Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wedding Dress Beading

In early May, after months of scouring vintage stores, I found my wedding dress tucked away on a rack of fancy dresses at a store in Santa Cruz called All Shook Up.  It's a lovely champagne-colored dress, with a dropped waistline, square neckline, pleated skirt, and tons and tons of beading.  And I couldn't beat the price...a whopping $52.44, after taxes.  There are still some things that need some slight modifications.  There are some weird shoulder straps that can be taken off and it needs to be cleaned, but before I do any of those things I need to reinforce the little rhinestones.  

Rhinestones?  What am I saying....they are called Rose Montees, which are basically rhinestones set in metal prongs that you need to sew onto the fabric (and it took a good hour of searching the internet to figure that out).  The dress has seed beads, pearls, and these little rose montees all along the waistband, the neckline, and throughout the bodice.  The seed beads and pearls seem to have remained intact after these 40-50 years, but the rhinestones are either loose or missing.
I found some for sale on Etsy and ordered them only to discover that they were just a tad too big.  I thought I had my millimeter measurements correct when I ordered, but apparently not.  So I tried again and the sparklies in the next batch were just a tad too small.  Ugh.  I've given up trying to find the perfect size.  I'll just sew them on and hopefully it won't make much of a difference, though the ones still on the dress are a bit tarnished.  The new ones claim to be vintage, but they are not as tarnished and seem to still have some life in them.

So how does one go about sewing a rose montee onto a dress?  All of my hand sewing needles were too thick.  I found some English beading needles at the place where I had my machine refurbished.  These needles are so delicate and the eyes are teeny tiny.
So what sort of thread do you suppose fits this sort of needle?  The lady at the store suggested a fine, strong silk thread, but she didn't have the right color.  I found a fine polyester spool of thread and a transparent spool of thread at Hart's.  I tried threading the needle with the polyester thread, but I felt like I had the DT's and just could not get it through the eye.  So I then tried the transparent thread -- a very, very fine monofilament.  After only two or three tries the needle was threaded.  Yay!
I've reinforced about four of the rose montees so far and this thread seems to be working.  If only I can keep this plastic stuff from getting all twisted and caught up in itself.    

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