Happy Accidents

I love happy accidents.  There’s no avoiding it:  things never go exactly as planned.  With something with as many variables as a totally custom dress, at least one of those variables is liable to throw you for a loop.  But, in my experience, this dilemma has always turned into a springboard for something even better; something we hadn’t even considered.

In Jill’s case it was a fabric choice.   For every dress I have made in the past, the vast majority of fabrics have been purchased from Mulberry Silks in Carrboro. But this time, I tried working with a new fabric store.

Though still a local small business, this store is bigger and more bargain-y than I am used to working with.  They don’t allow you to swatch, they don’t allow you to put yardage on hold.
A very long complicated story short:  Once it came time to buy, they no longer had one of the fabrics that Jill chose for her jacket and cannot order any more of it.

Never fear, I thrive on problem solving.  I always find that a challenge like this is just a blessing in disguise, and this case was no exception.  The fabric shortage issue has happened once before with Leah’s dress.  In her case, Mulberry Silks was having a huge 2-day/40%-off Sale when we did our first design consult.  We ended up buying most of her fabrics that day, before we even had a sketch much less a pattern. I used my ‘best guess’ for how much we’d need, because the sale was too good to pass up!

During the dressmaking process we changed the ‘bustle’ idea to deep beautiful folds, which used up a lot of yardage.  The fact that I wasn’t sure if we were quite going to have enough for the panels, inspired this design choice:


Kent Corley Photography


I ended up overlaying every other panel in a beautiful dévoue, which gave the whole dress something special and ‘unexpected’, which worked even better with Leah’s vision for the dress!

In Jill’s case, after I found out that there was no way I could purchase the fabric from the store I had discovered it in, I took my sample to Mulberry Silks to see if maybe they could order it.  They were very helpful!  Kathy (one of the owners) investigated the company who made the fabric on the web.  She found out that the company was in China and on their website you could buy fabric OR CHINESE BRIDES.  This was just horrible and not at all a company I want to give any money to.  We started looking for alternatives.

The fabric I was looking for was very specific and unusual: a purple beaded net.  Kathy checked her sources and called a few places before she remembered that they used to have a beautiful springtime purple beaded net, and started rummaging around to see if it had just gotten lost somewhere.  And she found it!!  It’s so much prettier than the first!  While remaining elegant and whimsical, the colors and pattern were more spring-like and the look was a little more ‘vintage’.  I was in love, and I expected that Jill would be too!  I located other options to show Jill as well, but this one seemed just perfect.  It even made the first “Chinese fabric” look a little dull.  Dull is not a word I would ever use for Jill.  She’s vibrant and fun and different and beautiful, just like this new fabric!

They only had one yard of it which is exactly what I needed, so they put it on hold for me while I emailed Jill some pictures.  She loved it!  Such a happy accident!  This jacket is going to be even more perfect than we had first envisioned!  Problem = solved.

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One Response

  1. Oh Mulberry Silks, you are a great store! Glad to hear they just stick to fabrics, and not mail-order brides. Those ladies take up more room than you expect.

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Hi there! I'm Brooks Ann.

I’m a former professional costumer and couture dressmaker for one-of-a-kind bridalwear located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, who teaches custom garment sewing too the sew-curious online.

My blog mostly follows along with the couture process of how each heirloom-quality custom wedding dress was made from idea to wedding day, as well as other interesting tidbits related to sewing, weddings, and body positivity.

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