Sep 202011

The dress’ first outing

A year or so ago Fiona got in touch with me to see if there was any way her Mother’s wedding dress, which she used to play dress up in as a child, could be brought back to life for her big day.

As you can see, the dress was lovely; turn of the century Lyons silk handmade into a flattering but simple dress with daisy detailing at the bust, neck and cuffs as was popular at the time.

The only gamble going forward, was that Fiona now lives in Japan, and had no plans to come back to the UK before her Big Day!  Firstly, her Mum brought round the dress for me to look at, which by now was rather crumpled and had been through the washing machine on more than one occasion.  Next, we arranged a video call where Matt, her fiancé galantly wielded a tape measure to my instructions so I had a size to work to.

The following few weeks were sent exchanging emails of possible styles; pleated bodices, tulip skirts, strappy tops and even references to Baby in Dirty Dancing.

I then bit the bullet, so to speak, and deconstructed the dress, working out how its reincarnation could be achieved.  The first thing I did was turn the skirt upside-down and cut the former waistline away to allow Fi to walk.  This meant there was enough fabric at the waist to create the pleated tulip style we had spoken about, and that I could conserve the fabric in the now redundant sleeves to create a belt, rucheing on the bodice and facings.  The position of a provisional neckline/ back was tacked rather than cut to make sure it was in the right place. The dress was then tacked together, and mailed to Japan, so we could have a fitting, again on video via the internet!

Dress tacked together for fitting, front.

Dress tacked for fitting, back.

We made a few decisions during the fitting, less pleating but more daisies on the belt, a little more to be added for ease at the bust, and a new neckline was pinned on to match the line of underwear being worn.  The dress was then mailed back around the world for stitching, lining, and finishing.

Once finished, there was still the issue of the rather battered silk which had been through the washing machine once too often.  I took the completed garment (with belt) along to the Swiss Laundry who retextured the silk beautifully, leaving it silky soft, with the sheen restored.

So, content with the outcome the dress was packaged up with the hair accessories made from the silk offcuts (post here).  I had a nail biting couple of months before these wonderful shots of the ceremony on the beach came through.

With her parents


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