Monthly Archives: July 2013

Vintage Wedding Dress Updated

When Jennifer brought me  her grandmother’s wedding dress, it really showed the difference between today’s wedding fashions and the styles from 1945. The dress was a knee length sheath made from a beautiful cotton lace. It had a jewel neckline which was way to close to the neck for Jennifer’s taste and it was sleeveless. The hemline probably hit the much shorter grandmother just below the knee. It had yellowed in few places but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. Unfortunately, I did not get any “before” shots this time! Check out more vintage updates on my alterations page.

Jennifer needed the dress re-fit, the neckline changed and the style updated. She had chosen a sheer stretch lace with a raised pattern to add to the dress. The color matched the original dress and the texture was sure to give Jennifer the design she was envisioning.

First, I removed the tight facings and undid the stitching in the shoulders. The dress darts were way higher than they needed to be for our contemporary bride and undoing the shoulders allowed me to drop the dress enough to correct the dart placement. I used the new lace to add a gathered cap sleeve. I changed the jewel neck to a V and lowered the back. Then I reshaped the dress to fit Jennifer’s figure, and shortened it carefully leaving the extra fabric in case the next wearer wanted more length. With vintage garments, you never know who will want to re-use the dress so I like to leave as much of the original as possible.

Close-up of neckline and sleeve.

Close-up of neckline and sleeve.

Once we had the sheath fitting the way we wanted, I added the skirt. She was wearing very high heels and wanted a fun skirt added to the hipline for more of an updated look. We placed the skirt exactly as  needed for Jennifer’s va-va-voom figure. (She fills out the dress much better than my tiny dress form!) It is open in front up to the hemline so it moves out of the way when she walks, and we left a slight sweep train in the back. The skirt can easily be removed if a future bride wants to reuse the dress.

Back View of Dress

Back View of Dress

Being a One-Person Business Has its Advantages

I love being self-employed. I really do. Otherwise, I would not have chosen this path over 30 years ago. And I have had employees and interns in the past and that was…okay. But really I prefer to work alone. It’s peaceful. I can set my own schedule and not have to worry about what someone else is doing…or not doing. I don’t have the headaches of paperwork and taxes and payroll. I like being the only person  responsible for the work that is done. And I can listen to any music I wish.

Those are some of the pluses of being a one-person shop including this view outside the window where I sit at my machine.

There are minuses as well.

There is no one to fill in for me if I’m sick or on vacation. When I’m fitting a client, there is no one to answer the phone and handle the walk-in’s, which all happen at the same time more often than you would imagine. I not only have the actual work to do (alterations and custom clothing), but I am also the office manager, the bookkeeper, the promotions department, supply chief, and even though I have someone who cleans for me (wonderful hubby), I do some of that, too. Then there are fashion shows, charity events, bridal shows, which I have participated in and my articles for anewscafe. I thrive on the variety of tasks.

The payoff is having to turn away a lot of work because I would rather cater to my long-time clients, and the brides with the deadlines, than take on too much work and feel stressed. If I’m stressed, it stresses out the client, especially wedding parties which already have enough worries. They need extra reassurance that their projects will be done on time, on budget, and with the least amount of hassle.

And just so you understand, I have had a “real job”, several in fact. And they were…okay. There’s something to be said for working with others and having a regular paycheck with paid time off.

But here I am with my own shop, with my own schedule, the music I want to listen to, and a beautiful courtyard outside my window.