In Part One I talked about the search for the perfect fabric for my wedding dress, and the evolution of pattern ideas until a final direction was decided on.
With all the pieces together, it was time to take a deep breath and...start cutting.
I took my muslin pieces for the bodice and arranged them on the lace. Since it was expensive, I wanted to waste as little fabric as possible.
The sleeve I took extra care with, wanting the sleeve edge to be on the decorative edge of the fabric - and so that the finished French seam would end on a long point.
Those lace pieces then got cut out of the satin, for an underlining, and basted together by hand. Incidentally, using pink thread for the hand basting was not such a great idea, especially because it could get caught between the layers but still seen through the lace. I spent a lot of time picking tiny hot pink threads out of the lace. Next time white would be best! :-)
However, hand basting those layers together so that they could be sewn as one layer was mandatory!
The skirt was a headache to cut out...it was so huge. Neither the skirt pattern piece, or the fabric, would fit on the table, so I had to do it in sections. I opened the satin and cut it flat, which added to the hassle. I spent a long time cutting out those two pieces, but finally had it done.
All that remained was to cut a skirt band, and the lining pieces for the bodice. I only lined the front and back, and used some white cotton from the stash to cut those pieces.
With everything together and the bodice basted, I could start sewing and pretend it was just another dress, to calm my nerves! Darts, side and shoulder seams, press the seam allowance open and carefully tack them to the underlining...
A seamstress friend had suggested I might need to use boning to keep the points laying smoothly, but the lace was stiff enough, and the seams hefty enough, that I didn't have a problem with it. The darts were quite rigid as it was.
The bodice put together, pre lining and sleeves.
I had a few bumps here and there. The sleeves were too wide, so I ended up taking them in, but you could see the bigger seam through the lace. I ended up trimming it with the scissors, and binding it by hand with thread to finish the edge, up to where it joined the original French seam. Not terribly professional, but it wasn't noticeable, so I call it a success.
The arm openings were too big as well. They looked like they were trying to be dolman sleeves. Don't know how that happened. So I cut a circle of the underlining satin, folded it in half, and tacked it to the underside of the arm opening. It actually could come in handy as a sweat guard since it is easily replaceable.
And...I remembered why I don't like lining things. After fiddling with the lining, and including the elastic loops in the front seam, I still had to take a tuck in it horizontally in order to keep it from bagging or showing around the bottom edge. Maybe sometime I'll learn how to line things properly. Again...it worked, and that was the important thing.
I covered small buttons with satin scraps for the front bodice opening, but they ended up too big, so I had to purchase a smaller, pre-covered size and replace the buttons. I also made a rectangle of satin fabric and tacked it to the inside of the lining on one side, as a modesty panel under the button loops.
The skirt was a simple matter of two seams, an interfaced waistband, and a short invisible zipper. Of course I didn't get the zipper quite even, so I had to hide that with the overlapping waistband. I also accidentally made it a bit too tight - but by the wedding I must have lost a few more pounds because it fit just fine! :-)
I left it hang to make sure the seams didn't pull, then had a long trimming job making it even. Thankfully I had some help. My mother used pins and my vintage hem ruler, and I spent a long time standing and slowly rotating on the piano bench while she marked the skirt.
I had to put some thought into hemming a circle skirt in the least noticeable way possible. I ended up going with bias tape, which once it was pressed, laid smoothly all the way around. I tacked it down by hand using only one strand of thread and catching only two threads of the satin per stitch. It took forever to go around that skirt hem!
So now the major pieces were finished, it was time for the fun part - playing with the embellishments! But I'll save that for the next and final installment.