Almost 4 weeks ago, I took pity on an aquaintence and agreed to sew 2 bridesmaids dresses, a flower girl dress, and two sashes for her daughter’s wedding.  The wedding is tomorrow.  She had been through about 5 different versions of bridesmaids dresses and was now finding out that the reason dress shops insist that you order dresses 6 months in advance is because it’s nearly impossible to get them on anything less than a 3 month time-frame.  At the time I took on the project, she still could have ordered the 3 bridesmaids dresses she needed, and the flower girl dress.  They MIGHT have arrived the day of the wedding.  And it would have cost her about $1,000.

Instead, she chose to buy fabric and patterns and hope that she could find someone to sew them for her in time for the wedding.  I can’t find a single seamstress in my area who makes a living at sewing and would take on a project like this on the deadline that I was under.  For any amount of money.  But I’m an amateur, so I charged $75 a dress.

I had the bridesmaids dresses done on time for the Monday deadline.  They aren’t perfect, and I wasn’t 100% happy with the results, but they’re done.  I didn’t even have time to take a photo of them for the blog or my portfolio.  The flower girl dress… ah, it’s another story entirely.

This !@#$$%$#@# flower girl dress has been the bane of my existence this week.  It should have taken me about 3 hours to sew once it was cut out.  And that estimate was right.  Until I tried to iron the skirt prior to hemming it.  The fabric was the last of a bolt and had a bunch of wrinkles.  I was rushing, so I didn’t iron the fabric before cutting or the pieces before sewing, expecting the wrinkles to come out easily with just a quick ironing.

wrong.

So I tried using steam with the iron (I had been using a dry iron since it’s satin, that’s what the fabric care instructions said to do).  Looked great on the ironing board, but when I picked it up the wrinkles were right there taunting me.  It’s now Tuesday night, by the way.  I started this Sunday night, couldn’t get it finished, delivered the bridesmaids dresses on Monday, had an awful day, and started in on it Tuesday.  So I got it wet, tossed it in the dryer, hung it up, and went out with Mr. Potential.

And the wrinkles just came back.  At this point I’m starting to get a bit paranoid.  I mean, really.  I know I hate ironing, but I didn’t think the ironing gods hated me so much.  It’s now Wednesday morning.  I’m operating on an average of 5 hours of sleep a night for the past 5 days.  There might have been tears involved.  Next up was the diluted white vinegar spritz trick.  Which gave me pickle scented wrinkles.  Um.  Not what I was going for.  Another wash to get the scent out.  Hung the dress up in the bathroom and took a nice, hot, steamy shower.  Two of them, to be exact.  I have soft, bouncy, shiny hair, but still a wrinkly dress.  Am starting to suspect that this fabric is possessed.  Seriously consider tearing the skirt out and buying new fabric.  So I take out the zipper (center back, goes half way down the skirt).  I detach the skirt from the bodice.  I take out the flippin’ gathering.  Because I love gathering so much that I don’t mind doing it again.  #!@$%#$%@#$!!!  One last ditch steam ironing on the now flat fabric.  The clouds part, the angels sing, and my fabric is finally flat.

It’s now 5 pm, 2 days after the due date, and I’m back where I was Sunday night.  Only with shinier hair, bags under my eyes, and a nervous tick any time I think about ironing.  4 hours later and the dress is hanging up on my sewing room door, done, hemmed, and @!@# pressed.

 

I’ve sewn for other weddings before.  I did two flower girl dresses for a good friend from college, including hand embroidered bodices.  They were my gift to her for her wedding.  I even managed to sew on hooks and eyes the day before the wedding with my first set of fake nails.  I’ll never do that again.  I sewed a bridesmaid dress that I wore for my best friend’s wedding when her sister dropped out of the wedding party just 2 weeks before the wedding day.  Each time I’ve sewn for a wedding, it’s been an expression of love and caring for a friend.

This has been an altogether different sort of experience.  I have no connection to the bride or groom.  I barely know the mother of the bride, and I have to admit that while she’s a really nice lady, we’ll probably never be friends.  So each time I sat down to sew on these dresses, rather than thinking good thoughts about the people these dresses are intended for, I was faintly resentful that it was taking time away from my other projects.  My heart wasn’t in it.  It was a chore, work, a job.  Not an expression of love for a friend, a family member, or even myself.  It wasn’t even the creative and artistic outlet that I’ve found in costuming.

And in the end, the amount of work I put into the dresses doesn’t match up with what I charge.  I put in a minimum of 25 hours of work on all three dresses, and got paid $225.  That works out to an hourly rate of $9 per hour.  I make more than that at my job.  I used to make more than that baby sitting.  And in that time, all of the work was highly skilled.  The only joy I got out of the project, and the only part that I’m really proud of, is the 3 hours I spent re-designing the bridesmaid dress to fit the plus sized maid of honor.

 

I’m sure I’ll sew for other weddings.  Mine, for example.  I fully intend to sew my own wedding dress once I meet Mr. Right.  And I’ll happily volunteer to sew for friend’s weddings when they come up.  But I don’t think I’ll ever take on a project like this for money again.

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