Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wedding Dress Completed!... a while ago!

Hey everybody! In case you've been waiting in tense anticipation to hear whether or not I managed to finish my sister's wedding dress in time, you can now relax. It got done! As you might have noticed, blogging had to take a backseat for while to make room for actual sewing, and then also to make room for quality time with family, starting a new graduate program in another town, and a cat crisis (he's now okay).

But back to the dress... Here's a photo to give you some relief...

I know it's not the best quality photo. I'm waiting on the photographer (our sister-in-law Susanne) to send the official shots. I will unload those in a big beautiful post later. Susanne takes beautiful photographs. Until then, you'll have to be satisfied with construction shots.

The bad part about blogging so long after the fact is I'll probably forget a lot about the construction details, and my interest in them is also fading rapidly. I do have several hastily taken snapshots of the last bits of construction though, and I'll tell you what I can about them.

Above is a snapshot of the insides of the front of the bodice. It was tricky getting those seam lines at the the neck to match up properly, especially with the trim. I trimmed my seam allowances and hand-sewed a lot of them down, to keep them discrete and in place.

We ended up having to sew in some bra cups last minute to pad it out a little. It was a minor fitting issue, and I'm very happy there was nothing worse that that!

Sure, I wish those were concealed better, and that they were proper bra cups and not something I yanked out of a swimsuit last minute... but they did the job! Perhaps I shouldn't be so flippant about my sister's wedding dress, but I ran out of time for "perfect" - and I think that's just my style.

To solve the problem of the transparent back, I underlined it with silk organza and created a narrow lining for the waistband (hand sewn in place). For the arm and neckholes, I made bias strips and a facing that I wrapped around the raw edges and hand sewed down. Here's a pick of the neck facing below, which also included a facing for the zipper.

You can also see the waist stay in one of the photos above. It's a grosgrain ribbon that I sewed to the seam allowance where the skirt and bodice join. Since that seam ends up between the outer layers and the lining, I made buttonholes in the waistband lining for the ribbon to poke through.

That's a clever trick I learned from this post over at SoSewLovely. Her photos are incredible helpful! Her waist stay is sewn on differently than mine, but you get the idea. The lining material on Katie's dress is a very lightweight cotton batiste, so I stabilized the buttonholes for the waist stay with little squares of iron-on interfacing:

I was really trying to avoid using iron-on interfacing for this dress, but for this tiny little bit I really don't think it matters. Especially not when the deadline is fast approaching!

The skirt has two layers. The underskirt is the handkerchief linen, and the upper is lace underlined with organza. I wanted them to hang separately at the back closure, so I referred to Grainline's tutorial here.

You can see from this photo that I've got an invisible zipper sewn into the underlay. It's hand-picked, which I find just about as easy and fast as doing it by machine. There are silk organza strips stabilizing the zipper, although I forgot to photograph it. For the upper skirt, I sewed strips of linen (non-bias) along the slit opening, which I also forgot to photograph. These gave me something to sandwich the button loops between, and added a little extra strength for the loops and for anchoring the buttons. The loops are rouleau loops, which I had a hell of a time turning inside out. But I love the way they look! The buttons came from an Etsy seller and added the "something blue" to Katie's outfit. The Etsy seller advertised them as glass - they're not. I was disappointed, but we had no time to return them for something else. Really, no one is going to notice but me, and the overall effect was very pretty anyway.

There's a hand-sewn flower applique that overlaps the opening on the back of the dress:

It fastens in place with a little hook and eye:

And finally, here's a few photos of the finishing on the skirt hems. There were two layers of trim on the bottom skirt. I used a zigzag stitch to sew down the wide scalloped trim shown below. You can see there's a large amount of extra fabric to the right of the trim - that's all excess length that ended up getting used in a very wide hem. I'm lucky it was there, because I ended up needing it!

I used a straight stitch to attach another row of lace trim that covers up the raw edge on the wider lace:

I know that this narrow lace trim is meant to have a ribbon woven through it. Time did not allow, which is a shame, but at the same time I know that nobody else was going to notice this. Maybe it can be added on in the future.

Here's that extra wide hem, turned upward:

 It was perfect for concealing the horsehair braid around the bottom of the skirt:

It was sort of a beast to control the extra fullness of the hem. At first I tried using gathering stitches, but that just made a mess because my row of stitching didn't line up perfect with the top of the horsehair braid. I ended up putting little pleats in the hem instead. Then I wrapped the top around the braid and hand sewed it down. I love the end result, with the braid tucked neatly inside.

The upper skirt was finished a little less... elegantly. There's a double row of ruffled trim that I stitched down with a zigzag stitch, and another row of that narrow lace to cover the raw edge on top.

Here's the backside, which you can see is a little messy. I simple trimmed away the hem at the bottom line of zigzag stitching. It does the job, but probably is not the method you'd see on a couture garment.

And I think that's all I've got to say about this dress! In the end, there were many little things which I wish I had time to fix - neatening up the ends of the waist stay, inserting proper bra cups, replacing the buttons, putting ribbon in the skirt hem - but when she tried it on I thought she looked absolutely beautiful.

It was so satisfying to see it on her. I had some little doubts about the dress, as anyone might have after spending so many hours staring at something. But when Katie put it on everything looked right. The dress isn't perfect on its own, but my sister made it perfect.

So that's the happy ending to the wedding dress saga! I hope you enjoyed seeing the process and the finished product. It was a ton of work, but it was totally worth it. I'm just glad I have only one sister - I can't imagine doing this again!