Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wedding Dress Wednesday: Designing the Dress

Wedding Dress Wednesdays are guest posts written by my Mom, Janet

When my daughter was little, I was fortunate to be able to stay home with her and work from home.  I majored in Home Economics in college and had sewn all my life.  I was trained to be an Extension agent, but when I graduated from college, no jobs!

I created my own job by sewing for the public a couple of years before Bonnie was born. I loved to “do” weddings, and usually ended up sewing dresses for the entire wedding party.  We would pore over magazines, choosing sleeves from one dress and a skirt from another to create a custom design for exactly what they wanted but couldn’t find in stores.  I did this for brides, bridesmaids, flower girls, Mother of the bride, etc. etc. etc.

scrapbook entry for one of my custom gowns

I think Bonnie grew up thinking people always came over to play dress-up!  I always told her “when you get married, I’ll make you any dress you want.” 

Well, life happens and I stopped sewing for the public and rarely make garments at all anymore.  I’ve gotten heavily into quilting, but that’s another blog. 

When Bonnie got engaged last year, we immediately went into “wedding planning mode”.  She lives in DC and I live in LA so we did lots over the internet and phone.  She had been watching “Say Yes to the Dress”, a show on TLC where the bride goes through an agonizing decision-making process to end up with the dress of her dreams.  She had seen a Lazaro gown on the show, and had that in mind as a starting point.

I have always recommended that my brides go try on dresses.  What looks good in a magazine may not be suited for your figure! 

So on a rainy November day during our Thanksgiving holiday in Alabama, we drove to Atlanta to try on dresses. We went to a lovely little boutique, Bel Fiore, and actually found a gown we both liked! It was a fit-and-flare style, similar to an A-line, but fitted to about where your thumbs would brush your thighs.  It had a sweetheart, strapless, 3D beaded lace bodice with a huge tulle skirt, and did wonders for her figure.  The price was reasonable, and we heavily debated just buying the dress.  The designer is Avera, and the style is Madonna.  They didn't allow photos without a deposit, so here's a similar dress.

similar dress to that from Bel Fiore
Then we went to a second appointment at Bridals by Lori, as seen on TV.  What a place!  She tried on dozens of lovely gowns, some priced as high as $9000, but the Lazaro she’d seen in a 2009 episode kept calling to her.  It was also a fit-and-flare, with a plain silk semi-sweetheart strapless bodice and flouncy ruffled skirt.  Once she had it on (even after being “jacked up”, where they complete the look with a veil and belt), the bodice on the dress seemed too plain, but we loved the skirt.  With a $3500 price tag, it definitely wasn't worth buying it and adding our own touches.  The MOB isn’t allowed in the dressing room, but I was making mental notes!  Silk chiffon, beaded belt ($600!), etc. etc.

Lazaro 3913

Actually, Bonnie admitted that if someone had told her “you have to wear ______ dress”, she would have been fine with it, but we felt we could do something better and more personal. 

She asked me if I would be sorry and feel hurt if we didn’t make it.  My friends all swore they’d never attempt such a thing, but I knew we could pull it off and really enjoy it.  

We decided to combine the best parts of the two favorite dresses – it would be a fit-and-flare, sweetheart strapless gown, with a beaded lace bodice and full ruffled skirt, completed by a beaded belt.

Check back next week to read about choosing the fabric for the dress.


  1. how fun to be a part of all this! Love you lots!

  2. Janet, you are the best at what you do & your personality makes it all sound so easy & simple when in reality it isn't!
    Janet & I met many years ago at our children's high school theater department. She attended one of our booster club meetings & in no time became our very own custom theater department designer. Her outfits were all breathtaking. Our department was very limited with funds so many of these costumes would get altered for a different play and period and voila another magnificent creation was at hand at a very minimal cost. The students loved her; the drama professors couldn't live without her. I in return was very fortunate not only to meet her, enjoy the gorgeous outfits but to gain a great friend with a heart of gold...Bonnie has followed her steps and so the legacy continues while we marvel at their talent and dedication...and I belief that everyone who has been or is around these two great ladies can fully relate to this extended message...Thanks Janet & Bonnie for sharing your talents...


I love hearing from you!