I have been meaning to update ya'll on my Chinese dress. It has been quite some time since the last post (try almost 5 months!)
I was able to bribe a friend who is currently living in NYC to pick up the fabric for the bodice of my dress. Instead of mailing it up to me, her boyfriend, who lives down the street from us, brought it home with him after one of his visits. It took awhile, but I am grateful beyond words. I could have purchased the fabric online, BUT the web prices were higher than in store. Also, I wanted real eyes to scrutinize the fabric in case of any runs, tears, etc.
Barbara was able to find red silk charmeuse that was the perfect shade of red to match the silk brocade. In addition, she picked up some black silk charmeuse and gold polyester fabric that we could potentially use as the piping fabric. Now it was decision time.
Do I want black piping or do I want gold piping? Gold is traditional and looks more upbeat, bright, and cheery. The black is a bit more versatile and elegant. At the same time, I was afraid it might be a touch goth. Aside from the piping, do I want to use the shiny side of the fabric or the matte side of the fabric for the skirt?
|Silk brocade with gold trim and silk charmeuse skirt fabric: matte - bottom and shiny - right. (personal photo)|
Yay for fabric!! Now for one itty-bitty, tiny-weeny detail that makes the dress: the buttons. Specifically, frog closure buttons. It is one of the most important details on a cheongsam. But as I have learned through this process, is one GIANT pain in the arse.
You see, the buttons are generally handmade to match the dress. It is usually made out of two different colors, the same as the piping (trim) used on the dress. I don't know where I got it in my head that I could just buy them. Hang on to that thought for a minute.
At first, this is the button that Barbara brought to me:
|cord frog closure via Vogue Fabrics|
Its alright, but not what I had in mind. This is what I was thinking:
|personal crappy cell phone photo|
Beautiful right? After an exhaustive search of Boston and the Internet, I was able to find just a couple of potential sources. There are a handful of stores in MA that sell them. The first stop I made was at a fabric store in Chinatown. You would think that I would have some luck. No dice. I even asked them if they could recommend other stores. Also no dice. I called around to local fabric and button shops. They had some, but only of the one's made out of cord (like the photo above).
I hit up the shop that I had originally scratched off my list. I knew they could custom make them. The shop owner informed me that indeed they could make them. But it would cost me. I was quoted $20 per button. I kept this as option in the back of my mind. I really didn't want to shell out $40 just for 2 buttons.
I had found a source for premade buttons from Hong Kong. I wasn't completely sure that the color matching would work out in my favor, but I took a gamble and ordered them anyways. I lost, but only $12. For $12, I received half a dozen buttons in red/gold shipped from overseas. Unfortunately, the red was too orangy and the gold was too metallic.
Next, I tried ordering buttons from the shop that I had previously purchased the fabric from. This would be the second time I tried ordering buttons from them. Like the first order, they called/emailed to tell me that my order could not be fulfilled. Their website apparently was not up to date. This was beyond frustrating.
I could have continued to try ordering buttons online and hope that the color would match or that items would be in stock. But decided to just have the local shop do it, since I could supply the fabric and ensure that it matched my dress. Yeah...this idea totally backfired on me. I went back to the shop, who then changed the pricing on me. They apparently when you supply the fabric and pick a color that they do not agree with, they raise the price to $25 per button. $25! HOW ABSURD!?!?!?!
I won't recount the fiasco, but this run-in made me want to curl up into a ball and cry. I contemplated having my grandma make me buttons. I contemplated sending out a swatch of the fabric to my uncle who lives in Hong Kong to see if he could have someone in the fabric district in HK made them for me. In the end, I decided that it wasn't worth any more of my time and effort. No one but me or a member of my family would miss them.
Up next, I get to see my dress!