Friday 31 July 2015

Wedding Dress Progress Part V: Hand sewing and Finishing up

I'm DONE!!! Yeah, I finished my wedding dress and lace bolero a month in advance and I'm veryyyy happy with the outcome. So today's post will be the last one before the big reveal on my wedding day :) I'm mostly showing you detail shots - enjoy.

First the zip: I was very afraid of sewing the zip, as I hadn't put in a lapped zip before. Add the chiffon and the thought you are sewing your wedding dress - welcome in my world! In the end I managed with the help of very good friend (thanks Thea) who stayed with me a whole Saturday and kept calming me down. We used the free Craftsy tutorial from Sunni (thanks for your recommendation Claire!) and followed it step by step. To stabilise the chiffon I used the thinnest fusible non-woven interfacing I had - I didn't want it to show on the outside. We basted all seams before stitching. I think the result is not bad :)

I hadn't pulled the zip up completely. So there is no gap in real life.

The bodice fits tight and I didn't want the whole strain to be on the zipper. Thus I stitched a bra clasp and hook into the dress. To do so, I bought a bra extender which I cut in half and then sewed to the lining on the inside of the dress with a zigzag stitch. On the pictures the lining is folded away from the chiffon:

I then hand stitched the lining to the zipper leaving a big gap where the bra extender is. To close the dress you have to first close the "bra" and then pull up the zipper. On the next photo on the right the hook part is protruding from the dress. The eye part is hidden between lining and chiffon on the left.

The straps were attached to the back bodice as one of the last steps. That means you can see them on the inside but I don't mind. Adding them last meant I could adjust the fit of the dress before hemming it. I sealed the end of the ribbon with some clear nail vanish. I was worried it would scratch but it doesn't.

I always wanted to have flowers on my dress. They had to be very delicate to match the chiffon. I found some embroidered mesh flowers on ebay. They came as a 4m long trim from China. The flowers have a little pearl in their center and although not from great quality look super nice.

I've handstitched them along the bust band on top of the ribbon and then they are flowing down one side and are all over the train.

There are about 100 of them and it took me almost 2 weeks to sew them on. I told myself to attach at least 10 each evening and it wouldn't be that bad. The most difficult part was to attach them to the bust band and not catching the lining.

The hem was the next difficult part. I only found the shoes to go with the dress a couple of days before the hem had to be done (thanks Thea). Again it took a whole afternoon, loads of tea and loads of standing on books to get it done. I can only recommend to put straps on their right position before starting to work on the hem!

A flower on the train.
because the chiffon and silk are so delicate I decided to go for a 2-thread rolled hem that I put in with my overlocker. The rolled hem of the chiffon is white as well and matches the flowers. The lining is about 0.5 cm shorter than the chiffon.

Next, I needed a bustle. There are several different types and I went for the simplest one as for the other styles the dress had not enough layers. In my case we attached ribbon to the hem of the chiffon and lining and then a little ring onto the lining at the height of my bum.

After the ceremony the train can be bound up by just threading the ribbon through the hook and tying it, voila. In case you wonder how I will prevent the ribbons from showing when the train is down: there will be a seam ripper at my wedding :) and it will be used to remove the basting from the ribbon. The ribbon will be basted to the seams - I haven't done that yet - it's only three ribbons.

To make the dress look a bit more bridal, I sewed a white lace cardigan. It's the pattern from Kwik Sew (K3400 - here is the link to my inspiration post). I made a muslin first and added some length to the bolero and removed some curve/fullness from the front panel.

I bought 1 meter of mesh lace from ebay and found a trim for finishing the raw seams at a local haberdashery. I was all positive about it and had no worries at all about sewing with lace. Then I read on the internet how difficult it is to sew lace especially mesh lace. I procrastinated a couple of weeks and then just plunged ahead.

It took me only one afternoon to finish the bolero and had no problems at all. I used my 1/4" (quilting) foot to sew the seams with a straight stitch at length setting 1.8. The advantage of this foot is that it has a small hole through which the needle goes (I don't have/ didn't need a special needle plate). To finish the seam I sewed a tiny zigzag stitch 1/8" away from the first stitching line and then cut the seam allowance away. What really helped to start sewing was to sew a couple of stitches on some scrap cotton and then start on the lace.

Final thoughts: You can't believe how relieved I am to have finished the wedding dress. I have been sewing it since April and spent almost every weekend on it. It was a very stressful and at times desperate journey. The wedding dress was all I could think about. I couldn't do anything else because I would have a bad conscience.
I am very happy with the end result - I have my dream dress - and I'm very proud of all my hard work, but I wouldn't do it again :) The groom to be summarised it with the following words: The last couple of month were all about the dress but not about the actual wedding.

I learned a lot when making the dress and so far it is the most advanced garment I have ever made. It is beautiful and I feel beautiful in it. So I can't wait to actually put it on and say yes :)

Thanks a lot for your support and know I have started to make every day clothes again (without having a bad conscience). So you can expect to see the usual pre-wedding dress stuff on this blog again.

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Wedding Dress Progress Part IV: Sewing Silk and Assembling Skirt and Bodice

Good news: THE dress finally looks like a dress! Skirt and bodice are attached (including the lining), flowers are hand sewn on and the zipper has been inserted, yeah. The only thing missing now is the hem and bustle! I can't show you the full dress before I get married (6 weeks to go, so be patient), so I'm showing you some detail shots instead.

This post will be mainly about my experience when working with silk. I used the silk for the lining, but forgot to take pictures of it. So here are some random pics :)

The skirt is without the lining in this photo. 
The silk didn't like me at all and I didn't like it either because there were a couple of hiccups on the way from silk to skirt.

1. Should you decide to gelantin bath your silk - fold it before putting it into the bucket. Otherwise you will have a wrinkly mess that takes a long time to iron. I had to iron with steam and because it took so long, the steam was condensing on the metal of my iron board and from there dripping onto my silk. Water stains!

2. If there is any writing on the selvage of the silk (like 100% silk for example) try to cut if off before the gelantin bath because it could stain you fabric. Mine did. But luckily with the chiffon layer on top you can't see it.

Assembled bodice with straps! Yes my dress is having straps, because otherwise it would fall down. There is not enough boning in there to hold it up.

3. I decided to cut my lace single layered and layed it out in front of the window. Having cut out the first piece, I realised that my silk had a purple or white shimmer depending from which side I looked. I was fretting for 2 hours about it and then found out that if you layed out the fabric the other way around the shimmer didn't change. So when looking towards the window it would always shimmer purple and when looking towards the room it shimmers always white, phew.

4. Make sure you have enough fabric - I was short 2 meters - I was just missing the last piece. And pay attention how you lay your pattern pieces down. Ups, I was just frolicking about what else I could do with that lovely leftover silk, when I realised I had layed out my pattern piece the wrong side up. I only realised when I had cut 3/4 of it. Why not earlier?

when sewing silk - use loads of pins!
5. Finally sewing! I pinned every 1" and I don't think it was enough because my seams are twisting. It doesn't show that much because I can iron it out with some steam. I french seamed all seams (silk and chiffon) and my first seam was 3/8" and my second/last one 1/4". To get a neat 1/4" I bought a 1/4" foot which has a little guide on it. I can only recommend it. It made sewing these thin seams much easier.

My 1/4'' foot - I can only highly recommend it!
Now back to the dress construction: Before I attached the chiffon skirt or silk skirt to the bodices, I washed them both to remove any starch or gelatin. I was worried about having any residues left so I did a two hours soak first and then but them (separately) into the handwashing program of my washing machine. I didn't wash the bodice to avoid getting soggy pleats.

I couldn't decide how I would attach the skirt to the bodice. My pattern suggested to first sew outer skirt fabric and lining together and then attach it to the bodice. But that meant the zipper would show on the inside. Why would you use a lining then? The lining is supposed to cover the zipper. So I sewed the outer skirt fabric to the bodice outer fabric and then I sewed the skirt lining to the bodice lining.

handstitched ribbon
Before the zipper could go in, I had to hand stitch the satin ribbon in place. It has the same color as the straps. I attached it on top of the underbust seam and when attaching it with tiny back stitches took care to only catch the outer fabric and not the lining.

I pinned and stitched the ribbon onto the dress when having it on the dress form - just to make sure the dress was falling straight. 
One last pic: The dress with it's complete lining and ribbon attached.

I'm so glad that I decided to add a train. I love it :) So thanks to everybody who encouraged me to do so. I still have to figure out how to add the bustle so that I can take the train up when we are at the restaurant.

You can't imagine how excited I am. Only six more weeks to go and I will be Mrs :) Make-up and hair have been sorted out, phew. We also had our pre-wedding meeting with the registrar which left me more confused and anxious then before.

I'm hoping to get the next post up a bit sooner now that most of the sewing is done. In case you wonder, no I'm not working on anything else other than the wedding dress, its lace bolero, ring cushion and pouch. So plenty to do! I would love to sew some dresses especially because I'm seeing all your lovely ones. But that has to wait - so keep posting and help me over my no-summer-dress-sewing.

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