We discovered why all-over chantilly beaded lace wedding dresses are rare - the weight of the beads will make the lace hem drop many inches (many!). Keep it hanging for as long as possible, and don't forget that the hoop makes the hem rise so try it on with the hoop before guaging the correct trim length.
Another thing we discovered was that it is better to raise the hem at the very front of the dress by an inch or more. This is because, unless you plan to spend the whole day standing straight as an arrow and never bending down, or walking, you will trip over the front of the dress. The last panic you need is to tread on the dress halfway up the aisle and go flying!
We had another mini crisis when, no matter how much we tightened the bodice under the bust line, the weight of the dress just kept making the top drop down and the 'girls' fall out (what there is of them!). So we eventually conceded that straps were going to have to happen. This was a quick photo sent to a friend to see what she thought of the one-shoulder mock-up lace bolero with straps. It wasn't ideal, but I wanted to feel confident on the day, with no panicking that my dress would slip, so we added them in. And instantly I walked differently and relaxed much more in the dress, so it was the right move.
So here is the dress pretty much done. Still the lace hem to raise, and the scallops to add - my mum did all of this while I stood on the table next to me and tried to stand as still as possible. Even still she was stuck on her hands and knees probably in loads of pain trying to get the hem as perfect as possible. This bit is hard. You have to stand up straight, but at the same time, this isn't going to be your standard pose throughout the day, so remember that extra inch or so at the front for walking, getting up stairs, slouching, bending forward etc.
My sister popped around at this point to show me her bridesmaid dress as I hadn't seen it on yet - lovely and summery! We had it altered elsewhere as we were so busy with the dress, and the perfectionist in us wasn't best pleased at the mis-matching thread for the hem, but it couldn't be seen and the dress looked so perfect! I'm obsessed with no shiny fabrics and I think the matt for myself and the bridesmaids is so flattering.
The two photos above show the bustling, as we could find very little information online about how to do this. Plenty of examples of different types, but nothing detailing exactly the steps. Even the wedding dress book we bought didn't have anything. So it is clear buttons and poppers on ivory satin - probably best to embiggen these by clicking on them!
What we did was this:
- attach the lining at the seam points to the satin using extra-strong thread with about an inch of give so nothing puckers. You find these on most shop-bought skirts with linings from good shops so you can see what I mean.
- attach clear buttons to the underside of the satin at the hem as can be seen in the top photo. One at the centre back seam, and then as many as you want on side seams. We did 5 buttons in total.
- Then the difficult bit - measure from the centre front bodice down to the bottom hem. Use this measurement to measure from the centre back bodice down. The end of the measurement will be where you'll be turning the satin under. Use this to find where you're going to have to attach the loop for the button to attach to.
- The loop was made using the toughest, strongest thread we could find and the bottom photo shows it. There is a name for this technique but I forget it - it's like a knotting thing that strengthens it. Further strengthened by adding a square of interfacing to the back of the lining so that when the loop is sewn on it doesn't just tear through the thin lining as this loop is threaded to the lining only. That way everything is invisible on the right side of the dress. (and this is why you attached the lining to the dress at the hemline - stops the lining from falling and bunching up in the fold)
- I found that even with 5 buttons, when the satin was folded underneath and buttoned it created 'pockets' that when I stepped back there was a danger of sticking my heel into. So I bought eleventy-billion clear poppers and made poppers so that I could snap the satin inbetween the buttons onto the lining too.
This is a bit of a spoiler photo as it was taken on the day, but it shows what we did with the lace on the outside. We took the bottom button of the buttons sewn onto the top of the centre back and sewed this on with the super-tough thread. Then we found the right point of the centre back seam on the lace and sewed a strong loop on here. Due to the holey lace we just pulled the loop to the underside of the lace until we were ready to bustle and no-one could see it at all. It changed the look of the dress for the evening perfectly! (Yes, it is evening - I come from Scotland, where it is light until 11pm in the summer!)
Next blog post for veil and final photos on the day!