The “The Dress” Dress

So maybe it’s cheating a bit to present my wedding dress for this week’s challenge since I didn’t make it with The Sew Weekly in mind.  But, in my defense, I was going for a 1930s look when I designed it and since I finished this “project” just under a month ago, I think it counts.

So, yes, yes, yes, I’m a newlywed and all that fun stuff.

Ideas for the dress had been floating around my since my guy and I decided to tie the knot last December.  Of course, since dressmaking is kinda my thing it was extremely important to me that I make my own wedding dress.  It would have been weird for me to buy a dress that is actually The Dress.  This is the big one, you know?  If ever I were to be asked “Did you make it?” this is when I wanted to say “Yes, YES!”.

So, since I happen to dream (in black and white) of being Myrna Loy, a long, lean, and drapey gown was what I wanted most.  I also wanted a sheer silk chiffon . . . ivory with green sprigs of flowers.  Alas, if there’s any two things I’ve learned during my engagement it is 1) even brides don’t always get what they want and 2) there is an end to the internets and that end is, apparently, ivory sheer silk chiffon with green sprigs of flowers on it.  The fabric that I eventually fell for is off-white, synthetic (sigh.) chiffon printed with silver rings.

The dress in my head, of course, had amazingly intricate bias cut panels on the sides and back of the skirt, but since I was working with a symmetrical pattern (the circles are all line up in rows) the design had to be simplified.  Another issue related to the fabric was that the pattern was not printed exactly on the grain.  Getting everything to line up AND getting the proper drape was a challenge.  It took two rounds of bodices to get the neckline right – one side would just stretch no matter what.

Horror stories aside, I am pretty proud of my work and was extremely happy with the outcome.  Actually, “extremely happy” sounds lame.  This was The Dress after all.  I really don’t have words. I will say that I might have cried a little when it was done and I tried it on.  Good tears.

So, in a nutshell:  The entire dress is sheer, which means LOTS of really long french seams.  I made a separate satin slip to wear underneath.  The original intent was to have a simple gray, velvet ribbon at the waist, but I wanted to feel a little more “pulled in” so in the eleventh hour I added a fully lined waistband with gathered fabric hand stitched in place. I added an extra triangular piece to the back for drape and a slight train.  Then, bias cut (at least I got something) ruffles along the bottom and up the back.  Mostly I did this for weight since the fabric is so light.  Also, who doesn’t like a good ruffle now and then?  I mean, c’mon.  High-cut v-neck dress over low-cut slip.  Side zip.  Ruffles for sleeves.  Ta-daaaa!

 The Facts

  • Fabric:  Synthetic Chiffon.  Ivory with silver rings. I used white satin for the slip.
  • Pattern:  The dress is all me.  The slip underneath is Vintage Vogue 2859 sans slit.
  • Year: I was going for 1930s film star, so . . .
  • Notions:  Zipper, thread, sheer bias-cut tricot.  (The last item is my secret weapon against the edges/seams of sheer fabric.  It’s impossible to find, so I cut my own.)
  • Time to complete:  Months (and months).  I took my time so as not to get burned out.
  • First worn:  August 11.  My wedding day.
  • Wear again?  I wish.  Although I have no intention of getting married again.  Very tricky.
  • Total price: I don’t even want to think about wedding costs (although we didn’t go bonkers or anything) but I would guess, all in all, somewhere in the $100-$150 range.

And yes, the wedding was nothing but wonderful, sweet, lovely (and love-filled) fun.  I AM a happy girl.

Author

Liz

Liz makes her home in continuously gray, but lovely, Portland, Oregon. The cloud cover and raindrops only contribute to her dressmaking habit. Liz believes that all dresses should have pockets and all pockets should hold kittens.

15 Comments

  1. Ahhh! It’s so lovely! Nice work and congratulations!

  2. That’s so pretty. I especially like the sleeves.

  3. Beautiful dress!
    I was the exact opposite with my wedding dress. I definitely did not want to walk up the aisle thinking about all the tiny things I knew were not quite right about the dress, and all the tiny ways I had planned for it to be different.
    Even though no one else would ever have noticed them…
    So someone made it for me, in turquoise and gold, and I walked up the aisle in peace!

    Rachel

  4. absolutely beautiful!! Way to go :)

  5. Gorgeous! Congratulations Liz! So many happy events for the Sew Weekly community!

  6. Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations!

    You look absolutely beautiful, and I really love your dress (kinda have to – I did 1930s for my wedding too!). It’s elegant and flattering, and I particularly love those sleeve ruffles, and I love that it wasn’t too expensive and that it looks like you can actually move and have fun in it (I approve of having fun at your own wedding).

  7. This is amazing! I don’t often see a wedding dress that makes me go “100% want” but this does! No immediate need anyway :) Skill and beauty. Well done and wishing you both every happiness!

  8. This is basically my dream W dress – 30′s style, bias cut, omg my keyboard is covered in drool. Liz, you look SMASHING, and that last pic of your husband’s goofball expression made me laugh quite hard. He’s a lucky man!

  9. Stand-out loveliness! Nice drafting job, you are super awesome, and congratulations!

  10. Absolutely stunning dress! You should feel very proud of yourself.

  11. Seeing your wonderful accomplishment, brings back old memories of the dresses I made for my weddings and all the ceremony, or lack of ceremony around them. Your dress is more than just a white wedding dress, it’s got all those precious memories sewn into each stitch.

  12. Congratulations Liz! And that’s an absolutely very lovely dress! Really encouraging to see brides wearing dress(es) that they made for the big day and I’m making my own too!

  13. Congratulations! What an absolutely beautiful dress and it looks very flattering on you. Amazing that you drafted it yourself! And chiffon is so difficult to work with…I am very impressed.

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