Heather read about my work on a Facebook post. I had just finished Amanda’s dress and she left the nicest post describing how we made a gown using parts of her mother’s wedding dress. It was the first time I had created something like that, and Heather’s would soon be my second.
Heather came in with her mother and the dress: a 1980’s white taffeta wedding gown with lots of lace and beading, sequins and layers of fabric. It was huge. For fun, Heather tried it on and it actually fit her pretty well! We laid it out and the three of us studied it. Heather’s mom shared some stories of her wedding day and I began to sketch. At first, Heather thought she wanted a dress that would be a modern version of her mother’s. I think she may have been thinking of keeping most of the dress and making some adjustments. Heather’s mom pointed something out to us: the string of covered buttons that went down the back of the dress. “I loved this part,” she said, holding the dress fondly.
I showed Heather some of the other dresses I had made, and she tried one or two on. Of course, she looked gorgeous in all of them. Heather’s kind spirit and openness is obvious to anyone who meets her and it shown through on the first day. There was a white crepe dress she liked – its shape, the feel of the fabric and the silhouette – and I knew we could create something special for her.
Alone with her mother’s dress, I studied the lace and sequined beading and saw what we might want to keep. Some of it hadn’t aged so well, but I loved the feel of the old lace and took the dress apart, carefully. I sketched some designs and shared them with Heather and got to work. The challenge here was to keep just enough of the original to make it special and familiar, but also give Heather something completely new that was all her own.
At the first fitting I met Taylor, the sweetest, most supportive bridesmaid I’d ever met. Even in that first fitting, I knew this dress would be special. It was a mostly new gown designed for Heather’s sophisticated look, with touches of her mother’s dress. You might think that working from an old dress is easy, but it actually takes more time and care than working with new materials. The new fabric looked great on her, as did the lace that I had removed from the original gown and transferred over, ever so carefully. And, I saved that line of buttons for a dramatic and elegant touch on the back of the dress. The whole time, Taylor was gushing at her best girl, who was transforming into a real bride.
We met again for another fitting a few months later and the dress was looking just right. The lace looked great against the crepe fabric and it hugged her exactly like it should. We made a few more adjustments and Taylor teared up at how beautiful her best friend looked. Heather’s mom smiled wide, “It looks perfect.”
And it was. Heather looked amazing on her wedding day. Already beautiful, the dress brought out her soft nature and her love of family and tradition, her elegance and modern sensibility. The lace from the original dress was used to create broad straps that then blended into the body of the dress, flowing down along the sides on both the front and back to emphasize her curvy hour-glass silhouette and give some unique heritage to an otherwise contemporary dress. The gown draped on her perfectly through the thigh and then draped wide into a long train that fell behind her. I can only imagine the way her friends and family looked at her as she made her way down the aisle, full of hope and wearing a little bit of family history.
A few weeks after her wedding, Heather did me the great honor of sharing her experience on a post for other future brides to see – it had come full circle. I am so grateful to her, her mom and Taylor for trusting me with such a special dress. I could not be happier with what we created.