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Taylor Orci feels the power of sewing her own wedding dress

Taylor Orci's vintage pattersn - she's sewing the wedding dress on the right.
Taylor Orci's vintage pattersn - she's sewing the wedding dress on the right.
Taylor Orci
Taylor Orci's vintage pattersn - she's sewing the wedding dress on the right.
Taylor Orci's cat enjoys hanging out in Taylor's sewing room.
Taylor Orci
Taylor Orci's vintage pattersn - she's sewing the wedding dress on the right.
Taylor Orci and the "muslin" (first draft) of her wedding dress.
Taylor Orci

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UPDATE: The wedding has been called off, but Taylor learned a lot in the run-up to the wedding that didn't happen.

Off-Ramp commentator Taylor Orci is blogging her progress in sewing her own wedding dress. Here's the backstory.

Some girls think of their wedding day their entire life. That was definitely not me. But now I’m sewing my own wedding dress.

In preschool, when girls would dress up and play bride, I was busy pasting things together, then trying to eat the paste, or making things out of flour dough, and trying to eat the flour dough, or painting with tempera paints and… well the tempera paints stank so I knew they didn't taste good, but I never learned and ate them anyway. This is more or less how things went with me until…

Last spring I got engaged. And I panicked. Not because I'm not ready or anything, but because, I didn't know how to get married. I haven't been to very many weddings, but more importantly, I didn't know what my wedding was supposed to mean to me. Getting married is a great time to have an existential panic around so much glitter and cursive.

I'm also not the kind of girl who can just say "to hell with it!" and go elope somewhere, or exchange vows in a tree, or an igloo, or a fort made of tires. To those who make it work, I salute you, I admire you, I envy you, but I am not one of you.

I land somewhere in the middle, conflicted about all the baubles and details and the meaning behind them, but, I still do want them — at least some of them. Holler if you're with me, I swear I will feel your knowing voice.

All of these anxieties came to a head when I started looking at (GULP) wedding dresses. The most expensive and symbol-laden garment you may ever wear, should you choose to. And again, I was conflicted.

On the one hand, I did want a wedding dress, a nice one. But the last time I was in a wedding dress showroom (is that what they're called?) I heard an argument between two women about whose breast implants cost more.

I am telling you my secret shame. I am smart in real life, I swear it. I am a self-actualized woman with goals and dreams that have nothing to do with this lovey dovey crap. But I have watched hours upon hours of "Say Yes to the Dress" and — Lord help me, my favorite, "My Fair Wedding" with David Tutera. And cried!

I've watched in awe as women with tears in their eyes popped a bottle of Champagne with their loved ones in a white hall with rows of dresses hung immaculately swathed in jackets of plastic. I've cried tears of happiness for TV strangers, fully knowing this life of cupcake bling is not for me.

So I braved Pinterest and Etsy and after reading some blogs of other girls that had done the same, I said "Yes" to sewing my own dress.

Up until then, I had made one garment. With my mom. It was a magenta jumper and I was eight. I can't even really say I made it because she did all the boring parts like pinning and cutting. I watched her sew most of it.

Okay wait, thinking about it, I did have one dress I sewed. It was with my friend Sarah a few years back and it was a simple shift dress, but it still took watching the entire "Back to the Future" trilogy to make it. And she showed me how to do the techniques, and when I messed up, she helped me sew it… Okay I didn't sew that one really either.

So up until this project my experience with sewing is: I've watched two different people sew stuff for me. But I'm good at research, and I figured, how hard could it be?

I mean… it's not building a bridge or building a rocket to space, but it's pretty technical. But I'm better for it, if only by learning this: Sewing for your own body is by definition, couture. Couture is all about the dress fitting the body, not the body fitting the dress. How liberating is that!? By teaching myself how to sew, I now had this power over my clothes I never had before. I didn't have to worry about my irregular butt or my chest that is junior high-level small. Because now clothes could fit me no matter what, and I could look awesome in them no matter what.

I began holding my head higher in the clothes I sewed. I actually took a (ANOTHER GULP) selfie in a skirt I sewed, and I don't really take those. I had stormed the castle walls of fashion and returned triumphant with words like "stay stitch" and "turn the lining" and "on the bias." Way more useful over time than "cupcake" and "bling." 

I will spare you the technical in between, the imperfect garments I barely finished or cut up and threw away. Fifty dollars of silk charmeuse wasted because of a crooked invisible zipper. But last week I finished my dress’s first muslin (that's sewing speak for my first draft) and you know what? It looks pretty good! I tried it on in front of my mom and she checked the hemline and her Rottweiler sat on the train. I let the dog stay. In my mom's living room, my muslin covered in dog hair. This is my kind of bridal showroom.