Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I made a wedding dress.

CK garden 3
All photos in this post (c) Lisa Rigby Photography (doesn't she do fantastic work?!)

Let me say it again: I. Made. A. Wedding. Dress! This is the first time I'm posting about it (beyond here, where I alluded to starting this project, and here, where I blogged the bag) but it's been done for a few months now, since the wedding was in the end of June!

CK in dress
What happened was this: an acquaintance who is a friend of a friend contacted me about helping her hand bind her wedding invitation books, since I've done my share of bookbinding (little-known fact!) At the end of our dinner of brainstorming and beers, she asked if I'd ever made a dress on commission. By that point I had a buzz going and was feeling super amenable, so even though I was hesitant, I heard her out. She had a very small budget and just couldn't find anything in her price range. What Chrissy wanted sounded simple enough: a strapless, A-line dress. I can manage that! With a full-on lace overlay. Ooh, maybe not so much...

CK garden 1
But I agreed to look into it. The next day I did some research into fabrics and patterns, and decided that if she was okay with the inexpensive lace, plus if she would hang out at my place while I made it, it would be a project I was willing to take on. We ordered fabric swatches and a pattern (which I can't find online anymore??), and I got to work.

CK garden 2
The pattern had two skirt options: a floor-length sheath with a slit, or a tea-length A-line skirt. I ended up grading the top and bottom, since Chrissy's measurements varied a little, and then re-drafting the bottom to be floor-length but the same circumference as the tea-length A-line. Did you get all that? I then went through 3 rounds of muslin for the bodice, which was tricky, of course.

CK dad dance
I wanted the lace overlay to be separate on top of the skirt, so I used French seams to hide the raw edges. I also cut the pieces as best I could to preserve the scallop that was the selvage. You can see a pretty good shot of it above. (Yeah, I'm doing a little back-patting right now!) But I layered the lace on top of the cotton-silk blend for the bodice because I knew fewer seams and bulk was better. Hence the sash at the waist, which covered up that transition.

CK dress back
In all, I'm super pleased with the outcome, and so was Chrissy! Rob and I were invited to the wedding but didn't go, partly due to logistics, and partly to the fact that I was too anxious to be in the same room as that dress on that day! Everything went off without a hitch, though, and you can read more about it and see more pictures here and here.

CK garden 4
Even though the results of this collaboration were excellent, I'd be extremely hesitant to do it again. Chrissy is super cool and laid-back, so was pretty easy to please, as long as the dress fit and was comfortable! I'm not sure other brides would be so easy to work with. Chrissy's budget was a set amount, which included all materials, and whatever was left over went to me. I over ordered on the fabrics in case I had to remake any parts, and I tracked all the time I spent, from re-drafting to ironing to sewing and fitting. In all, I ended up earning less than $10/hour. Definitely not a living wage, so don't expect this to become a new side business for me! But I gained a TON of experience, satisfactorily worked through some crafty challenges (which is probably what drives me the most; that was fun!), and got to be even closer friends with a super cool chick. What's not to love?

CK Tim 2
A success indeed. (A few more photos here.)


Anonymous said...

love it!! man, oh, man you must be proud of that dress :)

Hindiprincess said...

Dang, you have some serious talent!! I am so proud of you! And, you know you are my favorite cousin right? And that V and I are planning a wedding once we get to the states ... and, did I tell you I love you?? :D

Karissa said...

^^ Ha; nice try!