(To see pictures, scroll down to post #40.)
Some people have expressed amazement that I took on this project and they seem to think that it says something about me. In fact, I think it says just as much about Susan. Obviously she is a dear friend, but I wouldn't have attempted this for "just any" dear friend.
Part of the reason I made this offer to Susan is that she sews too. To me, that means:
(a) being able to pick the pattern, the fabrics, the buttons, etc. and make a lot of design decisions would be important to her,
(b) she would truly understand and appreciate the efffort involved,
(c) she would understand and be interested in the details - where to put french seams, whether or not to underline, etc. and
(d) she would have realistic expectations of the level of quality that I could and (more importantly) could not produce.
But the bigger part of my decision stems from something more fundamental to Susan's makeup. Susan is the kind of person who looks at the dress I made and sees her design vision realized, the beautiful fabrics and lace, and the love I put into it - NOT the hem's tendency to flip up, the left-over wrinkles at the small of her back, or that one stupid bodice lace scallop that doesn't stand up perfectly... She's like that about life in general - she appreciates the good things and doesn't fuss over little imperfections. That makes her a good candidate for a handmade wedding dress, and an even better candidate for a friend! :)
Things I Wish I had Done Differently
- I should have started with pattern pieces that were more closely matched to Susan's size. The pieces I started with were not a good match, so I had to do a lot of adjustment, and each time I made an adjustment was an opportunity for error to creep into the product.
- I should have done a better job with time management - realizing that one month on the calendar was really only 5 or 6 days in the sewing room... I was rushed at the end - that was not good.
- I wish I hadn't washed the silk organza - while I didn't really need the stiffness for the silk satin, I could have used it for the godet and the bodice lace scallops.
- I should have stuck with the muslin until it was perfect. I allowed myself to move on to the silk when there was "just one little change" needed to the muslin, figuring that I could incorporate that change into the silk as I worked. That decision led to 2 scary episodes with the real dress fabrics.
Good Decisions I Made
- Joining the Pattern Review community! I NEVER could have taken on a project of this magnitude without the resources and support it offered - from the online classes, to Julie's review of Susan's pattern, to the advice and encouragement available through the Message Boards from some of the most skilled and generous people in the world...
- Bought high quality fabric.
- Bought high quality fabric on sale! ;)
- Underlined the fabric.
My first "thank you" goes to Susan, for believing in me and trusting me with what could arguably be the most important outfit in a woman's life - her wedding dress. She never doubted me - not even when I made stupid mistakes or when I fell behind schedule. It's a pretty wonderful feeling when someone has that kind of faith in you... :)
My second "thank you" goes to my husband, Scott, who supplied an unending stream of support, switching seamlessly between choruses of "Don't worry, baby, it'll be okay..." and "Wow! That's gorgeous!" at the drop of a hat. He also gave up a whole month of Saturday afternoon climbs, so that I would have the extra time to work on the dress.
Next in line are Barbara for her help hand stitching the underlining to the silk satin, and Julie H. and Sarah Veblen - for their technical advice and encouragement via email.
Thanks also go to Scotti, of The Sewing Superstore in Maitland, Florida, who guided us through our first foray into the world of bridal fabrics and laces and helped us pick out the gorgeous fabrics in Susan's dress.
Last but not least, I'd like to say "thank you" to everyone who read my blog and left me comments - if you blog yourself, then you know how much those comments mean! If you don't blog, then you'll just have to take my word for it - they mean a lot!
I am SO glad that I took on this project! It was a wonderful experience to share with a close friend and I think my sewing skills took a big leap forward!
If you've read my whole blog, then you know that there were some stressful and distressing moments along the journey. But, in hindsight, I wonder if those are just part of the territory when you push yourself?
I had a friend who made his living on the stock market for a few years. I asked him once how much money he could make on a single good day. He said that it depended on how much money you were willing to lose on a single bad day.
Maybe the same is true of other endeavors in life. I could have stayed in my comfort zone and kept sewing easy patterns - I would never have felt as horrible as I did on the day when the lining pieces didn't match up, but I would never have felt as happy or proud as I did when I first saw Susan, on her wedding day, in our dress...