Sunday, October 20, 2013

Always a Bridesmaid...

... once a bride!! (Eat that, ridiculous old saying)

Last weekend's wedding festivities were so much fun that I could not resist the formal attire rack at the Salvation Army this weekend. These dresses aren't just dresses; they are symbols. Symbols of fantastic nights, best friends, close family and bringing two lives into one. Maybe the dress went through a crazy night, a stressful night, a funny night, or maybe the dress even wound up in jail and had to get bailed out (well hey there, lifetime movie). It's so much fun to imagine what types of activities these dresses went through. I couldn't resist but to pick one up, and this $7 dollar beauty fit the bill.

This was very obviously bridesmaid, including the telltale sash and everything. It was pretty well taken care of, and all in all in not too bad of shape. The worst things I could see when I was at the store was that it was sized at an 18, so it was going to be too big, and the back lace-up was missing, I figured it wasn't too big of a deal and scooped it up.

I should definitely preface this post with this: I am always awesome in my head, and my plans always work out well. Also, in my head, everything turns to be out super easy because I can break it down step by step. Keep in mind - this is all in my head. Because reality, especially for this project, is a witch. (Feel free to swap in the "b" if you are aged 18 or older.)

The first thing I noticed was that, although sized at 18, it was fitted to a much smaller size. I should have seen that coming, really, because I know the three truths that are involved in buying a bridesmaids dress: a) order a much larger size than you are b) get your fitness on because you want to look as fantastic as possible and c) get the dress fitted to you (usually at your new size if you did the fitness part well). So that was the first bonus: I didn't have to take this in.

The first thing I did was deal with that awful sash. Sashes look very pretty at weddings; however, that sash will never, ever be in that "you can totally wear this again" bride mentality. Now, I'm not sure if wedding shops are just getting nicer, or if this one (Alfred Angelo) just decided to save on thread, but this sash was connected by three whole strings.

This was simple enough to snip off and I found myself confident that this was going to go well. In hindsight... I'm silly.

Next, I put on the dress and measured down to my knee. Then, I took off the dress, made the measurements all across the front and back, and connected my dots with my seamstress wheel chalk thing. That's obviously the technical term.

Next - and here was the mentally hard part - I cut the dress up the side seam and chopped off the bottom.
This all went very well so my confidence was only a little shot when I put the hem on my lining of the dress. I really, really botched this, and had I known it would start off a terrible pattern of messing the rest of it up, I would have ripped it all out and tried it again. Alas, I could not see into that future, so my thinking at this point was "it's just the lining - no one will see".
It bunched, it pulled, it wasn't even - it wasn't good. I came to the conclusion afterward that I should have used a straight stitch (for some reason I'm mildly obsessed with the zig zag stitch. My machine often doesn't leave it...) and also should have put my stitch length much longer so it didn't pull and bunch. This will be the first lesson I follow when I decide to go back and fix this dress.

Next, I attempted the hem of the body of the dress. You know, the one people see. I knew it had to be some sort of blind stitch, but my machine does not have the capability for that. So... I had to do it by hand. Mind you, I have only blind stitched by hand a few times and it was mainly on pant legs that no one sees. Knowing this, I probably should have googled the activity further, but instead I just hopped into it. I didn't take a picture of this process, but you'll see in the end that my by-hand blind stitch leaves much to be desired.

Next, with my confidence no longer even slightly existent, I decided to create a cord from the bottom of the dress to make a new tie for the lace up back. I cut an inch wide sash off the entire bottom scrap and folded it in half, rights sides together, with the intention of sewing it up and bringing it inside out to have a nice cord with no seams. After it was all sewn, it did not want to go inside out. No matter how many pencils I attempted to stick in this tube, it was just not happening. Eventually, I just laced up the back with the wrong-side out tube full of seams so I could see if it was at least long enough to work if I were to make a cord correctly. Luckily, it was long enough.
It was at this point that I called it a day. Sometimes when you're plans aren't going as they are in your head, you just need to step back, expand your knowledge on the subject and come back to it with a fresh mind - and that is what I plan to do. Eventually I will come back to this disaster dress, seam rip all my work and re-do all the hems and the back cord to the point where I'm able to wear this in public without being totally ashamed. I mean - I guess I could wear this out in public... in bad lighting and with the assurance that everyone is too drunk to even know what a proper hem looks like. Until then, here is the visual to give you a giggle.
Maybe I can pass off the wonky hem as ruffles? Anybody? No?
Better luck next time. This is one dress that will not see a wedding again anytime soon.