Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Little Angel Amidst Chaos...

OK, maybe I really should wait to dub her as an angel until after I see the results, but right now I’d like to introduce to you to my newest personal angel...Norma, of Sewing by Norma.

Yep, she’s my alterations lady. I knew way back when, even before I bought my dress, that I probably did not want the bridal shop to handle the alterations. Even my own favorite, Alfred Angelo – sorry guys! I’ve used other bridal stores in the past, and my experience was always that the prices charged were SUPER expensive in comparison to a smaller, local tailoring shop. So I actually never considered having them done at Alfred Angelo, and just put this on my To Do List for down the road. Well, don’t you know that “down the road” snuck up on me and bit me in the butt? It got here quick, like lightning! It seems like just the other day when I was picking up my dress...or saying that I had 100 days left...the time has really flown by!

So now, here I am about 60 days out (this was last month!) and I realize “Holy Cow! I need to find a seamstress to handle my alterations!” and a flurry of internet searching started. I even posted the question out on the Austin boards on wedddingbee, trying to get recommendations. In the end, the trusty yellow pages led me to a little shop that was in South Austin, tucked right behind Olive Garden on South Lamar, called Sewing by Norma. I found the shop, drove by and decided that I liked the look of it one day (because you never know) and I called the next day to make an appointment. I spoke with Norma herself, and surprisingly I was told that I didn’t need an appointment, just bring in the dress with all the accessories including petticoat and shoes whenever I wanted during normal business hours.

Talk about easy! Score one for the bride that puts things like this off until the last minute. So I meant to go home that night and load up my stuff in my car so that I could go see Norma the next day. Yeah, that didn’t work. I don’t remember what exactly happened to stop that plan, but something did. I forgot or something (this was obviously prior to my daily To Do List that gets carried everywhere and checked before I go to bed each night!) and then the next morning had little J to get off to school and ran out of time. No problem, since I didn’t need an appointment, the next would work too.

Yeah, not so much. You see...a little thing happened in Austin that hasn’t happened in months and months. It’s a little thing that we barely recognized called rain. I’m not teasing when I say that Austin has not seen rain in almost 3 months – literally drought conditions and all down here in Central Texas. So the next day, imagine my surprise when it starts raining. Well, I’m certainly NOT taking my dress out in the rain, right? No way, Jose. No big deal. The rain won’t last that long anyway, right?

Wrong. It’s rained for almost two weeks. Which is good for us (and hopefully it didn’t ruin Mrs. Mouse’s wedding!) because we needed it. I don’t begrudge the rain or wish that it would go away. But we passed the 30-day mark yesterday with no end in sight for the frustrating! I vowed to myself (and added it to my List) that if it wasn’t raining when I got home that I would load the stuff in my car in hopes that tomorrow it might not rain. On Wednesday, they said 30% chance for Thursday, which is good. It might not be raining during my lunch hour (which is flexible) and I could still do it. If not, the weatherman was not calling for rain at all on worst case scenario I would go on Friday.

Luck was on my side. Well, it was still too wet Wednesday night to load it all up, but Thursday morning dawned at my house with dry ground. So I loaded up, and held my breath. The rain started around 10am...but by noon had cleared off. I took the chance and went. Not one single drop of rain fell while I transported all my junk into Norma’s shop. Yea! Success!

Norma was very easy to work with. She showed me to the dressing room and offered help, but since I’m so adept at getting into and out of bridal gowns by now, she left me to some privacy to get into the gown. She came back when I called to lace me up, and even gave me warning when she was going to pull tight. And let me tell you, pull tight she did! Wow. I hope that MOH takes some good lessons when we go for my 2nd waist looked so small!

The good news? The dress still fit! Was I worried about it not fitting? Yes. I know it’s irrational, but I was. Lucky for me, it fits fine. I still had minor back cleavage going on, but it was MUCH less than when I bought the dress and even less than the last time I wore the dress back in June...and I’ve got 30 days to work on that! Norma took about an inch up on the hem in the front, that was all that I needed with my heels – good call on those shoes Ladies! Once that was pinned, we moved to the bustle.

So pinned both the American bustle and the French bustle and let me look at both. I think that I picked the American bustle. If I remember what she said right, the French bustle goes under and the American bustle goes over...and with the beading and designs on my dress, I thought the American looked better, or whichever one it is that goes over.

She unlaced me and I got back into my street clothes and headed to the counter to wrap things up. I was hoping to be able to pay under $200 for all alterations needed on my dress, and was really hoping that time wouldn’t be a factor either, since I had waited so long. Norma gladly told me that she was setting my 2nd fitting appointment for Oct 8th (two weeks!) and to bring someone with me so that they could practice the laces and the bustle.

I asked Norma about the price and she was hesitant to quote exact numbers. I can understand that, since in sewing each project is different and you might run into problems that you didn’t foresee, but I assured her that I was just looking for a ballpark and wouldn’t hold her strictly to it. She quoted me $75. And then she had to pick me up off the floor. %75?!?!? That’s a STEAL! I’m sold! I know that the number might change a bit between now and then, and she offered to call me before the appointment with a more firm amount, but I’m really happy that she’s going to come in under my budget no matter what. Really happy. Like doing a little happy dance as I type this out...

I’m a good fiance and also asked Norma about her suit tailoring skills. She assured me that she could handle B’s suit within a two week time period as well, and I’ll send him over her way to get that taken care of. Just one more thing off of my list...But I was a BAD bride and didn’t take my camera with me. (Insert sad, ashamed face here) But I pinky-swear, cross my heart and the whole needle in my eye bit that I’ll take one for the 2nd fitting. MOH will take pics and you’ll get to see Norma’s great work.

So, if you’re looking for a seamstress in the South Austin area, I think that I feel comfortable recommending Norma. Obviously, until I get the dress back, I can’t say with 100% certainty, but based on my initial meeting and gut feeling along, she’s a keeper! I’ll let you know for sure on the 8th...

Did you go the traditional route and use a bridal shop or find someone else to handle your alterations?

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