Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Starting the Wedding Dress

Can you believe that I really never imagined I would sew my own DDs wedding dress one day? I really didn't. But now that I've started, there's just something so exciting about it all. I actually made my own wedding dress when I married and it was gorgeous. I didn't even use a pattern, I simply drafted it by eye and set to work. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it. It was so long ago that the only photos from the day are from the shoulders up! That fact seems so strange nowadays with the technology bombardment we all live in and when I think about it that way, it's really staggering how much the world has changed since then. As for the dress itself? Well the less said about that the better. My own sister harvested it for the fabric years after I'd left home which left me with no dress to show off to my own DDs. Anyhow, it looks like I can make up for those lost bridal fabric, style and headdress moments now...from scratch.
Well almost. I naturally thought I'd be drafting the entire pattern myself, but after much shopping and trying on of dresses which just didn't meet the mark, my DD found the pattern she wanted and has been very particular about it all. As a professional designer in a previous life before quilting, I know there will be many changes and adjustments, however I'm happy to start with the pattern as the base dress to work from. With my first DD showing zero interest in wedding bells, I have seized the opportunity to relish every moment of this dress making adventure with my youngest.
The pattern is a Butterick one, and oh boy is the paper quality poor! I'd happily pay double for more manageable paper and I'm surprised these paper sheets pass quality control (if there is any?), it's been a pain to gently unfold, iron and construct the pattern. Was it always this bad? It's been over a decade since I even handled a commercial pattern (perhaps longer) and it may just be that I've grown old and fussy. What I had to do to make the pattern usable was adhere it to a backing support fabric. I didn't have any on hand and didn't want to leave the house and lose momentum so I used an expensive woven fusible manufactured for men's suiting I had in my studio. I probably shouldn't have but it is lovely to work with and I can't see that I'll use it for anything else.. so I just decided to use the whole bolt up. And that's the pattern constructed. Now the fun can begin..

As you can see from the skirt panel below, it's too large for even my desks and benches to handle so there will be a lot of cleaning going on once the real fabric makes it into the house. As for now, I'm just making the toile so am feeling relaxed about any dust.
Now, I'm off to tape up my wooden design bench to prevent any future snags when billowing the lace and fabrics and then I'm going to resume my search for a dress maker's dummy. I gave it away last year during a bout of downsizing and clearing out, I never imagined that I would need it again - so I'm off to buy an adjustable one. That's life, eh?

18 comments:

  1. Such an exciting endeavor. I too made my wedding dress in 1978 (and have very few photos of the day!) but I would never have attempted to make my daughter's dress. Too intimidating for me. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product of this magnificent dress. I know you will enjoy every moment.

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    1. Thanks Wendy. You know, I would have loved to see her make her own dress but I'll settle and be happy to make it myself! When you see what is available in 'boutiques' for upwards of five thousands of dollars, the workmanship is very basic and if more women had sewing knowledge, they wouldn't be so intimidated by the rack of dresses.

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  2. Love the way you'll end up at last with a undoubtely beautiful and glamourous dress! I only have sons so this pleasure I will never know! Looking forward to the next story with the pics!

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    1. Thanks Auckje, I'm enjoying it and I have her blessing to share the process so it's nice memento for me too :)

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  3. Will follow your progress with great interest! You have so much talent; the dress is going to be beautiful!

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  4. Oh what a wonderful adventure you are on! Can't wait to hear your progress!
    I too agree with you, the quality of the paper in commercial patterns is horrible. Rips more times than not! Enjoy your journey!

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    1. They need to lift their game, this is nonsense Butterick!

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  5. Pattern cost is triple and paper quality is 1/2 of what it used to be. And we do not want to talk about quality control.

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  6. What an exciting project!!! Through careful work (including blood, sweat, and tears, and wondering why you ever started such a project - that would be my experience, anyway), I hope you enjoy every precious moment of this project. I'm sure the outcome will be outstanding!!!

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    1. Thanks Sue, I'm really keen to show everyone that yes, you can make a beautiful dress at home!

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  7. I am thrilled for you - you deserve some serious joy in your life!
    YES - the 'quality' of commercial patterns is completely horrible. They were never so thin and tissue-paper like as they are now, and the cost is exorbitant. However, they are still better than the PDFs you download and tape together - with no grain guidance or notches, etc. Your idea to anchor it to the fusible is BRILLIANT. For such an important dress, you want the best methods possible. I wonder if your daughter has any idea how very lucky she is to have such a brilliant and accomplished mother!

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    1. Thanks Joan, good I thought it was just me being fussy. But really, you cannot work with those sheets. I feel for less experienced sewers who would be daunted with such flimsy wafer thin sheets that crumple as soon as you touch them!

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  8. I made my own dress 32 years ago. I do have pictures of it but don't have the dress anymore, either. My own daughter shows no signs of interest in a wedding and the other two are boys so I was definitely not involved in the wedding dress selection for their weddings. I look forward to living vicariously through your creation process.

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    1. It's a lot of fun to make as it will most likely be the last dress I sew, I spend all my sewing time quilting now (apart from a few occasional shirts) so I'm really going to just enjoy the whole process :)

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  9. My goodness, that will be a big job. And one you will just love doing, I'm sure. Waiting to see all the different stages, in the future.

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    1. I can't wait for the final reveal...a long way off yet!

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