I have a philosophy about wedding dresses: Love it all you want, but it gets one use and, no matter how timeless, classic, or classy your dress is, in 25 years your kid will not want to wear it. I’m not really the overly-sentimental type, so instead of preserving, I think, “My God this thing takes up a lot of space in my house.” I tried to sell my dress, to give someone else a go at it in this decade, but that was a no-go. I was contemplating what to do with it when someone said, “Well, it’s not like you’ll wear that one again the next time you get married.” My thought was, “Well, I’m not getting married again…” But oh well. What’s important is, in that moment, I realized I could wear it again (with a bit of dieting of course). So today I decided to take this:
And turn in into this:
I could not be happier with the result. Here’s my disclaimer: sometimes in my life, I do things that are considered “risky,” such as cooking up mushrooms that could kill you. Although not at serious, this project is considered risky for many reasons:
1. Most, if not all, wedding dresses are dry-clean only. That means you should probably not soak them in boiling hot water.
2. Cutting up something so precious could result in tears, especially if the project ends badly. Then you might get tear stains on your *ruined* dress.
3. You’re not really supposed to dye 100% polyester, dry-clean only fabrics, and nylon (most tulle) is sort of a “proceed at your own risk” type thing.
4. It’s a total crapshoot with the dye–you never really know what’s going to happen.
All that boring stuff aside, let me show you how I came to my final result:
First I took my dress and measured where I wanted the hem to be +2″. Then I snipped. Which was terrifying.
It’s a little rough. I know. The finished hem is a little rough too, but you know what? I hate hemming. All the measuring, the precision of it all–really not my favorite thing in the world. There were three hems on this bad boy that needed to be done, so I cheated–I just tried to cut the netting really, really straight and left it. It’s good enough.
After I cut the hem, I tried it on (and sucked in).
Yup. Still looks like a wedding dress. This baby needs a touch of color.
Originally I thought, “You know, I need to get outside my comfort color palette (black) and branch out. I think I will try pink.”
This would be perfect if I was a sixteen-year-old Homecoming Queen. Lord. Awful. But one thing about this first go-round was very revealing: I had expected the flowery details to resist the dye instead of soak it up. So I thought a dark color would be more appropriate.
Back to Jo-Ann I went for more dye, this time in a color more my style. I went home, soaked the dress (again) in hot water until the dye was ready, and started again. Here’s a brief rundown of how to dye things you probably shouldn’t:
1. Soak the garment in hot water until it’s completely saturated. Weigh it down with a plate or something to make sure the water covers it.
2. Put dye in large enamel pot, add water and vinegar, and bring to a boil:
3. Transfer to a bucket if you don’t feel like possibly ruining your cookware. You are technically supposed to ‘stir continuously,’ but I am lazy and don’t have the time. Corelle to the rescue again! Stir occasionally and let your garment sit in the bucket for about 30 minutes.
4. Put in the sink or a tub and rinse until water runs clear.
5. Try, try again!
Can I just say? I am seriously IN LOVE with the final result. It’s perfect. Some of the beads took the black dye and came out a metallic purple, some stayed bright white. The flower details turned black, which I was hoping for, and the rest of the dress is a great gray-purple color.
The hub-dubs says it still looks like a wedding dress, but I’m not entirely convinced.
My dress form definitely does not fit into this dress (the zipper isn’t even close to being closed), so I need to think skinny thoughts…and find someplace to wear it–besides just my house.
All in all, I’d say it was a gold star day at the Bank household. I think I can get at least one more wear out of this before I a) really don’t fit into it or b) can’t use it anymore. I may not have wanted to keep my traditional, white, long, annoying wedding dress (which I actually love), but I may keep this one. Mostly so I can admire it over and over again.