A soon-to-be-married old friend contacted me a few months back and asked if I would be into in restyling her mother’s wedding gown from the 70’s for her to wear for her upcoming wedding this summer! I was initially a bit wary of cutting into something so special but decided to go for it and I am so glad I did! The original dress was made by a dressmaker in Baguio City, Philippines, and is made of pineapple fibre organdy and beautiful cotton lace with beads and sequins. I was a little nervous with the mention of pineapple fibre as it was totally foreign to me, but it was very easy to work with. The dress was beautiful but a bit dated in a not-totally-flattering way, so we discussed changing it up a little to suit her better. Before:
She gave me a few ideas of styles she liked (boat/bateau neckline, illusion lace) and let me play around to figure out the right way to restyle the dress. I suggested a low cut lace back and she was all over it. The main body of the dress fit fairly well and didn’t need to be taken in much, but I slimmed it down a bit overall.
The main change was of course the neckline and bodice. After much consideration, I carefully cut out the lace (taken from the sleeves and veil) and pieced it in place. I pinned it atop the original neckline and traced the area to be cut away. From there I added a small seam allowance to be turned in and hand-stitched the edges of the new neck and back lines.
Then the fun part! Putting the new neckline and the strategically shaped lace together as one! Much hand stitching later (to create a seamless transition between the appliqued lace and the dress fabric I used very tiny stitches) we had an illusion neckline! The bateau neck is slightly higher at the back to kind of ‘hug’ the back of her neck. The bride is quite petite (more so than my dress form, and the low back will hit in a tasteful but lovely spot.
I am so happy with how this turned out and very inspired to push my limits further!
After the lace was cut for the wedding dress, we realized we had some left over and decided to make a second dress, for her to wear to the reception, which would incorporate the extra lace. I happened to have some lovely cream silk shantung in my collection, so from that I cut a very simple retro 60’s sheath, with bateau neck and V-back. The leftover lace was shaped into an obi belt which fastens with hooks and eyes at centre back.
Overall a very rewarding and great project! Bride and mother-of-the-bride are very pleased with the result! Feels great to be trusted with such a beautiful heirloom item. I preserved large seam allowances in the “new” wedding dress for future alteration possibilty, just in case she wants to hand it down again one day…