couture sewing, Drafting Patterns, Lace, Uncategorized, Wedding Gowns

Bride’s Dress for a Backyard Wedding

In the last post you got a sneak preview of the bride’s dress and I promised full details would follow. For her wedding, my sister-in-law wanted a knee length ivory dress that looked bridal but not over the top for the informal setting. After brainstorming ideas with her and some fabric scouting, I designed a dress which would compliment her figure and highlight a piece of lovely wool guipure lace.

After measuring her head to toe, I drafted a custom pattern block which was the basis for her dress. This draft is fitted from shoulders to low hip and becomes the master pattern for subsequent patterns. Red lines indicate fitting adjustments and proposed style lines. The initial pattern is cleaned up and a fresh copy used to begin the actual dress pattern.

First Moulage Pattern 1

We decided the approximate placement of the lace upper bodice and also lowered the waistline seam about one inch to give her a longer silhouette. The pattern is cut apart on red lines and darts closed. The dress cut in muslin and basted together.

Pattern 2 Fitting 1

We opted to move the lower portion of the front princess seams closer to the side seams. The corresponding darts in the skirt front were also moved to line up with the princess seams. The skirt was pegged 3/4 inch for a slimmer look. I wanted to eliminate the back bodice dart, so the dart takeup was transferred to the center back and side seams.

Pattern 3 Fitting 2

I set-in sleeve would have been easier but I wanted to avoid seaming the lace in such a prominent spot. I felt a sleeve which was cut in one section with the bodice would not interrupt the beautiful guipure design. The sleeve pattern is cut lengthwise from shoulder point to hem and attached to the bodice. There is some guesswork regarding the exact shoulder slope and underarm shape but that gets resolved in the next fitting. Here is the front; the back is drafted exactly the same.

Pattern 4

We decided to raise the underarm (shown in green) for greater ease of movement. These are the pattern changes. Identical changes made to the back bodice and back lace pieces. The shoulder slope and finished sleeve length were also finalized.

Pattern 6 Final lace pattern

For the body of the dress I selected a tissue weight wool crepe, cotton lawn underlining and silk crepe de chine lining. The wool guipure was backed with cotton bobbinette, aka cotton tulle. Bobbinette is characterized by a hexagon shaped mesh weave. It stabilized the open lace beautifully. Pics of the lace with and without the net backing.

Lace without Tulle lace with Tulle

The sharp inner corner is a point of stress and a square of silk organza beefs it up and prevents ripping.

Reinforced Seam   Lace Seam 1

This lace raveled badly so a traditional appliqued seam wouldn’t have worked. I used a plain seam across the top of the shoulder. The tulle camouflaged the seam allowances well.  I ended the seam at the large flower along the border and used applique technique along the lace borders to create an uninterrupted sleeve hem.

Lace Seam 2 Complete Lace Seam

Dress fittting

Almost done. The side seams need a little more nipping in; seams get cleaned up; excess tulle trimmed; lining inserted.

The bride!!!


I also managed a dress for the mother of the bride. She chose a metallic chantilly lace from Solstiss. The trumpet skirt was cut so that each motif was centered on the panel. This was a wide border lace, so the border pattern was used for the skirt and the allover design section used for the jacket and top.

Lila Dress Lila Skirt

Syma and Lila 2

Where are the newlyweds off to on their “honeymoon.”


To an exotic destination for sure, but not for a relaxing pleasure trip. Every year they travel with a medical team to Columbia where the living conditions are anything but luxury. The team works to repair cleft lip/palates and perform other reconstructive procedures in areas of South America which don’t have access to and can’t afford this kind of medical care. Affected children are treated as outcasts of society; they and their families are eternally grateful for the gift of a new face.


































37 thoughts on “Bride’s Dress for a Backyard Wedding”

  1. Beautiful! That pattern you drafted was quite unique. I could hardly make out heads or tails of it. Lovely lace on the dress too! Then we move on to the dress worn by the mother! Clever placement of the lace at the bottom too. What a lovely couple and what an unselfish way to spend a holiday! ❤️

  2. Mary, what a delight to read this post! It is such a privilege to see the work of a true crafts woman. I marvel at your design thinking, your confidence with techniques and how to make the most of each piece of fabric and use it to best advantage for the wearer. You are a true inspiration and I don’t say that lightly. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Congratulations on these two dresses. They are so very beautiful. A beautiful gift indeed for this impressive sounding couple.

  4. Such a beautifull dress and clever explanations ! Thank you
    And warm wishes for the newly weds and their project in South America.
    Françoise (from Belgium)

  5. So beautiful, Mary. Thank you for sharing the details of the pattern development. Quite a few of my vintage Vogue patterns from the 1950s and early ‘60s have a similar yoke detail where the sleeve is an extension of it. It is so attractive and such a brilliant application in this situation. I can only imagine how thrilled your sister-in-law and her mother must have been with their gorgeous dresses. I always get ideas from reading your posts,for which I am very grateful!

    1. Thanks Karen. I feel like many of the more intricate details, such as a sleeve with cut-on gusset, aren’t used in current patterns. Maybe because the construction is a little more complicated. Vintage patterns seemed to assume the sewer had more experience than now. I always enjoy seeing your creations which are elegant and timeless.

  6. What beautiful dresses! Such a brilliant way to handle the sleeve. I love reading about and seeing your design process. I always learn so much. Thank you.

  7. Such beautiful dresses you’ve created. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge & process with us. And I’m so moved by the volunteer work your family members do in SA.

    1. Glad you enjoy reading. They also spend time organizing fund raisers to cover expenses. Everyone who goes to SA pays their own way. They always come home with amazing stories.

  8. From basic drafted patterns to spectacular! Love everything about both designs. Great appreciation for your work and presentation.

  9. Wow! How wonderful you are for making both dresses. I’ve alwasy been a fan of non-traditional wedding dresses and this one is gorgeous. The MOB dress is also quite lovely.

  10. You make traditional lace look so modern! After seeing all the changes and planning ahead for the bride’s dress…you manage to dazzle us with the MOB dress too! Clever placement of the panels down each skirt section and on the hem…just beautiful! While most of my brides plan on elaborate honeymoons, it is so great that these newlyweds choose to volunteer to help others. They are blessed twice…once by having you in their lives and the other by giving back, they also receive in abundance. Thank you for such a great story!

  11. Mary, your gorgeous visions and pattern-making are stunning! Your good heartedness is even more lovely. Congratulations to the bride and groom!

    May I ask a rather specific question?
    For a princess-line sleeveless, jewel-neck sheath in a mid-weight wool flannel, how wide would you draft the interfacing that will be sewed into the neck and armscye? The Vogue pattern uses 1.5 inches from stitching line to edge. Is that too narrow? Do you think catch-stitching the edge of the organza interfacing to the fashion fabric is the right way to go? Thanks for your opinion. Sandra-Kay

    1. Thanks Sandra-Kay. I wouldn’t use a facing at all. I would line to the edge and attach to the neck and arms eye using a fell stitch (by hand). I would also understitch (by hand) to prevent the lining from rolling to the right side. You can see a dress I finished using this technique in my 8/28/18 post,Chanel Tunic. If you decide to go the facing route, I wouldn’t catch stitch the facings to the fashion fabric; too much risk of unsightly pulling when the dress is worn.

      1. Thank you for your generous reply. I understand what you mean by using no facings and lining to the edge. Is this the right sequence? (a) stay stitch 1/16 inch outside of the actual fold /stitching line of the fashion fabric neckline and armscye. (b) Clip, fold back and baste to hold into place. Repeat with lining. Then fell stitch the two together (c) hand understitch.

        Do you think a silk organza interfacing is important for the upper chest and upper back areas, and around the arm scye? I will put a piece of silk organza on the zipper seam and in the vent flap.

        I value your experience so very much and thank you for sharing your knowledge.

      2. Whether or not to use silk organza interfacing to stabilize the neck and armhole area depends on the stability of your fashion fabric. If you feel that the fabric will stretch out of shape easily, then certainly use a silk organza interfacing in that area. You could also stay the neck and armholes with narrow stay tape. I use bias strips of china silk cut about 3/4 inch wide, then steamed and stretched. You will wind up with a strip about 3/8 inch wide. It will prevent stretching yet curve just enough to curve around the neck and arms eye. You are right to also use a strip of silk organza to stabilize the zipper and vent flap.

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