Green Glamour

Jamelah5This was FUN! I deeply enjoy sewing in general, and custom dressmaking in particular, but when it comes down to it, some projects are more enjoyable than others for a whole world of reasons. Some go smoothly and others surprise you with unexpected challenges. Some are beautiful and some are… less so (a custom pair of velveteen shorts for a guitarist in an ACDC cover band comes to mind). Some allow a great deal of artistic license and others need to achieve someone else’s design concept very precisely. And sometimes I’m able to work effectively without difficulty, while other times the other demands on my time and energy make it challenging to sew. This particular project was a sheer delight in pretty much every possible way.

Jamelah1The process of creating this truly custom formal gown began with an Alchemy request on etsy. I knew from reading the client’s description of what she wanted that she would be fun to work with. She needed a beautiful formal gown to wear to her cousin’s wedding in a very traditional Muslim village in Palestine, and wanted a custom garment that was modest enough to be appropriate, formal enough to please the bride, but that also demonstrated her personality. She described the challenge with phrases like “I need to be modest but that doesn’t mean I have to wear a potato sack” and included many passionate descriptions of clothing styles she liked… ranging from fantasy elvish inspired costumes to the glamour and tinsel of a 1940’s Hollywood starlet. The challenge set before her piqued my interest, and her open, excited tone fuelled my creative fire. I put in a bid immediately.

We emailed back and forth for several days, discussing her various needs and wants for the dress – fabrics (it had to be silk!), colors (preferably green), embellishments (embroidery perhaps?), her budget, her body type, and photos of several dresses to get a feel for her style. After a great deal of discussion I drew up a sketch for her of a 40’s inspired gown, and she responded with a very enthusiastic, all caps, reply that she LOVED it.

Jamelah3For a completely original design, one for which I’d never seen a commercial pattern, it made sense to draft a pattern from scratch. This particular dress required a lot of draping to determine the right shape for the pattern pieces on the bodice front. Draping is fun. It appeals to my love of  sculpture, and honestly it’s just so practical! I made a muslin for her to try on before working with the silk for her gown, and we discovered that while we needed a few tweaks to improve the fit, on the whole the dress worked and was just want she’d wanted. Fabulous!

Next came the dye bath. I purchased a beautiful acid dye worthy of our silk fabric to dye her dress an emerald green. I have to thank the good people at Dharma Trading for supplying fantastic dyes at great prices as well as thorough instructions for using them with silk fabrics. For that matter I should thank them as well for their awesome customer service, their INCREDIBLE turnaround time processing orders, and their use of recycled materials for packaging and shipping. (Honestly, if you need dyes or silks, or just want to look at gorgeous pictures of hand painted fabrics, go to their site! They are truly awesome!)

Jamelah4The color turned out beautifully. And it was time to sew. On that particular day, my husband took our daughter to a theme park, and I had the rare treat of the house to myself for eight solid hours. I was able to work free of interruptions, at a steady but comfortable pace, watching *my* TV shows (instead of Veggie Tales and Little Einsteins) while I endlessly made little pintucks in the beautiful silk fabric. It was heavenly, and one of those days where my work felt more like play.

Jamelah2I felt confident that the finished product was just right. It looked like the sketch, it fit her measurements, and it embodied the goals she’d had for her dress, being uniquely stylish, modest but flattering, feminine, colorful and lovely. Far more important than my own delight at the result though was hers… and she was thrilled! The final product fit perfectly and was exactly what she’d hoped for. She tells me she expects to be the most beautiful woman at the wedding – except for the bride of course!

So here’s a happy ending to a truly delightful project. And I sincerely wish a happily ever after to the bride and groom!


1 Response to “Green Glamour”

  1. June 19, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Absolutely beautiful =)

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