Last November, I found the dress of my dreams. With pick-ups galore and bunches of fabric roses, I knew it would be perfect for my garden wedding. And just like on “Say Yes to the Dress,” I had a crying moment. It was THE dress for me. Plus, it helped that the normally $2,500 Maggie Sottero was on sale for $850 because it had been discontinued…and it was in my size! Imagine a size 18 floor sample. Who’d have thought? So I went home a starry-eyed dreamer.
But the dress wasn’t complete. I had a vision of pink. Lots of baby pink. I switched out the white corset tie for pink and replaced one of the cream ribbon roses in each bunch with a pink one. Ta da! I had made it my own and was proud of my youtube self-taught sewing capabilities. (Thank you, Martha Stewart, for your awesome ribbon rose video.) Now I just needed to get it altered.
Dun dun DUN!!!! Cue climactic sound effect.
I should have walked back out the door after entering the woman’s house. I had a bad feeling about the place, but because of a family member’s recommendation, and the fact that this woman did all the alterations for a local bridal store, I kept moving forward. Big mistake. On first glance, here’s what I saw. A dog. Seriously, a dog and bridal gowns don’t go hand in hand. The dining room (where she does her fittings) was carpeted with dog hair. The dog was walking around me in my dress. When I made my appointment she never asked if I was allergic to animals. Which I’m not, thankfully.
The next thing I noticed was her sewing room tucked behind a dirty kitchen. The sewing room was the size of my office cubicle. It could actually be considered a glorified closet. One wall was lined with wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses for altering. A good sign, right? Or perhaps they’ve all been taken, just like I was. The other wall was lined with…a fish tank. A giant fish tank. Really? Why, oh why would you take up a good chunk of your working quarters with a giant fish tank? Getting dressed in that room proved difficult as there was barely any floor space.
So let’s get on to the fitting part. I walked through the dirty kitchen, my dress scraping up against cupboards and dog dishes, until I made it into the dining room. She pinned the top for me because it didn’t sit flush against my chest, then pinned the hem. Except she only pinned about 8 inches in the center, and said, “How’s this height?” It looked fine to me. Of course, I should have known after watching marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress” that she should have pinned around the entire hem while I was in the dress. The ruffles are deceiving and I ended up paying the price.
When my dress was ready, I went through the same actions above, then looked into the full length mirror in her dining room. WTH! My gorgeous gown now looked frumpy and the hem was crooked. She kept cooing, “Do you love it? Do you love it?” Of course, I’m a passive aggressive person so I grinned and bore it. I did, however, point out the crooked hem. Her response? Just pull the dress down more. It won’t be noticeable. Then she went back into her “Do you love it?” cooing.
I came home and immediately tried the dress on again. Maybe it would look better? Nope. Because she took off so much of the length, the ballroom poof disappeared. Also, check out the stubby rose at the bottom. It looked horrible. Not to mention the fact that I found a stain on the dress and she’d ripped the end of the corset tie because she insisted on using a safety pin at the end to lace me up.
But this isn’t the worst of it. The dress no longer fits me. You know that privacy panel behind the corset tie? It’s a good 2-3 inches from the snap. This means you can see my skin along the right side of the panel. My aunt thinks the seamstress took in too much on the top from the back part of the dress. The side seam is running along the side of my breasts instead of my sides. Double argh! Plus, It didn’t help that I gained a few pounds. I felt like my world had crashed down and wished I’d never gotten my dream dress altered in the first place. It was a dress disaster.
But, of course, I’m Julie. And I don’t give up. I try everything in my power to make something work. I have the option of tucking the privacy panel away and keeping my back bare beneath the corset tie. This is worst case scenario if I can’t drop some inches before the wedding. But at least it’s a fix. Thank God for corset backs! [UPDATE: I started a low-carb/high fat diet along with Jillian Michaels’ 30-day shred and have lost 5 pounds in 5 days! Woo hoo!]
Next comes reviving the original bell shape of the dress. The dress already has a built-in crinoline, but obviously I need something more. And what a perfect opportunity to bring more pink in! This is what I’m going for.
If you were to buy a pink crinoline, it would cost upward of $75 online. And you’re not even guaranteed an exact match in color. All of my pinks match. From my hair piece, to my bouquet, to the ribbon roses on my dress. I’m very finicky about this. (Enter Bridezilla.) So I decided to try what many other brides out there are trying…dyeing it myself. Not such an easy task. Different materials dye differently. Polyester does not hold dye well at all. It basically just rinses off. My first two attempts, using cheap made-in-China crinolines bought off ebay (that were made of polyester), were horrible. They came out a very, very light purple color. But worse than that, they didn’t fit me. *Sigh* One size fits all crinolines are not one size fits all. I needed to buy a plus-size crinoline. Now this crinoline was part nylon and part polyester, and $60 before shipping. I hadn’t experimented with nylon yet, but took the plunge and dyed it. And it came out looking like this. Hot pink. Nothing like the light pink color on the bottle.
While a pretty color, it’s not the baby pink I wanted. So then I added RIT dye remover, hoping to lighten it up. Well, that nylon just did not want to let go of that color. The best I came up with was a cranberry pink and the polyester slip ended up turning a stark white. After tossing my hands up in the air, I turned to my aunt for help. If I was going to get the color I wanted, I’d have to make my crinoline by hand.
I took a trip to the fabric store in search of bridal tulle. This type of tulle is stiff and has a medium-sized diamond pattern. But did I really think my luck would turn around? No go. Bridal tulle can only be found in white or black. You’ve got to be kidding me. Dying was out of the question. So I had to take the closest available netting. The kind used to make pot scrubbers. Ugh. Yes, the netting was stiff, but it also looked industrial. Not exactly bridal. I even tried sewing a ribbon edging on it to see it it improved the look. A little better.
After a sleepless night, I decided to try another fabric store. Still a no go, but I left with three kinds of soft tulle. One glittery, one shiny, and one matte. Crafters use this type of tulle to make tutus for babies. I figured if we used enough layers, perhaps it would poof my dress. I brought the $60 total worth of tulle to my aunt’s. (By the way, between all the ribbon, alterations, wasted crinolines, tulle, and a new corset tie, my great $850 find is hedging it’s way up to $1,500.) We came up with the idea of layering the stiff netting with the soft netting. And because the plus-sized crinoline fits me, we’re using it as a base. She’s ripping out the cranberry tulle and replacing it with the light pink layers. I actually think this could work!
Oh, and remember the uneven stubby end beneath the fabric roses at the hem of my dress? My aunt was also able to move the pick-up and roses up about an inch, so Mr. Stubby is not so stubby now, and the dress is actually even on the bottom.
I can slowly feel the stress lifting from my shoulders. The new crinoline won’t be complete for another few weeks so I can’t show you the final result yet, but I have 110% more confidence in my aunt, then the dog lady seamstress.
So why have I written this ridiculously long blog entry? Because I’ve had no one to complain to except my fiancee, and he’s so sick of the dress right now he’ll probably make a stink face at me when I walk down the aisle. Either that or grab a cross and hold it up as if to ward off the evil spirits of my dress!
If you’re a bride that has had your dress ruined by a seamstress, know that you’re not alone. Just take a deep breath, and come up with a solution. Forums are great for problem solving. Wedding Wire, Wedding Bee, and The Knot are all great resources for the bride-to-be. Or you could also just spout off at the Internet void like I am. That always helps, too. 😉