Friday, February 19, 2010


There's nothing quite as incredible as watching a project go all the way from the very beginning to the very end. Like the 80's Dress. This wedding gown was $25 in an antique shop in Ellicott City, Md. It was probably all-that back in 1982 - with loads of beads and appliques, as well as a huge butt bow and several-yard-long train. While it's looks were decidedly dated, we looked at this dress and saw potential: yards and yards of fabric in great shape; beads and lace that were perfectly usable - and worth well more than $25.

Enter master dressmaker, Barbara Deckert. Barbara took this dress from 1982 and remade it into a work of art. Barbara Deckert started sewing over 40 years ago and has been sewing professionally for over 21 years. She is the author of two books, Sewing for Plus Sizes: Design, Fit and Construction for Ample Apparel and Sewing 911: Practical and Creative Rescues for
Sewing Emergencies. She has written for numerous national publications such as Sew News, Threads, Butterick Home Catalogue, BBW, and The Wedding Pages. She has been interviewed by dozens of national magazines and newspapers as an expert on sewing and custom clothing, such as Women’s Wear Daily and Real Simple. She has appeared as a guest on the television programs America Sews on PBS and Sew Much More on HGTV. She is a charter member of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASDP). Presently semi-retired, she accepts only a limited number of commissions per year.

Here are some of the facts of the job...

Recycled materials from the original dress include the poly shantung and poly underlining, beaded lace motifs, lace trim, pearl buttons, beads, pearls, sequins, and crinoline netting.

From the original dress, only a handful of postage stamp-size shantung pieces, a few unembellished lace motifs, and a small piece of net remain.

Several of the large beaded lace motifs from the original gown were “played forward” to embellish another bride’s custom gown. (Image immediately below of 2nd gown that utilized lace motifs from original 80s gown)

The front and back of the original dress were used intact; the train became the overskirt on the new dress. New materials include fifteen yards of Amity Peace Silk, corselette materials, and biodegradable silk in green and purple.

· Total labor: 77.25 hours.

· Deconstruction of original dress: 20 hours.

· Drafting: 4 hours.

· Hand sewing 28 roses: 11 hours.

· Ruching and beading contrast band by hand: 6 hours.

· Original dress cost about $25; Peace silk and China silk cost about $550; approximate cost of dress (labor plus materials) would be about $5,000.

And the final, stunning recycled gown...

A close-fitting sheath, mounted on boned corselette, of off-white, re-purposed, poly shantung with front and back V neckline, center back zipper embellished with pearl buttons and asymmetrical, off the shoulder decorative strap embellished with hand sewn roses made of shantung, gold Amity Peace Silk, beaded lace motifs, and moss green China silk leaves and tendrils; dropped, asymmetrical waist with contrast shaped band of closely hand ruched and beaded gold Amity Peace Silk embellished at side front with roses, leaves, and tendrils; gathered, circular shantung overskirt with asymmetrical front split, trimmed with triple ruffle of shantung, Peace Silk, and lace, revealing gold double layered Amity Peace Silk underskirt with ivory cotton Cluny lace edging at hem, and attached crinoline; detachable, nine foot long train in Austrian-style ruched gold double layered Peace Silk with Cluny lace edging; silk six foot long wrap in purple with narrow hems.

See this stunning gown come to life on Sunday at the Mid-Atlantic Green Wedding Showcase, as model Jeanette shows off how great the 80's can look -recycled- on our catwalk!

1 comment:

  1. What a fun/labor intensive project. I enjoy projects like this. It was great you were able to get photos of the process/steps - and I know there had to be more than what is here. An educational way of showing what is is involved when the next client asks about restyling/recycling a gown. Good job.

    Vicki Hasemann