Thursday, March 20, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress - The Skirt

Welcome back to the next installment of the Wedding Dress Saga! I've still been revisiting my muslin one day of the weekend for the last couple of weeks to get the final pattern sorted.



So last we spoke I had Simplicity 5006 made and sitting quite well all over except for a few nitpicky things. Don't despair, I haven't gone and made another pattern. Three different patterns for my bodice muslin was quite enough for me!

I've spent the most part of the time since my last Wedding Dress post focussing on the skirt for this dress. I've known all along I wanted a tea length skirt that was quite full at the hem. I was pretty sure that I could draft myself a circle skirt and that would be the end of it. Not so. It's never that simple right??

I drafted a circle skirt and popped it onto my mannequin over the top of the bodice just to see what it would look like. It sat right on that waist line you can see marked on the muslin above. Firstly I hated how short it made the mannequin look (so you could imagine it on me) and secondly there was a whole lot more volume than I could handle. Lesson learnt. Apparently circle skirts are not for me.

So I set about drafting a skirt that could do two things: sit underneath the drop waisted bodice and have lots of fullness at the hem. I didn't love the idea of having a two piece wedding dress but if I could make it look like it did in my head I was at least willing to try. I spent an entire Saturday slashing and spreading one of my favourite skirt patterns to include deep pleats that would drape and flare a little less than a circle skirt. Long story short that fabric made it's way into the bin quicker than any project fail ever has. The idea was great but there was all this bulk underneath the bodice which looked awful. I love pleats, don't get me wrong, but there's a time and place and this was not it.

The next option was to draft a three-quarter circle skirt and hope that the volume didn't look too overwhelming on my figure. The maths hurt my head a little but I could tell as soon as I hung it on the mannequin that the drape was spot on. Dreamy in fact.

I tried it on myself over the top of the bodice again and fell in love with the shape of it. It was still sitting around my natural waist which was a problem but suddenly I had a skirt shape that looked just like it did in my head.

To make the bodice a little more flattering with the skirt I marked out a line on the bodice roughly 2 inches below my natural waist. I did some more head-hurting maths and got the skirt's waist seam to fit the new dropped waist line. And boy did it look awkward. There's a lot to be said for getting proportions right on your body to make something look flattering and this was a great lesson in what doesn't work. I had to stop and pack my things up after this because I really wasn't sure what to do next.

By the time the next weekend had rolled around I'd had an idea. I thought if I spent a lot of time carefully pinning I could possibly lay the top part of the skirt flat across the bottom part of the bodice down into that U shape. If I could get this to lay flat it would make the skirt drape properly from that U shaped seam line down. Since this was what I had wanted all along it was worth a try.

And look - it worked!


Never mind the terrible selfie in my bedroom that has no wallpaper on the walls anymore. The dress fits! And the skirt drapes beautifully! And the two things came together like they were meant to! 

Huzzah!

Notes on Construction
- Since my last post I cut notches into all curves in the bodice like a number of you pointed out I should have done in the first place - thanks!
- The giant fabric wrinkle under the bust did not go away at all after notching but I figured out the problem. I'd put the bust cups too high up in the bodice which meant there was this bit of curved fabric without anything to fill it so of course it wrinkled over itself. The bust cup on your right is in the perfect position and the one on the left needed to be dropped by another centimetre or so. You can probably tell that the wrinkle is coming from that left side. Once I got them both level that wrinkle disappeared - hooray!
- By the time I tried this bodice on properly with this skirt on the weekend I'd lost enough weight that I had to pinch this in a lot around my hip bones. This, combined with notching it properly, means that side wrinkle I was getting originally has also disappeared - hooray!
- I've pinned a small bit of gathered tulle as straps to see what the end result will look like and I like it.
- You might not be able to tell from this angle but the skirt is probably about 4 centimetres past my kneecaps. If it were too long it would have made me look stumpy but any shorter and the dress becomes a bit too casual. This length is working for me.
- I've successfully moved the zipper from the centre back to the left hand side so I can create a feature on the back of the dress. This will become a hand picked lapped zipper on the real dress.
- I've already spotted what I think is the perfect fabric for my dress. Once I've got the idea for the feature on the back worked out I'll be ready to buy the real fabric.
- That skirt is about 95% draping properly so I'll be more careful with my next muslin to get that drape perfect. It's also creating a hint of a V shape rather than a U shape and is slightly off centre.

So when do I make the real dress?
Good question. My measurements are changing and I don't want to distort my pattern pieces too much if I have to keep taking things in. So I'm calling this muslin stage officially over.
I'm thinking about making an all new muslin in June and then cranking the real dress out in July/August. That way I can do final adjustments a week or two out from the wedding (early October).

This means I've got a couple of months to sew normal clothes for me! And if I'm organised I could sew a bunch of things to wear on my honeymoon. Watch out world, I'm back to regular sewing speed!

33 comments:

  1. You go girl. This is looking amazing! I'd agree with leaving things for a while. My dressmaker despaired of me during the making and fitting of my dress. She had to take it in every. Single. Time. And I so wasn't trying to lose weight. In the end she finished the bodice a week out and it was so tight I literally could not breathe. She said "trust me" and the very next week as I dressed for my wedding it fit so perfectly I nearly wept. Ah the wisdom of a made to measure seamstress. She was seriously good. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks I'm really happy with the fit! Yeah I couldn't bring myself to keep altering it.
      It does make me a bit nervous to put it off for months but it's the best thing to do to make sure it turns out like planned.
      That sounds so lovely about your dress! It sounds like you were in good hands!

      Delete
    2. The fit looks great! Your next muslin should definitely be in a fabric similar to your final fabric though. Now if you are going to make a petticoat to go under the skirt, you could get that going earlier than the dress, therefore, you'll feel that you are getting something done.

      Delete
  2. Woo wee! This is beautiful. You've been through such a journey making the dress already.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, it has been quite a journey. It's probably felt much longer because I've been doing it quite slowly so I had time to mull things over as well as sew. It all helped in the end!

      Delete
  3. Wow - Great work. I love seeing the progress. The skirt looks lovely. I'm looking forward to watching the real dress being constructed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, it's an exciting point to be at. I can spend some time making some decisions on embellishments and making this as special as can be.
      I can't wait to wear this sucker!

      Delete
  4. yaay - looking great! i was going to say don't lose a ton of weight the month before the wedding! can i also suggest since you are making your own ensuring that the underwear you';d want to wear is covered? i had a nightmare getting a strapless bra to work under my (not especially low backed) sweetheart neckline wedding dress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah it's going to get tricky with the timing of the fittings but I think my fabric will be a little bit forgiving if I have to take it in or out. I've basically built a bra into the bodice so I won't need one but thanks for the tip!

      Delete
  5. Loving these posts. The dress is looking great and I agree that it is now good to let it sit for a bit... just buy that fabric if you have found it - as it might sell out !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I think I'll be getting the fabric pretty soon to make sure it doesn't disappear on me!

      Delete
  6. That looks amazing. You've got a really great fit so far. Can't wait to see your fabric!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pretty proud of how it's fitting. I just wish I wasn't so indecisive about embellishments so I felt comfortable buying all my fabric this second. I guess I'll just have to spend more time on Pinterest - it's a tough life!

      Delete
  7. I'm kinda speechless at this post (a rarity for me)! You've put SO much work into tweaking the dress and it's look pretty perfect to me! I should do the same, but I'm a bit slapdash really. Really looking forward to seeing the finished dress (as I'm sure you are too)!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha I'm glad I've deserved the honour of rendering you speechless!
      I was SO slapdash when I first started. I was frustrated that I couldn't just pull something together how it looked in my head. This process has taught (nay, forced) me to slow my sewing which has done me a world of good.
      Yeah I'm actually a bit nervous now that I've got the muslin done because I have to follow through with the real thing now! Exciting and scary in equal measures!

      Delete
  8. You are doing an amazing job getting the look you want and the silhouette looks gorgeous on you. Can't wait to see the final version.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sharon, I'm pretty proud that I took an idea in my head and made it into a well fitting dress! Time to let it rest in the back of my mind so I can do the real thing justice in due time.

      Delete
  9. Excitment PLUS!!!! I know muslin photos can be a little of a downer sometimes... but I can totally see ALL the potential in that happy snap of you in the bedroom. It's a winner, and worth all the trials and binned muslins! I was haf worried for a moment there that you had picked another bodice pattern - hehe! I really like the gathered tulle over your shoulders - is this something you're thinking of keeping? Am super glad you've got a potential fabric picked out though - whoohoo!
    And lets not even talk about how envious I am of your organisational skills. I'm in struggle town!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah it's funny how you can look in the mirror at a piece of calico but see some elaborately detailed dress in your head. I've got so much respect for people who can envision all those elements right from the beginning. I'm learning that my "vision" for creating elaborate pieces comes with time and research not with one original epiphany.
      The gathered tulle sleeve is definitely a keeper. I'm pretty certain I'll have a champagne (heavy) silk (think the weight of a shot silk but without the slub) for the bodice and the skirt. The skirt will then have layers of tulle over the top maybe with beading/applique extending down to it. I'm still toying with having one layer of tulle over the bodice with embellishment as well. Plus a feature on the back - so many ideas!
      I'll actually be doing a post pretty soon on what ideas I have on embellishing the dress. Because it's a simple silhouette and fairly simple fabric the real feature will be how I embellish it. I'm finding that blogging about the dress is helping me to gather my thoughts and ideas concisely so it's been an important part of the process.
      I've been thinking of you lately locked up in your sewing room making dreams come true on this dress of yours! I'm sending well wishes your way and despite the time constraints I hope you're loving the process! Thanks for being a part of mine.

      Delete
    2. pfft - my 'vision' comes from stealing (ahem) other designers vision. I bought a particular designers fabric for my wedding dress while I was in new york, and I'm totally, unashamedly completely ripping of his design that used that fabric. Yep.
      I'm so pleased about the gathered tulle strap! It's lovely.
      Thanks so much for your wishes too - very much appreciated! It's two weeks today and I'll probably be able to start hemming during the week... then I'll think about lace application on the bodice. Both my bridesmaids dresses are finished now so I'm feeling like the end is FINALLY in sight! I'm loving that you're doing this alongside mine - I just can't wait to see it all come to fruition :)

      Delete
  10. Amazing! Looking forward to seeing the rest of your wedding dress journey unfold. What a special thing to have, wearing something you have made yourself on your special day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right! If I can pull this off then falling into sewing will be the best damn accident that ever there was. I'm proud of myself at this stage in the process so I don't think anyone will be able to wipe any big cheesy grin off my face on my wedding day when I reveal it to those I love. Can't wait!

      Delete
  11. Hello Jodie. I'm a long time lurker first time commentor on your blog. In a former life (when I was younger and had lots of patience!) I used to sew wedding dresses for a living so I do love to watch wedding dresses come to life. I had to smile at your length dilemma, however your frock length being just below the knee is perfect because that is the slimmest part of your leg, therefore the most flattering to have a hemline. That's why the proportions look as though they should be :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for commenting! Yeah I'm learning a lot about proportion in drafting this dress. The length also adds to the 50s vibe I'm going for so it's a win all around.
      Thanks for following on my journey!

      Delete
  12. It looks great! congratulations, it seems you have worked really really really hard on it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It has been hard work but it's been interesting, I've learned a lot and everything else I sew will never seem so huge so it will be easier to take things slow with future projects.

      Delete
  13. Brilliant! I love it, it is all working out and I love how you have solved your issues and shared it so articulately. It will be a great resource for self making brides in the future I am sure :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I'm so glad I was able to get to this point! I figured it would be great reference if someone else happens to try anything remotely similar in the future.
      It's a bit weird putting so much out on your blog like this but I know how much I would appreciate it if I stumbled upon it and it helped me.

      Delete
  14. Phew! I don't envy you. This is some serious stuff. THE POSITIVE: Looks like you're going to end up with a stunning and perfectly fitting dress.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha yeah it is serious and these posts always seem really long and dry. The good part really is that I've had months and months to take this slow and sit around and scratch my head at things. And you're right the reward is pretty awesome!

      Delete
  15. Thanks for sharing all this, I admire your patience and persistence. I can't wait to see your final dress!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. I wasn't sure whether to write posts about making my dress at all except for sneak peeks because they feel so boring and detailed and only applicable to me. So I'm glad people are actually getting something out of them!

      Delete
  16. Cue that moment when you step into your perfect custom made and bespoke wedding dress that YOU made. It will be an incredible feeling and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

    ReplyDelete