Sunday, February 7, 2010

Making the Dress, part 3

So, we had the materials and a mockup and then I finally met up with Momma MB in Texas and we got down to business.
I stood around like this a lot. I spent 3 days straight in leggings, with a stick on bra taped to me with painter's tape (so that we wouldn't waste the stickiness) and a tank top, so that I could easily turn into a human dress form at a moment's notice.

It looks easy, but it's actually quite tiring. Anyhoo, many subtle reshaping of pattern pieces later, we ended up with this top. Momma MB did french seams on this lovely, so everything was perfect.

So, small and insignificant when compared to the ridiculous amount of fabric in this skirt.

Here are the two pieces put-together, waiting for the finishing touches.

And this is Momma MB after she fell asleep hand-stitching the horsehair braid at the hem. It helps the skirt to keep it's shape. It was something like 7+ yards (that's 21+ feet) around the circumference of the bottom of the skirt and she had to do it twice! For those using it, you have to stretch the horsehair braid as you sew, so that when you turn it under it fits your hem correctly.

And here's the lovely train, with all of the lace left intact.

You'll notice that the train is detachable for any other cousins who would like to just use the train. The buttons are from that same heirloom dress that the lace came from, and below is the simplest bustle ever. There's a simple loop strategically placed in the middle of the lace and you just hook it around the center button.

And there's the dress, I can't wait for the pro-pics so I can see it all done up.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making the Dress, part 2

So, what to do with heirloom lace that is 50+ years old? If your mother is an avid quilter, you wash it with the same stuff that quilters use to wash antique quilts. A little goes a long way, I only used the soap left on the protective seal after opening this product and there were plenty of suds. The spoonful that comes with it is enough to do a whole quilt, so don't use a lot or you will be rinsing forever.

Don't worry, we didn't just dunk all of the lace in and keep our fingers crossed, we tested a small piece of it first to make sure it didn't disintegrate. Then we dunked it all in a big soapy pot. We then proceeded to rinse it about 12 times. That much lace got really heavy and with all that 'careful kneading' to make sure we didn't rip it, our arms got tired.

Then we laid it on some old sheets to dry in the evening sunlight. Make sure to shape it as you lay it down. You don't want it to stretch in any weird ways. If you'll notice, that piece of lace is the entire skirt of my Grandmother's/Mother's dress. In the finished product you'll see all of this left intact, in case future brides in the family want to use it.

There were a couple of small stains. I used a soft toothbrush and a stain stick of some sort and gave it a shot.

It made it a little lighter, but a 30-50 year old stain isn't necessarily going anywhere.

And months before the big day, Momma MB sent me the first mockup. Then I proceeded to text her pictures of how it fit.

I thought it was fine, but Momma MB had other ideas and the top was adjusted multiple times from this iteration. She wanted me to look like I had a chest and I didn't want to wear a bra. Because if it was going to work with my backless dress I thought it would have to have boning, be one of those crazy tie around bras or cutlets, and none of those options were appealing.

Luckily we found a solution. Victoria's Secret stick on bra, not the cutlet kind. I think it was this one. I got the nude version and it stayed on the whole night and was totally comfortable. And this is coming from a girl who wears sports just about every day of her life.

Anyway, I'll show you the finished project next time. But at least you didn't have to wait until 2 days before your wedding to see it! Love you Momma MB!