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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!


  1. Beautiful dress and very well made! Thank you for these construction détails, it's always interesting to see the making of the finished garment. Congratulations on your wedding, you looked lovely!

    1. Thank you so much. I was winging it... and worried it wouldn't come together.

  2. Your dress is so lovely! I know you were proud to wear your 'own' dress on your special day. Thanks for sharing your process with us.

  3. You look absolutely beautiful! Congrats on your marriage and to making your dress!

  4. This is just so unbelievably beautiful ... The construction details are amazing, but that picture with the

    1. I like that photo, too. Thanks for commenting.


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