Saturday, April 10, 2010
The Curious Case of Megan's Garter
Taylor and I were invited to a bridal shower last week. Taylor will be standing up as one of the bridesmaids. When I can, I try to make the bride a garter. I have been making bridal garters for about 30 years now. You'd think that I would have a better handle on them by now.
I suppose that part of my problem is the lace. The lace that is available in my town comes from Hobby Lobby, Joann's and Hancock Fabrics. Have you looked at this stuff lately? Very plasticky. I have a container of assorted laces. However, my bridal laces are dwindling. I was hoping to score some schiffli lace when I was at Mary Jo's in North Carolina. Unfortunately, they didn't have what I was looking for. What I want is about a 4 inch schiffli lace flounce. It can be flat trim lace. I can deal with that and gather it myself. I want my bridal garters to have a romantic, somewhat Victorian look to them. I don't want them to look like they were purchased in Vegas at a show girl convention. I'm lucky that I do have some nice 3 inch chantilly lace but I guess I still prefer schiffli. It is a delicate Swiss lace. Have I ever mentioned that I'm part Swiss? Maybe that is why I have an affinity to this lace.
There are two regions in the world that were powerhouses in lace manufacturing. One being St. Gallen, Switzerland where my mother's ancestors are from. The second area is Northern New Jersey. I can only guess that these textile areas have been affected by the economy and goods being produced in the Orient. I can remember over 20 years ago when the bridal gown companies started to use lace from the Orient. It was then called "Oriental" lace. The name sounded kind of exotic. I would think that that term isn't used any more. It's not exotic lace, at least not anymore. True beautiful laces come from the Swiss, the French, the English and America. I know that these laces are very expensive, but can I have a choice please? Oh my, it looks like I've hijacked my own post and gotten on my soap box. I better step down!
As Megan's shower was approaching, I was getting fearful that I would have to make a boring garter, at least by my definition of boring. I found a beautiful site for lace. What they had was perfect. However, it was located in Australia. That wasn't going to work. So here I sat, majorly worried that I wasn't going to find anything. Then I hit Ebay. I ended up scoring some 6 inch trim Schiffli lace. The lace is longer than I wanted but I thought I could work with it.
A couple of days before the shower, I dyed the lace and the silk ribbon in a tea bath. The tea dyeing only took about 30-60 seconds. So armed with all my laces and ribbons, I started to put the garter together the night before the shower. Usually what happens when I'm working with lace, I take out anything that will remotely work. So on my living room sofa, I had different ribbons and laces to audition. I wanted a little bit of color in the garter, not just a plain ivory. My goal was to use silk ribbon embroidery in a muted purple. The bridesmaid dresses are a dark purple but I didn't want to go that dark for the garter. So I was lucky enough to have a great purple in my ribbon stash. I snipped a little medallion off of some Venice lace that I had. This would be my base for the silk ribbon embroidery. I wish the medallion would have been a tad larger but it worked ok I guess.
This garter was constructed and designed similarly to past garters that I had made. The difference being the size of the lace. The flounce was a couple of inches wider than normal and I think the little lace "posy" was about an 1/2 to 1 inch wider than normal. So what resulted was an over-the-top, cupcake, kind of garter. Taylor didn't like the flounce. I didn't like the lace posy thing on the top. And Jeff, well, he is expanding his sense of fashion flair. He loved it. He didn't want me to touch it. Taylor wanted me to take off the ruffle. That wasn't going to happen. You see, I decided to opt for real silk ribbon. It is strong, yet delicate. The silk did not like going over the feed dogs. I knew that if I took this garter apart, the silk ribbon wouldn't look the same.
I decide to go to bed and think about the problem and how am I going to fix it. The next morning after a large pot of coffee, I decided I had no choice but to deconstruct the garter. So I started to clip the threads, one layer at a time. I then put the bows and silk ribbon embroidery back on. As I look at the photo from the cupcake version, it doesn't look too bad. But trust me, in real life, it was so over done.
Lessons learned. Too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing. The lace netting at the top of the trim should have been trimmed at least 1-2 inches. I probably won't make to many garters out of silk ribbon anymore. Yes, the ribbon has such a glorious feel to it. But once the ribbon is gathered and bunched up, can you really feel the difference? A polyester satin ribbon might be a better choice for the heavy treatment that it takes to put the garter together.