Kelsey brought me her Mother's 1978 Lorrie Deb satin wedding gown that neither fit her body nor her style back in 2012. She wanted to wear it and I was happy to help. It probably looked just like this to begin with.
Kelsey had already removed the puffy, chiffon sleeves. She wasn't thrilled with the high neckline and had made a pinterest board of bodices she liked. They were all lace tops with keyhole backs. She bought several lace samples on Etsy and we found that trying to find something to match online was tricky. Finally, I was inspired by a dress Mother Dear had her Mother make in the 1970s.
It was an A line maxi dress cut out of a quaker lace tablecloth and lined in blue. She wore it to her parent's 40th wedding anniversary party in 1978 accessorized with a satin ribbon to match the lining and an antique ivory brooch on top. My Grandmother was a by-the-book sewer and Mother Dear was forever making her construct things in a manner she felt was wrong. But lucky for us she did it anyway. People who don't sew always have a lot of ideas about things, but the how to is often missing. I love how this project mirrored the interactions my Mother and Grandmother had making our inspiration dress. I usually describe bride's by nicknames they earn during their fitting. At this point, we began referring to Kelsey as Tablecloth Bride.
sI cut a section from the center of the tablecloth that looked like it might suit our needs. I loosely trimmed it and kept cutting away at every fitting. You never really know what's going to happen or what the end product will actually look like when refashioning dresses and gowns. Brides with a good attitude, a creative mind and an overflowing imagination are my best clients. This also requires a good deal of trust for a successful outcome.
I'm always very cautious when it comes to this type of work, because if you mess up there aren't always a lot of good ways to correct mistakes. I like to overthink things before getting out my scissors. This results in many fittings. I only charge a consolation fee for the first visit so that brides don't skimp on fittings. They and the time in-between them are valuable for brainstorming and creative contemplation.
A little trimming made a big difference! Next we had to figure out how to connect the top to create a keyhole.
I lopped a piece out of the tablecloth that I thought would suit the shape of the neck. But it wasn't long enough. The bride suggested adding some florets.
I began by painstakingly hand stitching the scallops to the front of the bodice, the lace around the neck hand stitched to itself and we left the back loose until we got closer to finishing and could figure out the best way to wrap things up back there. The answer turned out to be lots of snaps and a few lace appliqués.
I do all of my machine stitching on a 1954 Singer 99K portable machine. It is a workhorse that I can (for the most part) maintain and repair myself. This dress was a just little too small for the bride. I let out both side seams and when replacing the weak nylon zipper with a staunch metal one, I found a great deal of excess fabric to let out at the center back that provided us with a perfect fit.
Precise trimming and a good deal of Fray Check transformed this into something people are unlikely to recognize as a tablecloth.
Next, we had to decided what to do with the hem. The bride didn't care for the original satin, high/low ruffle hem and removed it herself to save on labor costs. I had just purchased a 1930s wedding dress with a square train and thought that might look interesting with her dress.
We ended up making a smaller pointed train with just one corner. This was the most difficult task on this project. Joining the hem of the tablecloth on a curve in front to the pointed back in a symmetrical way on the side seams was quite complicated.
Tablecloth Bride did so many things for her wedding herself. She handmade her hair flower from the chiffon sleeves and her Grandmother's handkerchiefs with added birdcage style detachable veil. She was a delight to work with. I love a creative and challenging project and this certainly provided loads of both.