The Wedding Dress Saga Part 1

One fated day before we were even engaged, I decided to sew my wedding dress. While I have cursed and cried and screamed and bled, I could not have asked for or found a more perfect dress for me.

Enjoy the show:

What on earth was I going to make? What fabric did I want to use? How long did I want it to be? So many questions that literally needed an answer before I started even thinking about sewing my wedding dress.

What I wanted:
Tea-length, demure, full skirt, vintage feel, sleeves, a higher neckline or illusion neck, not white, and a hint of sparkles, but mostly lace.

Good freaking luck finding that – still to this day have not found anything remotely close to my dress.

I found my pattern pretty quickly. A yoke waisted dress with a massively full skirt, high neck, and sleeves. A check on all my requirements and for an added bonus, the dress was meant to be made out of lace! Enter Claire Shaeffer’s Vogue 8943:

Well, this is perfect.

Thus began the search to find my fabrics! I searched online for expensive laces and embroidered organzas but nothing spoke to me, it all seemed like it was made for someone else. What was worse, it was overwhelming. So one day while doodling around on my favorite fabric site, I stumbled upon this gem:

Starlight Sequin Damask Mesh Gold on Ivory

The search was drawing to a close. This combined with an ivory flat cotton lace with scallops on both selvages would make my dress. Keep in mind, the dress requires scallops from the fabric to edge the hem, neckline, and sleeve. With no scalloping on the selvages of the mesh, I had to get creative. Looking at flat trim lace, I figured I could cut away the gold scallop from the white and use that as my edging. I selected two laces, one for the skirt hem that is large, and one for the sleeves and neck that is small:

The Big Lace

The Small Lace

By now you’ve realized that I didn’t want a whole lot of sparkle, but suddenly I have a disco ball type of fabric. Yup, that happened. I have no defense. Sparkles are the best. Solidarity with the shine sistas.

Now to find the buttons for the button back of the dress. This took forever! I finally found the buttons about a month away from the wedding while in NYC with my Mom. And yes, we were hunting for them! Bless the AMAZING selection of MJ Trimming!

The Saga continues soon with sewing and in progress shots! Check back soon for more!

Linen Petal Dress Creation

I have a few cuts of fabric that are solely dedicated for when I need a quick filler project to get my sewing fix. Yes, I am addicted, no, no help is needed. These two linen fabrics I’ve had for a while now, and finally decided to put this look together.

The petal style skirt was inspired by a look of Michelle Obama’s a few years ago – I love the idea of scallops without the actual hem being curved. The visual interest of this is something that I don’t see in most clothing stores except very expensive ones – because the seams cannot be set by machine, they must be worked by a seamstress.

So many petals!

 

To start – all the petals!

Full disclosure – I did mash-up two Butterick patterns for this dress to make the whole process as quick as possible: B5707 for the bodice and B5894 for the skirt.

 

 

 

Then I sewed them all together! Shocking!

Then I stitched over each seam with a pre-set decorative chain stitch from my Pfaff.

At this point, the skirt is nearing completion. After I did all the decorative stitches, I attached the hem of the black linen around all the curves of the petals. Once each side was done, I stitched up the sides and put the decorative stitch over the side seams.

The bodice was fun to work with and sewed up rather quick. I adore the box corners on the bodice and the kimono style sleeves.

Close-up of the box cornered bodice, dart, and sleeve style.

All that’s left is the keyhole neckline, which just required a quick rolled seam at the opening. I added a bit of decorative stitching to add visual interest to the bodice because it felt a bit flat.

Backside detail of the keyhole sewn open (before pressing)

Then just sew the bodice and the skirt together, throw in a zipper, and voile: dress!

Photo credit: Nick Ferris

Sansa Stark Mockingbird Cosplay

Let me first say that I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones. Seriously. Big fan.

I’m absolutely in love with the costuming on the show – it’s beautiful, intricate, unexpected, detailed, and wholly perfect. Which is why I’m making Sansa Stark’s black dress (Mockingbird Dress) from the show. It’s simple but stunning:

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

Detail of the detachable collar piece. Credit: Could not find. If you know, please let me know so I may give credit where due.

So naturally, I scoured the main pattern companies for a similar pattern. And what did I find? Simplicity 1137: the “replica” of the costume! With a few MAJOR differences:

  • Feathered bodice: actually not feathered – they used chainette trim
  • Bodice is a bolero – not part of the dress.
  • Opening is in the back, not the front.
Pattern: Simplicity 1137

Pattern: Simplicity 1137

I went to work on the pattern, only to find that (like all Simplicity patterns that have come before this one) the bodice is ridiculously sized. The bust point for this – had I cut it without altering – would have been above my boob. Really guys? After sitting at the table for a full 2 hours and a second draft of the front bodice piece actually working, I ended up having to add 2.5 inches to the length and to redraft the neckline. The arm scythe and all the actual measurements are perfect on the pattern otherwise. Just not the length. Argh. Then I did the same to the back, which was considerably easier. FYI, the dress will be all one piece. I’ll be making the bolero the top part of the dress and have the whole dress open in the front instead of the back.

Front bodice alteration

Front bodice alteration: Original pattern piece over the new corrected pattern piece.

Back bodice alteration

Back bodice alteration: Original pattern piece over the new corrected pattern piece.


On to the Sewing!

The materials for the dress:

  • Black Linen/Rayon blend (hey, I wanna be comfy!) – 8 yards
  • Strung Black Rooster Feathers: 5 yards
  • Strung Black Goose Feathers: 1 yard
  • A ton of assorted fusible interfacing – so many layers!

What you don’t see before we get to the cool stuff: Cut bodice pieces, used self lining. Lining was interfaced with featherweight to prevent over-stretching. Fashion bodice pieces were interfaced first with featherweight, then again with woven interfacing – they ain’t going anywhere! All pieces were then re-cut (because when you interface, things get wonky). Lining pieces were all sewn together. Darts were all sewn before applying trim.

Okay, now the fun stuff!

How to on the Feather Trim:

  • Remove feathers from bias tape on which they were strung
  • Cut 2″ strips of black linen blend
  • Pull individual treads off the strips to create a frayed edge
  • Machine sew feathers onto strips – going over each feather 2-3 times
  • Cut quills off the feathers above the stitch line
Feather trim close detail

Finished feather trim close detail

Layering the bodice:

  • Mark each placement line
  • Sew strips of feather trim on bodice starting from the bottom and working your way upward
Layering the feather trim onto the bodice

Layering the feather trim onto the bodice

Look at all that detail when its done:

Close-up of finished side of bodice

Close-up of finished side of bodice

Now to get to work finishing off the sleeves (which have been lined with basic black lining fabric from JoAnn’s that I had left over from a previous project). This picture shows the completed bodice with one sleeve pinned on to give a better idea of the finished bodice.

Full bodice with one sleeve ready to go.

Full bodice with one sleeve ready to go.

 

I’ll post an update soon with the finished dress. This certainly is one of my favorites for dreary day photoshoots!