A little while back I received an email with a group of photographs and a lovely design attatched from a young bride to be called Chloe who had been recommended to me by a friend of hers who had seen my work, you've got to love a recommendation :)
The dress in the pictures was stunning and I fell in love with it as much as Chloe obviosly had,
but I had to agree the design could be improved upon for a modern vintage bride with her tiny frame.
We arranged an initial meeting in Londons, Oxford circus, Ponties and had a lovely breakfast together.
It's a good idea to get know each other before working together on a project like this and we chatted about everything apart from the dress :)
I then looked at Chloe's dress to see what I thought could be done with it, we talked through what would be the best options for her perticulaly, one of the suggestions was to put a conceiled zip in one of the curved side seams,not easy in a bias cut dress! but this would make getting dressed in it a lot easier and she needed to be comfortable in it on her big day, this worked out very well in the finished alteration. As a designer herself Chloe knew just what she wanted, but was happy to listen to my suggestions in what was possible or not with this particularly beautiful wedding dress.
Chloe decided she wanted a second opinion ,which is fine :) she took the dress away but then came back to me and we had the first fitting.
As you can see the neck is high and although beautiful is a bit restrictive the bodice and sleeves were swamping Chloe's small frame.
The sleeves needed to be taken out completly and recut to remove 10cms in the length and about 6cms in width above the elbow, without losing any of the design detail of the cuffs which are what made these sleeves very special.the sleeves are all ready pinned where the lace meets the satin in this picture.
I also remove the bulky shoulder pads which I replaced with very fine net ones, just to give the tiny puff in the sleeve head a little lift.
The next job was to raise the shoulders which brought the bust line into the correct position for Chloe and mark out the new neck line.
I had originally pinned in a new bust dart at the fitting but this wasn't needed once the shoulders were altered.
The lovely original covered buttons were removed carefully to be re-attatched down the back as in the new design, I discovered they were metal backed with a fabric mound for attatching to a garment; These buttons were absolutely 1930's or 1940's but I was starting to have doubts about the actual dress being made in the 30's as we originaly thought, as the loops were the kind that you can buy now already made on a strip and I think they would have been hand made with rouleaux loops out of the main fabric which is a lovely slipper silk satin which could so easily been from the 30's.
I started the main bodice alteration by tacking a cutting line into the bodice of the dress. I put in a little bias iron on stay tape to stop the 'V' back stretching as much as possible, I then hand cut a bias strip in silk organza to bind the whole neck off in one, this was the perfect solution for the delicate lace front and back alike
...Now the lace part of this dress is what added to my suspicions that this dress may have been a high quality 1930's reproduction made in the 1970's or had already been redesigned for a second bride ? as although the lace is very soft and felt like nylon but it is backed with a fine nylon jersey and I have not seen this kind of backing before in an original 30's wedding dress...
I wonder, was there was a seamstess back in the 1970's making vintage reproductions - as I do now, using original materials, notions and finishes where possible to create or redesign a vintage style garment for her clients ;The main fashion statements of the 70's were based on the 30's so this is very possible.
I remember wearing and searching out original vintage garments to wear myself back in the mid 70's, yes i was that young once :) and this would have been something I would have asked for from a dressmaker.
Most of the original seams needed restitching and some of them needed to be repositioned to lose the tears in the fabric.