georgia there was a random, slightly creepy, antique store that I really thought twice about stopping and going inside and decided it was fine. I fond an old hoop skirt for $10 and decided what the heck I might use it one day. And look at that...I am!

I tried it on underneath the dress and looked a little too Scarlett O'Hara. We wound up figuring out that we could pull out the wires and make them different lengths but I had to cut them and we had some trouble with that because we don't GTL and don't own any bolt cutters. I'm not sure if breaking and entering is something the Jersey Shore boys are involved with regularly, but it seems about right to me. So I sucked it up, ate some spinach, and ripped them apart. Booya. Now I have a hoop skirt that works better than a crinoline, too no time, and is a heck of a lot lighter in weight. Maybe now I won't have to rig some sort of battery-powered fan contraption to go under my skirt because it's so dang heavy and I would be burning up with a crinoline!

Changing the sizes of the wires.
Trying to get an idea of the shape....too big!
So with that out of the way we've been able to work on finishing and reinforcing seams, like heavy-duty Teflon-type stitches that won't make me worry that while I'm walking down the aisle something tragic will happen and I'll suddenly have one of those footed-pajamas flaps on my fannie. Also, Grandma Rusty came through again! I got a box of sewing stuff from her house full of rusted zippers (excuse the pun) and tons of other sewing stuff. This included vile-like containers of buttons in which there are several clusters of similarly-colored buttons sewn together. There was a cluster of mother-of pearl buttons and I used two of them on my dress. So that's the other part of my something old. Pretty neat.

Now we're working on getting the rest of the eyelash trim to get the hem done. I think we'll be done in about two weeks!! Pretty exciting!!!

Almost done! This is it with the hoop skirt underneath.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Come on ride that train

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a train! I finished it yesterday. Last week I got it to the point that everything was done except the lace insert. It took a good while to get everything to the point that I could finally set it in, but it actually happened! It's always nerve-wracking to get to this point because I'm always worried that it just won't look the way I intended. I ran into a girl I was in fashin classes with at Auburn and we laughed because with projects in school, it was extremely rare that something would turn out well.
Train on the loveseat. This thing is HUGE!
Before setting in the insert. Excuse the bulge in the center--it's where the zipper goes.

TRAIN!!! The only thing left is to put eyelash on the hem of the lace and hem the silk. My math skills strink and I didn't get enough eyelash so I have to order more.
See?! What a jerk.
I think the only thing I ever looooved that I did was my "The Root of All Evil" dress. It was made out of Iraqi Dinar (money)for the International Textile and Apparel Association's design competition. I made it because I hate money-it causes so many problems and makes people do terrible things. So I wanted it to have an evil-antagonist feel, very Cruella Deville and it actually did turn out that way! It was a really great experience because as I was putting it together it just started to make sense on an emotional level. The bodice began falling apart, to put it in context this was 2006, and I thought about how everything in Iraq was just falling apart and the chaos of the former regime had risen to the surface. The skirt, on the other hand, was very shiny and pretty, not to mention that it was made from the purple bills with Saddam's face on them, so it was highly indicative of Saddam's regime whre everything seemed fine on the surface. Anyway, this dress being made of paper is probaby what made the difference of it turning out to be (almost) exactly what I invisioned.

 Just so you know, the decision to use Dinar was not from my desire to make a social statement but because it being a retired currency made it legal for me to deface it, the colors are beautiful, and it was the cheapest option. Except that when I was trying to get some I found out that it was now a collector's item and crazy people wanted me to pay $1 per note. So I stuck it to the man and blew up high resolution images of the Dinar in Illustrator and had the techies in the library print them on a ginormous flat-bed printer. Then I glazed them with some plastic stuff, and used an x-acto to cut them out. I was sure that the CIA was going to bust down the door of my ghetto college apartment at any minute!! Luckily, I did not go to prison. I won first place in the Auburn division of the competiton and the dress was displayed in L.A.! While my wedding dress won't be displayed for 2 weeks and I won't win a prize for it, it is definitely going to replace the money dress as the best thing I've ever made! I'm actually kind of amazed that I have been able to do it and that it looks this good. I guess it makes a difference when you don't cut it out and start on it the night before it's due. Not that that EVER happened ...more that once...

 I'm going to go ahead and attribute this success to Adderall, all the things I learned from Ilaine Hartman and team in New Orleans (designer of all the Mardi Gras high-society queens' ball gowns) during my internship, and the pressure that everyone knows I did this-- it's not like I can blame it on David's Bridal if something goes wrong. I'm just soooo glad it's going well! I had "Come On Ride That Train" stuck in my head all day yesterday and I may or may not have run around Sandy's house holding the back of my dess to myself singing the song, and doing the Bankhead bounce. Yeah, you're welcome for the fond and ridiculous memories of that 90's dance move! We're going to try to sew up the whole thing today. We have to finish the edges (which means that we use a stitch on the edges of the fabric to keep it from unraveling) of at least the bottom of the dress because it won't be directly attached to the lining because the crinoline (puffy petticoat to make the bottom of the stress stick out) will go between the lining and the actual dress. And we have to figure out how in the world you make a crinoline. Yikes. I'm seriously thinknig about using the green St. Patty's tutu as part of the crinoline. Except I kind of mant to be Tinkerbell for halloween.....decisions, decisions...... Dont you think Charlie would be an adoreable Peter Pan?! And all the groomsmen should be the lost boys. Well, they kind of already are.  Pants, Wallace, Sean, I'm talking to you!!

 I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bead Wars II: The Bodice Strikes Back

 My goodness! I've made a lot of progress since my last post!! Naturally, after I wrote the the bodice was done it wasn't. I tried to sew the "finished" bodice to the skirt front the next day and spent like 4 hours wishing I was a centipede trying to pin it to myself. I realized that the princess seams didn't quite line up and that the fit needed to be altered a bit. I thought about just saying "whatevs" and rolling with it, but I knew all of y'all would be at the wedding thinking, "Man she really could've done a little more to the top!" And I can't let you down!!!!


            Before Fixing                                                                   After

Long story short After 2 more days working with the bodice, I think it's finished. We'll see if there's an Episode III. And the dumb beads keep falling off!! I'm tempted to grab some super glue. Who knows maybe I'll get to that point.... Well, eventually I got the bodice pinned to the skirt. I'm terrified to sew it until I sew all of the pieces together because all of my tugging on the bodice while wearing and trying to pin it has made the lace pretty fragile. That night I ran around Mom's house wearing the front half of my dress like a bib-- bodice completely on with the front of the skirt hanging down in full-on apron style. It was the first real glimpse of the final dress that I got to see on me I just didn't want to take it off!    

When I leave Sandy's house after working on the dress the dining is room covered in beads, pins, scissors, lace, silk, thread, and pattern pieces looking like a small factory. We now have to cover the dining room table with a bed sheet because her cat, Cali, thinks it's an amazing idea to lay all over a couple "G's" worth of sewing and dress stuff. I literally have had nightmares that I will walk in one day and there will be a little "gift" all over my dress! Anyway, the first night we covered it, I left the dress laying out in large pieces and it actually started to look like a real dress!!!! As we pulled the sheet over everything I flashed back to 5-years old and said "IT'S CINDERELLA!!! I NEED SOME BIRDS!" It totally looked like the scene where the birds and mice are helping Cinderella sew her ball gown. So if y'all know of any mice that sew or any particularly helpful birds, please send them my way. A fairy godmother wouldn't hurt either. Thanks.

Cinderellie, Cinderellie.....

After realizing that Gus wan't coming, and the birds were probably busy I tackled some more beads. It looks like Teddy is the best I can hope for as far as non-human help goes... Anyway, I got ALL of the lace (which means ALL of the pattern pieces) cut out!!!! Last night I finished pulling off beads from the seam allowances (edges with 5/8" allocated for sewing the whole thing up) and tacking down the now loose threads/beads that need to stay and are connected to the rest of the beads. This means I finished both back train pieces!!!
I promise, he's helping.

Last train piece!!


                Lace Insert...with 12'' to spare.                                    Last piece?? Done.
                          Cutting it close!!

Last night, as I was watching the amazing "I love New York" benefit of VH1 for 9/11's 10th anniversary (and ugly-crying) I cut out the waterfall insert. Listening to those stories made me stop and think how lucky I am to be here getting ready for my wedding. So many of the men and women that died that day never got that chance, or to see their children getting ready for their weddings. It made me super thankful and in a way it made me feel like they were all suddenly a part of the train. Almost like every bead on the train represents the legacy of each of these heroic people.

     One train piece on the table                                             Train piece draped

Now I have to pull the beads off the insert, tack down the others, and pleat it before we can FINALLY start sewing everything together!! I couldn't be more excited!!! Stay tuned....

Looks like we're aaaalmost ready to start sewing.