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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wedding Dress Construction Details

Hi everyone!  In my last post, I showed pictures of my finished wedding dress.  This time around, I'm showing the construction process.  The post is fairly picture-heavy - there were a lot of steps. In case you missed the last post, here is the dress.
This is a picture right before we got married.  We waited in the hall and took a deep breath before going outside to the back yard where everyone was waiting. I didn't want to walk out all by myself with him waiting, so we went together. 
I was really nervous about wearing a dress that looked homemade. I think the worst compliment you can get about any homemade item you have is from (probably) well-meaning strangers - "That is nice - did you make that?".  That one always makes me feel terrible.  It is the one that says - "Yes, it is clear to me that you have made this yourself."  Ugh.

This dress is in three parts.  Part one - the petticoat.
This is the largest petticoat ever.  I felt so round and fluffy.  It was an upcycled petticoat that I picked up at a thrift store.  It was a floor-length with three tiers but the waist is a nice elastic and I'll bet it was expensive when it was new.  All I did was take off the bottom two layers to make it tea length and re-sew the tulle. I used a serger for the bottom hem.  It was a lot faster than making it all myself.

Part Two - the satin under-dress.  The pattern is Simplicity 1194. I made it in ivory with a am showing it here with a champagne sash.
I made four changes to the pattern.
  •  I added an inch to the bodice and made it longer.  My torso must be long because I find myself doing this to a lot of patterns.
  • I took off the straps and made it strapless.
  • I made it fully self-lined instead of using facings.  I don't usually like using facings and seem to find ways to avoid them.
  • I added boning and some light-weight interfacing layer to the inside.
Inside of the dress
The dress has a lapped zipper (thanks to the Craftsy Mastering Zipper Techniques Class) and I added n silk covered button and loop.
Part Three - the lace layer. The lace layer is a mix of Vogue 8943 and Simplicity 8470.  For the skirt, I wanted to avoid pleats and gathers and love the look of a circle skirt.  But to be able to use the edge on the lace, I had to cut the skirt in panels.  I did use the Simplicity 8470, but then added a couple of inches on either side toward the hem of each panel for a fuller skirt.
It ended up being about a half circle skirt.  Luckily, through no special effort, the lines on the skirt panels lined up perfectly with the darts in the bodice. Below is the skirt before I sewed it on the bodice.  All of the panels are sewn, then finished up with a serger.

I made three changes to the bodice of Vogue 8943 - once is that I added an inch to it (shown in red below).  In the past, I have been known to ignore the "lengthen or shorten here" directions and just adding more to the bottom of the piece.  But on this, I even followed instructions. 
I also shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length and changed the back of the bodice to a V shape instead of ending at the neckline.
Inside of lace dress
The hardest part about the dress was figuring out what to do with the edges around the neck and the zipper.  I had never sewn lace before, so I wasn't sure.  The edges of the sleeves and the skirt hem were easy... use the edge of the lace. 
I ended up cutting the edge off of leftover lace and attached it all around the neckline - front and back right up until the zipper.  You don't end up seeing the stitches of the ivory thread to sew it on - it all gets lost in the lace.
The zipper is actually three layers.  I first sewed on some bias tape to stabilize the lace so I could sew a zipper on the back.  Then, on the outside, I covered the bias tape with the same edge of the lace as the neckline, but cut narrower.

I am sure there are other ways to get it done, but I was at a loss.  I spent a lot of time Googling and looking at lace wedding dress backs, but didn't find much.  I even made a trip to a bridal shop to look at their dresses.  In the end, this looked nice against the satin under-dress.

Here are the facts:
  • $200.00 - Satin and lace fabric from SAS Fabrics in Phoenix.  ($30/yard for the lace which feels like a steal compared to prices I have seen online for lace)
  • $30.00 - Fabric for three prototype dresses at $1/yard, also from SAS Fabrics
  • $10.00 - Tulle for petticoat from JoAnns.
  • $10.00 - Upcycled petticoat from a thrift store.
  • $10.00 - Satin for sash (not yet blogged about)
  • $10.00 - Tulle for veil (not yet blogged about)
TOTAL $270.00 - Petticoat, veil, dress, sash and extra fabric for prototype dresses.

It wasn't necessarily the cheapest option.  I am sure I could have found a dress on sale at some bridal shop for less money, but I am glad I made mine.
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wedding Dress Finished!

Hello everyone! I finished my wedding dress.  Oh, and I got married!  Here is what I found out about the wedding: Not one person I have talked to had a romantic wedding night.  Without fail, everyone  says that they end up giving each other a peck on the cheek before falling over from exhaustion. If you had a romantic wedding night, I bet that you ran away to elope or something.

We cooked all of the food ourselves.  I enjoyed the fact that we had total control over ingredients and I liked setting up the backyard wedding ourselves, but I see the appeal of running off, eloping and having a really great vacation with the money you would have spent on the wedding.  I see it clearly NOW, that is.

I'll post again soon to talk about making the pattern for the dress, but I wanted to show photos of the finished dress.  I was really nervous about it, but I am happy with the end result.

What about anyone else?  High stress or stress-free wedding?  Did you sew your own dress?  Would you do anything differently?

More on the construction on the next post.  Talk to you soon!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tilly and the Buttons Arielle in Progress

I am currently sewing the Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt.  I couldn't resist ordering it because it is so cute in all the photos.  And Tilly is adorable.  Look at it. Swoon.
Photo owned by Tilly and the Buttons

I just love how this skirt looks.  On these people.  I am struggling a little with the fit for my body type.  The pattern allows for a hip that is 9 inches larger than the waist.  Uh-oh.  I am something more like 13 inches larger at the hip than the waist.  And 13 feels so nice, I usually do about 14 just for good measure.  There is a significant amount of junk in that trunk to deal with.

Arielle skirt piece
I redrew the pattern to combine sizes to get the correct hip and waist measurements without an issue.  The problem is that the skirt falls straight down from the widest point on the hip.  When I choose the longer length, it ends up looking very, very matronly due to the wide fabric at the knees.  Noooooooo!  Where is my cute skirt? It is so frumpy.

It hasn't been hemmed yet, but this work in progress picture does give an idea of the shape. I also put in a zipper, but only really because my buttonhole function on my machine is currently acting up.  I'll put at least fake buttons on it because I think it is part of what drew me to this skirt.

To be clear, I think this is a great pattern and there are great instructions.  I would recommend it.  But for my body type and there need to be some adjustments to make the skirt less bulky because I made  sizing changes.  Specifically, I think I can bring the skirt in a bit like in the wiggle dress from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.
Image from
Here is the pattern piece for the wiggle dress.  After the fullest width at the hip, it tapers in. I may not make Arielle as tapered, but it does give me adjustment ideas.

Photoshopped full skirt
Above, is the wiggle dress I made unretouched on the left, then I photoshopped a fuller skirt on the right.  It is an ok look, but more matronly than I am looking for.  If I adjust the skirt pattern to taper in like the wiggle dress, I think I will get what I want.

In other news, when I am not sewing, I read a lot. I have gotten some great recommendations from blogs I read, so I thought I'd pass one on.  Right now I've started The Mortal Instruments book one City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.  I am well aware that I am not likely their target demographic since this is young adult fiction, but it hasn't stopped me from enjoying the first half of the first book.  I am excited that if I like it, there are 5 more books in the series to read.

I only have one complaint about the book so far.  The author has her characters biting, chewing or gnawing on their own lips a lot.  So much so that it is distracting.  "She bit her lip and answered him." "He chewed his lip and stood up."   It must have happened about 30 times in the first half of the book.  Get these people some chapstick.

More on the Arielle skirt in the next post - so.. until next time!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dress Mash-Up: Vogue 8943, Simplicity 1194 and Simplicity 8470

I tried a mash-up of three different patterns:
 Simplicity 1194 ( a re-issue from the 50's),  Simplicity 8470 (a vintage pattern) and finally, Vogue 8943 (currently available).

Why all of the mashing? My goal has been to create a pattern for a wedding dress. Here is my inspiration.

Isn't it lovely?

I picked up some lace that has a beautiful edge on it and I  want a full skirt (tea length) but it can't be a circle skirt or the edge of the lace would be lost.  I tried pleats, but they didn't look good with my  lace.  I also tried to make a mock-up of a gathered skirt, but no matter how much I try, each time I make a gathered skirt, I hate it.  I like gathered skirts on other people, but on me... so very bad.

This is the mash-up with some cheap black satin and black lace.  My idea was to make a dress I could wear again, but it really looks more like a costume.  (Black Widow Bride!)

I can't tie a decent bow.  Not even after watching YouTube tutorials.  Don't judge.

This dress is actually two separate dresses.   The first is a satin dress with Simplicity 1194 for the bodice.  The only modification I made was to remove the straps and make it strapless.

For the skirt, I used Simplicity 8470 because it has panels for the skirt like pie pieces... which allow for a straight edge on the hem but no gathers or pleats.  Yaaaaaayyy!  I had thought of this before, but it wasn't until I saw it in the pattern that I really believed it would work.

Taaa daa.  I won't need to do this with my final satin skirt - I can just make a 3/4 circle or full circle skirt with it the normal way, but it was nice to see it work.

For the lace layer, I also used Simplicity 8470 for the skirt and Vogue 8943 for the bodice without any modifications.  Without much work at all, the darts in the bodice and the seam lines in the skirt panels lined up.  Huh. 
(I drew the red lines with Photoshop.  The photo makes it look like they might be part of the fabric.)

For the final version, I think I will make two changes - I'll make the two wide center front and center back panels into two pieces each and make them even wider towards the hem so that the skirt is  fuller.  I'll be wearing a crinoline for it so I can get my fairy tale princess on. I wasn't going to, but when else will I get to wear a huge dress without inviting stares and pointing? 

Only two three more weeks until the wedding. It is sneaking up on me.  Dresses!  Favors!  Photographer! Guest list!  Menus!  Plates!  Wine! Table rental! I don't actually talk about much else these days.  I have a friend who assured me that I would be interesting again after the wedding. 

For no good reason, here is a picture of a bunch of different flavors of panna cotta that we made.  We invited people over for a tasting party to see which one they liked best and we will serve the winning combination at the wedding. 
After seven little mini-desserts each, the winner was lemon panna cotta with tart lemon jelly, a square of sweet raspberry coulis jelly and candied orange peel on top.  

I learned that pistachios and flowers are terrible on panna cotta (bad texture combination), candied ginger tastes good with passion fruit but not lemon and that spun sugar melts in the jelly and only looks cool for a couple of minutes.  Which makes sense, but I wanted that to not be true.

Thanks for reading.  I swear, I will talk about non-wedding stuff again in the future.

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