A Dress, A Dress, To Find a Dress (Prt. 2)

Hello, my lovelies! I'm so sorry I didn't post the rest of this last Friday. I was, instead, violently ill all weekend. It was such a blast! We had plans to rent a Zipcar and go to IKEA and other fun stores Saturday, and I still had to do it (I'm the driver on record for our Zipcar account) and I felt like poop. I carried Gatorade and Pepto with me the whole time. So lame. Anyway, I'm feeling somewhat better today and figured I better get cracking on the rest of this post!

When last we left off, I had found a solution to my wedding dress dilemma, in that my best friend from high school, B-Mac, had told me her mother would be willing to make the dress. So awesome! I knew that B-Mac's mother was talented because in high school she made B-Mac's prom dress. I remember scoffing when B-Mac told me her mom was making her wedding dress, too. I remember thinking, "How lame! To have your mother make your prom dress!" But then B-Mac showed up, and the dress was stunning! I ate my thoughts, and filed away the information that B-Mac's mother made a mean dress.

B-Mac's mother and I looking over patterns at Fishman's

After talking to B-Mac's mother about what I wanted in a dress (the J. Crew Daphne dress, basically), we decided to meet at a Chicago fixture, Fishman's Fabrics shortly after Christmas. Now, I had done some online research and managed to scrounge up a couple of patterns that had features of the Daphne dress, so when we met, I brought those to the table. We decided she would combine the top from one pattern, the bottom from another, and use the waist height and some other details from a third. B-Mac's mother took my measurements, we looked at some fabric, and she explained to me about fabric weight, and type, and we did some looking around. Then we went to JoAnn Fabric, and she bought some practice material. The plan was that over the next month or so, she would make a practice dress for me to try on, so that we could ensure fit. Then, she would make any adjustments necessary, and make the final version of the dress in the final fabric we bought. I was to purchase the patterns and have them shipped directly to her. The wedding was about three months away. Sounds like great plan, right?

Measuring for the skirt length

Here's what went right about this plan: nothing. First, she received the patterns, but realized that she wouldn't be able to piece them together the way we had discussed. While I was blissfully thinking about the hilarious pictures B-Mac and I would take of me trying on my black and gold fabric practice dress, B-Mac's mother was waiting to hear from me...but I didn't know that. She had told me she would call me in a few weeks when the dress was done. When I started to not hear back from her, I called B-Mac and gently asked her if she had heard anything. She said no, but told me that she would talk to her mom and get back to me. Finally I heard from B-Mac's mother directly, and she told me she really believed there was a pattern out there, that it was just a matter of finding it. So, we decided she would go pattern hunting, email me some options, and I would re-choose/order a new pattern. She would make the practice dress, and then we would continue as previously discussed. We were now down to about two months.

More measurements at Fishman's

B-Mac's mother sent me the patterns she found, but I hated all of them. Instead, we decided that I would go with one of my original choices, which is picture below. I would use the short-sleeved version, and we would use a lighter weight fabric to avoid such a full skirt. Instead of lace, we decided we would use a chiffon layer over the dress material. My sash, which would help give this dress the look of the empire waist that the Daphne has, would be in a green material. I had found my shoes, so matching the green fabric was my only concern. B-Mac's mother was to work on the practice dress, and in the mean time, I was to either find my final dress fabric on my own, or with her after the practice dress was made. Still about two months remaining.

The pattern we ended up choosing...my dress would look
like the one in the lower right corner

My mother ended up finding out about a fabric outlet on the southwest side that is supposedly famous for its low prices and massive selection. We decided to go there, and then we would pick out the fabric. That didn't happen. I could tell my mother didn't want to pick out the fabric, that she felt uncomfortable about making a decision without really knowing what the pattern looked like/required. We did narrow it down to a few options, though, and matched some green fabric to my shoes. The trip was also uncomfortable because I could tell my mother did not approve of me having my dress made. She was really pushing me to go try on some dresses. She kept saying, "The pattern always looks one way and the dress another. Nine times out of ten, you put the thing on and you hate it." Just what I needed to hear, right? After all how much time was remaining? Just six weeks. Had the practice dress been fitted? Nope. Was the practice dress even done? Nope. Was I worried? I'll admit now that I was worried. I bit my tongue and the next weekend I purchased my final fabric with B-Mac's mother. We did an off-white crepe back satin for the dress, a nice chiffon for the layer on top, and green crepe back satin for the sash. We bought some nice material for the lining and called it a day. B-Mac's mother was to use the matte, soft side of the crepe back satin for the dress, so it would both appear soft and hang softly around me, making the skirt not as full, and the sash would be the shiny side of the green crepe back satin. I hoped it would be beautiful, and not as my mother predicted, not at all what I wanted.

Gotta make sure to write this shit down!

The only one I would really admit my concerns to then was A.P. I was also worried about what he would wear, too. He hadn't gone and tried on any type of suit yet. He hadn't even thought about it really. I pictured us marrying in jeans and t-shirts. I swallowed my fears, and moved on with planning. A.P. decided I should come up with a backup plan...just in case. I yelled at A.P. about finding what he was going to wear.

Then, more bad luck. A.P. finally found a place where he could get a suit custom made, but even an expedited suit would still need about six weeks. He was cutting it close. We took his measurements and sent them off to the company. Then, B-Mac's mother got really sick. I still hadn't tried on a practice top, and had pretty much stopped nagging her. I didn't want to be a Bridezilla, and I decided that she knew when the wedding was and either the dress would be done, or it wouldn't, and we'd figure out the money stuff later. About three weeks before the wedding, B-Mac's mother came to my workplace, and in the public women's bathroom, I tried on a practice top...that didn't fit. At this point, we were down to about three weeks. Can you handle it??

So...when did I get my dress? The day before my wedding. That's right people. THE DAY BEFORE MY WEDDING. I have to admit that I was pretty calm about all of this. I know that's easy to say, but people actually told me they were amazed at how cool I was. The secret was that I had a backup plan. During the cocktail hour before the ceremony, I was to wear a black cocktail dress, and I loved it. I loved the way it fit, the way it looked, and the style of the dress. So I decided that if the wedding dress was not done in time, I would just get married in my LBD. Many of my female friends were shocked that I would deign to possibly get married in black, but I really didn't care. At one point, I was eyeballing a green vintage number, so I wasn't obsessed with wearing white or anything. Plus I figured what else could I do? I had zero time, and few options. I just had to be okay with it.

In the end, the dress was beautiful. While I would have loved another fitting to fix a few, small details, overall the dress was everything I imagined. It wasn't exactly the J. Crew Daphne, but it was definitely my own version, and I loved it. It had a vintage look to it that reflected the overall wedding, and you could wear it very simply. It was effortless, elegant, and arrived just in the nick of time. As did A.P.'s suit, which arrived the week before the wedding, and also fit perfectly. All in all, though stressful as hell, it all worked out for the best. Phew la la!

First and final fitting!


  1. Way to pick Grace Kelly's dress as your pattern! Using her as inspiration always works out for the best.

  2. What a huge and wonderful gift. How very, very special.


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