The Wedding Dress – Part 1

Whilst I LOVE to sew, I pick and chose my jobs when it comes to wedding dresses.  Too many bridezillas = too much stress.  This one was going to be a quick and easy job.  “It’s a very simple design” says the bride.  “Nothing fancy”, she adds.  We discussed the design and I agreed it was going to be relatively simple, as wedding dresses go.  Then she brought the fabric and lace – ivory coloured silk dupion with a stunning (very expensive) hand-beaded lace to go on top.  The lady in the shop said, with an air of knowing what she was talking about, “Lace is like pasta – you can cut it and join it back together again.  All you will need is twice the required length”.  WRONG!!!

Challenge #1 – Quite true that lace can be cut and joined but you still have to consider the width of the lace, the design of the lace and the design of the dress.  The piece of lace was 40cm wide with a gorgeous scalloped edge on each side.  Perfect if you are sewing for size 4!  Not so good for anything larger than this, and my bride is NOT big.  So, what to do.?
The dress is a princess line design so I was able to place the main piece of lace down the centre front and back, removing the scalloped edges from each side and reserving the motifs for future use.

Seams Like Fun

The panel on the right side of this picture is the centre front.  Beaded motifs that cross the seam have been carefully cut out and then lapped across the seam.  Now for the side panels.  I couldn’t leave them just plain but  didn’t have enough lace.  A light bulb moment and off to the shop to buy some plain ivory tulle.  The plan was to cover the side pieces with plain tulle and applique spare lace motifs (remember the bits removed from the side earlier?) to make it look like one continuous piece of lace.  All well and good until I realised that the tulle backing for the lace was not really ivory after all – more a nude colour.  Now I had a centre front that was a darker shade than the side fronts.  Drat – get out the unpicker and come up with Plan B.    Some careful tea-dying of the plain ivory tulle resulted in a near perfect match.  If you look closely at the picture above, the only discernible difference between the two panels is the absence of the scattered tiny seed beads between the motifs on the side panel.  I’ll fix that later.

Challenge #2 – The dress is fitted from bust down to just above the knee.  The bride wants a tulle flounce around the bottom and has brought metres of very fine bridal tulle in – you guessed it! – an ivory colour.  It’s going to be several shades lighter than the rest of the dress.  Back to the kitchen to get out the teabags.  Working with four layers of tulle, the bottom layer is tea-dyed and the top 3 layers remain the original ivory.  Just one darker layer was enough to give the right result.  Check out the match in the picture below.

Seams Like Fun

This dress is still a work in progress.  I’ve already spent many hours hand-appliqueing lace to the side front and back of the dress.  Still not finished, but well on the way.  The flounce is just tacked on for now.  At the next fitting I will check the length and then remove it whilst finishing all the hand sewing on the body of the dress.  I also have four layers of tulle to finish with a narrow rolled hem.  That’s 16 metres of hemming.

Lots of challenges for “just a simple design”.  Stay tuned for Part 2 and pictures of the finished product.  I having a funny feeling that I have not conquered my last challenge just yet.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. sewinggoddess
    Mar 20, 2014 @ 00:26:41

    wow, that’s some work!


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