Monday, March 10, 2008
Two Funerals And A Wedding
No. I didn't get the title of the movie wrong. I just renamed it to suit my life. I just had my next sequal to the "Two Funerals" part as Sally Jo passed Monday, March 1st at 7:30 a.m. I'd been on the phone with her throughout the night talking into her ear as she was going through the mechanics of leaving.
Heavily sedated and in that coma we get to when it's close to time for the boat to leave, she could no longer respond, but she tried. Her sister Katy held up the phone to her ear while I cooed to her that it was going to be alright, that she could let go, and that I'd see her soon so save me a spot on the bench. Katy said she opened her eyes the first time I called when I told her I loved her and that she was a good friend. All I heard was Sal's moan.
I think she was trying to say, "EE-awk-eee!" It was our signal of hello to each other. I've had code words and signals with friends since being small. Always lets you know that the person outside the door really is of your tribe. Well. Sal's moan did sound a bit like EE-awk-ee! Or maybe she was just rearranging what was left of her spit under her tongue. She was pretty doped up. But the experts say that hearing is the last sense to go. I hope so. I wanted her to know that I was there with her in spirit and will continue to be.
The family had one service in Augusta. Another one will be held here. Sally asked if I'd write her eulogy the last time we had a phone conversation that made sense. I told her yes. Only I said, "Has a cat got an ass?" It's what she expects me to say as a definitive answer to the positive. I'm also getting some of her ashes to put on my altar down here at Dogpatch. I may have mentioned all this before. If so, forgive me. It's been a long month with all these life rituals going on and my synapses are fried.
The wedding part of the title comes in with a lot more joy. Longtime friend Jeannie Taylor asked me to 'do' her wedding gown. She brought me a traditional white 1980s number with a long chapel train, enormous leg-o-mutton sleeves, and 10 pounds of lace appliqués and beading. She wanted it emerald green. Dye is out of the question for acetate gowns as the fibers don't take it. So I got her to get some green pigment dye with a small jar of black pigment to drab it down from Dharma Trading Company. We both agree that it is one of the most gorgeous things I've ever made.
The dye streaked, pooled and puddled. It took heavier in some areas and on the appliquéd lace, tinted the iridescent sequins and glass pearls. You'd swear that fairy creatures imprinted themselves on it because I sewed bead eyes on them all over the skirts. I removed the damaged bead and pearl fall from the front and replaced it using some of the pearls removed and beads Jeannie had picked out.
There were three special strands: One for Shirley who was Jeannie's mentor and surrogate mother that had her star bead on it, one for me with one solitary vitrail teardrop I had for me, and I used real emerald beads and crystal for Jeannie. When she came down the staircase at the church, you could her an audible 'ah!' from everyone. She was just stunning! Her Cherokee coloring and wild mane of hair looked like she stepped from virgin forest into the room. I loved that she, along with her maids went barefoot. They also jumped the broom!
Her wedding theme was a Celtic one with her maids dressed in Renaissance Faire wear and the men sporting doublets and real Irish Claymore swords they used to salute. Jeannie carried a basket of ivy and herbs. I cried. I always cry at weddings.
The picture above is Jeannie at one of the fittings. I'll show you the finished project in a future post. All in all there are about 30 or more hours in the dress, hundreds of extra pearls and beads and several days of treating my skin to bleach to return it to my normal beige instead of cedar green speckles and blotches everywhere.
Suggestionss for reduxing a vintage wedding gown:
Think beads and embellishing for repairs and alterations. Instead of ripping seams and removing boning to take in the gown, see if you can pinch the seam up and anchor it on the outside with a beaded running stitch. Looks like it was built on purpose! I'll try to get some close-ups of what I did.
If the gown is too wide in the shoulders, try pleating over the very edge of the yoke towards the sleeve top and using the beaded running stitch to take it up. Hand sewing is diriguer because you need the control that can only be achieved by hand manipulating the ease of the fabric.
Instead of using the traditional method of removing the skirts and lining to shorten the gown from the waist, consider making a pleat in the bottom of the skirt or small, draped tucks and accenting them with appliqués or beads. Decorative hems are already a feature of wedding wear. You know my motto: If a little looks great, pile on some more!
The type of dyeing I did on Jeannie's gown is very eclectic and not for every taste. The color is purposely not evenly distributed and pooling and checking of dyes were wanted in this case. Don't consider dying your gown a different color unless you're into S&M, like having dyed skin and feet for weeks, have a huge yard or warehouse to do the chore in and at least 3 days to allow the dye to work and set. Oh. You'll also need a vat the size of a livestock feeder to accommodate the up to 24 yards of fabric involved. And a bottle of Advil for the backache of lifting and hanging 24 yards of wet fiber.