Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Wedding Dress

I got married in October 2004, and I made my own dress, since there wasn't much off-the-rack that appealed to me. Almost all the dresses I saw in magazines seemed so stiff and formal-- I wanted something simple, soft, drapey. Looking back, I'm of two minds about making my own dress. On the one hand, it was *so* stressful, because I wanted it to be perfect, and because I had so much else to do as well. On the other hand, the dress turned out exactly as I wanted it to, and it was a really special, personal touch for my wedding.
The Wedding: October 2004


My first concept picture for my wedding dress is pictured at left. I ended up going in a completely different direction, although several elements would later make appearances in Debby's wedding dress. Once we decided to get married by the beach, the sleeves seemed unnecessary. Then I realized that a train would accumulate a tremendous amount of sand and dirt, so out that went. Finally, I thought hard about which dress shapes I really liked, and decided that I wanted to echo the shape of my rainbow underdress, especially around the back.

Once I'd decided on the shape, I had to find a pattern. Fortunately for me, I already owned a pattern that would work well: McCall's 3057. I'd bought it in hopes of using it for my rainbow dress, but it ended up not working. For this dress, however, it was perfect.

Well, sort of perfect. The skirt was a sheath, darted under the bodice, and I wanted a flared skirt. So I cut the skirt pattern pieces apart on the darts and then extended the darts down into flared seams, using a different princess-seamed pattern to help determine the degree of flare. Ta-da-- a seven-piece flared skirt that exactly fitted the bodice.

The dress was made in three layers: an outer layer of 10 mm silk chiffon, an inner layer of 19.5 mm silk charmeuse (matte side out) and a lining of the same silk charmeuse. All the fabrics came from Dharma Trading. For the bodice, the chiffon and one layer of charmeuse were treated as one layer when sewing. The two skirt layers, however, were put together separately and then sewn onto the bodice together. The entire lining was then put together, and the dress and lining were sewn together along the top edge, so the lining hung free. The lining was understitched by machine to keep it from rolling out and showing. The side back and center back lining pieces had lightweight interfacing fused along their top edge to prevent the fabric from stretching. An invisible zipper was inserted at center back. Finally, the three layers were hemmed individually using the 2-thread rolled hem on my serger. (Thank you, Elise, for marking and finishing my hem!) All seams were also finished with this stitch, leaving very little visible seam allowance that could be seen through the semi-sheer fabric layers.

I didn't wash the fabric before I sewed it. If I could go back and do it over again, I'd wash the fabric first. The texture change doesn't bother me too terribly, and it would have been nice to not have to be as paranoid about water or steam or getting a stain on the dress. When I made Debby's wedding dress, I made sure to wash the fabric beforehand. Much less stressful!

I wore an A-line crinoline under the dress, borrowed from my friend Sue. It wasn't very poofy, because the dress only needed a little extra fullness. Also, I made a neat rustling sound when I walked.

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