Sewing The Wedding Dress: The Proposal

Part One, in which a friend asks a favor.

“I need you to sew my wedding dress,” my friend, Cindy, said during a break at a work conference recently.

I nearly spat my coffee out laughing. “No!”

“Why not?”

“One, my skills aren’t wedding dress appropriate,” I said. “Two, you’re a demanding bitch and impossible to please.”

She’s my only friend who wouldn’t balk at such a statement. We have that kind of relationship where we can be that blunt with each other.

It’s true, though. Cindy really is demanding and, sometimes, impossible. Where I usually put up with everything and muscle through whatever unpleasantness comes at me, Cindy flat out says, “This is not acceptable for these reasons,” and gets the issue dealt with. She wants what she wants, she gets what she pays for, and she makes sure people follow through on their commitments. It’s made her not well liked at our job, but I’ve always admired that about her.

It also makes me apprehensive about the prospect of sewing her wedding dress.

“Yes, I am. I know,” she agreed. “I just want something simple that’s not a princess thing or a slinky club dress.”

You’d never know that Cindy was even getting married this November. The wedding isn’t a topic she brings up and when someone else does, she quickly responds, “Planning’s going great!” and changes the subject. As far as she’s concerned, this is about her and her fiance and they don’t want to be bothered with throwing a huge ceremony to impress everyone they know. Their solution was to throw a destination wedding in the Bahamas, thus ensuring a good time for themselves and a very intimate wedding party.

“Besides, Tom is wearing khaki shorts and a guayabera,” she continued. “I’m not standing next to him in some puffed out ball gown.”

I’m still resistant. The only other person I’ve sewn for, other than myself, if my boyfriend. And that was just a pair of pajama pants and a big, plushy ushanka. Plus, I know Cindy.

“Cindy, even if I make something worthy of Vera Wang, you’re going to have a problem with it.”

“I just want something simple,” Cindy repeated. “I promise I won’t be bridezilla.”

I hear her, but sill feel as if Ming the Merciless has asked me to sew a new shiny red robe of doom.

The project could be good, though. I tend to not really push myself to learn advanced techniques or do things like French seams. There’s a lot that I know how to do and just don’t do because I want to hurry up and wear it. I put a lot more care into sewing those pajama pants and ushanka for my boyfriend than I put into anything I’ve made for myself. Stands to reason that sewing for someone else will probably make me a better seamstress overall.

I relented.

“I don’t know how to design, so we have to use an existing pattern,” I finally said. “If we find one you like, I’ll sew it.”

So, I’m sewing a wedding dress. She insists that she wants something simple, which in turn should be simple enough to do.


In Part Two we learn the subjective nature of words like “simple,” “beachy,” and “flowy”.

By doomcupcake

Doomcupcake (formerly known as "Lisa") spends too much time on the internet, working for an online school and running her website, Pink Raygun. She still dresses like it's 1996.

10 replies on “Sewing The Wedding Dress: The Proposal”

There are tons of wedding dresses in all styles out there — even dresses that are not meringue layer cake mermaid strapless froufrou kinds. So I’m wondering, is she under some kind of illusion that if you sew it, it will be cheaper or something? As a bit of a seamstress myself, that’s the the myth I run into most often. I don’t think people appreciate a) how much good fabric costs, and how much you need of it; and b) making clothes takes a lot of time, which you may be happy to donate as a gift, but it’s not like you just whip up an amazing confection in a couple of hours. Eli Whitney and economies of scale and mass production and all that = one could invariably find a suitable pre-made dress for cheaper than it would cost to make the same.

My friend picked J. Crew dresses for her bridesmaids, and I noticed that shop has both froufrou bride dresses, and a nice selection of simple, classic bridesmaids’ dresses that come in ivory. Just saying, if worse comes to worst and a freakout occurs, there are fallbacks. Maybe you could offer to alter a pre-made dress to her figure.

What scares me, is on Project Runway the judges say stuff like, “With a simple garment, you have to perfectly execute the foundation and tailor it expertly.” Mandatory perfection: terrifying! I remember them saying that specifically about this dress:

Not to be a naysayer. I guess I am being one. Crap. Sorry. I sincerely wish you luck and want to see the end result because it will be an inspiration to get over my stupid fears listed above.

I don’t know that the cost is at issue with her – there’s surprising amount out there available for $250 or less. I think she’s looking for the dress to capture a specific feeling that’s hard to quantify in a dress. I have some other suspicions about what’s really behind it, as well.

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