Tuesday, 24 February 2015

DIY Wedding Dress Part III: Design and Sewing

Now for the last part in this series - the actual making of the dress! (For the first two parts of this epic wedding dress series, see inspiration and materials.)

First we broadly planned the dress by mocking up the dress, swathing me in the fabric and pinning everything together to create a 'dress'! From here, Ma turned this into inspirational sketches and progressed these into a detailed pattern.

Using these patterns we made a series of progressive calico toiles. With each version I was pushed and pulled and squeezed in, until we had a perfect fitting bodice. It was a full family affair with mum pinning and tweaking, izzy giving feedback and dad in charge of project management!! :)

With the small and sturdy (ha!!) bodice perfected, we turned to the skirt. This was to be a full gathered skirt given shape by a layered net underskirt. We cheated a tiny bit here and bought one ready made - this thing was huge and made of hundreds of meters of netting!!

Naturally the dress evolved as we went through this process. Initially I was set on having a tule outer layer on the skirt, as per my inspiration! Ethereal, soft and delicate. But once we'd chosen the perfect silk, I loved it so much I wanted it on show! To be able to scrunch the silk in my hands, feel the texture and see the gorgeous colour of it. So we simply modified the plan.

Once the dress was all pieces together, then came the embellishment. We cut around the motif super carefully with nail scissors and arranged the first strip around the top of the bodice then created a jigsaw puzzle to cover the rest of the bodice! We pinned first and then painstakingly hand stitched each piece on with small invisible stitches.

This part was another serious team effort. Working round the clock Mum would sew all day and then in the evenings Izzy and I would get home to pick it up the evening shift! I can't even think how many hours we all put into stitching that on. But man was it worth it!! :)

With the few gems we had left we added some additional bling to the bridesmaid's dress - creating a belt of bling and adding the scalloped edge along the top of the bodice. This tied in both dresses and literally meant we didn't have a spare gem in the house. Efficiency!!

The restricted quantity of silk meant every cutting exercise was a real mathematical test. Especially the train! We saved back just enough silk for the sash, bodice and flower girl dress and made the rest into the train. It ended up a little longer than I expect, but you gotta live it large or go home, I say!! ;) We devised a system whereby the train could be detachable (heavy duty hooks!) - genius. Once that was decided, there was no practical excuse to hold back, we threw caution to the wind! I loved drama of the train, especially in church, but it was also a relief to finally unhook and feel free to dance the night away!

Ditto with the veil. Having ditched the plan for a tulle top skirt we now had a LOT going spare. Being ones to 'waste not want no't, we put it to use in the veil and as a result I had a Cathedral length veil, Woooah!! :) It was great fun....until flying ants started getting trapped in it during the photos....it was bit like wearing a GIANT insect net on your head. Nice. I channelled my inner next-top-model and posed my heart out until we could dash away from the infestation!

My dress was perfect for our wedding day, it truly was better than anything I could ever have dreamt of as a child, a teenager or a twenty-something! I had always hoped that my Ma would make my wedding dress. She was the ultimate patient and professional wedding dress whizz and my family was the hardest working sewing brigade in the land! :) Thanks to them all I got to wear the most spectacular, unique, couture dress on our special day. I owe them all the biggest thanks in the world!

Photo courtesy of Anushe Low

p.s. you can see plenty more photos of the final dress here, here and here

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