Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wedding Dress - post 4. Shopping

Went to Mandors yesterday to buy all the extra bits to go with the duchess satin for the practice dress. Couldn't decide between iron-on interfacing for the bodice, or sew-on interfacing. Decided to go for my mum's genius idea of making half the bodice in one interfacing and half in the other to see which I prefer.

For the same reason I bought half the boning in satin-covered and half in cotton-covered for the bodice.

Mum also thinks that with my (severely pear-shaped) body shape, it would make a better fit if the zip at the back is replaced with a lace-up back instead. Searched Mandors, Remnant Kings and John Lewis for Rouleau loops with no joy. Mandors had one with little elasticated loops for those wee buttons, but we need ones strong enough to hold the weight of the dress and hold me in when it's laced up. This place makes them with your own satin and is UK-based, so might be an option. My mum's confident she can make these though.

I also received all my matt satin swatches in the post - the one I think I'm going to go for is one of the matt ones here from Bridal Fabrics. I'm going to have to phone them though, as not sure about how they parcel up satin for postage. If it's folded then the creases will probably never come out, but otherwise it's going to have to be shipped in a huge postal tube ... So far I've ordered some satin and lace swatches from them, and they've been great. Next day delivery, and good sized swatches, even of the lace, which was £85 a metre. Approx 10cm x 20cm size

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wedding dress Part 3 - the plan

OK - coming up with a schedule to keep on track with, so I can get this dress done by the end of May, and leave myself a fortnight to deal with all the other wedding preparations.

Buy all the final fabric, buttons and duplicate zips, boning etc.

Finish fittings on practice fabric. Take apart and remake with Duchess Satin kindly donated by Paula's mum, which is 115cm wide, by 7m. This should be enough to make 2nd practice dress, which will include zip and boning.
Refittings as necc.

April - May
Make dress proper

Wedding Dress Part 2 - the research and tips

This post contains all the research and reading I've been doing, as I have never made a dress before, let alone a wedding dress. Am I foolhardy? Well, my mum made her dress, my friend's mum used to make wedding dresses for a living, and I've got confidence! So let's see how this plays out...

First off, the wedding dress bible; Susan Khalje's "Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear". Although out of print (I borrowed a copy from my library), this can now be bought on CD here, and I would say it's an essential purchase.

Tips I've learned from here include: what kind of underlining to use, how different fabrics work together, how to shape and fit all aspects, and most importantly for me, how lace can be invisibly seamed and worked with. It includes different types of bustles, and all aspects of construction.

And other stuff I've found online that might help with making the dress [this is going to be continually edited as I find more information]

The muslin and starting out review of my pattern which includes the calming words "for a wedding gown the pattern was fairly easy for anyone with average sewing skills. There were a lot of steps, 65 in all, so it took some time to make it, but it went smoothly"

Deconstructing the practice muslin dress

The cutting and construction

Working with satin

  • Don't cut satin on the fold even if the pattern piece says so - creases on satin can be permanent! 
  • Watch out for satin fraying on the bodice
  • Some tips here including use a "with nap" cutting layout – satins tend to shade in different directions.


  • Underlining with silk organza Underlining is neccesary for many reasons I'm discovering; to provide a place to hem the satin invisibly - hem it to the underlining. Sew it to the satin (different websites give different advice as to whether they are hand or machine sewn together) before cutting out the pieces, and use it to mark the various bits of the pattern, darts, folds and so on so the satin is never marked in any way.
  • Mandors advice on underlining: "I wouldn't think that silk organza would make a good lining. I'd go with silk habotai, or just a nice bremsilk lining" - i think confusion - I think when websites talk of 'underlining' with silk organza they actually mean interfacing

Waist Stay
What is a waist stay? Basically it is attached to the dress at the bottom of the bodice like a bra strap, and holds the skirt up, so you don't spend the day in a strapless dress hoiking it up so the girls don't fall out. Tip; use bra back closures found at fabric shops.

Boning - some very good advice on boning here and some photos of boning being done.

Info gleaned from many places including, The Wedding Dress Saga blog

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wedding Dress Part 1

I've decided to keep an update of the making of the wedding dress

So the dress pattern is as above and is linked here (Butterick B5325)

This is to try and make it match the dress below, which my mum and I saw and I tried on, in a boutique, but couldn't stretch to the £2000-odd quid it would have cost. The dress is much more a-line than this - the model has it pinned in a fishtail for some reason.

It has an add-on one-shoulder lace bolero, but I think I'll handsew this to the dress itself, for some extra 'hold', as I don't have much on top, so the teeny bodice already has its work cut out holding up all that skirt fabric. It is a delicate chantilly lace with added appliques in ivory over an ivory satin.

And so far I've done the following:

1. Laid out the practice fabric in the corridor at work - all 9 metres of it!

2. Ordered some expensive lace, waited a month for it, only to have the supplier sell it to Australia and tell me that there won't be more until May ... my wedding is in June! Due to a breakdown in communication that meant they felt I hadn't placed an official order, and I felt I had. Anyhoo, quick cry and called them back - lace is now due to arrive on March 13th. Until it is in my hands, I remain anxious about this, but it's out of my control. I have to order this specific lace because it is a) gorgeous, and b) available from the wholesalers for £33.65 a metre. You can see it here where it is selling for a totally reasonable (!) £185 a metre...The lace comes with a bazillion beads and sequins, which I'm going to be taking off.

3. Ordered some ivory matt satin swatches .. which reminds me - I'm still waiting for some of them to arrive.

4. Measured out and cut out all the pieces of practice fabric, sewed them together in a rough approximation of my body shape - size 6/8 bodice, size 12 waist, size 14/16 hips (yes, an actual triangle!). Went home for the weekend to get a fitting with my mum.

I've left the pieces with my mum to try and make something closer fitting my body shape, and she'll be visiting Glasgow at the beginning of March to do another fitting and we go from there!

So for this weekend I'm going to try and source and hopefully buy all the 'bits and pieces' - zips, buttons, boning, underlining, lining etc. etc. And research research research, which will be my next blog post.