I thought I had it all settled. Very simple strapless or spaghetti strap or illusion strap (whatever is required to hold the thing up), mermaid style, of cross-woven blue/red silk which I can buy a bolt of, over medium pink lining which I could hopefully find in silk, on the bias. Could go with the pretty organza, the sophisticated but nonbridal crosswoven silk stole in red and gray-blue, probably a knitted shawl. All I needed to figure out was the top of the bust, what fabric I wanted draping in and if there's any conceivable way to make it detachable so it would be possible to coordinate with the stole, the pretty organza, whatever.
Around this time I got an email announcement from amy michelson, on whose mailing list I have evidently landed following an inquiry about a gown which I have later decided looks too much like a nightgown. This was simply a note that an amy dress was shown on the cover of InStyle Weddings, or whatever it's called. The cover was shown, and I saw it was a wedding dress issue. Well, maybe I'll go to a bookstore and flip through it. And I did. I saw some really neat dress with some cool pleating on the bodice which I might consider if I were going for a more traditional dress, which of course I am not since I've already designed my dress. That's right. Oh, look, there's the The Knot huge thick dress issue, which I'd wanted to buy six weeks ago when I was starting to look at dresses. Flip, flip. This would probably be a good design source, like the one I bought a year or two ago. (Too bad it doesn't seem to have the dress I saw in the InStyle mag in it, the designer of which I did not note.)
While I'm at it, I buy a wedding cake mag, which is British so if I decide I must have any of those cakes it will probably be harder to get them. As it is, I still find myself wondering how I can triple the size of our guest list so as to have an excuse to buy one of these unbelievably elaborate creations. This is wrong in so many ways.
I get home and start looking at the magazine in question. And saw some that really appealed to me on the Enmanuel Couture pages, for some reason. I can't find a non-login-requiring link (need I mention that I went through several increasingly distant Google pages before realizing that the second letter is an N?) but I found stuff to like in four of the five gowns, and the first in particular. None of them had anything to do with the design I'd already been thinking of, naturally. Why should things be easy? Oh, and they all were in the $3000-5000 range. That's okay, I'd still be planning on having a dress made so if I took anything from this it'd just be design ideas. After going through the magazine I naturally had to look at theknot.com as well since the magazine only has a few gowns from each collection.
As I was looking at gowns with lovely embroidered or brocaded or otherwise interestingly textured fabric, I remembered that I had some really lovely fabric I'd always thought should be made into a garment by a professional, since it's completely unreplaceable -- Mom got it for me about 10 years ago, maybe more, when a store was going out of business. I think it was originally about $160 a yard. Even reduced she only got one yard. It wouldn't go with what I was thinking, of course, but let's pull it out anyway. Mm, metallic antique gold with gold embroidery and discreet sequins, if there is such a thing, crosswoven with a wonderful purple. The purple is subtle to the extreme, another oxymoron, because the gold is so reflective, and it has an opulent feel. It's translucent, of course, so would need lining; I'd always imagined it with dark purple. I took all the fabric upstairs so I could put on my purple tank top and wrap the fabrics (not only the gold, but the silk and the pretty organza) over it and see how they looked.
The purple under the gold looked a bit blackened (as in, not purple at all, really), which may be why I never got any farther on having something done with this fabric. I'd pulled out a lavender top too, and it looked pretty nice on that. Surprise, the red/blue silk also looked good on the lavender, and seemed a better match for the pretty organza as well. Had I been barking up the wrong tree looking at a pink lining all this time? Though I knew why, if so; I'd been trying to keep close to the pink of a particular dress that was my original model. Well, I probably should dispense with that; I don't like pink that much anyway.
Suddenly it hit me that I had a bunch of drapy lavender sandwashed rayon in my fabric "stash" (the quotes being because anyone who stashes any sort of fiber knows that a box less than three cubic feet is a stash the way a crouton is a loaf of bread), and possibly not all of it had gotten bleached beyond repair when the translucent box spent two years on I-Gene's east-facing balcony. (I know, you don't have to rub it in.) I pulled the fabric out. Miraculously, this piece seems to have avoided the bleaching and is about four yards long, at 60 inches. That would be enough to make a dress, probably even on the bias, and its weight would make for a great drape. Lots of tucking it around myself and wrapping different pieces of fabric on top of it to compare colors ensued.
(At this point I made one more try at finding a website for Enmanuel Couture. An early Google hit was canadianbride.com, which had a link to enmanuelcouture.com. I wonder why this site itself didn't come up.)
I remembered why I had this lavender fabric. I'd wanted to make a simple skirt to where with my haori that has still never been assembled. I'd hate to give up on that. And the lavender worked under both the silk and the gold. It'd be really nice to not have to choose, to have a silk overdress and a gold over...top, I guess, since there's only enough for a bodice.
This was getting too complicated. I went to bed, first draping the fabrics over a chair where I could see them from my bed.
The next day, there was a tiny patch of sunlight in which I laid all the fabrics. I started having misgivings about the gold on lavender. It might be too lavender -- I didn't want pastel bridal stuff, too conventional and boring. The lavender was slightly bluer than the purple in the gold, and the purple was probably getting completely lost anyway. The lavender was maybe not quite bright enough under the silk; for both accent fabrics it probably needed to be darker, which rather nullified the advantage of already having it.
I'm familiar with this phenomenon. Get an idea, continue eagerly as stuff falls neatly into place, keep going despite faint beginnings of misgivings, then...crash. How stupid of me to think that something was going to work. Mass discouragement.
Did I mention my sudden fear the next day (today) that wearing the bright pretty stuff might make people think I was wearing a ludicrous-for-age-32 prom dress? The pretty carmine or purple (depending on lining) of the red/blue silk wouldn't suggest this, but the pretty stuff would. Does it matter? I dunno, I'm just quietly panicking here.
And of course I've since then been going through dozens or hundreds of gown pictures because now I have to keep an eye out for designs that would work with this amount of gold/purple fabric. I've been saving it for a special occasion for a decade, after all. Not that this means I've given up on the idea of bright colors. Just today at Costco I saw some lovely orange-yellow roses that would be perfect with the piece of orange/yellow silk I bought to compare with the pretty organza.
Silk = good.
Lots of (preferably bias-cut) drapy fabric = good.
Using fabric I already own = very good.
Prom impression = bad.
Non-bead sparkle, such as crystals or special inverted sequins = good.
Sophisticated gold/purple = good.
Gold/purple + bright organza = bad.
Bankrupting self and I-Gene on couture dress because I can't decide = very bad.
Realizing halfway through having one-of-a-kind fabric made into custom dress that the whole idea is ludicrous and I'll look dumb = just as bad.
Never wearing the dress causing all this anxiety again = bad.
Running out of time and wearing some off-the-rack dress = bad.
Not taking opportunity of totally sanctioned special dress to get a really special dress made and fitted that I'll be able to wear with happy confidence in future = see above.
I'm coming up with a lot more bad than good here. Why does something that should make me so happy (I'm referring to getting a truly special dress here) cause so much stress and anxiety over making the wrong choice?
I haven't even touched on worries about what style will actually look OK on me. Looking at pictures online does not help, because I am curvier and shorter than 90% of the models but not nearly as cylindrical as the plus-size models. At least that's my fond hope.
Photos of the fabrics linked below. The lavender fabric is spread over my bed both to give some idea of its size (I also have another piece, but that one sadly suffered dramatic sunbleaching) and to attempt to concealy my highly disreputable bedspread which I've probably had longer than I have had the gold fabric.
Fabrics from one angle, coming out too bright
Fabrics taken from an angle approximately perpendicular to the first
Holding the camera over the bed.
Flashless closeup to show the embroidery. The other pics show the color more accurately, though in general the gold is much darker under non-photography conditions.