Sunday 4 December 2011

Simplicity 3784 - a break from the wedding dress

I wanted a break from making my wedding dress so I decided to have a go at making Simplicity 3784 which I've wanted to make for a while! 

I bought some satin bedding for £5 about a year ago because I loved the pattern. It's made of 100% cotton but it's soooo smooth (but not as slippery to work with as I had feared). When I saw this pattern, I knew exactly it would be perfect for the fabric! 

I made a view D size 6 petite and thought it turned out well. I made a couple of minor modifications:
  • I added a waist stay;
  • Instead of the bow at the waistline I used a cream coloured ribbon instead; and
  • I didn't line the skirt - only lined the bodice and I think it worked fine. 

I thought the pattern was well designed and really easy to follow. This project didn't take me long, even with the boning and inserting the horsehair braid into the hem (I decided to hand sew the hem this time based on my previous experience with machine sewing the braid). The effect of the braid is much more obvious on this dress - I'm really glad I used it. 

I used Rigiline boning this time as it's easier to buy and quite a lot cheaper than spiral steel. and I was happy with the structure it gave the bodice. 

The sizing was fine if not a little bit smaller than I expected. Usually a size 6 Simplicity gives me a little bit more ease - although perhaps it's a sign that I should exercise more now!

The best bit is, I only used half of the bedding so still have plenty left for a project another time!

Sunday 20 November 2011

Progress with photos - Sun 20 Nov

So I couldn't resist but trying on the layers of the wedding dress although lots of seams are only pinned at this stage (eg the side seams as there will be some pleats/front drape to come) and here's a picture of the work-in-progress:

The side seams look a bit bumpy and the back is open as these seams are still unfinished, but you can see the silhouette of the dress now! I loved how it's turned out and the feel of the silk dupion - it's so soft and luxurious!

I'm going to add a front drape of some sort to it at a later stage, as inspired by Alan Hannah Flavia

I've tried it out with some polyester chiffon over the understructure and it looked like this. Will experiment more later.

After enjoying being in the dress for some time, I finally got round to making a modesty panel for toile #2 to finish the lace-up back. It was very creased (as I used scrap fabric) and I think I could do better when it comes to the real thing. I added covered steel boning (it's stiffer than spiral steel boning which is used in the bodice) but I'm not 100% happy with the result - would like to include one going down but I'm not sure how the intersection would be dealt with... will look into it! Here's what it looks like in case it is of use to anyone who is also looking to make a modesty panel:

Monday 14 November 2011

Progress report - Mon 14 Nov

Overcasting finished! and pieces assembled leaving gaps at side seams for ruching. 

I'm pleased with the progress, especially with all the overcasting which took me hours and hours. I know there's more hand sewing to come (as I haven't done the catch stitch for the lining or the fashion layer yet) but it certainly felt like a milestone!

Photos to follow once I've cleaned the sewing room... 

Saturday 12 November 2011

Second attempt at my bouquet

I like the results much better this time - I used some reduced flowers from Waitrose (they cost me £3.28 in total!) to make these. Had a better go this time as I used some scrap fabric to tie them up (a cheaper alternative to buying ribbons for now) and pearl headed pins to secure the stems. 

Tried out two types and here're a few pictures:

I think I prefer the one with the yellow roses as it looks a lot tidier. For the actual bouquet on the day though I'm thinking that I may opt for white, pink and yellow roses to match my colour scheme! then perhaps yellow/pink bouquets for the bridesmaids? 

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Progress report - Tues 26 Oct

Last weekend I finally cut into the white silk dupion and organza (for underlining)! I cut up all the pieces and have started to hand-baste the layers, and overcasting the seams... it's of course taking ages...

Have also (sort of) decided on the details for the bodice... finally... (until I change my mind again I'm sure). I will probably have pleated/ruched dupion at the top of the bodice (underlined) and a band going across the empire line potentially along with a little bow... 

Sunday 16 October 2011

Bridesmaid dress - almost done!

After A LOT of handsewing, the bridesmaid dress is now almost finished! Here are a few in-progress and inside-out photos:

As the dress is made of silk dupion, I had to underline it with silk organza to prevent seam slippage. I used a (really useful!) technique for the skirt pieces - flatlining with a Hong Kong finish which meant that the organza wrapped around the dupion at the seams so I didn't need to overcast the vertical skirt seams. 

The picture above shows the neckline stay on both the bodice and lining with strips of silk organza, and the grading & understitching on the neckline (so that the fashion fabric seam allowance is stitched to the lining to keep it flat where worn) and also the clipped princess seams to make it lie flat. 

Now please bear with me, the red dressform really steals the thunder of the pink dress! It's a lovely bright pink colour! I will certainly take more photos when my beautiful bridesmaid tries it on.

So the things left to do on this dress are:
  • Fittings;
  • Adding a waist stay (the stay is ready but i just want to make sure it fits perfectly)
  • When ready, insert the centre zipper;
  • Finish the bottom of the bodice lining - I'm still deciding on what to do (nobody will see it but I still want it to be finished);
  • Hem (still to decide whether horsehair braid is needed); and
  • Embellishment for the waistline. The pattern (simplicity 4070 - I made a view E this time) calls for a medium width band (in the same colour as the dress) with a corsage. I was simply experimenting in the last picture. 

Any ideas would be very welcome! 

Sunday 9 October 2011

First very brief attempt at my bouquet

As Autumn sets in, I decided to take advantage of my garden roses before the flowers all disappear. So I had a very brief attempt at making my bouquet. It's of course quite small (due to the number of nice-looking flowers available at this time of year in my front and back garden) but I don't think it's too bad an attempt as far as first attempt goes. So here it is:

I have not bothered with the ribbons etc, but relied on my little rose kit and some wires which are originally for sealing sandwich bags (these are what I had readily available...) but I'm sure my next attempt will look even better! 

Off to cutting the silk dupion for my bridesmaid's dress now! and finishing off the overcasting for my lining. Hope to report back with the results soon! 

Sunday 2 October 2011

Lining for the bridesmaid dress

I've been doing a few hours of hand sewing this weekend and felt like I've not got very far... overcasting takes sooo long! So as a break, I decided to shop for the lining of my bridesmaid dress (I've been looking for the right shade of pink for a while to match the silk dupion but simply couldn't track it down). Instead, I saw this fabric and thought it would make a funky twist to the dress! It's perfect as it matches the colour scheme... 

As you can see, the bodice will be the same as my wedding dress (but obviously in pink). I've sewn store-bought boning channels in the seams with spiral steel boning in. I will also add a waist stay later on when we do the fitting (closer to the wedding). 

Now the colours are not showing too well here given my red dress form (also I didn't worry about adjusting the size for now as the toile fit my bridesmaid well - only used it for photo purposes), but I think it's great and Katy - I hope you like it (but do let me know if you don't though!)

Monday 26 September 2011

Lining sections attached! and the fit is good!

OK so I haven't ticked all of the things off my weekend to-do list but I've done most of it! the only bits left are the time-consuming hand sewing... but that means I've attached all the lining pieces together and tested the fit - phew the fit was good thankfully so no major disaster there. 

When I extended the train from the side seams though (previously it was from side back seams only) I allowed extra extra length in the centre back pieces so you can see there's currently a massive train for the lining... 

Look how long the train is...! I used a bit of scrap fabric on the carpet (which hasn't been cleaned for a little while so I didn't want the lining to pick up any dirt) and haven't quite bothered to spread the train out as the lining is super thin!

The seams are of course showing on the outside as this is the way the lining will lie once the outside layer is done. 
But I think it's looking good!

In the process, I have learned the following about silk habotai...

It's a pain to cut out as it's super thin and slippery!
It marks easily so I used bridal/lace pins which have now resulted in very achy fingers (I didn't even think that was possible!)
It's a pain to sew due to how slippery it is
It puckers easily as it's so thin (despite my thin needle and larger stitches)
It ravels easily as with most other silk fabrics and I'm looking forward to the overcasting.... 

So all in all, it wasn't the most well behaved fabric I've ever sewn with! but hey we got there in the end (other than the hand sewing). 

Saturday 24 September 2011

Progress report - Sat 24 Sept - understructure finished!

I was going to share progress at the end of the weekend/on Monday but I couldn't wait until then! 

So I've managed to tick a few things off my to-do list and here's the result:

corselette (with waist stay unattached on the outside for the time being, also note that I had just had a big dinner when the photo was taken...)
 Top edge of corselette stablised with strips of silk organza selvages on the outside. The reason for this is that the neckline was unstable due to the bias cut. 

 Skirt lining #1 with 2 layers of gathered dress net attached to corselette.

Then top layer of dress net was pinned to the corselette directly to check length. 
Top layer of dress net now sewn onto the corselette with a straight stitch. The bottom of the dress is slightly off the ground when I'm wearing the wedding shoes! exactly what I wanted. 

I am happy with the progress I've made as the understructure is now finished! even the seam allowances have been dealt with (zigzagged/catchstitched where appropriate). You can really see the silhouette of the dress now and I think it's going to be lovely! Obviously I do still have a lot to do but I don't think it'll do any harm taking a moment to enjoy the progress so far :) 

Friday 23 September 2011

To-do list for the weekend

Now that I have given the assembly of the dress more thought, I have jotted down what I would like to achieve this weekend.


·         Reposition the zipper so the corselette fits perfectly.
·         Test whether the bottom of the corselette should be left open.
·         Sew organza selvage onto the right side of the corselette top bias edge.
·         Decide if top layer of netting should be attached to foundation or skirt lining.
·         Implement – under structure should then be completed!
·         Decide length of lining – to consider extending the train at the side seams and to lengthen the current pattern (check if it’s been shortened) by up to 10cm (to allow for heels).
·         Decide on depth of back opening – to consider using a zip at the bottom so the opening is large enough for me to get into the dress...
·         Adjust pattern accordingly
·         Cut lining – place centre back on selvage
·         Attach garment sections of lining
·         Test fit on dress form with the understructure
·         If it’s a good fit, overcast the seams
·         Press open the seams and catchstitch

So by Sunday night I should have the understructure done (with temporary closure until much nearer the time) and the lining as well... these are ambitious plans but let's see how I get on...

Sunday 18 September 2011


I haven't done that much sewing in the last week or so... partially because I'm still trying to envisage how the layers would be attached (thanks for all the help I've received from the Patternreview ladies) and am not sure what details to have on the bodice. I am leaning towards having the ruched effect with some sort of sheer fabric - I will try out chiffon shortly but I am going to try on a few more dresses this week just so I'm absolutely certain about what I want. 

In the meantime, in light of the potential excess fabric (I bought 10 whole metres of 60' wide silk dupion and silk organza), I thought about possibly making an evening dress IF I have time... I am inspired by Ian Stuart Jet Set and Ian Ashworth's Evie! they are so cute and funky and I think they would make a lovely dress for the evening... 

I'm off to gather all the nylon dress net for the underskirt, will report back soon! 

Sunday 11 September 2011

'Get my sewing confidence back' dress

OK so I had a bit of a tough time a couple of weeks ago when I spent a couple of days attempting new things and achieving nothing... so - I decided to make use of my corselette toile (which happened to fit fine but wasn't long enough for the actual wedding dress to attach dress net) and a bit of blue taffeta to make this dress in the hope that I will achieve something at the end of it. I made Simplicity 4070 view D with the following alterations:

I added a waist stay and separate closures for the lining layer (as it was the corselette toile); 
I omitted the parallel ribbons and replaced it with one thin pink grosgrain ribbon; 
I shortened the skirt slightly; and
I added nylon dress net to the bottom of the corselette to add some volume. 

Here are a few photos:

I am happy with the result and it did help me get my confidence back but I did learn a few lessons from this though:

1) be careful which side of the lining that I am attaching to the fashion fabric... as silly me! I managed to attach it incorrectly; and
2) machine blind-hemming is hard! (a zoomed in photo may give away how uneven the hem is!) I will definitely not attempt to do this on my wedding dress. doing it by hand will give it more control although of course being more time consuming. 

Corselette! finally...

I've finally made the actual corselette for the wedding dress! Voila!

I have left the waist stay on the outside for the time being and have not finished the closures at the back. I will be using hook and eye tape but given that the wedding is over 10 months later, I thought I'd do these things closer to the time in case I put on/lose weight! 

There are 11 bonings in the corselette and I think I will attach the heavy dress net to this layer. but I'm yet to decide whether I'll add another lining layer for the corselette for comfort and whether I should finish the top of the corselette (or just leave it as it won't be on show anyway). 

So almost time to cut into the fashion fabric! I'm not quite feeling brave enough yet!

Thursday 8 September 2011

Watercolour CDD

As a break from the wedding dress project, I decided to make another coffee date dress, except that this time with some pretty watercolour fabric! I got the fabric from the remnant box at shepherd's bush which is just over 1m in length. I don't know how I managed to cut out all the pieces on such a tiny bit of fabric (well... I do... I shortened the skirt and omitted the ruffle which gave me a lot of trouble last time round) but I do like what I ended up with!

Saturday 3 September 2011

Corselette - toile #1

I forgot to say that the wedding dress toiles had boning sewn into the lining (I used Rigilene for #1 and Spiral steel for #2 and preferred the latter) so I thought I should try to add a foundation layer, i.e. a corselette to add additional support. 

Also after trying on toile #2, I realised that I didn't like the neckline...a bit late I know! I wanted more of a sweetheart neckline so I decided to steal the bodice from Simplicity 4070 (which is what I will be using to make my bridesmaid dress)

So I have this:
But the problem is, now that the sharper angles from the neckline are gone, I cannot get the pleats/ruching to hang nicely... So I added a layer of white polycotton and started trying out different things...

See below for experiments with lace and then some shimmery organdi (which is what I happened to have to hand). Whilst I like how soft the sheer fabric ruching looks, I'm not sure how practical it will be, especially as I probably won't include the tie at the back with the lace-up... 

I will also need to add more boning to the corselette - currently there're 6, all in the seams, but I am aiming for 10+...More supplies to be ordered!

Toile #2

So then I moved on toile #2 where I cut a size 4 instead and made the hip area a lot narrower so the bodice fits better. I also dropped the upper layer of the dress net (I used a softer net this time round but I actually preferred the net in toile #1 with a harder finish as it was more effective in creating the puffiness). 

I didn't bother with lengthening the train for this one as the focus was to get a better fit - I think this was achieved. 

Oh yes and I eliminated the tie/bow at the back. So my pleats are stitched in at the top edge and at the side seams. Appears to work fine this way although I'm not sure whether my silk dupion for the real dress would work well. 

So here's what I have:

P.S. bear with me with the fabric I used for the toiles... I had to mix and match at times (eg the train in altered toile #1) a couple of times...

Wedding dress progress to date

After all, the wedding dress making (the biggest project I've ever taken on!) is what inspired me to create this blog. So here's the progress to date:

Toile #1 made with cotton bedsheets.. 
I made a Simplicity 2959 (had to buy the pattern from the US but it's worth it) and cut a size 6. Here's what it looked like before any alterations:

I then made the following alterations:
  1. Taking it in at the seam - as it turned out to be too big;
  2. Adding length to the train;
  3. Making the bottom of the bodice more fitted - I didn't like how puffy it was;
  4. Changing into a lace-up back;
  5. Adding a waist stay
Here's how it turned out:

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