Converting a dress into the Perfect Wedding Dress
The Perfect Wedding Dress
User Submitted Perfect Wedding Dress Question:I have an elegant black dress (low round neck long, right at my ankles) that everyone (including my fiance) loves. It has short sleeves, empire waste and is made out of a silk blend material. I would like to have this dress duplicated in white or off-white to serve as my Perfect Wedding Dress. I would probably pick out the same material, add a little lace, and lengthen it (to reach the floor) and a detachable train. Is this a good idea? Who should I take it to? Since I don’t have the pattern (bought off the rack about 2 years ago) can it be easily duplicated by a seamtress? Do you think that this would be more expensive than trying to find a pattern I like in a fabric store?
Perfect Wedding Dress Answer: Actually, you already have a pattern. However, I doubt that you would want to have the original dress cut at the seams (then re-sewn) in order to provide that pattern. This is a difficult question to answer, because whether a seamstress can or can not make their own pattern depends on a few different factors.
The most important factor is the seamstress. Some seamstresses have a lot of experience and/or ability when it comes to making patterns from an existing dress (without taking the dress apart) while others don’t. The second factor is what a pattern for the dress involves. This means that if the dress is a simple sheath style with no tucks, boning, gathers, etc. most seamstresses will be able to make a pattern from it or be able to find a comparable pattern to work with. Depending upon what is involved in your particular dress, a seamstress may or may not be able to do the same. Most seamstresses do have a supply of different patterns that provide basic shapes and silhouettes to work from which means that if your dress is somewhat simple in design, she/he will be able to combine different patterns to get the same look that you are after for your Perfect Wedding Dress.
You should have no problems, however, finding a seamstress which can add lace (or appliqués), lengthen a design/pattern or even add a train (especially a detachable one). Every one of these items can be accomplished relatively easily by an accomplished seamstress who has experience in either costuming or bridal gowns.
I can’t recommend any particular seamstress for you. I can tell you what to look for though when searching. You want to find a seamstress that has experience in either bridal attire, evening wear or costuming (theater). You’ll need to get references, and be sure to check up on them. Ask the seamstress for references of people who had needs (no pattern, pattern from an existing dress) similar to yours. This way, when you check the references, you can ask specific questions such as “Did the dress turn out as you envisioned/wanted it to?”. Ask the seamstress questions about your particular dress. Can it be easily duplicated? What changes might have to be made to add a train?, etc. Ask whether you are expected to buy material and patterns that might be necessary. Some seamstresses rely on their own patterns (you have to buy fabric), some ask you to buy fabric and pattern/s, and some buy both and charge a rate that reflects their added costs. None of these methods is better than the other, but you will want to know in advance what is expected of you. While you’re interviewing the seamstress, also ask about fittings, size (if she/he can duplicate it in the same “exact” size), etc. The most important thing to remember is that if you have any questions whatsoever, you need to ask them in the interview BEFORE you hire your seamstress.
A pattern that needs to be made will probably cost more than a pattern that is bought at the store. This is because it takes more time and creates more work for the seamstress. How much more depends on the seamstress. This is another question you will need to ask him/her. You may find that the added cost of the time and work involved in making a pattern from your dress is worth the extra money, for the perfect wedding dress. On the other hand, you may find the extra cost prohibitive, and decide to find a pattern in the store.
A seamstress who specializes in costumes for theater will probably have the most experience in making costumes/outfits without a pattern, especially if costumes he/she has made in the past are of a historical nature. Many of these costumes do not have patterns available, and a pattern needs to be made in order to create an accurate costume. On the other hand, a seamstress specializing in bridal attire or evening wear will have more experience with adding trains or other additions (such as lace) while still retaining the style of the dress. I suggest that you interview both types of seamstresses. You may find that one serves your needs better, but can only find out which you prefer, if you look for and interview both.
The description you’ve given of your dress (empire waist) leads me to believe that you will have few problems in finding a seamstress. A simply styled dress is easier to duplicate than one which has many “extras”. However, I haven’t personally seen the dress and want to give you options should you find that your dress is harder to duplicate. These questions and suggestions should start you on the right path towards finding a seamstress that will be able to work with you in duplicating the style of your original dress to create the Perfect Wedding Dress.