Can you believe my hands and wrists are still operative and basically pain-free? Could this be a miracle bestowed on me by the forces of good as a reward for my selfless, motherly devotion? I suppose it’s possible; who else but a devoted mother would undertake such a project? (A compulsive over-achiever who’s suffered from severe bridal gown withdrawal—that’s who.)
So far, I’ve sewn over 1,000 crystals and rhinestones on the lace and spent weeks pleating, stitching, cutting and sewing huge sections of fabric together. I doubt I’d be willing to take on a project this extreme for anyone but my daughter—or possibly a beloved future daughter-in-law. But I must admit that even though this dress is testing my abilities, I’m having the time of my life.
Not every bride will have the opportunity to help design her own gown, but I wish she could. My daughter wasn’t nearly as eager as me to get this project under way, but she’s definitely making up for lost time. Although she has no—as in zero, zip, nada—desire to pick up a needle and thread, she does enjoy coming up with design ideas and picking out laces, beads and trims.
Frankly, we’re both surprised that so far our joint effort has been amazingly amicable. Thankfully we share a common fashion sense and somehow, I have managed to rein in my own desires in favor of hers—for the most part. Our first purchase was the lace for the front of her skirt. I had the perfect type in mind: a rare, centuries-old style called Lyon. We went to Sposabella Lace in NYC, a fabulous source for fine laces, trims, fabrics and headpieces. Eager to share my love of Lyon, and certain she’d love it as much as I did, I asked the salesman to pull out some samples. Sara took one look at it, thought it was horrible and described what she had in mind.
Waaaaa! No Lyon lace?! Mentally smacking myself, I listened as she described her perfect lace, and then asked to see samples of that type. (It makes things a whole lot easier knowing what’s available and what to ask for.) Draping it across her skirt, she took one look in the mirror and said, “It’s perfect.”
Well that was easy! I didn’t like it—at all—but said nothing and willingly paid for 5 yards of it. As soon as I started working with it and adding all those beads and crystals I realized that it was absolutely gorgeous. Thank goodness I’d kept an open mind and remembered that it was her dream dress, not mine—regardless of who was paying for it.
Of course, I’m no saint. I was pushy about two of my fashion favs. (So far.) I begged her to give in to one request regarding her veil. Sweet daughter that she is, she agreed. (Details to be revealed after the big day.) I also came up with an idea for a section of the hem which I l-o-v-e-d. Knowing her as well as I do, I had a suspicion she might not share my passion. When she reviewed the sample section I’d pinned on the skirt, I could tell she wasn’t completely enthralled with it. I ignored her reticence and barged ahead, even though I did feel just the teensiest bit ashamed of myself. (Not ashamed enough to cancel my plans, however.) Thankfully, as the dress is evolving she agrees that, yes it does look fab and she likes it.( I still love it with a capital L-O-V-E.)
Now that my book has been released, I’m gratified to realize that I’ve been able to follow most of my own advice. A caveat for everyone: Advice is incredibly easy to give and woefully difficult to receive. So where am I falling short in the “physician heal thyself” philosophy? Sticking to a budget.
We (my husband and I) hadn’t set a “carved in stone” figure for her dress and headpiece; rather I (he hadn’t a clue and was relying on me to be “sensible”) had a general figure in mind—ample enough to create a fabulous gown but not extravagant enough to warrant taking out a home equity loan. I’ve discovered that it’s a lot harder to be faithful to a figure when you’re selecting bits and pieces of a dress, rather than purchasing a finished product.
Sara’s gown is an exceedingly elaborate creation–to put it mildly–and beaded trims and lace can range anywhere from a few dollars a yard to a few hundred dollars a yard. Gulp! So far I’ve been able to “just say NO” to the more extravagant ones. So where did I go wrong? I was way, way off in estimating how many yards of fabric I’d needfto create this dress. This wouldn’t be a big deal if I was using some of the cheezy fabrics you’ll find in many off-the-rack gowns. (Sorry, I’m a bit of a fabric snob.) But only a luscious silk satin would do for my only daughter’s wedding gown!
Would you believe she’ll be draped in 30 yards of silk when she walks down the aisle? And that’s not including the 8 yards of veiling and layers of lining, netting, and interlining. No clue how many yards of fabric are in a typical wedding gown? In my 30 years of dressmaking, I’ve NEVER used more than 12 yards on any dress! Oh well, she wants to look like a princess—and she will. She’ll also never be a runaway bride. Not only is she eager to marry the man she loves, she’d never be able to move fast enough to escape!