Sunday, August 4, 2013

Say YES to the Dress!

"I would like to make your wedding dress as my gift to you," I said to a young friend last December. "Have you ever made a wedding dress?" She asked. "No, but I can sew anything," I replied. She hugged me and said yes. We both cried.

I entered her August wedding date in my calendar and made a mental note of steps and deadlines: research pattern and fabric options, settle on a design, purchase materials, take measurements, make a muslin mock up (or two or three), check the fit, cut the fabric (or two or three), baste together, schedule more fittings (or two or three or four), sew up the seams and hems (once or twice or three times), add embellishments . . . easy to finish if I start in June.

During the intervening months we made several trips to Fabric Depot, Mill Ends, and JoAnn's. Hours were spent on the Internet researching designs. With the final outcome still vague, two possible fabrics for an underskirt and one for an overskirt were purchased and patterns ordered. "I will start the muslin in June," I said and tucked the shimmery dress makings away in my studio.

June came. "It's time to get started," I thought to myself. "We need to settle on a design," I told my friend. She sent an email, "I like the princess style." I began to cut and sew. With the wedding still two months away there was no pressure to rush. I could spend an hour here and a half day there on mock-ups. 

By the beginning of July, a perfect fit of the third muslin bodice brought the slippery gold crepe charmuese and glittery cream chiffon we purchased months ago out of storage. Hours of pinning and mumbling followed. "This charmuese will drive me to drink," I declared to the pile of pins and pattern pieces tossed about on the cutting table. Remembering the second piece of underskirt fabric we bought, I pulled a slim piece of apricot taffeta from the shelf, pinned the pattern down, and squeezed out all fourteen pieces of skirt and bodice. Whew!

A frenzy of pinning, basting, sewing, fitting, more pinning, more basting, more sewing, more fitting filled the first weeks of July. The wedding loomed closer and closer. "I'll be finished this weekend," I said to my husband then worked all the way through the following week.

Last Friday with one week to go before the wedding, I vowed not to sleep until the dress was done. The last bead was sewn on at 12:28 am.

I'm pleased with the outcome. The bride is pleased with the outcome. Her inner beauty shines through in the dress. She makes the dress beautiful and the effort worthwhile. I've grown through the process. More importantly our friendship has grown through the process.

Say yes to the dress. 

Note: The wedding was yesterday. We drove two hours each way to a lovely clearing in the forest between Corvallis and the Coast. Friends and family celebrated the couple's promises to each other surrounded by a beautiful garden. The bride was radiant. The dress floated in the breeze and shimmered  in the sun. We cried tears of love and friendship.


  1. Ahhhh it is beautiful - I love the way you have documented just the details I woudl look at, so we can share the experience. What a gift for both of you!

    My mother made her own wedding dress. In my lifetime I have made a few non-traditional wedding dresses for friends, as well as my own. There is something so very special about making the robe for a sacrament. Blessings and love, indeed!

    1. The dress looks deceptively simple now that it is finished. It is the subtle details that give pleasure.

      Yes, a sacrament. Funny how pieces of fabric and tiny beads can help stitch together a lasting relationship. The one between this bride and groom is a keeper.

  2. I love it, the dress and the story about it. The bride is so fortunate.

    1. A win/win experience for both of us.

  3. I am so blessed to have a friend like DM. The dress was the most amazing gift I received and the blessing was being able to spend even more time together, bonding. Having lost my mother years ago, DM gave me the nurturing I needed as a bride. XOXO