Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Couture Bridal Gown

Ocrafty1 | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi All,

Last week a bride brought me a gown she’d bought at the local Salvation Army store.  She’d paid $25 for it, as it had no zipper.  Imagine my surprise when I looked inside and found a tag from Carmela Sutera!  The bride has absolutely no clue what a couture gown is, or what its worth!  She most certainly got a bargain!!!

I’ve never even seen a couture gown, much less worked on one, so this is a special treat, and I’ve been devouring everything that I can as far as learning what/how the atlairs completed this gown.

The gown needs to be let out about 2″ in the bodice, and of course, have a new zip put in.  What a learning experience this has been, and I thought I’d pass some of what I’ve learned,so far, from the inside of the gown, on to all of you.

The gown has a princess style bodice with an empire waist, a square neckline, and cap sleeves.  The skirt also has princess seams and is A-line.  The bodice has trim around the neckline and waistline seam. I studied the trim for quite some time, as I may have to try to reproduce about 4″ of it in the back of the gown.  It has tiny rosettes, made from baby rickrack that has been rolled tightly and sewn together. There is a round-cut Swarovski crystal sewn at the center of each rosette. All of the trim is sewn on to a slightly padded fabric that has been covered with organza or organdy…I never can remember which is softer…its the soft one….This band is about 3/4″ wide. It has 2 rows of very thin satin cording sewn along both edges, and there is a row of tiny pearls sewn between each of these. This is hand sewn to the neckline…mitered at the corners…and under the bust, along the waistline.  The cap sleeves are covered in Swarovski crystals, tiny bugal beads, pearls, and a trim that I can only describe as some kind of satin cord that has been twisted so that it curls on itself, resembling worms. They also have a band of the trim along the edge of the sleeves.

The fashion fabric is an Italian silk satin, with the same used for the lining. The bodice is underlined with 2 layers of a very fine muslin. This surprised me, as everything I’ve read about underlining in couture only mentioned using 1 layer of underlining. The hand of the fabric, with this double layer of underlining is amazing! It is extremely soft, but gives a totally different feel to the fabric. Almost like it has a soft felt under it. And it behaves completely differently than if it were only the satin, or had 1 layer of underlining.

It is lined with the same satin. The lining is also underlined, but with something that looks like it is a very thin taffeta…its slightly shiny, and while it is very soft, still has a firmer hand than what I expected. Maybe someone with more experience in very fine fabrics can better tell us what it may be.???

There is also an underskirt (petticoat) attached to the inside of the gown, on top of the lining so it will be next to the body. This is made from a very lightweight fabric, similar to Posh, but slightly stiffer. The tulle is attached to the underskirt in 2 layers that start about the knee area.

Of course, I had to look up the designer on the net! I loved her gowns, and the fact that they are made in the USA, although she imports her fabrics from Italy, and her trim from France.  I thought they might get a kick out of the story of this gown, so I contacted them through their website. I also had a couple of questions per trying to copy the band of trim.  Imagine my surprise when I got a reply the next day!  Of course, I didnt’ get an email from the designer, but from the VPO of the company.

He told me that he knew exactly which gown it was; that it was probably from her 1994 collection; AND that they had recently moved and he had seen the trim for the gown.  He also told me that he would look for it and if they hadn’t thrown it out, he would send it to me!  I couldn’t believe that they would even reply to my email, much less make such a generous offer of their time and resources!!!!  I emailed him back per his request, and am hoping to hear from him early this week…The wedding is April 4, so I have to do something quick about the trim if I can’t get it from them.

Anyway, this is such a unique experience that I had to share it with people who would appreciate it.  I’ve told my friends; their replies are, “that’s nice.”  No…its WAY more than nice, they just don’t get it! 

Here’s a link to the designer’s website if anyone wants to check it out.  They do not have gowns in Salons. The salons take the appropriate measurements and each gown is custom made for that specific client.  The CVO told me that the gown probably cost about $2800-3000 for the original bride.  To make the same gown would now cost between $4000 and 5000. Wow, soooo not anything I’m used to working on.LOL  What a treat!








  1. Palady | | #1

    These kinds of sewing experiences is what makes reading the board a pleasure.

    You were astute to follow through, learn all that you did, and then tell all of us about the happening.    Be sure to take a picture of the gown for your sewing album when you've completed your touch.

    Wise shopping on the part of the bride-to-be.


    1. Ocrafty1 | | #3

      I intend to take pix for my album! If I get any really good ones, I'll post them. The bride got lucky in her find of this gown. She really doesn't have a clue what she has!! She brought it to me all wadded up, in a black plastic trash bag! I made a padded hanger and a muslin bag for it right away. Even though I told her that she had a designer gown, her only question was...what do you think it is worth?  She could care less what went into making it, and what the fabric is.  It almost makes me ill.  I am going to ask her if she will consider selling it after the wedding.  I just can't bear the thought of it laying in a heap on her closet floor; and I know that's what it will happen. Keep your fingers crossed for me.....

      In the meantime, I'm absolutely enjoying this gown!  I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I'd ever get my hands on a designer gown! Its a dream come true!!! And the couture house has been so gracious! This is way too much fun!

      This must be my lucky week...So far, I've gotten this gown to work on, a friend brought me 9 boxes of fabric and sewing/craft stuff that his mother wanted to get rid of...including yardage of polyester fabric from the 70's ;-)..., and I got lucky enough to purchase a cache of Thread's magazines, that should arrive next week!  Oh, and Purdue just won the Big 10 Championship and will play in the NCAA tournament! It doesn't get much better than this!


      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #4

        For a true textile and sewing enthusiast, you just won the lottery! Your sheer enthusiasm and respect for the garment and workmanship probably won over the people at the atelier. Can you see my green envy from here???? tee hee hee
        It is true, a lot of people have no Idea what goes into these garments! I hope you enjoy every moment with this treasure. Cathy

      2. Palady | | #7

        ThreadKoe & Josefly have posted positive commentary that only be supported.   The sewing spirits have indeed smiled upon you.   

        If the designer included a label, might you do so as well as having put your talents into it?   Perhaps embroider your initials & date someplace within?  The now owner might be thinking of selling the gown for considerably more than she paid for it.   Were this to happen, better for your "mark" to be noted.

        You might luck out and have the bride sell it to you.    

        I mention your labeling consideration because of the recent news of Lincoln's watch repairman noting historical events whilst it was in his hands.  Although I'm uncertain if the practice continues, watch & clock repairmen have initialed the inside case of the items they worked on since these came into use.   This information came known to me because my husband did this type of work as an avocation. 

        If you get photos, many will enjoy seeing them.


      3. gailete | | #24

        That is the stuff dreams are made of! I dream of finding great batches of cheap sewing stuff at yard sales!


        Edited 3/24/2009 9:04 am ET by gailete

        1. Cityoflostsouls | | #25

          It's probably not dreamy but in going through my stash I found 51/2 yards of flannel with a small flower print!!  Since I know it fades maybe I could make a sheet for my twin guest bed-that way it would seldom be in the wash!  If I use my sergers the only time consuming part would be cutting and measuring!  Why did I buy that at a yardsale?  I have another piece that would make a really couture blouse but very hard to sew?  Why did I buy that?  The bolt of white satin I have used for embroidered pictures for gifts.  Florals are lovely on it.  Every yard sale buy turns out to be a challenge.  Maybe I should just stay home.  I have a bolt of netting too-it stabilizes embroidered lace.  I don't have any brides to sew for and I'm not that accomplished anyway.

          1. gailete | | #26

            I've found some great yard sale fabric, but most of it is for quilting although one particular 10 yard chunk became one skirt, 2 tops and a matching apron...all for $1 for the whole piece! I also have some vintage 35" wide shiny, metallic type gold brocade and green brocade type chunks. Not my color and I have no idea what they would be good for. But they were beautiful and I couldn't let them go in the garbage!


          2. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #27

            Tee hee hee, I am seeing myself here. Collecting fabric because it speaks to me, and I have absolutely no idea how or when I will use it. Just because it is beautiful, unusual, or not easily found anymore. Just because the price was right. A true stashmaster. Cathy

          3. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #72

            Hey girl, how the heck are you? 

            That's one of the best ways to buy fabric.  Then along comes the perfect idea for a garment, and you already have the fabric.  Great.

          4. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #73

            Hey Beautiful! Was wondering the same about You! I am doing much better thank you!
            Went to buy 2 patterns, that was all, and a beautiful poly satin summer print with matching satin coordinates sat there on the rack and STARED at me the whole time I was browsing the pattern books. I had no intention of going into the fabric area. TEMPTATION, TEMPTATION...
            Long story short, BIG SALE was on, so I had, just had to check the price, and I ended up buying it, and the coordinating fabrics, and some really really discounted black coordinating fabrics for the rest of the outfits, and THREE more patterns.... bad bad me....tee hee hee
            and I only went in for two patterns to use for fabric in my stash....Cathy

          5. User avater
            rodezzy2 | | #74

            I'm great, no problems to speak of.  The usual old lady stuff, stiffness, joints aches and what have you...giggle.  But overall, I'm just find.

            Listen, that fabric will become something wonderful in your hands.  It was longing to be manipulated by YOU!  giggle.

          6. Cityoflostsouls | | #28

            I have a long dress of metallic brocade.  I keep it just because it's so beautiful.

          7. MaryinColorado | | #34

            I'd be using that metallic brocade for faerie dolls or on a wallhanging....I have been picking up lots of greens and blues for a future mermaid doll and a wallquilt with a manatee I hope to get started when I finally get the dragonfly wallhanging binding done....so many projects in my head, I need to get back to the studio!  Mary

          8. MaryinColorado | | #33

            The flowers embroidered on white satin must make lovely pictures!  I hadn't thought of that one, thanks for the idea! 

            Flannel makes nice heating pad covers too, or those little bags of rice/lavender/etc.. to heat up in the microwave.   

            What stabilizer brand do you like to use for embroidered lace?  Happy stitchin'  Mary

          9. Cityoflostsouls | | #35

            I must be a klutz-I'm constantly losing my replies so here I go over!  I have so much satin and netting that I had to find some way to use it.  I cut a number of pieces of satin and finish the edges as it ravels and for pictures that's OK.  I've done some beautiful 5 x 7 florals on it-gave all of them away!  If you've been a guest they make lovely hostess gifts.  I'm probably the only one who does it but I do lace designs on the sheer netting and it doesn't show but gives it a little more stability then I have Aqua Melt from Babylock to use.  My other stabilizers are America Sews.

            I have some Tulle Circles from the Dollar Store I want to try.  15 for a dollar should really be inexpensive and then they can be matted for the frame.  I'm always lookimg for a bargain because everything at my dealers is sky high.   I've got lots of things I'd like to try "someday" Balsa Wood, leather, puff embroidery.  I probably won't live that long!  What different things have you done?  I don't have a large hoop so I don't get elaborate.

            I love this weekend in the snow  I added meatloaf and caramel brownies to my list.  Smells good around here!

          10. MaryinColorado | | #40

            I like embroidering on Ultrasuede, I buy the precut pieces that come in a variety pack from either http://www.nancysnotions.com and I have  a stock of them that's dwindling down from Denver Fabrics before they remodeled.  Not too crazy about the changes at their store.  I embroidered a large flying snowy owl onto some, cut the Ultrasued in a "rugged" shape and put it on a man's jean jacket.  I still want to embroider owl tracks onto the sleeves if it's ever at home when I'm in the mood. 

            I also used Ultrasuede for some appliques because the edges look so nice.

            I've been embroidering my oldest grandson's interests (basketball, swimming, high school logo, name, mascot, his name, computers, computer wizard, Soduko, cards, Mustangs, art, cross country running, skulls, music, electric guitar, drums, musical notes, flames, Nascar racing, etc. for a crazy quilt to remember his high school days.  Then I need to start one for my grand daughter as she is a Freshman.  I've been working on the first one for about a year now because I just do it when I'm in the mood...all those little scraps make quite a mess.  I'm using 12" muslin blocks as a foundation base for the crazyquiting. 

            I've also been working on a dragonfly wallhanging from a pattern but it doesn't look much like the pattern anymore.  I have to do my own thing.  Lots of different techniques like drawing directly onto it with Fabrico markers, then freemotion threadsketching instead of some of the recommended appliques.  Learning to do some machine beading too and I added a dandelion and a faerie embroidery to it.  All that's left is the binding...yuck, I'm a new quilter so this is the hard part for me.

            I'm working on a long denim coat with embroidered and appliqued roses for my daughter, hope to get it done in the next few weeks.  I found  a beautiful red bali batik for the flowers. 

            Yum, caramel brownies!!!  I can almost taste them!  You inspired me, gonna start some homemade bread!  Mary


          11. Cityoflostsouls | | #37

            We don't eat rice and I have some flannel so guess I can use up that rice that way!  Thanks for the idea.  I wanted to tell you that 5 x 7 florals are especially beautiful on that white satin.

          12. MaryinColorado | | #41

            I'll be trying that out, my favorite size these days is the 6x6 because the Do all quilters hoop is the easiest one for me to use. 

            I think there is an old photo on here of my first embroidered quilt, I made it for my mother for Mother's Day and it was fun to do all those pretty litte heirloom designs from Martha Pullen.  I think you can do an "advanced search" here under my name and quilt maybe if you'd like to see it.  She loves Victorian style things, hope to inherit her lovely doilies and linnens some day, the other gals in the family just wouldn't appreciate them as much. 

          13. Cityoflostsouls | | #42

            I didn't find your quilt but I spend time looking at the older messages so maybe I'll find it.  Sue

  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    That is a wonderful story! You're right that most people wouldn't understand your excitement. It's the kind of thing that we, at this site, secretly hope we will discover at an estate sale or thriftstore. How nice to hear about the positive response you got to your inquiries. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Josefly | | #5

    I'm so excited FOR you. What a great opportunity. You do such a nice job of describing the gown, and the trim. I do hope the trim arrives in time for you. Lucky bride - because she has you to do her alterations with such respect for the gown and the way it's made. Following through with the design house was genius - who'd have thought you'd get the attention from them that you did?

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #6

      I KNEW you guys would understand!!! This has been so awesome!  I've done the torso alterations (let out the underarm/side seams); now I have to add fabric to the zipper area to get the extra inch that she needs.  I'm just going to add some nice satin that I already have.  It won't show, so it really won't change the integrity of the gown. Then I'll do the zip by hand.  It was sewn by machine originally, but that's a lot of fabric to try to put in my machine! I'm going to raise the hem from the waist, as the skirt is lined, with horsehair braid sewn between the layers. Its sewn as a seam, then turned. Does that make sense?  Anyway, I'd measured her for hem legnth, and it will be much easier to do it that way.  I should have the alterations done later today. Then I just have to wait to hear about the trim.

      Her wedding is April 4, so I can't wait too long. I've already found some substitute notions, ie. baby rickrack and crystals, that will work in a pinch. I need to 'create' about 1" of trim on each side of the waistline at the zipper.  I've thought about cutting the trim under the arm and putting the 'fill' in there, but if another bride would ever happen to get this gown, she might want to have the trim all in one piece.  What do you think?


      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #8

        In your shoes...I would steal from under the arm. I would want the center of the gown back to maintain as much of the original look as possible, and substitute the reworked new in an unobtrusive area, the under arm. I echo the other poster's suggestion also. Put your label in there too! The dress is now altered by you, so you should say so, for authenticity's sake! Cathy
        I hope you get the extra trim in time tho, cause then you get to keep it for your portfolio with the pics!

        Edited 3/16/2009 1:42 pm ET by ThreadKoe

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #9

          I just heard from the couture house.  They have the trim, but it is $200 for 1/2 yd., plus the shipping!!  That's more than I'm charging her for the alterations on her gown.  (I know, I probably didn't charge enough, again...) The bride doesn't want to spend the extra $$ for it, and DH will kill me if I spend it on someone else's gown. :-(    

          Sooooo, I will have to create something that will look close, and I probably will place it under the arm where it won't show.  I'm really disappointed, but oh, well....stuff happens!


          Edited 3/17/2009 1:37 pm ET by Ocrafty1

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #10

            Oh Drat and Bother Hunh! I hope you keep all the emails, contact info and lots and lots of pics! It still is a feather in your cap, just from the opportunity to study this wonderful work of art. Too bad the bride doesn't appreciate what she has. Silly girl. We who know better bow in your glory! tee hee Cathy

          2. Ocrafty1 | | #13

            Oh, Puh-leese!!!!  I'm not the one who created the gown...just the little mouse....like the ones in Cinderella.... who is trying to make it look decent for a little gal who knows nothing about fine garments of any kind.  ;-)

            I really was disappointed about the trim. 'Brian' (yep, I'm name dropping...teehee) mentioned in his first email, that he thought he saw the trim, but they might have thown it out in the move to their new location.  If they were going to throw it out, you'd think they could throw it my way....if for no other reason, than to keep the integrity of their gown.  I'd really like to be able to go through their trash bins!  Can you imagine what goodies they pitch?????  Too bad I don't live near NJ!!!  I'd make that trip once a week (snicker) Oooooh, well!   

            I didn't get the gown done today, the weather was way too pretty to stay inside all day...and I talked DH into going for a ride on the Harley when he got home from work.... I'll have it ready for a final fitting on Friday.  I spoke to the bride; she reminded me that her wedding is 2 weeks away.  I really wanted to say, "And....?"  but I was nice and didn't.  I think she thought that I'd have everything ready to put the trim on.  I'm taking the length up at the waist, and will baste it in place until after the fitting on Fri.  Then I'll probably finish it over the weekend.  

            Someone posted that I should consider putting my 'label' inside the gown.  I don't have 'labels', so I contacted my fantastic sister-in-law, who has a Janome that does everything but walk by itself...and it does that if you count her walking foot....she bought it to 'play with.'  ;-( ....(yes the green monster is here) and she will embroider one on satin for me to put in the gown. 

            I'll try to get some good pix of the gown.  I'm not sure that my camera will take very good pix of the inside. So much white on white!  It really took me a while to figure out that there were two layers of underlining on the outside layer of satin. The underlinings were cut together so precisely that it really was difficult to tell that there were 2 layers.  The construction is pretty straight forward. The biggest things I learned/saw in this gown was the use of 2 layers of super lightweight muslin/batiste for the underlining, and that they underlined the lining. I'm still amazed at the difference it made in the way the fabric feels!  Almost like a super soft quilt, without the quilting. Quite luxurious!!!!!!!!!  Ooohhhh, aaaahhhh!   The other is that the underlined skirt and lining are seamed with 1" horsehair braid between, turned, then attached to the bodice. 

            I know that most of my future brides will balk at the added expense, but I don't think I will ever make another wedding gown without using the underlining techniques that I learned from this gown.  It will make the gowns so much nicer, even if they purchase inexpensive satin from JoAnn.  It will be one of my trademarks...set me apart from the few other seamstresses in this area. 

            I truly wanted to share this experience with people on this site.  I wish I could invite each of you here to examine it to your heart's content. Everyone has been so generous with answers to questions that I've posted since I joined Gatherings about a yr ago!  I hope I've answered everyone's questions about this gown; and if you have any more, please don't hesitate to ask...I may not think of something that someone may want to know.  Some things I've done for so long, that they just seem to be the normal way to do stuff, ie., using soft tulle or another soft fabric such as organdy or 'posh', to make a bias strip, and bind the armseye of any gown. I forget sometimes that lots of people don't sew formal/wedding gowns on a regular basis. For me, its become second nature...but I'm still terrified of working with a really good wool!!!  I'd have a zillion questions about that.


            Edited 3/18/2009 12:03 am ET by Ocrafty1

          3. alotofstitches | | #14

            You are right about following that dress' example in using underlining for future dresses--I learned that the same way (altering another d.) and do use it under all WHITE/light colors 'keeps seams from showing thru as well as for support of fabric.  It makes the garment have the smooth look as seen in pics.  I know you have enjoyed working on that dress.  That wormy-looking trim (I'm guessing what it looks like) might be able to be made from self fabric "spagetti strap" tubing being twisted until it twists back on itself or made from rat-tail cord being twisted.

          4. Ocrafty1 | | #16

            Thank heaven I don't have to make any trim to go on the sleeves...that's where the wormy looking stuff is.

            I looked at the trim around the neckline/waist last night after reading an old Threads article about laces.  The thin cord is the same as what they use to trim Galloon lace.  I have some scraps, and I think I can take it off of that lace and use it in creating the trim.  Its amazing what Threads articles can inspire.  If I hadn't looked at that old copy, I'd never have thought about getting the cord from the lace!


          5. Lilith1951 | | #19

            I haven't told you yet how much I am just sighing and drooling listening to you talk about this dress. If I could just touch it...I am so happy for you that you got this opportunity. Sometimes life just smiles on us. I know it's been a challenge, but look how much you've learned. Wow.

          6. stitcher | | #21

            I've been away or would certainly have added my "two cents" sooner. Lucky you. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I look forward to seeing any pictures you will post.

          7. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #15

            Oh Deb! Look at all you have learned from this dress already! Sigh....
            Another beautiful bride glides happily from your establishment... :) Cathy

          8. MaryinColorado | | #23

            This is so exciting and fun to share your joy in this wonderful opportunity/experience.  Thank You! 

          9. sewchris703 | | #18

            How disappointing. Stealing the trim from under the arm is probably the best way to go in that case. BTY, I haven't told you how envious of you I am in getting to work on that gown.Chris

      2. sewchris703 | | #17

        If you decide to do the hem at the hem instead of at the waist (disregard if you have already raised the hem), here how I do it: Fold the skirt and hand baste at the new hem line. Iron the fold and take out the hand basting. Rip out one of the lining seams (I like to use the left side seam or even the left (from the center front) back princess seam (if there is one). Turn the skirt inside out through the opened seam. Remove the horsehair stitching and the edge stitching--leave the hem stitching in place. Iron the seam open. Machine stitch on the satin fold line (not the lining fold line, smoothing up from the hem seam. Restitch the horsehair as before, trim, and edge stitch the hem. Turn right side out and iron the new hem. Restitch the seam opening.It's not as difficult or time consuming as it sounds. I prefer it over shorting at the waist. But then I don't like taking in the skirt seams to match the waist seam. It's all a matter of personal preference and skirt style.Chris

  4. woodruff | | #11

    How marvelous for you! I mean, what a treat to be able to pick apart such a lovely, unusual gown all by yourself, taking in the details of construction! Wow. You didn't tell the bride how much it was worth, did you? Rats. It would have been nice to buy it when she was done with it, for sure.Anyhow, take LOTS of photos, and post them for us!

  5. Teaf5 | | #12

    Wow, what a find! If you can take photos of the inside and construction details, you'll inspire us with couture details and techniques.Does it looks as if it has ever been worn? Such a find makes me wonder whether the original buyer ever actually got married or wore it, or whether she, too, needed alterations that ended up being too costly? Since the designer offers certificates of authenticity for each gown, the original sales location is probably on record, too. (Though they probably can't give out the original buyer's name.) This is a fascinating subject; please keep us posted!

  6. sewingkmulkey | | #20

    Deb - thanks so much for sharing your experience.  Hearing your description and feeling your excitement about the couture gown is one of the main reasons I read this blog.  Of course like all the other posters I am insanely jealous of your good fortune to see the "insides" of this gown!  BTW I had never heard of underlining the lining.


  7. User avater
    purduemom | | #22

    What a great read this thread has been! Deb, my thoughts mirror those of the others...who'd of thunk in our little corner of the world! Perhaps your inability to get additional trim will bode well for purchasing the dress from the bride. You know they say when one door closes, another one opens! Can't wait to see the pics. I will email you; maybe I could drive over and see the real thing this week while I'm on spring break - unless we find a cheap flight to Arizona- Go Boilers! :)

  8. DesignandSew | | #29

    What a great story!  Thanks for all of the details, I make wedding gowns and always appreciation couture details that make the dress more interesting.

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #31

      The bride picked up her gown on Wed. She brought her mother, who hadn't seen the gown before. The bride had been for a fitting last week and I needed to let the gown out a little more around her torso/waist. The bride loved the way it fit, but it was so tight that there were wrinkles all along the sides.  She would not have been able to move/dance without ripping out the seams. When she tried on the gown Wed., she complained that it was too loose...she'd looked skinnier before I let it out.  I explained that she needed room to move and breathe, but she wasn't too happy, and kept sucking in her breath and trying to pull the gown tighter while standing in front of a full legnth mirror.  Her mother finally convinced her that the gown was suppose to fit that way, but she was still pouting.

      I'm really glad that I don't have to work with that bride again.  She still doesn't recognize or appreciate the skill and time that went into that gown....all she sees is $$$$$ since I told her it was a designer gown.  I spent 5 hours making two 2" pieces of trim to match what was on the gown. I wish I'd phoned her after I found out that she couldn't afford the $400/yd trim and told her that I'd have to charge extra for making it.  I know it sounds hateful, but I knew from the beginning that she is on welfare (mom is paying for the wedding) and thinks everybody owes her.  I won't be surprised if I see the gown for sale on eBay in a few weeks! 

      I did take a few pix of the gown before she picked it up, and was going to try to post them today.  Unfortunately, DS borrowed the cable that I need to download them to my PC and I can't find it....and he's gone for the weekend.  I'll post them as soon as I can. They aren't as good as I would have liked, but its hard to get good details when you're photographing white on white, even thought I put up lots of black fabric for the background.

      I need to go for now.  Had 3 teeth pulled on Thur....its time for a pain pill and a nap.


      1. stitcher | | #32

        Deb, I can only feel sad for the bride. She doesn't really appreciate the dress or the care and effort you gave it. Please don't let her attitude detract from the thrill YOU experienced working on it, or the joy you shared with us through your generous posts. As for your son---he has no idea that your friends are checking this forum regularly awaiting the photos of that dress. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I will be checking Goodwill, Women's Resource Resale and Salvation Army stores regularly :) and hope to find my own thrill--- It will be like buying a lottery ticket!

      2. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #36

        I've been following with interest this entire thread as you worked your way through the alterations. Such a shame Bridezilla had no appreciation for the process nor end product,and of course she wanted it skin-tight. That seems to be the current trend, albeit often unattractive, uncomfortable, and unforgiving. This topic and process, the alteration of couture garments, IMHO, would make an outstanding article for Threads. A few photos to illustrate certain techniques, and, well, there you are!

      3. Palady | | #38

        Your dental is indeed calling for a nap & medication.

        Whatever "the bride" is, your opportunity will forever be yours. 

        It's a wonder about the luck of some people versus that of others.


      4. sewelegant | | #39

        Don't you wish you could have just slipped her a cheap "copy" and kept the original?  Ah, but life is not fair.

        I was just over in Palm Springs a few weeks ago and while my better half was playing golf I was checking out the thrift stores.  This one I was in was really kind of Ugh! so I wasn't spending much time, but as I approached the exit there was a lady holding a white nightgown with a georgous lace bodice.  She was looking for a place to try it on and hoping it would fit because it had a Saks label!  I kind of lingered for a while thinking if she rejects it I'll take it just to have that lace, but it wasn't to be.  (I would even have cut the label out and given it to her if she wanted, ha ha)



  9. nightsewer | | #30

    You are so lucky! I would love to have that experience! We sewers always want to learn more.

  10. zuwena | | #43

    Let me second the request for picture details, ie., closeups of some of the intricacies you've discussed.  Sounds fabulous.  Hope you are moving ahead.  Z

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #44

      OK, Girls and Boys....Here are the best pix of 'the gown.'  Keep in mind that I am no photographer...and was on Demerol when I took them. ;) 

      The last 3 'rosettes' on the back bodice centers are the ones I made...I think I did good!  They were made with tiny baby rickrack, wrapped tightly and sewn with each wrap. The centers were not crystals as I first thought, but tiny silver sequins sewn on with silver metallic thread; a tiny clear bead was threaded onto the needle, then the needle brought back through to the bottom of the rosette. 

      I wish the pix were better....but enjoy anyway!



      1. zuwena | | #45

        Can't wait to try the rosettes. Thanks for the pics. Z

      2. Stillsewing | | #46

        Boy, that's some dress. Thanks for sharing your "journey" with it with us all out here!Also the photos!

      3. Palady | | #47

        The gown was all that you posted it being.!!  Intuitive of you to do a close up of the sleeves.  MO, most certainly the IT of the gown.  MO of course. 

        Please tell us you added your mark & date someplace within. 

        Thank you for your effort in a less than healthy state.


      4. KharminJ | | #48

        Wow, Deb! That's even more beautiful than I imagined! Well done ~ and not bad photos, either - drugs be da*ned!Kharmin

      5. User avater
        JunkQueen | | #49

        Really quite a wonderful gown with it's understated elegance. Something we could all keep in mind. I have to echo Zuwena -- I want to try the rosettes, too. Your description will allow all of us to do so. Thank you for the day to day, blow by blow journey of alteration, the pictures, and instructions. I do hope the bride will someday appreciate your expertise and skill.

      6. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #50

        Thank you Ocrafty for sharing your dress journey with me! The pics turned our just fine! The details are just amazing! There was no appreciable difference in the rosettes that you made, from the originals that I could tell, you amazing wonderwoman! I hope you are feeling better now. The embellishments on that dress were beautiful and complex. Yet the style of the dress was simple yet so stunning. I think my coffee and me will be studying these for a while, tee hee. Thank you again for your generosity in sharing with us. Cathy

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #52

          Thank all of you for letting me go on and on about this gown!  I was so excited and none of my friends 'got it.'  I knew all of you would and hoped that you would "share" this experience with me.  Ya know how it is when something wonderful happens and you can't wait to tell your best friends!  That's how I felt about sharing this gown with all of you. I really wish we could all have gotten together and drooled all over the gown.  LOL  I think we came as close as we could....

          This was a wonderful learning experience for me and I really want to thank all of you again for letting me share it with you.  Your comments were encouraging and helpful and lots of fun to read!  We need to do this more often!


          Edited 3/31/2009 10:04 pm ET by Ocrafty1

          1. woodruff | | #53

            What a lovely gown, Deb! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and for your photos. My gosh, what an experience, indeed.

      7. User avater
        purduemom | | #51

        Oh...my...What an elegant gown. There is certainly truth to the old adage, less is more. Simple lines, exquisite details, classic beauty. You have provided us all with such great details, both written and pictorial. These pictures have made their way into my 'inspirations' collection. Like JunkQueen, I am anxious to try the rosette trim. I am also intrigued by the 'worms' on the sleeves and will have to give these a try as well. Bravo!!!

      8. Lilith1951 | | #54

        Absolutely stunning gown! I am so glad you got to work on this. I have been enjoying your experience vicariously. I'm curious--sorry if I missed this somewhere in the posts--what kind of veil did she wear with it? Did she buy one or did you make her one?

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #55


          She bought a veil, but I didn't get to see it.  From what she did tell me, it is waist legnth.  I think she purchased it at the same Salvation Army store that she found the gown at.  Lucky girl!

          BTW: I didn't get to put my 'tag' inside the gown. My sister-in-law ended up being gone after she'd told me she'd be available to embroider one for me.  Oh, well...I know I did it!


          1. KharminJ | | #56

            "Oh, well...I know I did it!"And so do *we*! If that dress ever comes across anyone's radar who's seen this thread (ongoing, or in digging, years from now!) we can say "I know Deb, who did the alterations on that!" teehee - ain't the internet wonderful? (grin) Kharmin

          2. stitcher | | #57

            Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have made several wedding gowns. My favorite was for my daughter-in-law. She and my son were married in the Chicago area and several guests at her wedding (who did not know I had made it) asked her who had designed her gown. They were sure it must be couture. Your photos were great I know that I am not the only threader to learn from them

      9. Josefly | | #58

        So kind of you to share those photos with us. I echo the wishes of others that you are feeling better soon.The sleeve intrigued me. It appears there's a seam in the top of the sleeve - is it a two-piece sleeve, or was that a dart of some kind in the sleeve? I would've thought the seam would be covered with the braid on the sleeve, so seeing the seam makes me think the braid was sewn on before the sleeve was seamed and inserted. I wonder if that seam allowed the sleeve to be inserted more easily into the armscye. Any thoughts on that?Thanks also for the close-up photos of the inside of the dress. I couldn't quite clearly see the inside of the sleeve, but it appeared the sleeve/armscye seam was enclosed in a binding, is that correct? And the hem of the dress appears to be a soft turn, not a pressed edge - I'll go back and read your earlier descriptions to understand how the hem was done.I think brides are very susceptible to a "me-first-and-only" kind of attitude in the time leading up to their weddings - it sounds as if this one certainly was not pleasant to deal with. Sounds like her mom had some sense, thankfully. At least you had the benefit of learning about that beautifully put-together gown. Congratulations on a job superbly done. Your trim addition was undetectable.

        1. Ocrafty1 | | #59

          You're right; there was a dart in the top of the sleeves.  The pix may not show it clearly...it had so much embelishment it was hard to see...and I am NOT a photographer by a long shot...The dart was on both the lining and sleeve. They were sewn together at the hem and turned right sides out before being sewn into the gown.  This was used instead of gathering the sleeve head to fit into the armseye.  I loved the sophisticated look it gave, and with all of the embelishment, it was practically invisible. (Some of the embelishment was missing, but I didn't try to replace it, as it was barely noticible...unless you were really looking close.)

          There was a bias binding on the armseye seam. It was attached on one side by machine and then folded over and finished by hand. I've seen this done on lots of better gowns....one of those couture techniques.  Many times it is done with lining fabric...as with this gown, sometimes it is very soft bridal tulle. The armseye seam is trimmed to about 1/4" after it is sewn and pressed, then the binding is added. It gives it more stregnth, keeps any fabric from raveling, makes that area more comfortable to wear, and looks very well made.

          Feel free to ask any more questions as you look at the pix.  I'll try to answer if I can.  There were so many details in this gown that I couldn't address them all; although I tried to describe as much as I could. I didn't want to appear that I was gloating...or going on too much...but I so wanted to share! There were so many interesting things in this gown.  I wish I could have taken the whole thing apart just to see EVERYTHING, and then put it back together...but I didn't have time...and it wouldn't have been 'ethical,' since she didn't need the whole thing reconstructed.  I did have the opportunity to do that on another really lovely gown...I even made a pattern of the train....I took it from a size 14 to a size 4...(4 underlayers in the lace and HEAVILY beaded sleeves)...I love my job!  Just wish I could get more clients.....(I keep telling myself, patience is a virtue)

          I'm still trying to figure out the "worms." I think they were some sort of satin-wrapped cord that was twisted 'til it "broke upon itself", then fastend so it didn't unwrap and sewn onto the sleeve in lots of places.  The sleeve also had groups of 4 square, clear, irridescent beads, along with single sequins and single pearls; all placed randomly above the $400/yd. trim on the edge of the sleeve. A lot of embelishment for such a small, cap sleeve!  But, OMG, it was gorgeous!!


          1. Josefly | | #60

            Thanks so much for the additional details. Just wondering, again, - you said the dart was in both the sleeve fashion fabric and the sleeve lining, which were sewn together at the hem, then turned right side out and inserted into the armscye. Was the dart taken separately in the lining and outer fabric, or were they treated as one fabric for the dart? I don't know why I want to know this - just curious, I guess. I'd also like to try a sleeve with a dart like that - just to see how it behaves, how it shapes the sleeve. Those "worms" that cover the sleeves are a puzzle. The cording almost looks knotted in the photo. Having only the sleeves covered in the twisted cording is a beautiful example of the elegance of restraint, yes? Just enough to make the dress smashing!I don't think you need to worry about "gloating" - who of us wouldn't want to crow about the chance to examine and work on that dress? I don't imagine I could duplicate that trim the way you did. It is really nice work. Do you keep a photo album showing your work, so that your clients can see your skill?

            Edited 4/8/2009 1:53 am ET by Josefly

          2. Ocrafty1 | | #61

            The dart was taken separately in each piece of the sleeve.  When inserted in the armscye it was so smooth and elegant!  These were short, cap sleeves, and the darts were approx. 2.25" long, and about .5" at the seam edge (which would make it 1" wide before sewing.)  It was a design detail that I'd never contemplated before, although I'd seen, it in an old Threads before, I couldn't picture it.  I'll certainly use it when I have a short sleeve in a formal gown from now on....I'll have to experiment and see how it would work in a long sleeve.

            Those worms....although they may look like they are knotted, the cord was twisted, then it was almost like they wrapped it around a needle seven or eight times and slid it off...but it wasn't sewn to hold it in that position...it stayed that way on its own...and then sewn to the gown. I haven't had time to play with this one yet...but I will.  I gotta figure this one out.

            I do keep an album with my work. An acquaintance talked me into doing a 'craft show' last yr. I had taken pix of my daughters and their friends in the gowns I'd made for them...like any mom does on Prom night...I purchased a photo album that could be added to and began adding other pix that I had of garments and items that I'd made. I show it to all of my prospective clients when they come for a first visit. I've also got most of the pix on my hard drive...and at some point want my son to help me set up a blog and put them up there. I'd love to get orders for Christening gowns. It would be hard to do garments for most sizes as an online business, but infant wear would be easy.


          3. jane4878 | | #62


            In Kenneth King's 'Cool Couture', he uses satin (rayon) rattail cords to embellish with disassembled passementarie.  If you could find the book it might be similar to what's been done on the dress.



          4. Josefly | | #64

            Thanks again, Deb. I would love to learn more about that sleeve dart, too. I wonder if it does away with the easing usually required when setting sleeves. Maybe I can find something about it in a fashion design book. Has anyone else who might be reading this any experience with this design feature?I think your idea about showing your work on a blog is a very good one. Christening gowns would be a fun business - as you said, no fitting! Good luck with your pursuit of that idea.Joan

          5. Ocrafty1 | | #65

            The dart definitely does away with the easing in the sleeve. There were no signs of any ease gathers that you usually see. It was soooo smooth.


          6. moira | | #66

            Deb, I haven't spent much time on Gatherings lately, so when I opened it up today I had the pleasure of reading this whole thread all at once. It was lovely not to have to wait for the next episode as so many others have clearly done. But it would have been worth the wait - here's another enthusiast who can see why you were so excited about this dress!I'm very interested in the underlining feature. It's not something I've usually thought of as being worth the trouble in the past, and when I have done it I've just used lining fabric. But I can see how the muslin would have given the fabric a soft 'quilty' hand as well as allowing seam allowances to be well hidden. I have a lot of work on the go at present and several opportunities to underline, so I may do some experimenting to see what works with different fabrics. One is a shrug-type jacket in a sheer fabric which I'm going to underline, and had bought silk organza for the purpose. However the organza will affect the colour, so I'm thinking of underlining with two layers. The layer next to the sheer fabric will be the lining which enhances the colour, and the other layer will be the organza. I'd sew those three together as one, and then line it all with lining. Hopefully the hidden organza will give it a little crispness and the double layer might even give it that unquilted quilt feel.Edited 4/18/2009 4:38 pm ET by moira

            Edited 4/18/2009 4:39 pm ET by moira

          7. Ocrafty1 | | #67

            I'm so glad you enjoyed my experience with the gown. It really was a dream come true....especially for someone who lives out in the country with the nearest town having a really small population...blink 3 times and you've passed it...unbelievably unexpected!!!!

            I had never really underlined anything until, after coming here, I kept reading about it.  I bought Claire Schaffer's book on couture sewing and read it cover to cover in a couple of days. I learned soooo much, and it all made so much sense.  An aunt had requested that I make a dress & jacket for her and didn't care that I 'experimented' with it. That was my first experience with underlining, and boy, did it make a difference!  The only local places to buy fabric are JoAnne, Walmart, and Hobby Lobby. The 1 layer of batiste underlining made the fabric feel like it was much better quality, and the lining was just the right touch to give it that 'finished' look.  I also tried 'pad stitching' the lapel for the first time....oh, boy...thank heaven she's my Aunt.  The book didn't show that the stitches shouldn't show on the back of the lapel....I was sooo proud of my tiny, even stitches. I spent several evenings working on just that...to learn later, here of course....that the stitches aren't supposed to show at all.  We learn as we go..but I was mortified.

            The wedding gown was a godsend!  I still feel lucky to have had the chance to see the inside workings of that gown. It really was very straight forward.  The underlining was very thin batiste. I'm guessing it is cotton, but it is much finer than anything available at JoAnne.  Using the 2 layers made such a change in the hand of the fabric! I've kept every small scrap that I had to remove from the gown...just to feel the fabrics again, LOL. The Italian silk satin was divine!  I've used JoAnne's satin for several wedding gowns, but I will never do it again without underlining it. I've played with some scraps that I have and it makes even that satin feel pretty luxurious!  The brides, or gals that want formals are just gonna have to dig in and pay for it.  I think they'll appreciate it in the end product.

            The most important thing I learned while working on this gown, is that couture details make the difference between the 'home sewn' and professional looks. It was truly amazing to me what a difference the little details make! It really doesn't take that much more time, and the results speak for themselves. The only time I'll ever sew in a hurry again is for something like a halloween costume...and it will depend on whether it will be used more than once. There have been a few articles in Threads lately, that have shown shortcuts to couture techniques.  Those are not for me. I can see where someone might want to get a garment done in a hurry...but for me...now that I've been "exposed"....I want the quality!

            "But I can see how the muslin would have given the fabric a soft 'quilty' hand as well as allowing seam allowances to be well hidden."  

            The seam allowances aren't really hidden unless you line the garment. Underlining does soften the edges of the seam allowances when the garment is pressed. 

            Per your shrug...I'd try washing the organza first, if you want it to give the garment a softer hand. Organza can be pretty stiff with all of the sizing they put in it. Unless you want it to be 'crunchy'. What kind of seams are you going to use in the shrug?  If it is pretty sheer, you might want to use French seams, or double sew the seams.  You might even try hand sewing and hand finishing them.  I've done this a few times...while watching my favorite TV shows in the evening...and it is amazing how much softer the seams turn out compared to using a zigzag finish. I love to do handwork, it really relaxes me...so it was no big deal for me...and as I said, I loved the softness of the seam finish. When you zigzag, it puts a lot of thread along the seam edges; hand finishing is only 1 layer of thread; much, much softer.  I've also discovered silk threads...again, due to the Schaffer book, and use it for nearly everything I can.

            This site...and the magazine, are wonderful resources for anyone who likes to sew. After sewing for over 30 yrs., I'd never been exposed to the quality of fabrics and threads that are available, until I came here.  I guess I used what I knew....and that was stuff from the '70's (although I drew the line at the polyester double knits...teehee.) I may even get bold and order some fabric online...I want to do a Channel type jacket and have found the fabric online....This old dog is learning a lot of new tricks...and having a ball doing it!  Everyone here is so helpful and encouraging!  There isn't anyone who lives within 50 miles or so that I know who sews...so coming here is like gabbing with friends...without the coffee and sweets, of course!

            Keep us posted on your shrug...with all the details! That's the one thing that (I think) helps the most with posts. When it comes to quality sewing, it is all in the details...and we can all learn a lot from others posting those.



          8. moira | | #68

            Yes, that was what I meant - hidden in terms of not showing on the outside when pressed. I do plan to line the shrug anyway. But I hadn't planned to wash the organza. I'll try that and see if it makes a difference, and yes, I'll photograph as I go. I have three bridal dresses to make in the next few months, and a mother-of-the-bride outfit, among other things, so lots of opportunities to develop ideas!I LOVE knowing that you folks appreciate the adrenalin rush that comes from opening up a parcel of fabrics and notions, especially when it's come by post. Even when all the stuff inside is for a customer, it feels like a present for me!

      10. Ceeayche | | #63

        your work is magnificant.  I'm sure after all the drama is past, she'll be a lovely bride and she will fall in love again with your work, cause it's truely beautiful inside and out.


  11. User avater
    rodezzy2 | | #69

    Wow, that was the thrill of you sewing life.  How wonderful.  Great learning experience.  I remember that show last year about couture designers.  The hand work must be superb?!!!!!

    1. Ocrafty1 | | #70

      It really was a thrill. I was more impressed with how they used fabrics than the techniques /stitching.  They really used a lot of machine stitching in the construction of the inside of the gown, which surprised and disappointed me. But the fabrics/trims were to die for! And how they put things together was pretty interesting as well. I did learn a lot...and will put it to use in my future garments for clients.


      1. User avater
        rodezzy2 | | #71

        I wish I could have been searching through it with you...it sounds fasinating.  I don't sew a lot, but I do appreciate beauty and hard work.  Love to see it.  giggle.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All