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—lisa g.

Monday, June 11, 2012

the wedding dress is finished!!!

a long time ago i agreed to make a wedding dress for my sister. future me always has lots of time on her hands. thankfully the dress is FINISHED and has been shipped 1600 miles to it's very eager recipient. i waited on pins and needles (no pun intended...) and with untold anxiety until it got there and ya know, got zipped into.

you see, i am a terribly anxious person with a disproportionate amount of self-doubt. yes, the dress fit her just fine a month and a half ago when she visited me and tried it on, but many many many many many many hours of work later i had it in my head that the dress had somehow morphed into some ridiculously ill-fitting shape. or that the dress fell apart entirely during shipping. or it changed colors between here and there. or that it would just be awful all over. or...

or perhaps we should just get out of my head now and talk about the dress! when last i posted i was showing the bodice interior. i finished up the bodice with a hand picked standard centered zipper. i just don't trust an invisible zipper to handle the number of layers going on in the bodice. i've never had one fail me, but this was not something i was about to risk! since i was hand picking i decided to add some small beads with each pick stitch. can't say i've ever seen this done before, but i think it does look pretty and adds a special touch to an otherwise mundane thing. 

the waist sash is made from a dark teal satin that
will be used for the bridesmaid dresses

of course, a wedding dress just isn't a wedding dress until there is some silk involved. i decided to surprise her by adding a silk lining to the bodice. my hope is that it will be nice and soft to the skin as well as a touch cooling since the rest of the dress is a stiflingly hot polyester. also, i hand stitched a tag with their names and wedding date.

as you can tell, i've been going for a classic timeless look. but i wasn't about to leave it without embellishment! and so i began a saga with lace. the lace i used is actually leftover from what was used on my wedding dress, which was made by a family friend, and is ten years old. this lace is rather a collection of floral motifs on netting that has cording to outline the details. so i cut out the individual flower motifs then dyed them from their original bright white to ivory.

oh the lace... the lace could practically be a post in and of itself, but i'll spare you the drama. i began with a tea dye and ended up with an ivory color, but next to the dress it just looked brown and dirty. so i washed the lace to remove some of the tea color then used a heavily diluted RIT dye in golden yellow to change the tone to match the fabric closer. after much duress i finally ended up with a color i was happy with. i kept reading about how polyester won't take dye and this and that... turns out it will, as i highly doubt this lace is cotton or silk.

once the lace was dyed, i stitched it all on. by hand. i thought i was going to lose my mind! i really don't want to admit how many hours i spent on that lace, from cutting to dying to sewing... i kept thinking: i know it's pretty, but is it this many hours pretty? please just don't tell me if it's not...

i will most definitely post actual pics of the dress on the bride when
the time comes! i just had to show off my work before that.

honestly, i exhausted myself on this dress (and i didn't even tell you about how i hand stitched the hem... twice) so having a little distance from it (literally!) and knowing that it arrived safely and all of those awful things i imagined happening didn't... i am immensely proud of my work. it isn't perfect and i know it's every flaw (please don't feel obliged to point out my mistakes), but come on... i made a wedding dress!. and as a bonus i now know that wedding dress making is NOT something i will ever make a living at, and hopefully it will be many years before i am stupid enough to undertake such a project ever again! the end.

—lisa g


  1. This dress is lovely! I know what you mean about knowing every "imperfection" in something you've made for someone else... sometimes it's hard to put that aside.

    I love, love, -love- the silk lining! How fun. Can't wait to see it on the bride!

    1. thank you! now that the dress is out of my sewing room (and i have photographic evidence that it in fact fits and all) i've been able to let go of the little things i would do differently in the future. and the silk lining is so soft and luxurious i want to use it on the inside of all my dresses now!

  2. Replies
    1. I just wanted to add that I can relate to your anxiety. I'm making up a prom gown for a friend's daughter, and now that I've neared the finish line, am a bit anxious that it won't fit her properly when all is said and done, although we've had many a fitting...... funny, eh?

    2. thank you so much! it was soooo nerve-wracking to sew this long distance and only have one fitting in my presence! i'm just glad it's all over with!

  3. Wow. That is a gorgeous dress. I read your previous post about this dress too, and the lace totally makes all the difference. It looks amazing, and it is finished very well. I would probably have a nervous breakdown shipping it! I gather it has arrived safely? I would love to have Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture book - still debating whether to get it on DVD or as a "real" book. BTW, why didn't you choose a silk fashion fabric? And also, where did you get the idea for the sew-in interfacing as underlining? Susan Khalje says to use silk organza which is the opposite - very lightweight. I assume you wanted to give the dress more structure?

    Anyhow, I am really impressed. You should be very proud. This is totally up my alley as I am a big admirer of couture sewing and Susan Khalje. I am actually taking her couture dress course on craftsy.

    1. thank you, and yes it did arrive safely! the khalje book gave me many great ideas of how to finish the interior and definitely recommend having the book vs a dvd. but that's just me. i tend to flip through sewing books in between projects or when i need a little inspiration!

      i would have loved to use a silk duchess satin, but the price put it way out of the bride's price range ($40-70 and up/yd as opposed to $7/yd for the poly version). while some choose to spend thousands of dollars on a wedding gown, it just wasn't a consideration here! as far as the sew in interfacing, i have seen this in various sewing guides as what goes into the layers of a gown's bodice and i wanted an absolute smooth line with as much support as possible to eliminate the need for additional undergarment shaping. between that, boning and a waist stay it all came out the way i had envisioned!

      enjoy the craftsy class, i would love to take it myself sometime!

    2. Awesome! How many yards of fabric did the dress require? Thanks for recommending getting the book vs DVD - I felt the same way but wasn't sure. I will wait patiently till I get to the USA in a few months and order a used copy. It's $100 but worth it!

      I totally want to try out the lace application like the one you did.

      Susan Khalje's craftsy class is amazing, I would totally recommend it, though it seems you know a lot of the stuff she teaches.

      Can you recommend other sewing / couture books?

    3. i think the dress was 7-8 yards, and that's with a modest 18" train! the lace was essentially hand sewn appliques, easy but sooo time consuming! i can see myself doing something similar (on a smaller scale!) as little touches on garments, or skirt hemlines. sometimes it's just the little things that make a big impact!

      as far as sewing books, i've only read a handful (and mostly borrowed from the library) but here's a few...

      "the sewing book" by alison smith. this is a good reference book of various techniques with step by step illustrations.

      "cool couture" by kenneth king. many of the photos are a bit dated and kind of wacky, but there is tons of info and good ideas. i most enjoyed his techniques for seaming sheer fabrics.

      "couture sewing techniques" by claire shaeffer. i'm sure you know, this one is the gold standard!

      "the dressmaker's handbook of couture sewing techniques" by lynda maynard. also a good reference, though many topics are not as in-depth as i would like.

      "how to make sewing patterns" by donald mccunn. while not a couture book has great info on pattern drafting from scratch, if that is of interest.

      hope you enjoy your upcoming USA trip!

    4. Thanks for the book recommendations! I will look them over. I have "Couture Sewing Techniques" and love it. Bummer though that I don't have the latest edition. I am taking a pattern making course and received a very comprehensive pattern making book as a birthday gift from my BF, so I dunno if I'll get another pattern making book. I ordered "Bridal Couture" today! Saw it for 76$ and couldn't resist. This way I get to have it in a few weeks and not in a few months!! Yay!

      I agree about the little things making a big difference. This goes for things such as finishing touches, matched up seams, a good fit, right choice of fabric, etc. I would love to make something with lace soon.

  4. It is a very beautiful dress. But what I really love is this: "future me always has lots of time on her hands." Perfect!

  5. Wow! What an amazing gift of love for your sister! It is beautiful!

    1. thanks! she is most appreciative. "best wedding dress ever" to quote her directly! :)

  6. You are a wonderful designer. The dress look so nice and it will look amazing on your sister when the special day comes in her life.


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