Handmade Wedding Dress: Part 7 - The Real Deal (2/2)

The last time we chatted, I had just finished sewing together the entire bodice of my dress. It was a lengthy post for sure, but I hope you found a lot of helpful information in it with regards to how I created the entire structure of my dress! Literally, this corslette is holding up the entirely of this dress so if a strap breaks, I am still secure. And it wasn't until the added the lace to my bodice that I realized just how much work this corslette is doing- wowza!

With all that said, are you ready for another length post? I've got my cup of tea and a good blanket and am rearing to go!

The Inner Skirt

If you follow me on IG, you will know that as soon as I started my skirt, I realized I had a major problem.

 

I didn't have enough fabric!

 

I was literally 2 panels short of having a complete skirt, and no amount of Tetrising was going to lend me enough space for all my pieces. I thought I might be able to find the same fabric I was using at the store I had originally purchased it from, but a quick scroll through my past IG stories told me that I had already tried that route and had failed. There was simply no more fabric.

I contemplated ordering some more silk online, but the possibility of getting a color mismatch felt high and I didn't want to take that risk. Plus, I was trying my best to not spend any more money unless absolutely necessary. Instead, I thought up a plan (after consulting Arlen on the fabric, which I talked about in my IG stories as well) and chose to create an under layer as well as an outer layer of my skirt. The under layer would consist of the silk charmeuse panels + two silk chiffon panels that were a double layer, while the outer layer would be a simple layer of silk chiffon.

I think this wound up being a really great solution to the problem at hand, plus it solved another problem I noticed after basting together my under skirt layer: it was a bit see through- eeep!

With everything decided, I got to work on putting my skirt together. The trickiest part of this (aside from not having enough materials) was working with silk charmeuse. And silk chiffon. On the bias. With prominent curved seams. And little space to cut out.

I definitely had my work cut out for me (not literally- that would have been a dream!)

Working SUPER SLOWLY, I carefully pressed my silk and laid it on our very clean living room floor with the wrong side facing me. I then pinned my pattern pieces to the silk using silk pins and carefully cut around each and every piece, trying my best not to shift the fabric or move anything. I used my LDH scissors (Affiliate link) and made sure to wipe them between each cut to keep them super duper sharp.

Honestly, the ideal situation when cutting silk on the bias (or just silk in general) is to use a cutting mat and rotary cutter. Unfortunately, I found out during the toile stage of things that my cutting mat was not big enough for the long skirt pieces. Maybe if they were going to be cut on grain, but alas. Cutting on the bias makes everything more challenging, but ultimately totally worth it!

After all the pieces were cut, I carefully rolled them up, still pinned to their pattern pieces, until I knew I would be able to hand baste the seams together. Pieces cut on the bias should be handled as little as possible to prevent stretching, especially when they are as delicate as silk.

When I was ready to baste my pieces together, I gingerly unrolled each piece and marked its seam allowance with a frixion pen. I tested these pens before hand to make sure they did in fact come out with steam. I then removed each piece as I basted it to the next.

For the two back panels that needed to be made from two layers of chiffon, I first basted the two layers of chiffon together so that it would be like one single piece of fabric. Then I basted those basted layers to the other bits of the skirt. At one point I also had a gusset panel of chiffon coming from the center back, but it looked weird, so I ultimately removed it.

WHEW! That was a LOT to do before ever bringing my skirt to a sewing machine! But it was well worth it because once I got it to my machine, sewing each seam was incredibly fast and I had absolutely no puckering at the hip curves!

 

Finishing the seams was the next bit I had to figure out as I couldn't do french seams (the curves needed to be clipped to lie flat) and I didn't want to add any additional bulk since the bias cut clings to every little thing. Following the patterns instructions, I sewed a second line of straight stitches 1/4" (0,6 cm) from the first line of stitches. Then I trimmed my seam allowance.

I then took it one step further and planned to  hand overcast all my seams. This is a technique I read about on the Closet Core Patterns blog. Heather used this technique for her own vintage silk dress, and I thought it added a lot of charm to her dress while also helping it to keep from unraveling!

PS - In the end, I wound up only doing the overcast seam for like.... one seam. I only plan on wearing this dress once or twice (if we do something with Arlen's extended family or my extended family once it is safe), and feel that the double sewn seam finish was strong enough to hold this dress together!

The Outer Skirt

I basically did the exact same thing as I had for the under skirt (pressing, pinning, cutting, basting), but I found the process to be even trickier when working with such a flimsy layer of silk. 

Oh. My. Gosh. Cutting this silk was the most challenging thing ever. It shifted every time I looked at the pattern pieces, it was so frustrating! But I managed to piece it together and set it on top of my under skirt and it was well worth the hassle. Now my skirts feel as if they are one and you can't even tell that the under skirt was made from pieced together silks! I call that a total win!

Attaching my skirt to my corslette was an interesting challenge I spent a lot of time thinking on. I am still unsure if I made the right call, but I went with what made sense to me at the time and I think it worked out in my favor!

Since the corslette hits me just above my hips and the skirt was drafted to start at my natural waist, there wasn't a point in which the two could be seamed together. So, I decided to pin the skirt to the outer portion of the corslette and then try the entire dress on to ensure the skirt was pinned in the correct place. Once I was happy with where the skirt was lined up, I popped my dress on my mannequin and I catch stitched the skirt to the corslette along the upper edge.

Looking back, I probably should have turned the skirt under at the seam allowance to neatly hide my raw edges, but at the time, I figured the waist ribbon I had planned (which I ultimately didn't use) would hide those stitches that showed through the lace layer.

It's all a learning process and maybe the next time I am sewing a dress similar to this one's construction, I will remember these moments!

The Lace

I avoided adding lace for the longest time. I was equal parts excited to begin this process and nervous about making a mistake and ruining this very expensive 1 YD cut of fabric I had purchased from Promenade (non-affiliate link). I mean... I had never splurged quite so much on a single yard of fabric before. The pressure was definitely on.

I also wasn't sure how to go about this process. One of the things I loved about this lace was the beautiful scalloped edges on both the top and bottom. I really wanted to highlight those scallops across the upper edge of my bodice.

At first, I tried laying out the pattern pieces over the embroidery. This looked wrong from the start and I knew in my gut not to go through with cutting it out this way. I mean, the pieces were all angled and weird and I couldn't tell if the motifs would fit together right.

 

Things were just a hot mess.

 

I knew that my only option was going to be *gulp* draping the embroidered tulle directly on to my dress and slowly cutting individual pieces out until it wrapped around my bodice in an effortless way.

Honestly, I feel I am a more confident draper than I am a flat pattern-er. I really like to see the form of a garment come to life in 3D before moving into patterning. It's how I design all of my PDF patterns! I start with a draped garment and then bring it over to 2D to fine tune.

The scary part about this particular process, though, is that there was very little room for error. I only had so much fabric to work with and if I made any mistakes, it would be a challenge to correct them.

Alas, I swallowed my fear (or at least told it to simmer down for a minute) and got to pinning and clipping and pinning and clipping... And you know what? It was the best decision I ever made!

I felt totally in the zone after a few minutes with the embroidered tulle. Things started flowing and I was clip, clip, clipping away, moving motifs here and there until it all melded into one beautiful bodice. I even managed to get the scalloped edges all lined up to look like a continuous edge! That took the most work, but it was totally work it!

To finish it all off, I simply spent a few hours hand stitching each little bit into place, refining my clipping as I went along. This part reminded me a lot of sewing the lace for my mom's wedding dress just two years prior. Actually, I believe I was sewing that lace onto her dress right around this time, too! There is something so special about coming full circle and now working on my own dress in the same season.

PS- Isn't my mom gorgeous? I felt incredibly honored that she trusted me to work on her dress!

Finishing Touches

*Note* The following was written prior to my finishing the dress. I am happy to report that I have FULLY finished my dress and have twirled around in it multiple times to make sure I won't fall over! I even managed to add in a few more details + sew a matching mask for myself and Arlen!

I haven't actually gotten to these bits of the dress yet, but I thought I should write down what is currently left to accomplish with my dress. Basically, I am rounding the corner to the end of my dressmaking journey - *gasp!*

All I have left to do is hand sew in the zipper (and pray it doesn't break under the strain of the dress!), hand sew the waist ribbon in to place, level + hem the skirts, and cover that bottom portion of the inner corslette that is still sticking out from the lining. I plan to savor these last few precious bits of sewing my wedding dress as I know this time will be brief and it will be gone before I know it. Only 46 more days to go!

The next time I see you (or you see me I suppose!) will be after the wedding. I don't plan to share any more of my actual dress until after the big day. Not only will this allow you a bit of surprise and suspense, it will also do the same for me! See, as soon as I have finished these last bits of my dress, I plan to hide it away until the week before our wedding. I think doing so will renew my excitement for my dress and remind me of all the love and attention and new skills and challenges I faced throughout this entire process. I just believe it will be a very special moment to see my dress for the first time after a few weeks apart.

Thank you to everyone who has come along on this journey with me since the very beginning! I hope that you all have enjoyed seeing my ups and downs and have picked up a few helpful tips along the way, even if they were found in my mistakes! I have thoroughly enjoyed this entire process and have benefited greatly from your encouragement and confidence along the way. You all are the absolute best, and I could go on for ages about how lucky I feel to have been able to tackle this project with such a supportive group of people behind me. However, my eyes are growing tired as I am typing the last few words of this post near 11:00 PM after a long day working outside, so I think it is time for me to bid you au revoir !

I will see you all again in November for the final post in this series - Wedding Day Goodness. <3

 

2 comments

Brittani (Pattern Maker)

Hi Mitzi!

I am so thrilled hat you have enjoyed this series alongside me! I have had the most fun and I truly appreciate all of the support and encouragement I have received along the way. I still cannot believe the day is nearly here!

Mitzi

Thanks so much for sharing this amazing process! It has been so lovely to follow along your journey and see your dress come to life. Looking forward to seeing the final photos, but it already looks beautiful! Wishing you the most wonderful wedding day :)

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