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Sewing a wedding dress: The Big Reveal

December 5, 2015

Well! After trawling the internet for other home-sewn gowns,  drafting the corselet, adding the underwires and boning , and choosing my fabric  the big day finally arrived and I did have a wedding dress to wear.

sew wedding dress

The 48 hours before the wedding contained two dress related near-catasrophes that have probably shortened my life expectancy. I had no clue how to attach the roulade loops to the dress in order to produce functional buttons, and I managed to significantly reduce the margin for error by ordering cloth-covered buttons that barely fit through the roulade loops anyhow. Of course after trying the dress on twice one of my roulade loops ruptured, save a few dodgy looking threads:

sew wedding dress

Eeegads..! As all 12 loops are made from a single continuous piece, if one failed would rapidly all fail.  As you can see in the picture I reinforced it with cotton thread and just prayed that on the day it would hold (spoiler: it did).

The scariest moment by far was the zip insertion. Well after midnight, about 36 hours before the wedding I got around to inserting the zip (what an idiot). I am pretty handy with an invisible zipper foot, I carefully basted the zip into both the organza and silk layers of my dress, and sewed the zip in place – too easy! And then the zip would not go up, because some of the teeth right at the base of the zip had been deformed slightly. I was faced with the possibility of having to unpick this zip from my whispy organza and insert another one into whatever survived this unpicking. Oh god.

I think in moments like this one’s true character shines through and I can say with pride that I am one cool cat under pressure. What would having a midnight tantrum do to help me and my couture gown with a busted closure? I took a deep breath, got out my tweezers and started massaging those teeth like I was about to marry them instead. After about half an hour I got the zip over those busted teeth and just about died of relief.

So how did the dress close up? Well, pull up a seat!

sew wedding dress

Step one is to do up the waist stay. This is a piece of grossgrain ribbon that is attached to the bones of the corselet only. I had negative ease in my stay because I feel secure in very snug things. This closes up with a hook and bar stitched it in with blue thread for my something blue.

 

sew wedding dress

Step two is to tackle the 13 hooks and eyes which are attached to the corselet layer. This is where all the action happens, as the strong coutil canvas takes the strain of holding up the dress. Step three is to do up that damn invisible zip. Step four is to get a bobby pin and wrestle the poor roulade loops over the buttons that are too big for them.

sew wedding dress

Confession: I did not finish the fabric on the button side of the bodice! I could not work out how to finish this without creating bulk where the two sides overlap. With the corselet, hooks, eyes and buttons going on in that area it was already bulkier than I wanted. Now I know why a lot of corselets in off-the-rack dresses close slightly off-centre! So I just left this edge pinked. It looked fine!

For my veil I took inspiration from one of my favourite ballet moments, the Willis from Giselle. The Willis are deceased jilted brides who have been left at the altar. They are miserable and sombre beauties, but super chic in my opinion.

We cut my veil in the hallway about 10 minutes before we left home, my gorgeous bridesmaid evened the ends for me, and helped me pin it in place. (Note for wedding stalkers; hair by Micah at FB salon South Melbourne )

sew wedding dress

Our ceremony was so special, with a 16 voice choir, string quartet, 3 trumpets, 2 oboes, organ and timpani I made quite an entrance 🙂

church1

Andy’s tuxedo was made to measure by the Suit Shop, they did a fantastic job.

palm_tree

sew wedding dress

And now it’s happily ever after!  Next up I’ll report on the bridesmaid dress that I made in collaboration with my gorgeous BM Maddie.

Thanks for reading – please say hello in the comments !

 

tanya
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