Tag Archives: custom clothing

Lace Wedding Gowns

Lace wedding gowns are still very much “on trend” this season and you may be wondering why the alterations on these gowns are so expensive.

When I think of lace, I think of the art of collage: lace is made to cut apart and stitch together in whatever pattern most flatters the body. That is why so many brides like it. Done right, it can flatter and slim the body in a way that no other fabric can.

Some lace dresses are cut out of lace yardage and they can be easy to alter, if they don’t have bead work. If they do, that is another story. But especially the dresses made of Chantilly lace and vintage dresses are made of whole yardage and are altered like any other gown.

Vintage Chantilly lace gown

 

The most expensive lace dresses have the lace pieced at the side seams, flowing into the skirt. The beading is then sewn on top of it. So when the dress is altered, we have to remove the beading and save it to be replaced. Then the lace must be CAREFULLY removed. I cannot stress this enough because most lace is stitched to netting or tulle which is very delicate. Removing the lace has to be done slowly with as little damage to the netting as possible. This is probably the most time consuming part of the alteration.

Lace Wedding Gown Alteration. Here the lace is unstitched awaiting fitting.0

Once the lace is removed, we can continue the alteration, whether it’s the side seams, darts, shoulders, or hem. After we check the fit, the seams have to be finished and the lace can be replaced. This is where the creativity ~ and the fun~ comes into play. Placing it so that it melds with the design of the gown and doesn’t look like it ‘s been altered is one of my favorite projects to do. I also do a lot of repairs on lace dresses. Lace is delicate so you can imagine how easy it is to snag or put a fingernail through!

 

Lace repair on antique wedding gown. Lace is pinned in place ready for stitching

When the lace is pinned in place, it can then be sewn, usually by hand, and the beading is replaced. This is very time consuming as well. But the finished product will look like absolute confection!

If you think you will need alterations on your wedding gown, you may want to remember that lace and beading add to the cost. If you are petite, plan to wear flats with your gown, are big busted, small busted or have uneven measurements, you WILL  need alterations!

Repairing and Altering Antique Clothing

It was quite the wedding season this year! At one point I had to stop answering the phone because all I could do was turn down work. I apologize if you were one of those who called me and couldn’t get through. As a one-person business I have to sometimes choose between completing the projects I already have  and getting more work.

One of the projects I enjoy the most as a dressmaker is working with vintage and antique dresses.  Whether it’s a wedding gown or a suit or coat, I do quite a bit of repairing and altering antique clothing.

As I’ve written about before, when dealing with antiques, I like to really take my time and think through the project before I begin. It’s just too easy to go forward too quickly and make a grievous mistake. Even the most cared for garments are fragile and usually have rips or stains.

The dress pictured above was worn by the bride’s mom in the 1980’s. She bought it at an antique shop and best guess is that it is about 100 years old. The bride wanted to carry on the tradition but it needed a lot of work!

 

You can see the rust colored stain on the very sheer fabric.

You can see the rust colored stain on the very sheer fabric.

The cotton voile was fragile and had some stains. The lace was delicate and had rips and stains.

Here is one of the many rips in the lace I had to deal with.

Here is one of the many rips in the lace I had to deal with.

The waistband of the dress was completely ripped up but fortunately, the bride planned on wearing a sash. I reinforced the band with silk habotai. I lined the whole dress with the habotai to compensate for the sheerness and  use it to reinforce the stress areas of the dress and yet still keep it light and airy.

For instance, the bottom ruffle (which was shortened so her shoes would show) was re-attached to the skirt and the lining so that it wasn’t hanging from the skirt alone.  I also attached the shoulders and sleeves to the habotai to reinforce those areas.

When dealing with the stains, I tried out a spot that I knew was going to be removed when I hemmed the dress. I VERY GENTLY rubbed a small amount of baking soda into the stain and that was all it took to shred the fabric. I then decided to just try soaking the stains with baking soda and it didn’t remove the stains but it lightened them enough so that they got lost in the volume of fabric.

Here are some details of the gorgeous dress:

This is the back of the dress. You can see the embroidery and the crocheted buttons.

This is a close-up view of the back of the dress. You can see the embroidery and the crocheted buttons.

Here's a close-up of the buttons.

Here’s a close-up of the buttons.

Back View of the Dress

Back View of the Dress

 

 

Wedding Trends 2014

If you have recently gotten engaged, you may be wondering what the current wedding trends are. Fortunately for us here in Northern California, the weather is mild and that makes it a bit easier to shop for a Spring/Summer gown. I hate to think about trying on a strapless dress during blizzard temperatures.

Wedding gowns come in all shapes, sizes, and colors now. So no matter what your figure is like, you can find a dress that suits you. There are many guides in magazines and on-line about what silhouette and color is right for your body type and skin tone but honestly, you won’t really know what works for you until you try on some gowns. I always recommend that a bride makes an appointment with her nearest bridal salon as soon as the engagement is set. Try on the gown that you think you want and then try on several silhouettes to be absolutely certain you have the style you want. Once you order it, it’s yours; most bridal salons have a no return policy.

We’re still seeing strapless gowns, empire waists, ball gowns, Grecian looks but there are a few trends that are really popular this season.

The most obvious one is color. A bride can now get a dress in  champagne, pink, red, and even black! In fact, as I researched this article, I had a hard time finding white and ivory gowns. It’s a good thing because very few people look good in stark white and the ivory has to be just the right shade for your skin tone. Pink looks good on just about everyone and champagne and beige add lots of choices. As for red and black, well, first of all in some cultures, red is the preferred color for brides so I get that. And it might be fun for a Valentine’s Day  wedding. I understand how some women may want to wear a black gown but it would have to be a very formal wedding. And I question whether or not the bride would feel “bride-y” enough. And what about a veil? I haven’t seen any black veils … yet.

The most popular silhouette has got to be the fit-and-flare. “Fit-and-flare” is a term that encompasses anything from a mermaid shape to a more traditional A-line. We mostly think of the va-va-voom look, very close fitting through the bodice, hips and thighs, and flaring out at the bottom. And speaking of “va-va-voom”, old Hollywood glam is very popular this year. That fashion encompasses everything from the 30’s slinky to the Audrey Hepburn tailored look.

Another very popular trend is the “poofy” ball gown. The bodice is generally fitted to the natural waist and the skirt is over-the-top layers of tulle or organza. The trains on these dresses tend to be slight, what is called a “sweep”.  Pockets are also very popular in the huge skirts.

Anna 6-15 011

“Poofy” organza ball gown

The biggest trend this year will be lace. We started to see it last year but I think it will be even more popular this year. Brides like the romance and  the vintage look of it. But lace is a very personal preference so be sure to actually try on a lace gown before you order. It can be price-y, depending on the type of lace. A Chantilly or organza lace will be less expensive than a traditional Alencon and the more beading, the higher the cost. Also, lace will add to the alterations cost.  So if you are on a budget, you may want to go with a plainer lace or stay with satin or chiffon. A wedding gown is one of the most expensive garments a woman will ever buy so make sure you have plenty of time to choose just the right one and do make sure you have allowed enough time to get it altered properly. And no matter what design you choose, remember that they are all beautiful creations and you really can’t go wrong…kinda like the groom!

Custom Lace Wedding Gowns

Lace Wedding Gowns are really on trend this year and with that in mind, I’d like to share my process for a custom lace gown that I  made recently for a New Year’s Eve wedding.

After consulting with the client, we decided on an ivory beaded Alencon lace re-embroidered with gold thread. The base was a 40mme silk charmeuse, lined in silk habotai. I like to prepare a fabric “sketch” for the client so she can see how the fabrics look and feel together.

Fabric "Sketch"

Fabric “Sketch”

I had to tea dye the English netting to match the ivory of the lace. Shown here are samples of the dyed netting.

Tea-dyed netting

Tea-dyed netting

I used muslin for the toile which worked perfectly for the silk but the lace was so stretchy that I ended up taking it in twice to get the “va-va-voom” fit that the bride desired.

Fitting Toile

Fitting Toile

First, I made the silk sheath and fit it exactly to the bride’s body. We also made sure the neckline was just as we wanted.

Front View of the silk sheath

Front View of the silk sheath

Back View of silk sheath

Back View of silk sheath

The bride wanted the necklines as low as possible but we also had to fit her undergarment.

Next, we added the lace over the silk sheath. This is where I took in the lace twice to get a really close fit.

Lace over silk sheath

Lace over silk sheath

Once I got the fit we wanted, I could finish off the neckline and sleeves.

Close-up of neckline

Close-up of neckline

Then the fun part ~ placing the lace on the skirt of the gown! Here’s the “sketch” with the happy bride. I ended up changing it somewhat in the final so that the design was balanced. It was not a symmetrical lace so it had to look balanced as opposed to symmetrical.

First Fit of the skirt with lace pinned onAnd here is the finished gown!

Front View of gownBack View of gownclose-up of sleeve detail