New Dresses!

16 Mar

The Gwen dress. Well, half of it, at least.

Now that I’ve gotten my studio semi-organized, at least to the point where I can see the floor,  I’ve been feverishly working on a pretty major dress for a bride in San Francisco.  It is major for me because it is requiring me to stretch out of my comfort zone, and work with materials I usually avoid, such as $500/yd beaded bridal lace.  I’m having a load of fun though, as you can probably tell from the muslins.  A muslin is part of the process for any custom dress, and in the draping stage involves making only half of the dress so that you can alter the pattern more easily.

Embroidered lace netting on the Gwen muslin. So pretty!

For early versions of the dress I tried working only with embroidered lace net over a base of plain net, which resulted in something that could best be described as “a frothy confection”.  I am the kind of girl who would see this dress on the hanger and run right over to it – despite the fact that I am a) short, b) hippy, and c) curvy, I persist in thinking of myself as the kind of girl who can wear empire-waist dresses and diaphanous  fabrics without looking like a cotton ball (i.e. small and round), so I always take the fluffiest things I can find into the dressing room. Secretly I think this comes from a deep-seated urge to wear a tutu all the time, but I digress.  My point is that I really liked my first attempt at the client’s dress, but she wanted something less my fairy tale and more hers. Version two involved a lot of straight seaming, a modified trumpet hemline, and a tiny little train. More importantly, it involved 5 yards of reembroidered alencon lace, which, by the time we are done, will also be hand-beaded, and crepe-back satin, because it’s strong, over a base of charmeuse,  because it’s pretty.  My bride, who is getting hitched in Massachusetts this summer, needs something breathable but still formal, so I think this dress is an excellent compromise.

The Jessica dress - princess seamed but not precious

I like this dress so much that I’m going to add it to the permanent collection as the “Jessica”, and the original, frothier iteration as the “Gwen” . I don’t know why but it just seems like something a Gwen would want to wear. Hopefully one day a real Gwen will order it.

The tiniest of trains on the Jessica muslin

In the meantime, I’m really pleased with how this is coming along, especially since it is such a scarily stiff fabric and will immediately add ten pounds, and not in an attractive way. Anne has been crucial to finding ways to reduce bulk in the seams while keeping shape  and tensile strength.  Being married to an architect who is also a fashion nerd has its benefits – we can argue about what the he@% happened to John Galliano’s brain, and then we can discuss the merits of a Louis Sullivan building (swirly!  romantic! but still holds its own!).

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