What a year 2018 has been . . . a complete whirlwind! I guess that’s what happens when you get married in the middle of it! I still can’t believe it has already been over seven months!
I didn’t do a lot of sewing this year, but I did tackle one amazing project and it is by far one of my proudest! Yes . . . I’m talking about the infamous wedding gown! I’ve wanted to blog about it for some time and the Designin’ December challenge is just the opportunity to do so!
It was obvious I was going to create my own gown, but it took awhile to figure out exactly what I wanted. I sifted through thousands of pictures for inspiration. By most accounts, I am a senior citizen and a chubby one at that! I didn’t want to look silly for my age and weight, but I also wanted to feel like that princess everyone dreams of feeling on their wedding day. I wanted a big, full skirt with a train, some lace and lots of pearls and beading, it also had to have some sort of sleeve. No strapless for me and these ta tas! I found myself constantly gravitating to the same picture. Could I pull this look off? I always tell my clients, go try a bunch of dresses on, see what you like, what works with your body . . . did I heed my own advice . . . hell no!
I knew I didn’t want white, and was actually sure I’d go with a lovely cream or ivory. I’d made some other gowns out of silk dupioni and loved the feel and the look of it, so I went online and ordered some swatches from Mood. On a whim, I decided to order a swatch of a dusty rose as well as a pretty lavender. If you know me, you know my favorite color is purple! And the second I opened my package of swatches I knew I’d found my fabric! I loved it.
It was much harder finding the lace, the only one that spoke to me was also from Mood, an exquisite three-dimensional stunner with lavender and beige chiffon petals, pearled, beaded, and intricate silver stitching. And also very expensive. But hell, I was worth it . . . it was my wedding after all!
With all my materials in hand, it was time to actually start the process. I hadn’t sewn much for myself recently so I had to get reacquainted with the lumps and bumps of menopause as well as deal with some major body image issues (see some of my previous posts!). I knew the bodice was going to be my biggest challenge. I didn’t want to completely make my own pattern, so found Butterick #6186 that gave me the bodice lines that I was looking and Vogue #1095 for that big, full skirt and train that I wanted. I know looking at them you’d never imagine they’d be a good mash up, but I could envision it in my head.
It took several weekends, nine muslin bodice toiles, several tears and two full ‘practice’ dresses to know I had the patterns tweaked just right for my gown. The bodice is very fitted through the bust and I wanted a nice set in sleeve and the pattern just wasn’t giving me what I wanted. I watched several videos and determined I needed to raise my armscye a few inches and that meant my sleeve head pattern had very little curve. It sure looked weird! As experienced a sewist that I am, I never imagined it would take me so long to get the fit ‘just right’ or should I say absolutely perfect.
About five weeks before the wedding, I actually started cutting out my gown. With dupioni, I like to underline in cotton broadcloth. I also decided not to put a waist seam in the gown since I’d have a waist piece covering where the lace and dress met. I vividly recall my anxieties that Sunday morning when I said a quick prayer took that first cut into my lace . . . there was not enough for any errors and time was ebbing away. The bodice was seven pieces and each piece had to have the pearls and beads cut off, one by one along the seam allowance so I could sew my seams by machine. On average, each piece took about an hour.
From the beginning, even when I was thinking an ivory gown, I wanted a purple train. A fun pop of color that is totally me and no one would know until they saw my rear going down the aisle! My soon-to-be husband, also wanted me to make his waistcoat and cravat. I found just the right shade of purple satin from Fabric.com for both and also ordered enough to make matching table overlays. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment, but that’s another story!
Where the dark purple train met the waistband, it needed a little something. I made a multi-purple silk chiffon butt flower – great term, eh? Not as elaborate as I thought I’d do, but I didn’t want my gown to cross over into a costume. “Scale back and edit,” was ringing through my ears . . . thank you Tim Gunn!
Two weeks before the wedding, I hit a snag. I had done all of my fittings by myself up until this point, but now that the gown was well under construction and the zipper was in, it was proving to be very difficult. I knew my fiancé wouldn’t have the patience to deal with the zipper and that fluttery lace so I attempted to, once again, do it myself, zipping it part way with the zip in the front and then spinning it around my rotund girth and getting my arms in the armholes . . . Well, the zip got stuck on the thickness at the waist (the dress not mine, hahaha!!), and in my attempts to get it up or even down, it seperated. Needless to say I was in tears and it seemed to take forever to finally get out of it!
Out came the seam ripper and a trek to the store to purchase a new zipper! Mom was due here in a few days and I knew she could help with the final fittings as well as get it zipped for me. Afterall, she was the one who taught me how to sew.
My gown is fully lined in china silk and I also made a foundation piece under the entire bodice. I sweat a lot so didn’t want any rings coming through on my big day. I actually ended up with seven layers of fabric in my bodice – no moisture was going to penetrate that! The waist piece was cut on the bias and pleated in the center and stiffened with an underpiece that is interfaced. I was so pleased how the waist held up through the entire day, kept its shape and didn’t wrinkle! The ornamentation was a pin I picked up, of all places Michael’s craft store! I used two inch horsehair braid in the hem for the flare, as well as wore a very full petticoat that I purchased at a bridal shop underneath. I wish the the petticoat had been even fuller to really hold the dress out like my inspiration photo.
I completed my gown the day before the wedding and had it professionally pressed. They were amazed I had made it myself! Of course I needed something to keep me busy on the morning of the wedding so that’s when I made my fascinator as well as covered the buttons and made the buttonholes for my husband’s waistcoat. He said it didn’t make him the least bit nervous . . . he’s a keeper!!
Blood, sweat, and tears were worth it . . . I truly did feel like a princess all day!!