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.

liz-gown

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.

sarah-gown

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.

back-boningback-strap

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.

bodice-first-draftbodice-second

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

front-stabilizer

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.

lining-1lining-2

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.

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

bustle-diagram

The bow drooped but all else stayed secure.

bustle-back

veil-in-wind

preview

 

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January 9, 2017 · 6:29 am

Sewing a Wedding

It’s been SO long since I posted but my blogging time was replaced by sewing time for the past two months. My youngest son was just married and I had the joyous task of making the bridal gown, my gown, altering 3 bridesmaid dresses, adjusting three suits and restyling my mother-in-law’s gown ( I had made for her many years ago from fabric purchased in Paris). Sounds like I had my hands full.

Details of the bridal gown are coming soon but here’s a preview of the newlyweds.

preview

My new daughter-in-law chose navy and silvery gray as colors. I persuaded my husband to go fabric shopping for my dress and we wandered into Mendel Goldberg Fabrics in NYC. If you’ve shopped there, you know the exquisite things they have and the exquisite prices. I thought hubby was going to seize, but one yard was easily enough for what I had in mind and the total price of the dress would be far, far less than anything I could buy. His response was “go for it!”

lace-yardag

The bodice draft began with design lines taped onto my body double dress form. Muslin draping was cut and formed to follow the design lines and the pattern created.

marking-dress-form-backmarking-dress-form-frontmuslin-toile-backmuslin-toile-front

I often play with layers of fabric to achieve the desired effect. After trying various combinations of nude tone silk organza, black organza, black cotton tulle and black silk tulle, I decided to use one layer of nude organza, one layer of black cotton tulle and two layers of silk tulle. The fabrics provided the necessary opaqueness and support for this heavy beaded lace.

cutting-tullebasted-for-fitting

Beaded lace doesn’t cut well so I opted to construct the underlayer and drape the lace over, adding handstitched applique darts where necessary.

finished-underlayerdraping-lace

The front princess seams needed support but my favorite spiral steel boning was too rigid. I often use narrow horsehair braid which I stretch and steam to made it narrower and stiffer. The horsehair is inserted into the front seam and provides the right amount of shaping without looking unnatural. Spiral steel was used at the side seams for additional, flexible support.

lace-bust-dartfront-princess-seam

To finish the cap sleeve edges, I cut the scalloped edging and hand appliqued it on. There was just enough scalloped edge to finish the neckline but none left for the edges of the cut away back. Buying more yardage for this would have been ludicrous! From the scraps I was able to cut beaded circles and appliqued them along the back edges. The excess tulle was trimmed away.

cutting-edgingback-edge-trim

All this detail work required hours and hours of hand sewing. I entertained myself by setting up my sewing in front of the TV on election night and watched the totally unpredicted results flow in. Now I know what my readers in the UK must have experienced with the Brexit vote. Hopefully our new president will be good for this country and the world.

For the skirt I chose a sheer polyester chiffon and had it professionally pleated in a sunburst pattern. Use polyester, NOT silk. The pleats won’t be permanent in silk. I had a discussion with Lisa at International Pleating and they don’t recommend silks unless you plan to wear the garment in a dry environment and are prepared for the upkeep. As this was for an outdoor beach wedding, silk seemed a poor choice.  This service is more accessible than you might think. I took my yardage to Tom’s Sons International Pleating in NYC, although you can also ship fabric to them. They have a wonderfully helpful yardage calculator on their website and your pleated fabric is shipped with explicit instructions for seaming the panels together. Shop the Garment District has more info on her blog about this company. I asked for the waistline seam not to be cut (the inner circle when you draft a circle skirt) as having the fabric at the point makes it easy to hang and store your pleated yardage until you are ready to work on it.

pleated-yardagethread-trace-pleat

I found it easiest to locate the “inside fold” (read their seaming directions) and thread trace the fold. Do this on both sections and then baste together before seaming. Make sure your work is absolutely flat to avoid rippling along the seam. The skirt was lined with a separate skirt of metallic silver gray charmeuse. The bodice and two layers of skirt were joined and the scalloped edging covered the seamline.

waistline-seamhemming-skirt

Hemming took some time. A wonderful feature of a professional style dress form is that you can raise the form so the skirt hangs free of the base and you aren’t marking a hem while lying on the floor. A yardstick rubber-banded to a heavy jar made a wonderful marking stick. The hem will flare out when stitched so allow an extra 1/2 to 3/4 inch in length to compensate. A few shots of close-up views:

dress-closeupdress-back

dress-sleevedress-on-form

We had the joy of bringing our son to the chuppah and celebrating his marriage. Wedding gown production is next.

mob-dress-2

The rehearsal dinner was also a beach affair and I made a white lace tunic, idea courtesy of Julie and Sarah of The Tunic Bible. White cotton lace was underlined with skin tone cotton.

lace-tunictunic-interior

I used darts in the back underlining but eliminated them in the lace layer. White linen formed the placket and collar and all seams were finished with narrow binding. I wore this with skinny navy pants for a comfortable night on the beach.

 

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Winner: The Tunic Bible

Thank you for all the lovely comments. These tunics were. Fun to create and I have a few more planned. The winner of the book is Andrea Birkin. Andrea, please contact me at  mf953@aol.com  before Saturday 10/15. I need your mailing address as the book will be sent directly from the publisher to you.

 

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The Tunic Goes Couture

The Tunic Bible has been published!

tunic-book-cover

Welcome to day 2 of the blog tour. I met Sarah online through her Ready-To-Wear Fast project. I’m thrilled to present my interpretations of the tunic. At the completion of the blog tour, each of the sites will host a book give-away. In order to be entered please leave a comment before midnight October 9 and you will be entered in the drawing. The winner will be announced at the end of the tour.

The first version used a mid-weight linen and was lined/underlined with lightweight cotton/silk voile. My construction order differs slightly from the one in the book. I completed the front facing first; then stitched darts in each layer; finally joined the face fabric and lining to be handled as a single layer.

black-placketblack-hem-detail

I also added extensions at the sides to provide support for the heavy trim. Hems were mitered and all seams bound with bias binding made from the lining fabric. The excess beads were removed from the ends before turning the edges under. The edges looked a little unfinished, so I cut an additional piece of trim, folded it to form a narrow edge, and stitch in place.

trim-edgestrim-edging

black

The next version was constructed from a saree I had worn to a wedding. I couldn’t see myself wearing it again but the fabric was a beautifully embroidered silk with an interesting decorative border.

placket-layouttrim-miterplacket-insidecollar-layout

I arranged the border as the placket and used a narrow band of trim around the placket and collar. The lining/underling was handled the same way with darts sewn first and then the two layers of fabric handled as a single layer. The seams were bound with bias strips of the lining. Loads of hand sewing, but this is the world of couture!

cream-insidecream

Here’s the schedule for the tour: Enjoy!

The Tunic Bible Blog Tour Schedule

 

 

October 3

C&T                    www.ctpub.com/blog

Pattern Review            www.patternreview.com/blog

 

October 4

Cloning Couture        www.cloningcouture.com

Generation Q Magazine    www.generationqmagazine.com

 

October 5

Oonaballoona            www.oonaballoona.com

Featherstitch Avenue    www.featherstitchavenue.com

 

October 6

Allie J                    www.alliemjackson.com

Thanks I Made Them    www.thanksimadethem.blogspot.com

 

October 7

Sew Busy Lizzy            www.sewbusylizzy.com

Jennuine Design        www.jennuinedesign.com

 

October 8

Inside The Hem            www.insidethehem.com

Girls in the Garden        www.girlsinthegarden.net

 

October 9

Sew Manju                www.sewmanju.wordpress.com

My Love Affair with Sewing    www.myloveaffairwithsewing.com

 

October 10

Evolution of a Sewing Goddess    www.evolutionofasewinggoddess.blogspot.com

Creating in the Gap        www.creatinginthegap.ca

 

October 11

House of Pinheiro        www.houseofpinheiro.com

The Tunic Bible             www.thetunicbible.com

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Chanel Shoulder Pads

Anyone who has constructed their version of the classic Chanel quilted jacket is aware that there is no provision in the design for shoulder padding. Unfortunately, many figure types are enhanced by the addition of even just a slight lift at the shoulder line. I came across this RTW Chanel quilted jacket WITH shoulder pads.

jacket1jacket2

The lining is silk chiffon and is difficult to see in the photo. Each section of the jacket, including sleeves, is quilted in vertical lines about one and 1/4 inch apart. The lining seams are finished by hand: amazing to find this in RTW! There are also shoulder pads covered with the silk chiffon. Happily I was able to get inside this garment and copy the details.

jacket3

Here is the jacket wrong side out with the shoulder pad visible and the pattern I was able to reconstruct. The inner working of the shoulder pad were identical to a pattern I previously posted on 1/20/2016: The Chanel Shoulder.

Here is a copy of the shoulder pad itself:

shoulder-pad-pattern

I don’t have pdf conversion software, but if you right click anywhere on the pattern you will have an option to print. Print to fit on 8.5 by 11 paper and it should print to the correct scale.

I’ll run through the construction of the shoulder pad again so readers don’t need to toggle back and forth between posts.
pieces1pieces2
On the right are the sections cut from cotton batting. Left photo shows the sections completed. Check the post from 1/20 if you need additional hints.

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I’ve shown the inner layer (pattern piece 3) placed on the mannequin first, topped with the optional additional padding (pattern piece 4). Stitch these layers together.

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Pattern pieces 1 and 2 (already stitched together) are layered on top and pinned for sewing. Next photo shows the completed shoulder pad.

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Since the lining in this jacket has already been attached by quilting, the shoulder pad needs to be covered by matching lining. Here are the lining pieces: Shoulder Pad Cover

 

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Sew the darts in both top and bottom cover pieces. Notice both sections are cut out bias grain. There is also NO SEAM ALLOWANCES on the outer edges. Allow about 3/4 inch or 2 cm. Pin the upper cover (the piece with two darts) on the top of the pad. Stitch just INSIDE the edge of the batting.

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Place the bottom cover section on top of the top cover layer and stitch just OUTSIDE the batting. I find it easier to sew with the cotton batting layer on top and the silk fabric next to the sewing machine feed dogs. It controls the ease better.

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Leave about 2 to 2.5 inches open along one side to turn. Trim the seam allowance to 1/8 inch. I increase to 1/4 inch around the opening the make sewing that closed easier.

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Attach to the jacket with 1/4 inch French tacks so the shoulder pad will move slightly when worn. I usually use four tacks: one at each end of the shoulder seam and one at front and back where the sleeve joins the jacket body. These aren’t limited to Chanel jackets. Anytime you need a covered shoulder pad these are wonderful. I like that the sleeve head support is incorporated into the design. Also the pad is securely stitched to the lining so these should withstand the cleaning process. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Custom Pattern Drafting and My Version of the Six Napoleon Dress

Mariana of Sew2Pro challenged her fellow bloggers to draft this dress:

mini-six-napoleon-challenge

I learned about this project from Kate of fabrickated.  Several other sewers from all parts of the world are giving it a go. I don’t have a better pic of the dress but check out Marianna’s blog for better views. Some sewers saw asymmetrical lines in the bodice seaming; others didn’t. A few have drafted the skirt and everyone has a slightly different interpretation.

I’m doing just the bodice of the dress as I don’t wear big poufy skirts but Kate suggested in one of her posts that the bodice might do very well as a top. I’ll be showing you how I used my custom drafted sloper/block to arrive at a workable pattern.

Having a custom block saves hours and hours of fitting time and I think makes drafting a custom design so much easier and more accurate. I’m using the method explained by Suzy Furrer in her pattern drafting course available on Craftsy. I have no affiliation with Craftsy but you might want to investigate Suzy’s method as I’ve found it very accurate. It’s not a one day project. It might take several tries to perfect the fit but once you’ve done the work, you be able to use the master pattern for everything. I also used the moulage draft to create a custom dress form and find that invaluable when creating custom styles.

First trace your master block onto pattern paper. Never, ever cut up your master unless you want to duplicate hours and hours of work! This is my master bodice block. It’s drafted after you create the moulage pattern by lowering the neckline, underarm and adding minimum wearing ease. Other drafting systems put all the bust/waist shaping into a single dart but I find many advantages to splitting it into multiple darts. Princess lines are better defined and waist shaping is easier to manipulate.  Mine has been copied onto heavy card stock for durability.

sloper

 

Here is the block traced onto plain pattern paper. I’ve redrawn the armhole 1.5 cm in from the edge and redrawn the armseye. I wanted the princess line to pass the bust point 1 cm towards the side seam; shifted the bust point and waist dart 1 cm. Rather than one dart for the waist shaping I drew two darts, each half the width of the original, and positioned them where I wanted the bodice seaming. Changes are shown in red.

new armhole

The new princess seam line ends in the armhole halfway between the cross front line and the underarm line. Another style line is added close to center front. Split the pattern along the new seam lines and remove the dart bulk in the waistline darts.

seam lines

Close the waist shaping; close the bust darts; smooth the neckline, armholes and bustline. The excess fabric at the bust point, a result of moving the princess line, will be converted to ease. The final lines are shown in green.

adjusted seams

I chose to fit the pattern before deciding on the shaped hem. Muslin fabric cut and seam lines traced. My working patterns are always net, meaning no seam allowances added. I find it easier to visualize the finished shape without seam allowances. I check the fit on my custom dress form and there are usually very few alterations needed because the pattern is drafted to my shape from the start.

front toile
back toilefitting

A couple of small changes were needed at the princess seam and shoulder. I left the toile unsewn in the hip area as I wanted to tweak that area for ease of movement.

bust adjust

shoulder adjust

A small amount of ease was added over the back hip and ease removed from the front.

front adjustback flare

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notice I have lapped the seams from the right side rather than placing right sides together and stitching from the wrong side. I find this gives me more control and is easier to perfect the final result. Couture workrooms also construct toiles in the same way. Here is a photo from the latest exhibit at the Metropolitan Art exhibit: Manus x Machina where several working toiles were on display.

bust seamlapped toile seams

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally I used style tape to test possible hemlines. Since no back photo of this design was available, you are on your own to decide what looks best. Several other bloggers have experimented with echoing the asymmetrical point in the back. I also tried this but found no way to obtain a smooth transition from front to back and ultimately opted to omit the point from the back. What looks good from the front and/or back might not work when viewed from the side.

Alexander McQueen said: “I design from the side. That way I get the worst angle of the body. You’ve got all the the lumps and bumps, the S-bend of the back, the bum. That way I get a cut and proportion and silhouette that works all the way round the body.”

So true on this design. Look at the hemline from every angle and get a smooth transition the entire way round the body.

hem view 1hem view 2
Once I’ve decided on a hemline it is marked with a water soluble pen and thread traced for a final try-on. No reason to cut and mess up hours of work before the final decision.

 

 

 

 

hem trial

Final draft ready for cutting. Front draft and back draft. This will close with an invisible zip in the center back. The first version will be made in a white cotton pique.

front patternback pattern

It will be interesting to see what my fellow bloggers create. I’m sure there will be many interpretations.

My Donna Karan jacket, described in blog post March 14, 2015, is featured in the current issue of Threads Magazine. Check it out if you want more details about Vogue 1440 and the jacket construction.

Way to go Portugal! Last weekend we spent in Bristol, RI with our Portuguese family. Bristol hosts the oldest July 4 parade and my grandson is a full fledged fan in his soccer shirt. We celebrated with a wonderful family gathering under the grape vine covered pergola at uncle Tony’s.

parade

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Three Gowns; One Pattern

Don’t we all love a pattern that fits perfectly and can be modified in multiple ways. I created this gown for a client last year. The dress worked so well she requested more variations. This one was done with French ribbon lace and a full circle skirt of silk tulle.

Ana

For the second version I fashioned the bodice from an Oscar de la Renta guipure lace and paired it with silk velvet A-line skirt. The black fox collar and cuffs are vintage and were restyled to fit the gown.
complete gown 2complete gown 1

 

 

The bodice lace (from Mood Fabrics) worked better cut crossgrain as the pattern could be cut attractively at the waist seam. I’ve shown it here running lengthwise. By rotating the bodice pattern 90 degrees, I was able to use the leaf pattern as an edging.

Oscar Lace

The lace was backed with black silk organza and black silk crepe de chine formed a built in strapless slip. The lace edge was flipped up out of the way, waistline seam sewn and then the edge tacked down to the velvet skirt.

Lace Overlayfront bodice

The lace was positioned as not to interfere with the side seam. Silk velvet is tricky to sew and will shift all over the place if you don’t baste. I find diagonal basting holds it firm.

invisible zipSide Seam

Vintage fox collar and cuffs were trimmed to size, backed with grosgrain ribbon, and attached with snaps. I found holding the fur out of the way by placing it at the edge of my work surface saved many frustrating thread tangles.

fur snaps

The third version required extending the bodice a few inches below the waist. For this I used a wonderful Armani stretch satin from B&J Fabrics. The lace is from Mood. If you happen to shop for lace in Mood, Carman is wonderful to work with and knows every piece of lace in her department. The skirt is a simple flared shape cut from 4 ply silk crepe.

white bodice layoutthread tracing

The bodice needed some sort of interfacing and I found Pro Tricot from Fashion Sewing Supply a wonderful product. I was skeptical about fusing a stretch fabric but the interfacing stretches and worked beautifully. I’ve thread traced the seam lines with silk thread. The armhole was cut wider at the shoulder as we were considering an extended shoulder line like a small cap sleeve, but would up just trimming the armhole at the natural shoulder line.

The heavy guipure lace had a shiny finish on the right side. I reminded me of patent leather. I planned to cut out motifs and arrange them in mirrored pairs on the bodice. Rather than cut and try to match individual pieces, I arranged the lace right sides together and shifted it around until the pattern on both layers matched. Pin together and then cut out the motifs as matched pairs.

lace pairs

I cut varying size and shaped motifs to form the pattern I had in mind. Now for hours of hand sewing as every motif was stitched in place. I made a wonderful pressing tool which is a bag of heavy muslin filled with sand. Press the appliqued sections wrong side up and the lace will sink into the sand and prevent you from pressing the lace flat and damaging the effect.

b&w gown armholessandbag

The bottom edge of the bodice faced with silk organza. The first fitting on the dress form showed the bodice hem flared out a bit to much; easily corrected at this stage.

b&w gown bodice hemb&w gown 1

An invisible zip closed the back. How to insert a white zip into black fabric? I hand sew the zippers as I have much more control that way. Press the coils of the zipper open and sew with a backstitch just inside the zipper coil. Hand stitching allows you to vary the stitch distance from the zipper coil. If you’ve ever sewn a zipper into a garment where the thickness if one section is substantially different from another, you know that the zipper often refuses to jump over the hump. I’ve stitched just slightly further away from the coil at this point to allow the zipper to close smoothly. Notice also I switch from black to white thread. A tiny bit of zipper tape shows but it’s preferable to the zip not closing or breaking. Some might prefer a lapped zipper application, but I like the clean line of an invisible zipper. A ribbon waist stay is added.

zip black to whiteb&w waist stay

 

 

The white zipper is well concealed. I waited until the zipper was installed before sewing the last bits of lace motifs in place so they would match perfectly at the back.

b&w gown back

b&w gown finished

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