Sunday, November 4, 2007
I don't usually use that many exclamation points, but that's just how glad I am that THE DRESS FROM HELL is finished.
Here's the story behind this project: My friend Adam is not a normal guy. He was raised by his mom, his grandmom and his aunt, and he is the man every woman wants - cute, well-mannered, responsible, employed, clothing-conscious and animal-loving. When he finally found the girl of his dreams (who is almost worthy of him), he decided that if they couldn't run away to Europe to get married, they had to have a formal wedding. The invitation said "black tie strongly encouraged." Adam says that too many of his friends go around dressed like homeless people, and he wanted to see them looking nice for once. Not surprisingly, almost everyone was into the idea. I started planning as soon as I found out what color the bridesmaids were wearing - I didn't want to inadvertently look like one of the bridal party.
Adam is getting married next Friday, therefore, I've known about this occasion for some time. I've even had the fabric for some time. (Okay, more than some time - I bought it in February). I waffled several times about what pattern to use and finally decided on McCall 4444, which is technically a sundress pattern, but when I made it back in July, it seemed like it had great potential as a dressier dress. And it did, thank all the sewing gods, who occasionally conspired against me and demanded more than their normal measure of blood, sweat and swearing.
For some reason, I decided that this outfit had to be perfect. That meant no short cuts and no ignoring mistakes just because non-sewers wouldn't notice them. Perfect, or at least done correctly, so I had to face a long-standing sewing fear and learn how to put in an invisible zipper. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn't difficult at all and now I want to put them in everything and I'm smacking myself for all the times I cheated and put in a regular zipper, and tried to ignore that it didn't look right.
The dress started out in a different color - I got a really pretty copper taffeta from fabric.com, but it turned out to be crackly taffeta, as in cheap prom dress crackly taffeta. When I went looking for replacement fabric, they had this cocoa silk shantung for not much more $$. Not only is it gorgeous but I don't sound like I'm wearing plastic grocery bags in this dress. It doesn't crackle, it rustles. Much better.
The jacket (Burda 7987) was an afterthought, actually - I bought 2 yards of this embroidered home dec fabric to match the original copper; then I decided I didn't like it; then I decided to use it as a jacket because it's a November wedding and I was wearing a backless dress. To me there's something very Elizabethan about it. Maybe it's the stand-up collar, or the richness of the fabric. The collar is great - it's got 10 small pleats from the side to the back of the neck to give it shape, and even though it was a bear to put together and iron into submission, the end result was worth it.
The dress took more patience than the jacket, somehow. This is supposed to be an unlined sundress. It's not, obviously. I ended up lining it, because I didn't think silk shantung would make it through a wedding mass without creasing. To give the bodice a bit more body, I ironed a light-weight interfacing to the lining. I was afraid to iron it to the fabric, just in case it showed. But once I'm in the dress, the fabric and the lining become one, and the interfacing adds just enough structure. The lining had to be sewn in by hand, because the silk shows every single stinking pin and needle mark, and if I'd managed to keep the exterior clean up to that point, I wasn't marring it because of a lining. So it's stitched along the zipper and along the top of the bodice, very carefully, on the seam allowance just below the seam so there was no possibility of stitches showing.
You know what? Doing everything right is freaking exhausting! I went to the pre-wedding serenade last night and told the bride and groom that they could, indeed, be married next Friday because I would not be attending the ceremony in my underwear. Instead, I'll be wearing this, complete with dyed-to-match shoes.
The shoes are beautiful, but somewhat of a sore point. When I picked them up, a customer complimented me on them and asked, "Are you the mother of the bride?" I almost choked. "No," I say. "Oh, mother of the groom. That's lovely."
Can't I just be an overdressed guest? Do I have to suddenly have a 20-something child? It took all my strength not to snap at the woman who, after all, didn't mean anything by her remark. I just generally choose to believe I don't look my age, and I don't look kindly on those who assume that I have children old enough to be married.