Thursday, June 30, 2005

Odds and Ends

I was going to share with you the denouement of some stories I've shared here on the blog recently (what happened to the prices in the cafeteria?...did I find replacement lingerie?).

I was going to share with you some new restaurant trends I've been noticing around town, but that would be stealing Gilly's job.

Then I was going to share with you my reaction to seeing anti-disengagement protestors yesterday, even though I have never really discussed politics here. But I have something else to share instead.

Its the story of why I was on a bus going through some antidisengagement protestors.

Its about my wedding dress.

I bought my dream dress in America in early March when I was there on a little Nefesh B'Nefesh sponsored trip, with my buddy Treppenwitz. I would link to the dress, since its online, but then it might spoil it.

Small problem, the dress of my dreams was strapless. Now, I know from previous experience that with a good seamstress, it is possible to add sleeves to a strapless dress in a way that it will look like the dress came with sleeves. I know because I've done it with bridesmaid dresses a few times, though obviously never with my own wedding dress.

Anyway, I enlisted the services of a certain seamstress (lets call her Jessica). When I first met with her, and her boss, I was very hesitant to give them my dress. They laughed at me and called me a bridezilla for not accepting their suggestion that they make me a JACKET to go over my dress to cover up the fact that it was strapless. I know lots of people choose this option, but I really didn't like the look, and I still don't. I told them what I wanted and that I was open to everything except a jacket.

I didn't get a very good vibe from them, and Bryan kept urging me to take my dress away and go to another seamstress, but my mom was worried that since they had already started I'd have to pay double and how could we hurt the seamstress' feelings, etc.

So I left it there. The first incarnation of the dress with sleeves was bad. Not unwearable, but definitely not what I had in mind. The sleeves sort of puffed up at the shoulder, giving me the appearance of a little girl playing dress-up. Not exactly what I wanted. At this point Bryan again suggested going elsewhere, but my mom sort of pushed me to stick with Jessica. So I summoned up my courage and told her that I was very unhappy with what she had done, and could she re-do it.

She did re-do it, and at first it was looking better than what she did the first time. But when I went to pick it up on Monday with my mom, well, the end result was an unwearable dress.

I'm not sure how this happened, but I'm glad it did: I was unhappy with the way it looked, but my blood sugar was really low, and either I was mentally choosing to block this, or I honestly was so out of it I wasn't paying attention, but the dress was disgusting. She had managed to take my dream dress and make it unwearable. Fortunately, I simply noticed that I didn't like it.

My mom, on the other hand, did notice how bad it was. My mom, bless her soul, is the plainest woman I know. Her clothes are often downright ugly. She does not care what she looks like. In all my life she has worn makeup once (and then only lipstick and blush because we forced it on her) - at my brother's wedding. She has never plucked her eyebrows. She has never dieted (and she is in need of it). When she buys shoes she looks first at the price tag, then if they are comfortable. She never looks at the color or style. My mother is also one of the cheapest women I know.

So my dress must have been pretty bad because the next morning she said, "Honey, that dress was so bad I think we need to bring it to another seamstress. And if someone else cannot fix it in time (since my wedding is in 18 days) then I will go and buy you a new one for whatever it costs. But I cannot let you walk down the aisle like that."

Apparently she was up all night worrying about this dress. She couldn't believe I wasn't making a big deal about it - that I wasn't crying and going nuts. Believe me, if I had realized how bad it was, I would have. I mean, sure I noticed that the sleeves were 2 different lengths. And that one of them was tighter than the other. I also noticed that the neckline was uneven, and stood away from my body. I noticed that the top of the dress was enormous on me. And that, despite 11 fittings, the woman had left about 4 extra inches at the hem, making it impossible for me to walk or dance without tripping. I just didn't realize how bad it was.

So Tuesday afternoon I started calling around to other people, trying to get recommendations for a really excellent seamstress, a miracle worker, if you will. I called Andrea, the woman doing my hair and makeup. She recommended 2 people, one of whom was too busy to take me on at such short notice, the other who told me she'd stopped doing alterations. Now again, because I didn't realize how bad it was, the fact that I had been spending all day looking for a seamstress without much luck wasn't stressing me out, predominantly because I also had an exam the next morning.

I posted an ad on Janglo (a yahoo group for Anglos living in jerusalem). For obvious reasons (the first seamstress may read Janglo) I didn't use my name or phone number. I created a new account called needseamstress at yahoo . The best was every time I logged in to see responses Yahoo would greet me with "Welcome, Need!" Which at that point I did feel sort of needy.

Anyway, after about 10 hours I finally came across a seamstress who sounded reasonable and professional. She was the first one I spoke to who seemed confident in her abilities and didn't waffle over whether or not she could do the job, rather told me to come and bring everything I had - extra material, extra beading, etc.

The next step was to get my dress back from Jessica, who was still doing some finishing touches, and obviously noticed my unhappiness the day before when I thought my dress was bad (not to mention my mom's reaction). Well, y'all can award me an Oscar, because I told her that I was sorry I was grumpy the day before, that I LOVED the dress, and wanted to take it home right now so I could gaze at it adoringly until the days before my wedding. She bought it all and gave me back my dress. I mean, she's obviously a terrible seamstress, but she thinks she did a good job and I can see she worked hard at it. So we wanted to still pay her and the only way to do that was to lie. My mom thought I should level with her and tell her I was taking it elsewhere, but that I still wanted to pay her. Whatever

I took the dress yesterday to the new seamstress, Dorit. When I opened the dress bag she could immediately see the poor quality and work. She said Jessica had used stitches that are only supposed to be on the underside of a hem, on the top of my wedding dress for all to see. Even I started noticing the uneven stitching, the loose threads, etc. Then I put the dress on.

Dorit could barely stifle her laughter, and even I burst out laughing when I finally saw through non rose-colored lenses what my mother was looking at on Monday. The dress was, in fact, unwearable. It looked as if I had perhaps borrowed someone's shirt and tucked it into the top of my dress. The whole top was uneven. I think (and this is no exaggeration) that I could have done a better job.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Dorit is fixing up the dress and told me it would be done within a week. She apologized for this profusely, but it will cost us about 1600 NIS for the alterations. She said that if I had come to her first, she could have made me a whole dress from scratch for less than that. But since this is under extreme time pressure, and she has to fix all the things Jessica ruined plus re-do the work, its a whole lot of work.

My mom, uncharacteristically, said she didn't care about the price, and that only a truly cruel mother would have let me get married looking like that. We both got a very good vibe from Dorit, and saw lot of other wedding dresses she had done. all of which looked wonderful.

So, luckily I didn't notice how bad things were until I was already standing in front of someone capable of fixing the problem. And that my mother, bless her soul, for once looked at the style instead of the price tag. Thanks, Mom.


Blogger Fun Joel said...

Bravo, and b'hatzlacha!

9:44 AM  
Blogger Rahel said...

Whew! All's well that ends well.

Best of luck, with the dress and everything else!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Rahel said...

P.S. My internal alarms would be going off the moment anyone I was considering hiring called me any name at all besides my own. (I might overlook something like "honey" if the one who said it was a woman old enough to be my mother or a man old enough to be my grandfather, but that's about it.) But to call anyone, especially a bride, anything even the faintest bit derogatory?! What hutzpah! I can only imagine what Miss Manners, with her impeccably polite and biting humor, would say to that.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

I usaully love reading your mundane day to day stuff. But lately you've been writing about clothing too much. Although your last post on the subject held my interest, this one... I just couldn't finish it.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

What a beautiful mother-daughter wedding dress story. I am so happy that it looks like this will have a very happy resolution. Once the wedding has passed, please do post a link to the dress.

A hearty mazel tov to you and your whole family. Your story has truly been an inspiration, and I hope that you and Bryan will have a wonderful life together.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Essie said...

Your Mom is amazing. I was near tears reading about how awful your dress appeared after Jessica got her hands on it. But so glad it sounds like Dorit will fix everything. Mazel Tov! Hope all other wedding snafus (may there be none) end up as well as this!

7:32 PM  
Anonymous yaffa said...

Hi, I know this post was written a year ago, but I was wondering if you could help me. I am getting married in two months and have a strapless wedding gown I bought in the States. I need sleeves added to it, and it is very important to me that they don't look like a shirt tucked under the dress, as I have seen other altered gowns look. I saw your pictures of this blog and love how your gown came out. I don't know if she still works, but could you give me the name and number of your seamstress (the one that did a good job, obviously not the one that messed up)? I'd be so grateful, thank you.
You can reach me at

3:42 PM  

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