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Maddie’s big dress dreams! 

Our wonderful Becoming Bridal bride Maddie had a specific vision for her wedding dress which combined elements of other dresses she tried on and loved but didn’t end up choosing. She also wanted to include a part of her Mom’s dress into her dress but wasn’t sure how just yet. This created quite the alterations adventure for Bea and Laura!

Even though we had a few reference photos, we were primarily working from the specific vision Maddie had in mind. This creates a challenge when trying to translate someone else's design into a pattern that will accomplish the look while keeping in mind all of the intricate practicalities that go into sewing. This required a lot of trial and error because we were creating custom patterns instead of following a standard “mass-produced” pattern. Each fitting involved addressing the more standard alterations (taking it in, shortening the length, etc) as well as continuing to tweak Maddie's custom pieces to get closer to her dream design. This is important because the dress needs to be adjusted to fit a body that lives, breathes, and moves. Fabric does not drape the same way on a hanger or even a mannequin.

 Because each area of the dress needed such careful attention, we had Maddie come in for several additional fittings. For our average process, we make most of the changes in the first fitting and then there are small tweaks during the second fitting. With this dress, we chose to break up some of the steps to be able to make those little changes as we kept getting closer and closer to our goals. 

The Twist

One of the major elements Maddie wanted to add to her dress was a custom-made twist that tied into the neckline of her dress. She had a reference photo of fabric twisted over the bodice of her gown at the bridal salon to show how she wanted the twist on her dress. 

Reference photo for the twist from the bridal salon.

What made this a real challenge for us was that she wanted to change the original neckline of her dress to a sweetheart neckline. Combining a custom sweetheart neckline with a twist was difficult because she understandably didn’t want a seam to show on the neckline. 

With a sweetheart neckline, we err on the side of conservative when we’re working on it to get exactly how deep of a v the bride wants. You can see where Maddie chose the neckline to go is marked with pins.

The crepe fabric of the dress had a right side and a wrong side which made creating the twist difficult because the wrong side of the fabric didn’t match the rest of the dress. We didn’t want to open up the seams in the top of the dress because it would have made it look too bulky. We needed to add in the neckline and the twist in a way that was flattering on the fabric and, most importantly, on her body. This is where there was a lot of trial and error! We would start to add an element based on how we thought it should look because we were making this all up, but it would look different on her body and need to be adjusted. Trying to make the fabric for the twist curve around the back and drape flatteringly as if it belonged there was very difficult to pattern. You can’t just drape the fabric and it magically works. You need a pattern that shows how the fabric goes!

This shows the mock-up of the twist in progress.

Here you can see the muslin pattern pinned to the dress.

Her vision had the twist fitted on the front and loose on the back. We had to tack the twist to the bodice on the front and make sure there was enough room on the back to drape it right. The way the twist worked into the bow (we’ll get to the details of the custom bow next) was hard to prep without showing Maddie how it could all work together when it was on her body. We made a mock-up in muslin but it drapes very differently in crepe. We had to keep this in mind when making the mock-up that it wouldn’t look exactly like that when it was finished in the crepe that matched her dress. This process included a lot of us saying “Is this right? Is this right now?” And then checking to see if it looked the way she wanted in her head. This can sometimes be a struggle when a bride knows what they want but doesn’t know the language to communicate it.  Part of our job as bridal seamstresses is being a bridal Sherlock Holmes and solving the mystery of how to accomplish what is in the bride's head in real life with a real body and actual fabric!

The finished twist turned out just how Maddie imagined!

The Bow

Maddie had a distinct vision of what the bow on the back of her dress would look like and she showed us several reference photos. We love reference photos!  

We brought out more trusty muslin and made a mock-up bow draped on her to see if it was the right width. The muslin mock-up bow would lay lighter than the finished crepe bow because, again, the fabric was different. The way we had to pattern and cut the crepe had to follow the grain of the fabric to flow with the already existing dress fabric. Another complication! We also needed to know how she wanted it draped and the size of the bow. The bow size we chose was what was most flattering on her body so it was proportionally right to her specific shape and height. She wanted her dress's train cut off which helped us decide how long the bow would be and where it would end

The length of the bow is shown here.

Our goal when adding in custom elements to a dress is to make it absolutely seamless. There was a lot of finagling of the bow positioning to fit how Maddie wanted the points of the bow to hang. Because of the location of the bow, we used snaps to make it detachable so she could zip into the dress. 

The safety pins show where the snaps will go to allow the bow to be detachable.

The whole dress needed to flow together even though it was all different pieces! We added horse hair inside the bow to make it hold its shape better. We added a layer of crinoline in the tail of the bow to keep it from collapsing on itself and to give it body because the fabric was so heavy. We made the fabric lay the way we wanted it to and added in the volume it was missing because it did not naturally have those qualities.

You can see the volume of the bow with the horsehair here.

The finished bow looked gorgeous!

The Bridal Cape and Mom’s Pearls

We ended up deciding to add the pearls from her Mom’s dress to Maddie’s bridal cape. 

Maddie’s Mom’s dress

Pearl details

The cape was the perfect vehicle to include a beautiful element from her Mom’s wedding dress. We looked at the cape on her body and then at the pearls to think of the perfect way to combine them. We started taking some pearls off of her Mom’s dress and held them up to the sleeve of her bridal cape to see if it got Maddie's stamp of approval. 

Here we begin removing the Pearls.

When Maddie gave it the green light we added pearls to the sleeves of the cape. 

We strung the pearls into strands of two different sizes so that the two next to each other had dimension and texture.

The bridal cape also needed to be swing-tacked to the dress and sneakily snapped in so it wouldn’t show when it was taken off.

You can see the little pin at the top of the sleeve where it marks where it will be snapped in.

Her very special customized bridal cape can be passed down to generations of brides in Maddie’s family. We always love being involved in a legacy piece; we think it is so special! 

Happily, Ever After

At the last fitting Maddie was so happy we had arrived at her vision and made it happen! Through all of the fittings, there was so much changing that the final fitting was so exciting that we had finally reached the point where everything was perfect! We were so happy to see how happy she was at the end and we got to share in the joy of the dress turned out exactly the way she wanted. We made her dream come true which is a big deal! Maddie was such a radiant bride on her wedding day and we are so happy to have been a part of her bridal story.


Coordination,Wedding Venue: The Merrimon Wynne House | Floral Design: Once Gathered | Wedding Dress: Gilded Bridal & Aesling Bridal | Catering: Rocky Top Catering | DJ: DJ Harlem Entertainment Services | Groom's Attire: Generation Tux | Groomsmen's Attire: Generation Tux | Officiant: Personal Weddings of NC | Beauty: Adore Co. Beauty | Wedding Dress Alterations & Design: Becoming Bridal Alterations | Rentals: Curated Events Raleigh | Weddings Rings: Marrow Fine | Dessert: Two Roosters Ice Cream 


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