Friday 27 September 2013

THE Wedding Dress - Part Two

If you haven't read part one then you can find it here.

So the time finally came to make the first cut.  I was feeling pretty confident about the bodice, as the lovely man in the lovely shop gave us a VERY generous amount of fabric.  This meant that I could redo it if I made a complete mess - phew!

Then there was the fastening on of the first bits of silk tulle, this bit was quite easy as I was sewing it to the stiffer silk, which my machine was quite happy with.
It was great to see it starting to take shape and I had much fun sending pictures of it's progress via facebook to Jem.

Having a dressmaking dummy helped hugely to reassure myself that I was working to the right measurements.

Once I had got this far with the bodice, it was time to turn my attention to the skirt.  This was going to be a bigger challenge.  First there was the underfabric a beautiful piece of silk, the same colour as the bodice but without the acetate backing so it didn't have any stiffness.
You can see how naughty I am on this picture, not ironing the pattern pieces OR the fabric.  I find this helps me to know for sure which side of the fabric is the right side when it comes to putting them together.  I also had to add a good 4 inches to the bottom of the pattern as with a big underskirt it would be puffed out - thankfully we found this out when I made the mock up dress.
I may have had plenty of lee way for mistakes with the bodice fabric - however it was a totally different story when it came to the underskirt - this is all I had left after I had cut it out!
This picture gives you more of an idea of how beautifully light this silk was.  No time to stop though, there were now 10 metres of silk tulle to turn into the overskirt!

This was done in 6 panels, each panel being joined to the other with the tiniest of straight seams.  I found the only way to do this was to use strips of tissue paper under the two pieces of tulle, pinning and then sewing it on the machine.  Then finally removing the tissue paper - this took a very very long time, but the effect was well worth it.
My biggest concern at this point was that I would end up twisting the skirt, so I checked and double checked (and triple checked) that I was doing it correctly.

Finally when the pieces were all sewn together it was time to put in the gathering stitch lines and get 10 metres down to 30 cm to go around the dress waist.
There really was no more room to gather it any more!

Once this was sewn onto the underskirt, it felt like another big watershed moment, as I got to pin the skirt alongside the bodice to get an idea of the overall look.

Before venturing any further in the process it was time for the first proper try on.  Jem drove down to us as I really did not fancy taking this beautiful fabric for trips down the M3.  As ever the lovely Jem and her mum Tina (via the revolutionary skype thing as Portugal was a little too far to pop over for this fitting) said all the right things and were so encouraging.  The fitting went very well and while she was still with me I properly sewed the bodice and skirt together.  This meant that I could do the final markings for where the the buttons would go before I lined the bodice.  We also spent some time fiddling with the last bit of tulle to decide about whether I was going to do a train and/or a veil.  We decided not to make our minds up on these totally until the next fitting.  It was quite difficult trying to see on my upstairs landing, as with big tulle underskirt underneath it the dress was getting huge! I found a great way to keep the dress on my dummy without the worry of my little dog, my children or my husband spilling anything on it - the upside down clothes bag!

So before the next fitting the big job to do was to line the bodice, make the buttons and sort the button loops - oh yes and there was the little matter of sewing on around 200 little swarovski crystals!

Putting the bodice lining on was quite simple, I then placed pins where I was going to put the crystals, to get the brides approval (again, thank you facebook).

I loved getting the message back from her that she loved it with the coloured pins - though thought her mum would probably not approve - so on with sewing on the crystals - only hiccup being that I had lost my beading needles and normal sewing ones would not fit through the tiny holes in the crystals - gah!

Now it was really starting to look like the dress it was supposed to be.


I tacked down the back and pinned the buttons on so that Jem could see what it would look like (it's a good job it is just tacked - look how wonky the left seam is!) We were now ready for the next fitting!  This time I was much more organised, we cleared the living room, got down our nice big mirrors and set to work.  Instead of having Tina on the computer at the top of our stairs, this time she could perch on the top of our sofa!
While Jem was there I managed to get all the buttons sewn on and the button loops in place.  (I cheated and bought some ready made elasticated ones of these in a strip).

We then had a good play with the remaining tulle for the train and/or veil, and made the decision to go for a separate veil which would have a comb on to attach to her hair and a detachable train, that could be taken off for dancing in the evening

It was great to get the decision made (we were now just two weeks away from the wedding!).  It was then time to set about doing the hem - this was the job I was least looking forward to (I've always disliked hemming!).

I had to get Jem to stand on our coffee table to try and get an even eye line for the hem of the under skirt.  You can see in this picture how much the tulle under underskirt was puffing it all out.  It was a lovely touch for Jem to be able to use this underskirt, as it has seen her through lots of music festivals - so was a great 'something old' for her to have on.

All the while we were doing this there was lots of jolly banter going on with Tina on the computer still, you can just about see the edge of the computer on the corner of the sofa (as well as my husband in the mirror taking the photo!).

Jem was then sent off home knowing that the next time she came she would (hopefully!) be taking the dress and veil and train all home with her.....................................

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