I was commissioned to make three white regency style gowns, with different colored sashes, to be worn by the hostesses at the Women’s Resource Medical Center’s Puri-Tea, a fundraiser. I was commissioned on 9/21, went out of town the following weekend, purchased a new machine on 9/30 (since I had no working machines), and fitted the gowns on 10/8.
Some valuable lessons leared through the process:
1. When fitting, make sure to check that the one being fitted is wearing the undergarments they plan to wear with finished product. I asked them initially to wear the planned undergarments, but did not follow up to make sure they did.
2. When making long white gowns, double check to make sure the wearer owns an appropriate slip.
3. Don’t just take the basis measurements, bust, waist and hip, check check shoulder width, back length, etc.
4. Make sure the materials suggested are in stock.
Due to the limited amount of time for this project, I didn’t have time to do sketches, bring samples, or go shopping with the ladies to pick out material. The weekend I started sewing I was still scrambling to find enough material. I had to call each women and make changes to the initial sketches. I planned to make the gowns with embroidered bodices in the ladies’ accent colors. It’s fall, there were no white background embroidered choices.
I convinced my sister to assist me in making the gowns, she would sew, serge or cut while I was working on some other sewing, serging or cutting of the gowns so that I could finish the gowns faster.
I put together the first gown (white). I was disappointed to some degree, while it was an elegant gown, I knew it wasn’t what the ladies expected; it wasn’t frilly enough. I went back to the store to find some lace. It actually took me two trips to the store to find some lace that I could use. The lace I finally settled on was 2″ wide with roses.
Monday I finished the first gown and started the second (blue). On Monday evening the tea coordinator called me to move up the fitting of the gowns by one day. On Tuesday, not only was I finishing the second gown, but I was starting the third gown (yellow).
5. Don’t work on three identical gowns at the same time. Finish one before moving to the next.
On Wednesday I fit the white gown. Without going into too many details, the gown did not fit very well. I didn’t consider my customer’s disability when I was measuring her. Then I fit the other two gowns. These ladies were nearly the same size. The yellow fit perfectly (if not snugly) and the blue was loads too big. It was later that I decided that maybe I tried the wrong gowns on them. It turns out that was not the case. Also, the yellow gown did not have the sleeves set in, so I wonder if that made the gown appear larger.
On Thursday, convinced that I must have mixed up the gowns, I switched the gowns. It was much later that I discovered that I didn’t switch the gowns at the fitting, that I was mistaken. (Lesson 4) It was too late at that point and I had to correct my mistakes as well as I could. I was up until 5AM on Thursday and got back up at 7AM for work. I had to finish the blue and yellow gowns for delivery on Friday.
On Friday I delivered the blue and yellow gowns. I assumed that the women would try on their gowns and call me if they had any concerns.
6. Insist on a final fitting before releasing gowns.
For the white gown, I decided that I would just remake the gown. I needed to pull up the collar, drop the waist and make the bodice smaller. It seemed that it would just be easier to redo the gown than to try to figure out how to fix all of this one the original gown. I was up until 3AM on Friday remaking the gown and I delivered it at 5AM.
At the tea, I noticed that the gowns seemed to fit perfectly, to my relief, but for some reason, one of the ladies was wearing a lace blazer over her blue gown. The gowns have puffed sleeves, and I thought that was strange, but wondered if she wore the jacket because the temperature was quite chilly (unexpectedly we dropped from a 90s daytime high into the 60s on Saturday). After the tea, when I was gathering the ladies up to take their pictures, she complained about how ill the gown fit. I was shocked. It looked good to me, in fact, I thought it fit the best of the three. The white gown was a little shorter than I intended, but not too short. The yellow was too tight in my estimation, and the blue was nearly perfect.
This picture was snapped at work right before I delivered the gowns.