[Hannah] On Sewing Your Own Wedding Dress, IV
CHAPTER 4: PURCHASING FABRIC
I bought a used sewing machine from Berkeley's excellent Vacuum and Sewing Center, where I got a great tutorial on my new machine from one of the store's very experienced co-owners.
After that, my first expedition was to Berkeley's amazing LACIS Museum of Lace and Textiles. Which, although it has lots of displays of old wedding dresses and fabric scraps of varying significance, is not primarily a museum but a working fabric store that sells all kinds of amazing lace....
...for about, basically, sixty dollars a yard and up. And you need about 4 yards to make a dress, and that's if you didn't make any mistakes. So I was at LACIS and really loved some of the stuff, but my courage faltered. Plus I'm cheap.
Actually, funny story about LACIS, where the saleswomen are so smart and such savvy seamstresses, their fussiness and bossiness almost approaches that of rare-books librarians, another group of experts who make me really nervous. So at this time I was thinking I might hire a seamstress to sew my dress because it seemed like it would be so hard to do on my own. So I looked on yelp, and found some great reviews for Betty of Sophia Fashions, and asked her to meet me in the store to talk about fabric options.
Well, when I found Betty, a saleswoman came over to help us (you aren't allowed to put your dirty paws on their lace samples without a saleswoman's assistance) and Betty talked about what she was going to do, which was to take the fabric and sew the dress, and the saleswoman said
"Oh, so you're not going to make a muslin first?"
(A muslin being a mockup of the dress in cheap material, created for fitting purposes).
"Nope," said Betty.
"You realize, that's a little unusual," said the saleswoman, looking at me to make sure I was getting this. "I could NEVER make a dress without a muslin. Wow, you must be REALLY GOOD... it doesn't make you nervous to do that?"
"Nope," said Betty, keeping a perfectly pleasant pokerface. "I've never had a problem."
"Well," said the saleswoman, looking at me, "That's, uh, impressive."
I was trying my best not to crack up at this point, because this exchange was basically a female version of a conversation you've heard between dudes many times, and which in those instances is called "pulling their dicks out". I'm not sure what the female analogy would be. But the small, softspoken Chinese seamstress and the regal, six-foot lace expert in dreadlocks were definitely doing it. hehehe.
Well, I have an itchy trigger finger, so as soon as I thought this plan through I went ahead and bought some lace on eBay. Maybe I could just TRY it myself, I thought.
As soon as this lace arrived, I realized it was actually the kind of lace that people use in curtains. OOPS.I had forgotten that this kind of lace existed. I might could have pulled it off, since who has lace curtains anymore, but there was something just a bit odd about it.
So on my second try, feeling a bit more tentative, I ordered some stretch lace off ebay for $3.00 a yard. It was perfect!
Okay, so I had a stretchy lace overlayer. That meant I needed a stretch underlayer for the two fabrics to work harmoniously together. I went to Berkeley's Stonemountain and Daughter, another fabulous store, such a scene with some real local characters, and bought some white knit rayon, because it was soft and felt really good and was only $10 a yard. I was still feeling dubious at this point about the dress. If I were to do it again I would spring for the stretch silk at $20 a yard because it feels even better on the skin, mmmm.