The Savvy Sage of Sewing Stimulation

Spring Weddings – Rafia

Not all my brides have trekked down the aisle, however enough so that I can finally show you what I’ve been up to this spring.  Weddings come in bunches – every 4 or 5 years, there’s a bunch.  I have a philosophy I’ve worked out about this over the decades of doing weddings, that they are sort of catching within friend groups, and when one happens, then there will be a bunch together, then there’s a slow period, then they come around again.

When I do weddings, they are so much fun.  It’s such a happy time in their lives and it’s so much fun for me to participate.  I enjoy getting the dress right almost as much as the client and to share in the enthusiasm and joy of the event, is really fun.  For me, I get to do the fun part, the creating, the designing, the watching the idea and vision of my client turn into reality before my and their eyes is a magical journey that is hard to describe.  I once read that musicians playing the music they love, release endorphins that rival those release in eating ice cream and enjoy sex!  OK – I’m not going to tell you that sewing is as good as sex, and certainly, not a replacement, but the research shows it brings about the same amount of euphoria, not quite as much or as exciting as sex!

OK – then – onto the girls this spring.


This was a great client, and I’m not sure she knew what she was getting into.  I try and explain that at the beginning, but “getting what you want” sounds so foreign when you are looking at clothing (I have another blog coming up on this cause this is SO important to me), that when I say that my clients (all of them) look at me like (yeah….sure….whatever!), when in reality, that is exactly what they are going to get.  Rafia came to me with a dress that was 2 sizes too large, had little or no boning support in the bodice, and we turned it into this gorgeous one-of-a-kind gown that was exactly what she wanted.  Unfortunately, I do not have a beginning picture of the gown, as it was really not very descriptive; it was simply too large and we both knew that.  There are a lot of pictures from my studio, and so I put them in a video montage here.

The first shots in this video are the dress as I received it  – strapless and without any sort of boning or support in the bodice (which was baffling to me cause the dress was very heavy.)  We took out two petticoats and yet the dress was still heaving enough to warrant a Petersham waistbanding and boning.  If you have ever worn a strapless gown with waistbanding, you know how wonderful and secure that feels.  As we progressed and we had to take in the dress about 2 sizes, it’s imperative that you keep the design symmetrical on the center back.  In the video is a photo of the strapless dress next to the muslin that will eventually become the skin-toned netting that will be the background for the lace medallions.  

For me it’s not only important that the bride looks flattering – her most flattering – in her dress, but it’s as vital to making sure that she feels physically comfortable in the dress.  That physical comfort goes a really long way in making her feel comfortable and happy for the day.  There’s nothing like feeling really secure and special inside so that when you walk by a mirror, you can suddenly say, “Daim, I look really good!”


I love this photo wither her dad cause it shows the detail of the lace applique on the sleeve.  It was important to not only make each side symmetrical but also to have the collar symmetrical at the shoulders.


Here’s a great view of the back and me checking the center back to make sure it’s symmetrical.  But as so often happens when I’m working with lace, I’m working with the design of the lace.  And I have to work within those parameters.  That means I can’t very often have lace that I’ve designed for this specific dress like most high-end designers get to do with their garments.  That means that sometimes the lace is symmetrical and sometimes it isn’t.  In this case, Rafia brought me medallions from the manufacturer of the dress and those were all we had to work with.  She wanted lace on her shoulders and arms with what she brought me, and I really didn’t see a problem, because I saw that there were reverse designs, meaning that one for the left one for the right. 

However, I assumed there were an even number of rights and lefts, but there weren’t.  They had included too many of one side and not enough of the other.  That worked fine till we got to the back.  Upon first glance, the back looks symmetrical, but looking closer you can see that the lower back right above the dress.  Part of the artistry of this dress is working with lace pieces like this to make the design look as though it was planned all along.  This takes a lot of time and patience to place the lace medallions exactly correctly.  There were about 24 large medallions and some were cut into a myriad of pieces to make them match all the way.

But things don’t always turn out that way, and I have to make do with what I’m given.  As you can see here on the back, I had to play around with what was left, and did pretty well, even though it doesn’t match exactly.

When arranging and placing the lace on the gown, the most important location is close to the face.  So when I’m doing this I’m prioritizing important areas.  The further we get from the face, the less important.  Even though the wrists are further away than the center lower back, that last section is considered the least important place of all the location of the lace.

The end product is a dress this is not only comfortable, but a dream for the client to wear!


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