She assured me that it would just need a few minor tweaks to make it perfect. The top was very plain, so she asked if I could spiff it up with a layer of lace. I figured that wouldn't be too hard. So she brought the dress to my sewing room and we took a look.
And I had to be brutally honest with her: the dress did not fit.
The biggest problem was that it was too tight across the bust, and there wasn't enough fabric in the seams to let it out. In the hands of a more skilled alterations person, it might have been workable, but it was beyond my abilities to do it justice for such an important occasion.
So yeah... Mom, can you make my dress after all?
By now it was mid-November, so there were just three months until the wedding. It meant we had to take yet another trip to New York in early December to buy fabric.
We had discussed the general style of the dress; she wanted a strapless sheath with sleeved lace overlay. We had pictures with us of similar dresses. For the first hour or so of shopping we concentrated on finding just the right lace for the overlay, figuring that it would be the hardest thing to nail down. And we were right. She couldn't find just the right lace to match her vision.
Then we were in a store called, appropriately enough, Diana Fabrics. She looked at laces and didn't see anything, so we started for the door. There was a bin of sparkly fabrics near the door, and I jokingly held up a length of a sheer organza with aurura borealis sparkles on it and said, "How about this?"
She stopped dead in her tracks and gasped. "That's it!"
Now, you have to understand that Diana is not a Sparkle Princess type of person. She was never into the frilly glittery stuff while she was growing up; it was all about understated elegance (remember the black wool skirt? Even when she was little, she had style). So I was completely shocked when she fell in love with this sparkly, shiny fabric. And instantly we knew it wouldn't work for the style of dress she thought she wanted. We had to make some major revisions.
We retreated to a deli for lunch and sat sketching ideas. Once we were done eating, a new dress had taken shape and we returned to shopping with new enthusiasm.
The Work BeginsThe dress was drafted in PatternMaster (of course) and I put together a muslin for the first fitting.
The real dress starts to take shape. The bodice fit wasn't quite right, and we both felt it was too plain this way, so I added sleeves and a waist sash to the final version. And yes, I put pockets in the dress. Gotta have pockets.
Final FittingThe final fitting was the week before the wedding. You can see that I added sleeves, plus a two-layered organza overskirt. All it needed at this point was some adjustments to the hem and she would be ready to walk down the aisle. She's holding her bouquet of heather.
Shoulder princess bodice, gored flared skirt. Bell sleeves cut on an angle and finished with a two-thread rolled hem with variegated embroidery thread in aurora borealis colors.
Now that Diana's dress and coat were done, I had a few days to think about what I was going to wear. I reached into my stash and found a navy blue wool, and made one of my favorite styles: my "J. Peterman" dress. It's a button-front dress with kimono sleeves and a shawl collar. And then, because I'm a total glutton for punishment, I made myself a coat with some light blue Mark Jacobs wool given to me by a friend, using the same pattern design as for Diana's coat, but without the fur.
Next: You're Invited to the Wedding!