I’ve been doing a lot of research and thinking on my wedding dress this week. I was still trying to get the back to fit, and doing some research on adjustments for “sway back”. What really concerned me was that all the information was saying you should only need to adjust by a centimetre or so, and I needed to do a lot more than that.
The other thought nagging at the back of my mind was, “I don’t want to have to do this every time I sew something” (when I stop and think, I’ve never actually sewn a dress that’s fitted me *well*).
I considered making a sloper, but last time I tried, I ended up with a Picasso-esque construction that bore absolutely no relation to my body.
So yesterday I drove across the city and visited a dressmaker, who is going to make me my very own sloper. I know there will be a bodice, skirt and sleeves. She sketched a pair of pants as well, but I don’t think I’m getting them (it’s something I might consider going back for later).
The great thing is that she’s willing to work with my budget – by making the toile and tracing the final paper pattern onto cardboard myself, I’m able to save quite a bit, which is good.
I’ll get the first draft in a week, and make up the toile, so hopefully I’ll have the final pattern the week after.
In the meantime, I’ve been playing around with the overskirt. I’ve worked out what I need to do to achieve roughly this effect, albeit without the flounce at the front (which doesn’t worry me):
But then, as I mentioned on Monday, this photo appeared on Pinterest:
I love, love, love how luxurious this looks. I wouldn’t have it as long, obviously, as I don’t want a train at all, but I can imagine having two layers of tightly gathered georgette (or maybe one less gathered one underneath with a very gathered one over the top).
Not only do I think this could actually end up looking lovelier, but I also like the fact that it would be more economical, as I could cut the skirt across the grain.
It’s a good thing I was able to get a bargain on 10m of chiffon – I think I’m going to have to make a trial of each to see what I prefer!
I’m heading back to Adelaide this weekend for a kitchen tea my mum and cousin are throwing for me, so things will be a bit quiet here. But hopefully I’ll be back with more news next week!
I’ve been busy this week organising wedding invitations. They went in the post today, which is very exciting – it makes the whole thing seem a lot more real.
This has meant that I haven’t had a lot of time for wedding dress fitting. I’ve done a little bit of work, and … it hasn’t been overly satisfying. The front is fine, but the back is just so difficult to work out. The big problem, of course, is that it’s really difficult for me to see my own back. To be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do.
So today I decided to take a break and play around with some embroidery.
It’s really changed my mind about what I want to do. The embroidery? Meh. It’s not doing anything for me at all, and I just didn’t like the way the stitching sat on the texture of the fabric. But those sequins – be still my beating heart! I bought them from Alison Cole just after Christmas, and they’ve been sitting in my sewing room calling to me ever since. So now I’m thinking of just scattering sequins down from the shoulders of the bodice – it should be much more achievable than fully embroidering the bodice.
Of course I have to get a bodice that actually fits first. We’ll see what happens.
Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I made up yet another bodice toile, and realised I just wasn’t progressing with my fitting. The truth is, I don’t know enough about fitting, and I needed the help of someone who did.
She pinned me into my dress and played around to get the fit right. It was incredibly instructional. The biggest change is along the back waistline, where I need to take out a big wedge of the bodice so that it will fit my curves. (Becky, you were right!)
That’s around 7.5cm/3″ taken out of the bodice at the centre back. No wonder the back was sitting so badly!
I also need to extend the back skirt darts a little, to better fit my curves (and let the skirt out a bit around the hips – it was veering into bandage dress territory).
With the back pinned in appropriately, the front was actually really close (I think it helps that the princess seams actually eased in correctly this time, and I didn’t get any ugly gathers). All I need to do is bring the seam in a little under my bust, to get a closer fit.
It really was amazing to see the difference these changes made. I must admit I still find fitting a bit of a dark art – I think I need a lot more practice before I can get my head around it. But I’m looking forward to getting these changes stitched up properly, so I can really start forging ahead. And please don’t remind me how tight my timeline is getting!
I really wanted to do some more work on the dress this week, so I convinced the Mister to pin me in (not an experience he enjoyed very much). My guess from last week was correct – it was definitely too big.
Yup, definitely way too baggy. Actually, it wasn’t too bad across the hips, but then the skirt isn’t my priority here. So I decided to go down a size to the size 8. I actually traced out the curvy fit skirt as well, but I didn’t have enough fabric for it, so I just cut out the bodice and attached it to the existing skirt, easing in the excess.
The Mister swallowed his hatred of pinning and secured me in the new dress.
Obviously it’s still a bit wrinkled in the back, although I’m not sure how much of that is just a pinning issue. There is also a little excess fabric in the centre front panel, and some diagonal wrinkles in the side panels. I’ll have to do a little research to figure out how to address them – I’m not sure where the best spot is to take in the excess.
Well, that’s all until next week. Fingers crossed I’ll have lots more progress to report!
Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you’re all having a great start to 2013 – it certainly looks like being quite a momentous one over here.
Sorry it’s been a while between updates. Between the work of getting our new home set up, and the fun of my birthday and Christmas, my days have been filled with a lot of distractions!
You might remember that in my last post, I commented that the bodice I had been trying to use for my wedding dress just wasn’t working out for me. So I decided to go back to the drawing board. My original plan had always been for a sleeveless, scoop neck dress. I wanted a low-cut back, but on looking through a lot of pictures I realised that actually I would be happy with just a mid-scooped back. That has the added bonus of allowing me to wear a bra, which I wouldn’t have been able to with the previous dress.
My next step was to attempt to draft my own sloper. The front looked OK on paper, but the back looked ridiculous. I must have messed up in my measurements, and I just couldn’t get it to work. So I decided to turn to a ready-made pattern. A browse through the local craft shop led me to Simplicity 2648:
My plan was to use the sleeveless view and adjust the front and back necklines to my liking. Obviously the skirt will be completely different, but I decided to make my muslin with the existing skirt, so that I could use it in the future if I wanted (although to be honest I tend to prefer an A-line or circular skirt, as a quick glance through my Pinterest will attest).
If you’re not familiar with the pattern, it has a slightly different construction method than a standard pattern, to help you achieve your preferred fit. To start with, you choose from an A, B or C cup bodice, and a slim, average or curvy skirt. I took my measurements and opted for the size 10, with the B cup bodice and average skirt.
The dress is then constructed by basting the princess seams on the bodice, stitching the princess seams on the skirt front, and the back bodice and skirt darts. The front and back are then individually stitched together at the waste, before the side seams are basted together. This makes it easier to adjust the fit, as the princess seams and side seams are the most likely to need adjusting.
It was a fairly straightforward process, and I managed to cut out and sew the dress in an afternoon.
As I’ve already discovered, solo fittings are not the easiest thing in the world. My parents are visiting next week, so hopefully my mum will be able to help me do a proper fitting. In the meantime, I think I’ve already spotted a few problems:
Apologies for another scummy bathroom mirror shot! As you can see, the bodice just looks too big. I think I’m going to have to go down to a size 8. It’s a bit snug through the hips, but that might partly be because the waist is a bit low. Obviously I’m not going to worry too much about the skirt for now, but I’ll come back to it later.
This process has definitely refined a few things for me. Firstly, I really need a new iron. I had trouble easing the side panels in along the princess seam line, and ended up with some puckers. I had a look in Claire Shaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques, and she says to stitch three lines of basting along the seam to be eased in, draw it up to the desired length, then steam the fabric to shrink it size. Unfortunately my iron doesn’t steam, so I think a new one is in order.
I also decided that, rather than line my dress, I’m going to use the couture method of backing the fabric, and finishing the openings with facings. Not only do I prefer sewing facings rather than linings, but I should be able to get a much neater result. Plus, if for some reason I need to adjust the fit closer to the big day, it should be easier (but hopefully that won’t happen).
So, lots of progress in the last few days! I’ve also made some decisions on the embroidery for the bodice, but I’ll save that for another post.
Has it really been almost two weeks since my last post? Sorry for my absence – but then it wasn’t unexpected! If all goes right, we should be in Brisbane in two weeks time, which is just crazy.
On the weekend I decided to fit it one last bodice fitting before we moved. I hoped this would be my last fitting, and used a polyester satin so that I could see how it worked with a softer fabric. Well, it’s safe to say things didn’t go as planned.
Firstly, sorry for the disgusting state of my mirror. So what’s going on here? Well, the first problem was the horrible, horrible fabric I used. That stuff is the rebellious teenager of fabrics – it’s going to do what it wants, when it wants, and if you try and get it to change it’ll just get even worse. This satin would not hold a crease, which meant I couldn’t fold the seam allowances under, and it was just really hard to manipulate in general. So I’m going to go back to calico for my next few fittings, then use lining fabric as an approximate of the crepe de chine I’m planning on using for the final dress.
The other big problem was that I took the shoulder seams in too much, so everything was just sitting too high. I also didn’t do my grading correctly, so the side seams in particular didn’t meet up properly. But given I’ve never done any grading before in my life, I’m not surprised I’m making mistakes! At least I know where I’m going wrong.
The good news is that last night I managed to score this amazing haul:
A woman my mother does embroidery with studied dressmaking years ago, and wanted to get rid of her textbooks. We traded her some new quilting books and fabrics in return. I’m so stoked about this – especially the Helen Joseph Armstrong – I’ve been wanting to get a copy of that for ages! The one on the front left, Modern Pattern Design, also has some fabulous retro designs. Would you be interested in seeing some reviews of these? Let me know and I’ll see what I can do!
I feel like I should apologise in advance for the decidedly unglamourous backdrop for the photos in this post. Unfortunately the only mirror in our current home is in the bathroom, so you’re going to get lots of lovely views of toilet paper.
I spent the weekend working on fitting the bodice to my dress. As much as I was keen to keep working on the skirt, I realised I couldn’t appropriately figure out the length of the skirt until the bodice was sorted.
I took my measurements and, being a Japanese book, I sat somewhere between the medium and large. Thinking that I’d be pretty miserable if I cut out the medium and it was too small, I decided to go with the large.
It positively swam on me. Also, it made it clear that the gathering wasn’t going to work with my plans to embroider the bodice. Fortunately the front lining in this pattern is provided with darts, so I could use that. I cut out the medium accordingly, and this time I basted in a zip so it would be easier to fit myself.
(The cat isn’t a very good fitting assistant.)
This was a much better fit around the waistband – in fact it’s a little on the small side here, but I’ll see how that changes with a softer fabric. The upper section was still way too large, though.
My next attempt was to cut out the small in the upper section, grading to medium in the waistband. I was feeling a bit better about this version, so I took the time to press under all the seam allowances, and insert the zip properly.
Getting there! At this stage I was beginning to think I would have to add side darts or some sort of princess seam, which I was a bit nervous about, especially as it would make the embroidery more complicated. But first, I thought I would just try taking in a bit extra at the shoulder and side seams.
I was so happy with this! You can see it’s still a bit gappy on the back, but the other side was much better – it’s not just because I’m holding up the camera. It’s also a lovely fit around the arm. So it looks like I need to take in an additional 1.5cm at the shoulder and side seams – I’m not sure what’s going on here, and just how weird my proportions are.
The Mister comes home tonight (sadly it looks like he’ll only be here for a week), so I probably won’t get any work done on the dress this weekend. But we’re having our engagement shoot done on Monday, so hopefully I’ll have some pretty pictures to show off!