The Chopping Block: Joanne’s Wedding Dress Transformation, with Custom Wedding Veil and Silk Tie for the Groom

Joanne came to us with a lovely full-length-with-train lace gown that she’d found at the Brides Against Breast Cancer sale. She definitely needed a hem, as well as to have it taken in a bit, and she thought, perhaps, the style wasn’t quite… her.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

As we were talking, we found out that she didn’t want the train at all, and that she was thinking about maybe shortening the dress. She also didn’t love the generic straps that came on the dress. We thought turning it into a little knee-length number would look fantastic on her. And we also suggested using some of the lace we cut off the bottom to make some nicer straps that would look a little more cohesive with the style of the dress.

The Dress, after all our changes.

The Dress, after all our changes.

And then we talked some more and Joanne showed us the fantastic red shoes she was planning to wear with it. And we suggested that maybe a red silk dupioni sash would look nice.

Fabulous Red Shoes!

Fabulous Red Shoes!

And after that was all done, Joanne was kinda wanting a veil. And since we had that whole lace train we’d mercilessly chopped off… we did that too.

Joanne's dress and veil in action

Joanne’s dress and veil in action.

And then Joanne asked if we could make a tie for her husband-to-be in the same red silk as her sash. Which we did.

The tie!

The tie!

Turns out, silk ties are really, really nice. So nice, in fact, that we kinda wanted to make ties for ourselves, but we’re not really tie-wearing kind of girls… anyway. This was a really fun bundle of projects to work on, as well as a great example of the drastic changes you can make to a dress with a little creative thought.

All photos were taken by Matthew Kuehl Photography¬†and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Maria’s Custom Silk Shrug & Wedding Dress Alterations

Maria's Custom Silk Wedding Shrug

Maria called us just three weeks before her wedding in need of some alterations to her dress and hoping we’d have enough time to create a little jacket to wear over it. We had just enough time to squeeze it into our schedule, so we said yes.

I swear I didn’t tell her to do jazz hands.

When we met with Maria, we hit it off with her right away. She is so friendly and has a great sense of humor. We found out that we have a lot of acquaintances in common – she works at an accounting firm with her brother, and they do taxes for many Chicago actors. Small world. Anyway, she bought a cute strapless dress at a big chain, but it seemed to have been designed for someone with really serious hips and it just wasn’t fitting her quite right in the bust. We ended up taking the hip area in about four inches and doing a couple little tucks at the bust so that it would fit her well and not fall down!

Julia draping the silk shrug

She also asked us to make her a shrug to wear over the dress. Since it was ruched, we thought we’d mirror that in the sleeves. Maria brought some polyester organza fabric which matched the dress for us to use, but as we worked on draping it, we realized it was really just not the best choice for the project.

Julia fitting the shrug on Maria

So we bought some gorgeous silk chiffon, and it was so worth it. Julia did all the draping on this, and I helped with some of the hand stitching once it was all pinned in place. I got to check out the fascinating construction on the inside of this dress (really unusual lining attachment, if you’re wondering – clearly designed to allow for as much machine stitching as possible) while taking care of the alterations. We made a custom label to replace the big box store label – very cool. Here are some pictures:


Maria asked for some help picking out her earrings. She brought a couple pairs, but had chosen a favorite. And guess what? I completely agreed with her choice. Don’t these earrings go perfectly?

Shoulder Detail


Maria and Dan are got married this Sunday – Congratulations!