A Formal Topped with Lace

Months ago, I finished my most labor intensive alteration yet. It's a good thing I adore the girl whose dress it was. I was up hours past my bedtime for days, draping, drafting, pinning, carefully cutting lace, hand sewing it into place, and beading. My nieces hold a special place in my heart.

Carli, my eldest niece, just graduated from High School in June. Como say what?? She's still the sweet little girl wearing a fancy pink dress at my wedding. *sigh* I'm not even her mother and I get all nostalgic, thinking about how young she was when I married Dave.

I digress. Dress! Let's talk about the dress!

My first look at the dress was a hastily snapped picture, taken in a dressing room. I just about died when I saw it. Plunging neckline, tiny halter straps, low back and a lovey blush satin. Oh my. For Carli, though, I put on my thinking cap, researched Monique Lhuillier's beautiful lace wedding dresses, and came up with this:

First item of business was to find lace and lining fabric. There were many butterflies over finding the perfect lace. As beautiful as the blush pink satin of the dress was, it was impossible to match exactly. We toyed with the idea of white lace, but I was worried it would make the dress look too much like lingerie. My sister in law and I happened across a beautiful lace a few shades darker than the dress fabric - it was love at first sight. For us. Maybe not for Carli. There's a vast amount of trust that goes into letting your mom and Aunt pick out fabric! The lining satin was a titch darker, as well, but I knew that layered together it would be perfect.

And it was. See that thread escaping? Just keeping it real.

 My absolute favorite part was the back cutout. Holy hannah,there was much draping and pinning to get it just right. I was wishing for a dress form the whole time. Fit is everything when you are altering formal wear. No gaping, sleeves lying flat, bu still allowing for movement. In other words, one needs perfection. Especially when you want it to be modest, not dowdy. (It is possible!)

Once the fit was right, I cut out the muslin and used the pieces to cut out the lining and lace. I'll admit to some major nerves at this point - beautiful fabric is never easy for me to cut into. I sewed the lining and main pieces together and then attached them to the bodice top. Which makes it sound easier than it was. At this point I think Carli was ready to kill me. With out the lace edging the bodice and dress were rather lack luster. (Again with the trusting your aunt.) Once the dress was back together, I started attaching the scalloped edges.

To get the lace edging just so, I had to carefully cut the lace to fit and hand sew it into place. In some places, I had to re-bead, too. My stitching skills were definitely put to the test on this one!

I put in two hook and loop closures at the top of the back bodice. I had toyed with the idea of buttons, but there was no way I was going to try to put in button holes. A huge thanks to dear Andrea, who came to my rescue the day before Prom. Silly me didn't have enough hook and eyes and the nearest sewing shop is 40 minutes away.

When Carli put the dress on for the final fitting, I'm pretty sure I let out a whoop and threw an air punch. It was exactly how I had envisioned. I love the rush of getting a project just right and the rush of seeing my niece's face light up when she saw herself in the mirror. Pure happiness. Worth every minute of work, just to get that smile. Lovely girls deserve lovely formal wear that let their personalities shine through, not just put their bits on display.  I'm so very grateful that the Lord has blessed me with the ability to do so.

My only request is that she gives me a nice long break before I have a white dress to alter. *wink, wink*

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful job on the alterations on the dress. She truly looks beautiful.