Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Dress

I have always been in love with Audrey Hepburn's wedding dress in Funny Face. I knew I couldn't afford a modern reproduction of it and the chances of me finding a vintage dress in my size is nil- I am a curvy girl that hasn't been a size 6 since middle school.

I am lucky enough to be a seamstress so I decided to make my dress. I am also lucky enough to have an aunt who went to fashion school and owned her own bridal shop in LA before she moved back to WI and I quickly drafted her help.

The first thing I did was to get online and find pictures of dresses and patterns from the 50s that I liked for inspiration, besides Audrey's dress that is. My original idea was to buy the material and resize a vintage pattern to make the dress from scratch. As I was searching, I found a vintage prom dress on e-bay that I fell in L-O-V-E with (on the right). It wasn't even close to my size, but the skirt could have been detached from the bodice and either reattached to a new one in my size or kept as a skirt and I would make a shirt to go with it. I could then reattach after the wedding so the dress could live on it it's original form.

Alas and alack, I lost the bid by $10. After much gnashing of teeth, I realized that although I didn't win my dream dress, I could possibly use other vintage dresses to refashion my dress and save a ton of money on materials, as well as be green. I found three gorgeous dresses (all beautifully beaded) at a thrift store in Wheeling, IL (my fiancee's hometown) called Little Mexico. For less than $100 I got the dresses, as well as some other wedding items like a veil and ring pillow. SCORE!!!

The first step was to meet with my aunt, show her the dresses I found and sketch out the idea for the dress. I knew I wanted the full skirt and really liked the look of a drop waist. I wasn't too picky about the sleeves or neckline, but I knew that a sweetheart neckline is flattering for my figure. I did find a pattern ($1.50) that was close to what I wanted that we will be using as inspiration for the dress, the only change being a sweetheart neckline-

We decided to have me try the thrift store dresses on to see if there was anything about them that we could keep or if we would have to take them completely apart. None of them were my size, but I was able to slip them over my head and leave them unzipped to get a basic idea. This was the smartest thing we could do as once I had them "on" my original opinions on each dress changed and we ended up picking one dress with a scoop neckline to use for the bodice and another to use for the skirt. By doing this we would be able to use parts of the skirt from the"bodice dress" to add in side panels to make the bodice fit me. We also decided to have the front pieces of the bodice extend down into the skirt because the beading was so beautiful and went down the entire front. We may change this as we get farther into construction because it may be too awkward to have the one straight piece in the front of the skirt with the rest of the skirt gathered into a drop waist seamline. More on that later...

The full beading also meant we would be keeping the sleeveless cut of the gown and creating a faux sweetheart neckline by pinching the front of the scoop neckline with a gather. Because the dress will be sleeveless I decided to also make a bolero jacket in a 50s style. Back on e-bay I found a pattern I liked which cost $7 with shipping. It will have to be resized, but I love the high neck. I will be using leftover material from the thrift store dresses to make it, probably part of the skirt of the "bodice dress."

Sorry I have no pictures of the thrift store dresses to give you a better idea of what I mean as I explain everything, but I am trying to keep any visuals of the materials a secret from my fiancee. I will be posting a ton of of pics after the wedding, I promise.

The construction of the dress will start once I have my wedding corset in hand. Once again I am repurposing and using my mother's wedding dress for the outer layer of the corset. I didn't want the stress of making it myself, especially because I have never made a corset with a busk front, so I am having a custom corset made by the super talented Rohm on etsy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she lives within driving distance of me and went to college with a close friend of mine who highly recommended her work. I could tell from meeting with her that she had skillz and I can't wait to get my corset from her!

Another integral part of my dress is the crinoline. I decided to go with a traditional white dress, but my netherpinnings will be lipstick red. I ordered a 22"long soft chiffon crinoline with matching pettipants from Glamour Boutique online. Both items together cost $61 (free shipping). The only drawback of ordering from this site is that it takes 14-18 weeks to get the crinolines from the manufacturer due to the custom sizing available. Order with PLENTY of time. Luckily I have other crinolines to use for hemming my dress until the real one comes.

My next post will be on my dress accessories, including my custom veil...


MY said...

I feel as if you and my... friend? seamstress? designer?... should be friends. Check out my post on her communication with me about designing my dress (out of bedsheets, no less) at botticellophelia.blogspot.com and then hop on over to my (similarly colored) wedding blog at helpmakecents.blogspot.com.

Go, go Budget Weddings!

- M

Michi Regier & Todd Pannier said...

Yeah! I highly recommend miss Emily Rohm. She made a loverly corset for me for Bristol this year. Growing up with a seamstress (but living far from her now) I have the high standards but no means to achieve them on my own. Rohm fit my high standards and my low budget! geez I sound like a commercial :)

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