Pictures and beginning alterations

Here are those promised pictures of the dress post cleaning. I was so eager to hack into the dress that I almost forgot snap them!




It’s amazing what cleaning and pressing will do for a dress! It alreasy seems so new. I tried it on right after eating one of the biggest burgers I’ve ever seen though,  so it was an uncomfortable squeeze. Lesson one: no binge eating day before the wedding.

The more I look at the side profile the less I like it, so I’m going to work on putting in princess seams so the dress doesn’t squish my bust as much.

My maid of honor came down for the weekend ans helped me start the initial changes. We removed the fabric from the sleeves, took the skirt off the bodice, and marked roughly where I want the new neckline.



The biggest thing we accomplished this weekend was finding fabric for the front panel. I’d ordered about ten samples from different online places and there were a few that I thought might work, but it’s so hard to judge fabric based on a small piece of fabric, so we went to Joanns and tried a few different things.

Initially we got an ivory satin which looked right in the store, but then when we got it back to the house it was too dingy.

A second Joanns run produced white lace to put over the ivory which made it the right color:


And then also some white stretch satin that Mau be a bit brighter than the skirt – I have yet to check it in more natural light.


See my crazy dress strewn around the fabric store? I had to borrow a table and drape the fabric all over the place.

I’ve found that people are really supportive and also think I’m insane when I tell them my maid of honor and I are remaking a vintage gown. The woman cutting fabric asked me if I was serious when I  said I wanted to buy the entire lining bolt, and when I told her I needed it for a wedding dress I thought her eyes were going to fall out of her head.

Another woman overheard my MOH and I trying to match fabric for the dress, she talked to us for about ten minutes about her wedding and her dress. She even gave me a coupon so I could get my fabric cheaper ūüôā

So here we go! There’s no turning back now; the dress is in shreads in my closet and it’s all transformation from here!

Remake or bust, everybody.


It’s here and beautiful!!

As I said, my dress came in on Friday. When I opened up the box I was stunned – the dress is so white! So much whiter than I ever imagined it could be. I have absolutely no idea how Heritage Gown managed to clean it so well, but it’s absolutely perfect and if it weren’t for the tears it looks brand new!

I tried it on last night, but like the forgetful person that I am, I didn’t snap any pictures. I’ve been on a pretty intense workout program for the last two months, and even though I haven’t stuck to the nutrition part like I should I’ve still lost some excess fat, so when I put the dress on it fit better than it ever has before! Talk about amazing motivation.

Like I mentioned before, I removed the sewn in crinoline in the dress before I sent it to be cleaned because the crinoline was weak and tearing – and also incredibly uncomfortable. While the dress was away I got two huge crinolines from my parents’ house that I’d had growing up so I was able to try them on with the dress for the first time last night. Let me just say one thing: WOW. It was so beautiful I almost cried.

One unexpected (and awesome!) thing from the cleaning was that the taffeta is now extremely soft. When I sent the dress off, the fabric was stiff, shiny, and a bit brittle. When I got it back it’s softer and not quite as shiny. Though it’s still definitely weak and thin I think the fact that it’s softer will actually make the fabric more durable.

So there you have it! The dress is back, I’m in love with it, and I can’t wait to get started on it again!

Heritage Gown Preservation

After finally finishing the lace repair on the hem of the dress (Yay!!!) I’ve made the terrifying decision to send the dress to Heritage Garment Preservation¬†for (potential) cleaning.¬†

Originally I’d intended on repairing all the lace before sending the dress away, but I realized that the amount of time I was putting into the lace would push the cleaning dangerously close to my wedding date — and I still have all the alterations to do! So after calling up Heritage I’ve made the decision to send my dress this week.¬†

The game plan is that I’ll ship the dress tomorrow (Heritage provided a shipping label so I don’t even have to pay to have it shipped to California!). When they get the dress they’ll evaluate it to see whether the fabric can withstand the cleaning process, we’ll have a phone consultation, and then I’ll give the “yea” or “nay” on whether to go ahead. The cleaning and whitening will be roughly $450, but since the process can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks I plan on rushing it, which will be an additional $50. The cost doesn’t intimidate me as long as the dress makes it through, but I’m petrified that something will happen to it!¬†

I snapped a quick (bad quality) picture last night after I finished the last lace repair. Goodbye dress! hopefully the next time I see you, you’ll be spotless, pure white, and ready for alterations!¬†


Remember the picture of the damaged lace from earlier, too? The repair actually ended up going really well! 



Beading Pattern

I’ve removed all the beading from the dress along with all the sequins as well. I’m going to be re-beading the entire dress when it comes back from Heritage, but I wanted to snap a few pictures just to make sure I remembered how it was beaded. I don’t particularly like the beading pattern, but it still gives me a good place to start, and I love the detail.

Here’s the shoulder/top of the sleeve:





Here’s the neckline:



The dress neckline


And here’s the cuff of the sleeve:


First Work Done!

I took out my first seams tonight! The bodice had been taken in along the side seams and front darts, so I took out the alterations and it gave me over two full inches of extra room in the bodice! The waist itself is still a little tight (I’m going to try to hit the gym to resolve that), but now I can be zipped into the dress with relative ease.

One challenge is whether or not the creases from the old seams will go away or not. I’m going to hope and pray they do, but if not I suppose I’ll just sew up the seams again and put in some new pieces.


In other news, I removed the first piece of lace from the dress! This is the sort of lace that I’ll end up having to re-net. There seems to be miles of it!


Alteration Game Plan

Below is a quick sketch I threw together of how I think I want the dress to end up looking. I have an unfortunate tendency to ignore hips and waists in my sketches, so bear with the optimism — I’m not that thin.


The main changes to the front are removing all of the ruffles and changing out the front panel since it’s made of lining fabric and will probably tear. The lining is also shiner and a looser weave than the rest of the skirt fabric, so even if it did hold up it would still look out of place. One of my biggest challenges is going to be finding a matching fabric for the new front panel.

I’ll be using the fabric from the front ruffles to change the structure of the bodice. Right now I’m leaning towards princess seams, though I don’t know exactly how I feel about that since I’ve never really liked the look of exposed princess seams on a wedding dress — I think they bring the overall formality down quite a bit (and scream 90’s).

Whether or not I do the princess seams I will have to somehow make the bodice bigger. I’m toying with the idea of a corset insert, though that would really take away from the vintage feel of the back and would make me get rid of the buttons, which would be a huge shame.

I’ll also be using the ruffle fabric to drop the waist about three or four inches just so I don’t look so short waisted. I’ll be making a beaded belt to cover the seam where I lengthen the bodice since it¬†miraculously¬†hits me at my natural waistline. Ignore the weird sketch there — I was trying to recreate the chantilly lace pattern and obviously I failed.

Finally I’ll be changing the neckline from a scoop to a V/sweetheart. I’ll leave the lace overlay because I’m so incredibly in love with it, but I may attempt to either drop it down a bit or make the neck wider.

Next to the corset vs button closure my biggest indecision right now is what I should do with the sleeves. I’ve never thought I’d have a long-sleeved gown, but the detail on the sleeves is so incredible (especially how the white fabric¬†cuts away at the shoulder and upper arm) that it would be a huge shame to take them off. If I did end up getting rid of them I know I’d have to make them into some type of a jacket so I could still wear them. Since the wedding is in February though I have every reason to leave them on. So decisions, decisions.