Why hello, sewosphere, hope you’re still here! It’s been ages, I know, but you know I had a good excuse: getting married and the honeymoon and all that.
So now, the big reveal, right? Well, the professional pictures have not arrived yet (when do they ever give them back on time…?) so you will have to contend with a few bad ones taken with my phone.
This is teaser I got from the photographer, so I’m teasing you with it too.
EDIT: now updated with more pics below.
And now, tell me you’re just dying for the construction story, right? Well, sorry folks, that’s not going to happen as I just realised my new husband had deleted my painstakingly taken pictures which would have documented the entire process. So just words for now, and not too many of them, as I feel we have already been speaking about this dress waaay to long and it’s time to move on.
So, to recap, the green tree huger in me really wanted a sustainable wedding dress. In the beginning, that meant peace silk and all that jazz. But then, someone suggested (rightly so) a refashion of an existing dress as being the most sustainable option. So that’s what I ended up doing, but let’s call it more of a fabric recovery than a refashion.
This is what we started with:
A perfectly decent dress, size 8, which contained two types of fabric: the taffeta you can see in the outer layer and a ticker duchess satin I ended up using, plus lining and a whole lot of tulle, all polyester.
I unpicked all of it and ended with a lot of bias cut pieces, plus 1 zipper (regular), 1 pair of hook and eye, boning and some interlining. I reused all of the duchess satin and the trimmings for the new dress, there was only a small piece of boning that was not part of the original dress that ended up in mine.
Since it was meant to be a beach wedding, I could not imagine a long dress or some sort of meringue and besides, I always wanted a short dress. The inspiration was a mix of the bodice of this dress + the skirt of this dress (sorry, I could not decide if it was OK copyright-wise to post the actual images, so decided not to risk it).
Now, this presented a multitude of complications, as I had no pattern to work with AND:
- I had never made anything with cups
- I have no experience, knowledge or even interest in bra making
- I am rubbish at pattern cutting
- I had to work within the confines of pre cut pieces of fabric, some of which on bias
- I WAS SERIOUSLY RUNNING OUT OF TIME, with less than a month to go before the wedding
So I tried to (in this approximate order):
- find an existing pattern for the bodice – used the bodice in the end (Burda bombshell dress), but tweaked to match other cups
- learn to drape on the stand – great idea in theory, just did not work in practice, too fidly
- tweak other pattern and try to figure out a bit of lingerie pattern cutting – went back to that and many many thanks to Amy from Cloth Habit for great tips and instructions
- blag it – yeah, did not work!
- back to another pattern and muslining the life out of it – as you do!
- frankenpaterning a bustier and a bra pattern – winning combination!
It makes my skin crawl just thinking back on how frustrating this part of the process was. I just realised that I had blocked it out of my mind and now it’s all back!!
I have made 3 muslins, 2 wearable muslin (which ended up in the bin after all), plus a few more iterations of the final muslin (only the zipper was inserted and unpicked 4 times!!). I ended up with a horizontal seam cup that was not exactly like the one in the inspiration picture, but it seemed to contain my boobs the best. This phase took almost 3 weeks, with at least 2-3 hours work every day and 2 full days at the weekend. I think I grew old by 10 years!!
Once I was relatively happy with the fit of the cup, I cut into the dress fabric and assembled. And of course it was not working as the muslin did! So I had to dismantle an old strapless bra to reuse the cups and the wires to make the cups of the dress safely contain my boobs. After countless tweaks, it worked and they were safely in, including jumping up and down and lifting my arms. I really did not want to flash the minister!!
Now, this was a lot of hacking and I’m sure a proper wedding seamstress would have a fit if she saw my butchery, but at this point in time, I could not care less, I just wanted to have a bloody dress! I kept reading blogs and feeling totally inadequate about what went into my dress. I did not have steel boning, just the plastic ones I recovered from the dress. I would have liked to use bemberg or some other fancier lining, but I made a decision not to buy anything new for the dress and I wanted to stick with that. So I had to use the rubbish flimsy lining from the original dress, and added the interlining, to keep the boning in. And finally, we had a bodice that was looking fairly good!
Here’s the finished bodice with the pinned up skirt.
Now, I genuinely thought I was out of the woods by this point in the process. I mean, how complicated can a skirt be, right? There were a gazillion iterations here too, trying to get the shape right. Looking at the inspiration pictures again, it really didn’t end up like that, but hey ho! I had really wanted pockets, but after adding them, I realised you could see the pocket bags through the fabric, so had to take them out. Plus, because of the high-low hem, the entrails were visible, so I had to French the life out of all the seams. That ended up being one of my favourite parts, as I made tinsy-winsy French seams that looked so pretty!
The last hurdle was the zipper. I am an unapologetic fan of the invisible zipper, but everybody in the sewing community was saying that no way can you use them in wedding dresses, as they would not hold. Plus my original zipper was a regular one, so I had to do a lapped zipper. Which was hell! I can never imagine how people think this is easier than invisible ones! I had to unpick it twice and still I feel it didn’t end up looking as I would have liked it. But to be honest, this was 11 PM on the Wednesday night, with a week to go to the wedding, so I just had to let it go… No one but a seamstress would probably notice anyway. So ok, I know it’s not perfect, please don’t point it out again :).
Only the hem to do now… I had bought horsehair, but decided it wasn’t going to work. So I did a baby rolled hem, which also haled keep the shape, as the fabric was quite heavy.
Here’s the 2 AM pic to prove I have done it!
And we were done! I finally put my head up from wedding dress making and realised more than a month had passed and I had not seen any of my friends, hardly ate, hardly slept and had my fiance wonder who is this crazy woman he’s supposed to marry? But I had a dress!
And then I had the most fantastic wedding ever, most chilled, emotional and in the most beautiful scenery! And of course, I now have the most amazing husband! All worth it, folks!! Eloping is the way forward, and making your own sustainable dress, of course 🙂
On my way to the beach (the wedding location):
In the jungle walking to the beach (the road did not go all the way to the sand):
Navigating the jungle & sand in high heels (which I immediately gave up on):
And proper official pictures:
Here’s the view from the back:
And as a bonus, a few pics from the beautiful Bequia.