I was asked if I'd be willing to make a "simple" wedding dress. Now let's just clarify something right away. I believed them when they said it. A good friend of mine who has made quite a number of wedding dresses called out a warning before I met with the bride and mother, "beware if they use the word SIMPLE". All of a sudden I was a bit stressed. There wasn't going to be time before the wedding to have anything other than simple.
After meeting with the Bride and Mom I decided it would be simple. But with a simple gown other things have to be so "right". The fabric, fit and execution. But really how hard could it be? After discussion a decision was made for an empire waist, short cappish sleeves, and full length BIAS skirt. That's it.
I was pushing for some silk charmeuse just for the luxury and beauty of it, lining it with habotai. I knew with this simplicity the fabric would have to be very nice. I gave her a couple of samples 5"x5", but it wasn't convincing until she spied a large scrap of white silk charmeuse on my sewing table I had been running sample stitching on. I let her take it with her to JoAnn's. :~) You know she called me right away from JoAnn's stating she couldn't find anything she liked.
A great place to order beautiful white silks is http://www.silkconnection.com/ or http://www.dharmatrading.com/
Both of these resources have terrific customer service and I have had wonderful experiences with both. Now that I live less then 100 miles of both of them I receive my packages within two days of ordering. I have been ordering from both of these places for about 15 years now and even at a further distance the service was perfect. A lot of seamstresses don't know about these sources unless they are into surface design. They are selling to the fabric artist. But so much more economical for white silks, linens and cottons. Check out what other things they have you might like. You may decide to do some surface design.
I was able to help this little gal get beautiful silk for her wedding dress at a cost comparable to the polyesters at a place like JoAnns. I have to say I enjoy so much working with fine fabrics. But some problems arose and I again questioned wether or not I want to custom sew for people. I find it extremely stressful. l want everything to be so perfect. There were problems with the bias skirt, the fit of the sleeves, the darts, oh my goodness the darts. I thought I was going to die before getting them looking nice. If I had followed the balanced dart technique to start with a lot of misery could have been spared. These problems became huge before being resolved and I have definitely learned a few things. That is the best learning....to learn by doing and I always seem to learn more from making the mistake first. UGH!! It feels so hard at times.
Here is the finished dress.
Here is the front inside bodice lining.
The bride added her own embellished sash as she wanted to do something special for the gown herself.
I used a very lightweight fusible interfacing on the WS of the entire bodice to give more body to the charmeuse fabric. I fused the interfacing to a block of fabric before cutting out the bodice. Darts in this fabric without the interfacing was not doable. I also used the balanced dart technique Lynda Maynard uses in her book, The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques. Available from Amazon. I highly recommend this book for anyone hoping to gain a more professional finished garment. It may be couture but you can do it following these easy to understand instructions. The book is beautiful.
I looked up ways to handle charmeuse on the bias and found the recommendation (I followed) was to cut the skirt out adding an inch to two inches on all seam allowances and stitch up with a long stitch. Let the skirt hang for a minimum of 24 hrs. Take out the stitching and recut the skirt. I followed this for both the lining and fashion fabric. The width I must tell you grew quite a lot. I ended up taking out more than I expected on the side seams in the back so it would drape properly. My suggestion to others is to follow what the fabric tells you to do! I would have saved a lot of ripping out seams if I had listened to my instinct the first time when I went to attach the skirt to bodice. I didn't think the back skirt could have possibly grown as much as it did in width. I eased it into the bodice which resulted in very poor draping. I had to rip out the bodice to skirt seam as well as the side seam and cut off more width.
I cannot figure out why people have such a hard time with invisible zips. I have loved them for close to twenty years once I realized they always look great. I suppose I got lucky in the application technique when I followed the packaging instructions precisely. They just have always worked so much easier for me. ??? I have learned a couple of new tricks though. One big one is to interface the seam allowance where the zip is to be placed. The second is to use Dritz "Wonder Tape". It is located on the notions wall at JoAnn's. I buy it when the items on the notions wall are half price. It is a double sided tape 1/4" wide and washes away when washed. I also found an article in Threads which demonstrated how to achieve a gorgeous looking neckline where the zip is installed. Now that I am posting about it I can't located the article. Sorry. If I find it I'll post it.
Hand Stitched Rolled Hem
I googled how to hand stitch a rolled hem in silk charmeuse. And found this http://www.coletterie.com/tutorials-tips-tricks/tutorial-how-to-create-a-hand-rolled-hem
I followed the tutorial. I'm thinking about how much I love tutorials and how appreciative I am for those who post them.
It occurs to me that I might want to help others in posting my own for things I have discovered tricks for. I'll let you know when I get one done.
Sleeves on the bias.
To create this sleeve to move more with the bride as she hugs and dances I put it on the bias. I also put the lining on the bias and stitched the two together at the hem line with a tiny zigzag for more ease and comfort. I inserted the sleeves as one into the armhole and stitched in the usual manner. I wanted the entire gown to have a clean finish. So I made some bias tape from the habotai lining fabric and applied it to the seam encasing all the raw edges.
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