If you’ve met me in person, you know I have a penchant for wearing snarky sewing tee shirts. I have one that says, “I broke my wand so now I sew,” and it has a picture of Disney’s Fairy Godmother on it. Once in a while, the universe sends me a special project that lets me demonstrate that I am, in fact, related to said Fairy Godmother.
The first dress belonged to a young lady with Lupus. Under stress, her body would drastically change shape and size and would make a wardrobe choice nigh on impossible. She told me that she had at least three sizes in her closet to accommodate her condition. So, what to do about a wedding gown? I think she made an initial smart choice. She bought a skirt separate from a bodice. After telling me about her condition, I set about noodling on a solution. It came to me, as many things do, as I was falling asleep. The bodice was easy; I just installed a corset closure on the back. It’s extremely forgiving. You can go up and down in weight ‘til the cows come home, and it will still look amazing. Then, I thought, Well, why not do the same for the skirt? So, I installed a modesty panel that would accommodate quite a large change and did the same corset treatment as the bodice. It worked beautifully! The best were the joyful tears in the bride’s eyes when she tried the dress on for the final time in my studio and realized that it was one less thing that she had to worry about on her special day.
The second dress belonged to a lady who was a “big girl,” in her terms–tall and curvy but not overweight. She told her grandmother about her dream dress, and Grandma surprised her by going online and purchasing it. The only problem was that it was eight sizes too small. Her question to me was “Could you make it bigger?” My first suggestion was the corset back, but she didn’t want that. The only other solution was to add fabric in on the sides–4 INCHES on each side. Luckily, the dress had several things going for it that made it easier for me to hide my alterations. First, it was strapless. Second, the bodice had ruching over the top of the base layer, which made it easier to hide the side seams. Third, the skirt was gathered. Again, it made hiding the side seams a breeze. The other problem was the color. It was a delicate shade of champagne blush. I went to my go-to fabric place and couldn’t match it . . . only to come home and discover that I had the right stuff in my stash. Lesson learned: always go shopping in your stash first. Since I was adding fabric to the skirt, I also added pockets. When she tried it on, she was speechless. She couldn’t believe how the new seams disappeared and loved the pockets . . . of course.
The third dress belonged to a tiny woman. I think she was a street size zero, but she fell in love with this dress that was eight sizes too big. (What’s with the number 8?!?) She found the dress at a bridal resale shop with which I work closely, so they suggested that she call me and ask if I would meet her there and pin her up so she could decide. Normally when brides-to-be are trying on dresses, the helpers will clamp the excess material at the back. When she sent the pictures to me, I knew that taking it in from the back would be a lot more complicated than taking it in from the sides, but she was having a hard time picturing it. I met her with tools in hand and proceeded to pin the dress from the sides so she could see what the front and back would look like when I got done with it. We also had to move the straps in so the dress would lay correctly at the shoulders. I took pictures of the back after pinning, and she agreed that it looked fine that way, so she purchased the dress. In addition to taking four inches off each side, I also had to take six inches off the bottom, AND the train from the side seams back had a lace border on it. So, we did the alterations in stages–take the sides in first and then adjust the length and fuss with the lace border. Admittedly, I was rather nervous cutting that much off the dress, but the first fitting was amazing. She actually squealed when she viewed herself in the mirror. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The rest of it was easy.
In fact, most wedding gown alterations are easy for me now. That, of course, comes with experience, expertise, and a whole lot of plan B’s. (Still, I guarantee you that I’ve made a TON of mistakes along the way.) I’m glad the universe throws me curveballs like these now and again. They keep me on top of my game and help me earn the title of Fairy Godmother.
Until next time, dear reader, may all your seams be straight!