Ask any bride and she’ll tell you it’s all about the dress.
A bridal gown is an important part — if not the centerpiece — of a wedding ceremony.
Some brides still prefer the traditional way of acquiring that special, one-of-a-kind dress for their big day by having a seamstress make it.
Audrey McLinden has been designing and sewing wedding dresses since the 1970s.
“I grew up sewing,” said the 50-something Marion resident.
She learned the craft from her grandmother and it became her first job.
McLinden even made her own wedding dress in the 1970s.
“Someone asked me to make her wedding dress and it started from there,” she said. “I have no clue how many I’ve done, but each one has been unique.”
It all starts with a picture or a pattern.
“Most girls have an idea of what their dresses are going to look like a long time before they get married,” McLinden said. “I just have to fine tune it.”
The tricky part is being able to find pictures and patterns to match the vision the bride has of her special dress. McLinden can design dresses by compiling patterns to find the perfect combination for the customer.
Being able to envision the finished product is part of McLinden’s design work.
After the dress is designed, the fabric is chosen. What kind of fabric?
“It depends on the dress,” McLinden said, “and the time of year. You wouldn’t want to have a lightweight fabric for a winter wedding.”
Common sense plays a big role in planning, she said. However, though McLinden said she will advise brides and their mothers about the best way to make the dress, in the end she will do what they want.
The bride’s measurements are taken and the stitching begins.
There will be at least a couple of fittings during the process, McLinden said, to assure a proper fit.
What changes has the tailor noticed in the past 35 years?
“Colors of the dresses,” she said. “I made one dress that was black and white. It turned out really pretty.”
Necklines and hemlines also have changed during the years — mostly going up and down.
Fabric hasn’t changed much with today’s bride still wanting to have her special dress made from traditional fabric.
McLinden is able to make a dress in a surprisingly short amount of time.
“I’ve made a dress in a few days but I prefer to have several weeks,” she said.
Mothers are usually more nervous about the time frame than the brides are but she always assures her customers that the dress will be completed on time.
“I haven’t had anybody go naked yet,” McLinden said with a laugh.
Most recently, she made a dress for her daughter, Amanda’s, wedding, which was a western theme.
“I used my wedding veil to make the jacket,” McLinden said.
Besides bridal gowns, McLinden can also make bridesmaid, mother of the bride, and flower girl dresses.
She has acquired numerous machines throughout her career, but the basic sewing machine with a serger — which sews and finishes seams and trims excess — is used for stitching wedding dresses.
Like any other craft, McLinden said to be an accurate seamstress, one needs to do it a lot and often.
There isn’t much McLinden cannot make out of fabric. Besides clothing for the bride’s entourage, she also does alterations and has a loyal following that relies on her services.
“I know it’s becoming a lost art,” she said, “but I’ll keep on doing it as long as I can.”