MY SISTERS WEDDING DRESS
....something blue... In the beginning there was blue sheet!
I usually don't make garbs for others. I'm just not able to work with patterns and measures, which makes it necessary to fit the garb I'm making directly on the model multiple times. And it also takes me forever and a day to complete a project. But making my sister a wedding dress is a grand exception to the rule. She is both my sister and one of my best friends, and I was honoured by the request.
The catch: she lives in another city, four hours away from me, and I had two months to complete it.... Which of course meant a bit travelling back and forth, and a lot of guessing... The first couple of weeks was used to get an idea of what my sister wanted, and to find the perfect fabrics. This was the fun part of the project...
September 13, 2009:
It all started with a blue sheet. I made a bodice mockup by draping it directly on her, cutting the panels that would later serve as the pattern for the dress. The back is a bit inspired by Regency style, with low back and curved seams, but with a twist. From those I worked out a bodice in white cotton - two layer of a fine-fibred, tight-weave cotton, with channels for hemp cords. The hemp cording works as a sort of boning, making the bodice smooth and sturdy, while at the same time draping nicely around ones body. I first discovered this technique through Jennifer Thompson's site, and I've used it a lot for my costume projects. Very handy method! Especially since cutting and sewing in the hemp is no problem at all, which makes it easy to shape and re-model hemped parts. That came in handy...
September 26, 2009:
When trying the hemped bodice on for the first time, I noticed it was too wide in the waist. I took the easy/lazy road and pleated + zig-zagged in a piece under the bust, at each side. This worked fine, and only made the bodice even sturdier. But it made it a bit tight over the bust. This was fixed by slashing some areas over the bust, inserting a piece of fabric and zig-zag it into place. Now the bodice looked like a weird steampunk-empire-organic-futuristic type of garb....
September 29, 2009:
To cover the cord channels a bit, I added a layer of padding. For the front I had to shape it a tad, while the back was flat and didn't need any modelling. The padding was necessary because of the smooth white silk - it revealed any little bump and pleat. So unforgiving to work with!
September 30, 2009:
Now the scary part - the precious silk was cut. Sounds easier than it is, at least for me - I was so afraid to screw up, to forget about the grain/weave, to not mirror the back panels. But in the end I got it right. I then stitched it to the hemped/padded foundation. Another fitting, this time to decide just how much should be folded in of the fabric, to get the size right and to make the shoulder straps fit snuggly. And so the seam binding begun. It felt like a never-ending project...
October 10, 2009:
The back was lined with the same silk as the exterior from the beginning, while the front/side was lined after all bound seams and shoulder straps had been finished. The fully silk lined bodice gave an exclusive look, and I think it made it comfier to wear as well.
October 14, 2009:
More scary silk cutting - this time the skirt. Large panels! I was so afraid of screw up. I started with the lining, as that was a cheaper fabric and easier to replace. And once again I remembered to mirror the pieces. Behold...! The skirt consist of three panels - two for the back, forming a semi-long train, and one for the front. The picture shows the back piece, partly cut. Forgot to take a picture of the front piece, but it wasn't THAT interesting anyway... Pinned the skirt to the bodice - it started looking like a dress. Thank God...
October 17, 2009:
Wedding only 2 weeks away, and the dress is by no means finished. PANIC!!! My sister came to visit, and we looked for an ornamental trim to trim bodice and skirt with. We wanted pearls and crystals, shimmering but not tacky. Turns out that's not easy to find, not at all. We found one, but the store wanted NOK 2100,- (app. $350) for it - for one meter!! Crazy, crazy stuff. True, it had crystals, but they had used fake pearls and it wasn't worth it at all. Especially not since we needed at least three meters.
Solution: I bought a sequence trim with scalloped edges. I had tons of freshwater pearls from several ruined necklaces (I got them because they were ruined), and I bought some crystal-like tearshaped items. These were attached on the trim, and the result was lush and sparkly. 2100,- my ass! The ribbon was also shaped to fit the V shape in front and back of bodice, that is a detail I'm very happy about (although probably nobody noticed). There were no time to make such a trim for the skirt, however, so I concentrated on making the bodice as funky as possible.
October 18, 2009:
Wedding is 1,5 week away. Going into insomnia. Found funky silver/white appliquées for the back of the bodice, so cool! Matched the lush trim, which was now all attached and finished. Skirt also remodelled a tad - pleats in front instead of gathers. But skirt is still not attached. Need one last fitting. Aaaaagh....
October 23, 2009:
Went to see "Mamma Mia!" to calm my nerves. Helped a bit. Started attaching netting to the underskirt, to fluff up the hem of the skirt. Improved the look greatly. Picture shows the stiff netting all attached, and the softer netting in process of being pinned into place. So much fabric!
October 25, 2009:
Wedding one week away, and the last fitting done. The dress was also tried with an overcoat, as that would be necessary to wear outside the church and when travelling from church to party. It was a perfect match, both in colour and shape. Also got to see the dress with the right shoes, to get an idea of skirt hem and length of train. Plus what to do with the back... My sister originally desired a button closing, but I just didn't dare depend on that with her bodice changing dayly due to pregnancy. We looked at various dresses in a bridal shop, and decided to go for a decorative lacing over a modesty panel instead.
October 27, 2009:
Sewing skirt to bodice, making lacing in the back, making + attaching modesty panel, attaching the appliquées, sewing down the netting a bit, ironing the pleats in front, lining the bodice.... Trying to finish the dress, in other words. Going into a constant insomnia. Watched probably three seasons of "Frasier" a row.
The lacing loops in the back was made from the same fabric as the dress, another one of those details I'm immensely satisfied with but which no-one will ever notice...
October 29, 2009:
Skirt is attached to the bodice, last fitting is done. And the world falls apart. My sister is not entirely happy with the dress. She is pregnant, and feels the dress makes her look bigger than she is. And I see what she meant. Skirt needed to be narrower at the sides and in the back, and the front ironed down a bit more. Some of the netting skirt also needed to be basted down. Livejournal friends comes with good advices on how this could be achieved, plus supporting words to save my mental health.... It helped immensely!
October 30, 2009:
Sewing, sewing, sewing, sewing..... Re-modelling skirt, attaching snap buttons to the back of the skirt, sewing tear shaped crystals to the end of silk lacing cord, fixing hem, attaching a looped silk ribbon to enable my sister to get the train out of the way when dancing, shortening the modesty panel - finishing touches. And after midnight also re-modelling one of the bridesmaid dresses. Promised myself to never sew a stitch again, ever, at least not in 2009!!
October 31, 2009:
The big day. Ironing the skirt and hem. And.... Hell yeah. The bride looks gorgeous. Of course, it isn't hard to make a beauty look beautiful, but I wanted her to look as radiant as she should on her big day. And the last re-modelling of the skirt made all the difference. From most angles you couldn't really tell she was pregnant. Not that that was a goal, I love the sight of a pregnant belly. But the belly became an integrated part of the dress, the bodice shaped wonderfully around her bust, the back was an interesting contrast, and the silk and decorated trim accented her natural colours so well. I was so proud of her!
Wedding dress by Anéa
The fur trimmed coat was a rental from Brudesalongen Arendal in Arendal
The bouquet, a metal braid frame with inserted orchids and pearls, was from Nyli Blomster in Arendal
Fabrics and materials from Rainbow tekstil in Oslo
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