Monday, 29 April 2013

I made a WEDDING dress!

Next in my catching up posts is the project that was taking up all my 'spare' time before Easter. I hinted at this in an earlier post:

I was making my sister's wedding dress!

no pressure or anything....

My sister, Holly, asked me if I would consider making her wedding dress probably around this time last year.  We had long discussions about styles and eventually types of fabric. I was keen to do it as long as the dress wasn't too complicated and the fabric was manageable - I didn't want to say yes and then not be able to deliver. We settled on a pattern:

and decided on the lace overlay of view B with the long drapes at the back of view C.

Towards the end of last summer I took her to Goldhawk Road and Soho to look at fabric, just to get an idea of what was available and what kind of thing she liked. There was much discussion about the samples that we picked - which lace looked best over which other fabric, differing tones of ivory, champagne and cappuccino, how to incorporate some features she had seen on dresses that she had tried on.... 

When she finally decided on the lace she wanted, the shop (in Goldhawk Road) had sold out.  A little bit of panic browsing in other shops didn't come up with anything else she fancied, however John Lewis turned up trumps - a beautiful embroidered silk organza in the perfect colour and half price!

I made a toile from a very cheap poly satin (£2 a metre), following the size indicated on the pattern envelope for her measurements.  It turned out to be enormous in all directions. I know pattern companies add quite a lot of ease to patterns but really...  Next I compared her measurements to mine as we are quite similar shapes. Most of her measurements were within a centimeter or two of mine, so I had a brainwave - we had not long completed paneled skirts in my pattern cutting class, so I pulled out my paneled skirt pieces, laid them on top of the pattern pieces and worked out I need to go down a couple of sizes and we'd be just right.  I started on the the dress at the beginning of February and the Wedding was in April - it didn't seem a long time but I spent every moment I could on it just to be sure I could get it  finished before Easter to the standard I wanted. I'm sure that I could have done it quicker, but the rest of my life had to be lived too!   

The rest of the post will be mostly pictures, so bear with me!
late night cutting out of main dress fabric
I had to cut out all the pieces three times - main dress fabric, the overlay and the lining - luckily I have quite a bit of floor space
making sure the overlay fabric matched on the bodice

lots of pinning...

...and hand basting of overlay to main fabric

After my sister had tried the dress on a few times I felt that it needed a bit of weight to help it hang well. My mother in law very kindly got some special hem weight cord from McCulloch and Wallis in London.

hem weights being sewn into the dress

When Holly had been looking at dress ideas she had seen one of a similar style that had layers of chiffon on the bodice to preserve modesty in that area. As this had quite a plunging neckline, she had asked me to come up with something similar.  I used two layers of a crinkly chiffon cut on the bias and of different widths. I was concerned about how to finish the edges, but on close inspection of the inspiration photo we concluded that the edges had been left raw - this is what I came up with:

bais cut chiffon strips

loop that held back drapes in place
In the run up to the wedding Holly had done the usual bride thing of losing a bit of weight, which meant on her final try on before I went on a skiing holiday (arriving home 4 days before the wedding!), I had to try and tweak the fit easily.  Luckily, the drapes at the back could be arranged in such a way that all I needed to do was add a small hook and eye at the back and no-one was any the wiser!

On the day itself, the forecast was not promising and ended up being pretty windy, wet and chilly. This meant that even in the official photos there are hardly any of Holly without warmer layers on top, making it pretty hard to see the dress:
Holly, my girls and me

lovely view of the drapes minus the cardi and fake fur bolero!
Probably the most important thing I have ever made and I'm super pleased with the way it turned out! She was a beautiful bride and I was proud to have been involved in her special day in such a special way.


  1. Just stunning! Your sewing is brilliant and I just love the fabric, and the back feature...J

  2. Wow! I don't know if I could have taken on such an important challenge! it looks really beautiful. You must have felt so proud all day of your very special contribution to do her day

  3. What an amazing frock! How lovely and special to make something for your sister's wedding. Awesome work!

  4. wow - that's gorgeous! what a lot of work but it must have been worth it!

  5. What amazing work! Your sister looked beautiful.

  6. Wow! I am so impressed - it's gorgeous, and so is your sister. Well worth the effort.

  7. Thanks everyone! I am so chuffed with it, can't quite believe that I did it!

  8. Well color me impressed - what a lucky sister you have.