Friday, July 20, 2012

The Wedding Story Part III

On my last post, I mentioned I didn’t have any photos of the dress in earlier construction. The day after I finished Wedding Blog Post #2, my daughter emailed me these photos. I had forgotten that she had taken them, but glad that she did. The first photo was the beginning construction of the skirt. I’m a "pinner" - “Pinning makes for perfection.”If you’re wondering what the yellow sheet of paper is pinned on the front of the dress form, it read: “Please don’t come near this dress until I can move it to a different room! Thanks, the Village Seamstress.” It had been a late night and I hadn’t thought to keep it in our bedroom yet, so the dress was set up in the TV room. Even though food is not allowed on the carpet, sometimes my children take food and drink in there when I’m not home. You would think after 20 years, they would know and obey that rule! The last thing I needed was to have a stray chocolate chip, or red Gatorade spilled on the dress! The other two photos show the development of the front and back of the skirt which was the most difficult and detailed skirt I’ve ever made . . . well I did make a beaded pageant dress once that took more time than this one, but that was only because it was heavily hand beaded. This dress was much more complex. 

So I’m back tracking a little in this post. On the next post you will see the completed dress, which took two months to complete – mostly late into the night after working full time at my regular day job. Weekends became a blur as I began sewing when I got home from work on Fridays and got up for work on Mondays -after little cat naps. Normally I don’t sew on Sunday; however, in order to get this dress completed in time for the bridal photos, I had no choice.“The ox was in the mire!” In fact, at the time, it felt as though an entire herd of oxen were in the mire! Have you ever been so tired that when you lay down to go to sleep, you’re too exhausted to fall asleep? That’s how I felt from the time I started the dress, until about two weeks after the wedding! 

Just to give you an idea of the immensity of this project.It took 25 yards of Dupioni silk from India. 27 yards of sheer stretch mesh cut into 908 individual petals. I had hoped to cut the petals with a rotary cutter, but the mesh was just too “slimy”. They had to be hand cut with scissors. Normally it takes me a year or two to wear out a pair of scissors, and I’m careful with the! I wore out a new pair of Gingher scissors on this dress, not to mention my hand! The stretch mesh became almost “gritty” as it was cut. I’m sure that’s what took a toll on the scissors. The petals were then gathered together at the top of each one, and sewn to the skirt in rows. I believe there were a total of eleven rows of petals. Just when I thought I had cut my last set of petals, I would gather them and realize there were still bare spots! It took 18 yards of Habotai lining for the skirt and the bodice. The under-lining in the bodice took a yard and a half. I like to finish the hems on this type of dress with horsehair braid. You can buy it by the yard at most fabric stores. I used the one inch width since the skirt was so heavy. It comes in narrower widths as well. It’s not made of real horsehair anymore, but it used to be back in the day. It took nine yards of horsehair braid to go around the bottom of the hem. Horsehair braid not only provides stability to the hem, but also gives body to the hem and holds it in place. 

Each bodice seam was covered with self-made bias strips of the Dupioni silk.This gives a corset type look, and defines the princess seams. It’s also easier to hide the boning underneath the seams in the lining. After sewing the bias strips to the seams, I used a fine, white pearl cotton to embroider a chicken stitch vine along each seam on the bodice. On the tip of each stitch, I attached a tiny white glass Japanese seed bead. To give the dress balance, and counter the effect of the self-made flowers on the left side of the skirt, I embroidered a bouquet of vines on the right side of the lower bodice. Each vine was a different type of embroidery stitch and various beads were used on each vine to help differentiate the vines as they were all sewn with various thicknesses of white pearl cotton.

 I have to admit, I love to do beadwork! There’s something about it that’s calming to me, it’s therapy to my soul! My dad asked me once how I can stand to sit and sew one little bead on at a time, he said “that would drive me crazy!” Hundreds of beads were used on the bodice, but they were tiny - just enough to give it depth and dimension. Most were tiny white glass Japanese seed beads, but I also used different shapes, sizes and color variations of clear, white and opaque white Swarovski Austrian crystals on the vine embellishment. I love sewing each bead on one at a time. Bees wax is the secret to successful beading, or hand sewing of any kind. Not only does it strengthen the thread, but it also keeps the thread from getting tangled and in knots.

The last thing that was applied was the Dupioni silk over drape on the skirt with pick-ups. Then the skirt was attached to the bodice and the lining hand sewn in place to finish and complete the dress. I didn’t measure how long the tie was that laced up the back of the dress, but it was really long! That took awhile to sew, turn and press. 

The veil was a waist length, double layer of white bridal illusion, gathered onto a metal comb with a double row of clear crystals on the top edge of the comb. The edges were finished with the same self-bias strips of Dupioni silk to tie it nicely into the dress. These were also embroidered and beaded to match the dress. I cut the veil out the morning of the bridal photos and hand sewed the crystal comb to the veil in the car on the way to the bridal shoot. What a relief it was to sew that final stitch! I have to tell you, even if you choose not to make a wedding dress; it is worth it to make your own veil.They are extremely easy to make and very inexpensive. The veil including the comb was less than $20! We found the crystal comb at a beauty supply store. It was nice quality and only $5.00. A comparable veil at a bridal store would have been at least $200 - $300 or more.

I’ve taken the time to explain all of the things that went into the dress before showing you the finished project. It’s fun to imagine what it all looked like before the pieces were cut, fit, sewn together, and finally completed. 

Until now, I’ve never really thought about how many different types of tears there are, but must admit; there were many tears shed during the construction of this dress. Tears of inadequacy, tears of stress, tears of exhaustion, tears of fear that I wouldn’t get it done, tears of relief when it was finished, and finally tears of joy when I helped her put it on and lace it up the back for her bridal photos! The huge smile and little girl squeal when she looked in the mirror were priceless. I will share some of the pictures from the bridal photos in next week’s blog.

Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Do you have any advice for making the bodice part?! I'm making a drop-waist for mine and I'm having some trouble with it :-(