Wedding Gowns

The Wedding Gown: Inside Details

My youngest son was recently married and I had the joy of creating my new daughter-in-law’s gown. But before elaborating on the details of her gown I thought I would share photos of gowns I created for my other two daughter-in-law’s.

My oldest and his bride opted for a beach wedding on a far flung island in the Bahamas; not easy in terms of travel and logistics, but spectacular. She chose heavy silk crepe fabric and I embroidered abstract roses on the skirt. Random petals were cut out and backed with silk organza. The embroidery doesn’t show well in the photo. Silk organza flowers covered the narrow shoulder strap and cascaded down the bodice.


My middle son’s bride chose an antique looking crochet lace woven from silk, wool and cashmere. The ivory lace was backed with white silk charmeuse and underlined with ivory silk tulle. The lace required precise layouts as it had a large pattern and I wanted to position the scalloped edge to skim the ground in the front. Hemming this lace wasn’t an option so the toile needed to be carefully fitted. I also played with various edge and seam finishes using the lace borders. Here is a pic of her getting unrumpled and set for her entrance.


My youngest and his bride chose a beach setting for their wedding so her choice of a simple gown sewn in heavy silk crepe worked well. We designed a dress with a fitted and flared skirt, bodice with low necklines front and back, and jeweled belt.

The problem with low neckline in both front back is keeping the shoulder strap up. The bride doesn’t want to spend the night struggling with falling straps. Spiral steel boning solved the problem. After attaching the strap to the back bodice, interfacing with a channel for the boning was stitched to the underlining. The boning extends to the waistline seam in order for the strap to be supported from the waist up.  Seams were turned under and catch stitched, ready for lining.


My first draft of the bodice had all the shaping transferred to one dart but no matter how I shaped and pressed the dart it ended in an unattractive point. The day before our final fitting I removed the front bodice and remade it using princess seaming which had a much better silhouette. I added a layer of cotton flannel to the front to camouflage a stick-on bra. The flannel was catch stitched just inside the stitching lines to avoid unnecessary bulk.


Firm cotton sateen reinforced the center front. I normally use silk organza for this but the deep plunge neckline needed something firmer.


The lining was inserted by hand. There was no way to do this by machine and sometimes sewing by hand is simply easier and produces better results. Hand sewing enabled me to ease the lining in much smoother than could have been done by machine.


A final touch for good luck is a horseshoe covered in silk ribbon. I start with a small cardboard horseshoe shape. Wrap narrow silk ribbon from both ends meeting at the top. Secure with narrow double sided tape and add a bow.



A French bustle held the skirt up for the reception. Color coded silk ribbons made it easy to tie everything up after the ceremony.


The bow drooped but all else stayed secure.





42 thoughts on “The Wedding Gown: Inside Details”

  1. The memories of these beautiful wedding gowns will be cherished forever by your family. I wish I had the level of design and sewing skill you possess.

  2. Gosh Mary. I am overwhelmed with the beauty of these photographs. It is so lovely they wanted you to make their special dresses and you really created exquisite, tasteful and luxurious gowns. They are also practical and suitable for the setting. Amazing. Thank you for sharing the inner-workings….

    1. I guess your future daughter-in-law trusts you when she requests you make her wedding gown. They were all exciting projects and I was thrilled that the girls were so happy with the results. Thank you.

  3. Mary, thank you for sharing these spectacular gowns with us. What lucky ladies!!
    On a technical note, may I ask you a quick question? I note that some of my sewing books suggest that when stitching a v neckline to just pivot at the point, but others suggest one stich across at the point and then back up, your work is always of the highest standard and would love to hear what you think produces the best results?

    1. Thank you. I shorten the stitch, sew down the V, take 1 stitch across the point, then continue up the other side of the V. I’ve never seen that in print, just figured it out through trial and error. The single stitch at he point seems to prevent unwanted fraying and ripping at the point. Hope that helps.

  4. Such glorious dresses, all three of them. I am really in awe, especially reading how you redid the bodice at the last minute! And the small, silk covered horseshoe is just the loveliest finishing touch.

  5. Each dress is exquisite and so beautifully made. Your daughters-in-law are all lovely and very lucky to have such a talented mother-in-law.

  6. Your addition of boning to the shoulder straps is something I’m going to remember if I ever have a client with a similar situation/ problem. Brilliant.

  7. You are very talented and your daughter in laws are very lucky that you are. Not everyone could pull off such gorgeous gowns.

  8. Dear Mary, I just found your blog today – I love it! Love this post about the gowns you sewed–just gorgeous. I am in the process of beginning to sew my own bias-cut silk wedding dress, and I wonder if you might be able to answer a question I’ve had. When you are sewing shifty fabric like charmeuse, do you use a stabilizing spray starch? Or do you have any tips on sewing with silk? I have a friend who used the starch spray on a white wedding dress, washed it five days before the wedding, and panicked when it became ruined with big yellow streaks from the spray! I’m gathering advice now, while I’m still in the muslin phase. Thank you & best regards, Amanda

    1. Congratulations and enjoy creating your dream dress! I’m happy you found some useful information. I wouldn’t use spray starch. While that might make cutting and sewing easier, the silk is going to do what it wants to when the starch is removed (and you run the risk of not being able to remove it as your friend sadly discovered). I use large sheets of tissue paper both underneath and over the silk and cut single layer. Cut through both layers of tissue and the fabric. I find it best to allow the fabric to “hang out” for several days before starting to sew. Either pin the pieces to you dress form if you have one, or suspend from a hanger so that the pieces can fall without touching the floor. You want the silk to stretch. If you sew it before allowing the fibers to stretch out on the bias grain, the dress will pucker badly at the seams when you wear it. Madeline Vionnet was an expert in bias cuts and you might want to explore some of her techniques before starting your dress. Cut with very generous side seams (2-3 inches) as the bias sections will narrow as they stretch. I baste the side seams while the dress sections are on the dress form to be sure I have a smooth seamline. Stitch with a narrow ziz-zag (width 0.5 mm, length 3.0mm) and your seam will look straight but have a little give. I would definitely make a test dress, cut on the bias, from a less expensive silk to test the techniques before committing to your final fabric. Good luck, enjoy the process and email me if you have additional questions.

  9. Just read this post and I love it, what amazing work you have done. I am about to make my daughter’s wedding dress and an stuck on how to support the straps that are half on the shoulder and half on the the arm and only 2″ wide. was hoping to use Rigilene boning but don’t quite know where to finish it at the front as it comes across at any angle, maybe take it to the princess line. Maybe I need to do some practice bodices.

    1. Rigilene boning would be an option and you could definitely extend it to the princess line seams front and back. I’ve also used stiff horsehair braid, sometimes two layers of it, to support the sleeve straps. It comes in wide widths so get a roll or yardage of the 2 inch wide. The nylon braid weighs very little and will support the straps without dragging them down. Again, experiment with a muslin version to see if extending the braid into the princess seams gives the effect you want. I’m sure you know that the support for the dress will come from bodice boning and a waist stay. The straps are merely decorative. Good luck and hope this is helpful. Enjoy the wedding!

Leave a Reply