The semester has ended and I am free for a few blissful weeks to enjoy a little free time before my summer class begins. I’m among those who are still working, in a grocery store no less, so there hasn’t been much stay at home or any lockdown for me. My free time is a very precious commodity to be spent doing things that I love or that are absolutely necessary for survival. Hopefully, I will have more of that precious time to spend on what I love to do.
For me, that means some time to work on the wedding gown, and I dove right in yesterday and worked on it for nearly seven hours. I took breaks, of course, to cook and do some housework, but still, it was a full day of creativity! I feel so much better after devoting so much time to this project. It looks amazing! It looks like a wedding gown!
When I left you last, I had posted some photos of the underlayers. We had a boned bodice lining, a slip, a tulle petticoat and a georgette petticoat. I have since cut the bodice pieces from the silk charmeuse and fused them to some woven interlining for structure and opacity. I must say, it worked very well. I stitched them together and when I pinned them over the lining, the boning channels virtually disappeared. I’ve been using Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book as a guide for my wedding sewing, and there is a wonderful corset bodice pattern in there that was a fantastically easy sew for my bodice. It looks wonderful and I had no trouble with it. It fit me perfectly on my first try.
After I completed the bodice, I stitched the top of it on to my lining, which was great, because the next part of my plan was to attach the last two skirts to the bottom edge. This was so the underlayer skirts would attach to the lining of the bodice and the outer two skirts would attach to the silk charmeuse outer bodice. That way, I could effectively turn the dress inside out from both sides and rework skirts, or if needed, remove boning and adjust the fit without taking the entire gown apart! This was a very good idea because at this stage, I was ready for a fitting!
My first fitting determined that the skirts are too long, which is expected, because I haven’t hemmed anything yet. The bodice was loose, but I thought once I had the zipper installed that would not be a problem.
I stitched an invisible zipper by hand into the bodice because I don’t trust myself to do it with silk by machine and have it come out nicely. I’m a bit clumsy with zippers yet, even after ten years of sewing, and I haven’t done one on this new machine that I can recall, so…. better safe than sorry! I then cut my skirts out of tulle and charmeuse so I could pin them on and see how they worked. I used the Zinnia Skirt from Colette Patterns as my basic shape, I just redrew it on paper to the length that would work for me. I kept the pleat placement, and it works really well on long, layered skirts! I made a slight alteration for my silk skirt, by adding a panel on each side instead of having only a front and back, to create more volume. As I began to play with them, inspiration began to work on me.
I realized two things:
- That I could work my tulle overskirt slightly differently than I had intended. I could create a split in the front and show the silk charmeuse underneath instead of a full overlay as I had originally planned.
- I was pretty much out of silk, so I’d better make other plans for the little bolero I want to make to keep me warm. When I conceived the plan for the bolero instead of a little wrap, I was going to make it in blue, but then I thought I should have it in the same silk as the gown. I’m still on the fence, so I will save that decision for later.
My original plan for the overskirts was to have a full tulle overlay on the charmeuse, but I was unhappy with all the seams. Tulle is nearly transparent, and that means the seams would be showing. I had thought maybe I’d use invisible thread, but my order was cancelled due to the pandemic, and I couldn’t find it online anyplace else. I then thought about encasing the tulle side seams into the charmeuse seams, but they didn’t line up very well, and I felt that wasn’t a very good solution. However, when I moved the skirt pieces to the sides, that was very pretty. If I did that, then I might have just one seam, in the back, and it could be covered by my leaf appliqué. Eureka!
I took inspiration from a photo my sister-in-law contributed to my Pinterest board, and I think the skirt will end up with a more layered, dimensional look with appliqué on both the silk charmeuse underneath and the tulle layer on top. It’s going to be really charming and very appropriate for a fall wedding. I’m not certain yet if I will leave the ends raw, or finish them with a rolled edge or some silk binding.
One other change you can see is the tulle on the bodice. I was going to have a full overly on the skirt and the bodice both, but I decided all those visible seams wasn’t going to be aesthetically pleasing. Once I changed the skirt, I realized the bodice overlay was history. So, I thought it would be really pretty to do a tulle overlay only to the silk charmeuse neckline and stitch a few leaves to it, sort of an illusion neckline. The only difficulty was that I had already sewn the top seam of the bodice shut. Whoops!
I ended up taking that apart to tuck the tulle down inside, and I added two straps under the tulle to support the weight of all that silk. It took some work to make it lay smoothly against the chest of the dress from. You can see from my photo that I may not have it totally fixed yet. I think when I complete it, I will do appliqué over the straps and hide them somewhat, and maybe some silk binding on the edges. Whew! This is hands down the most complex garment I have ever made, with all these layers and fabrics.
When I did my most recent fitting, I found the bodice was still too roomy, so I also unpicked my zipper and made it a bit tighter. Definitely an improvement! It doesn’t zip very well up the back of the dress form, but it does work on my body just fine.
I particularly like the ephemeral look of the skirt and how the tulle makes a train. It’s going to look great once I get the leaves sewn on! I feel lovely wearing it even in this unfinished state.