Wedding Dress Part VI: Constructing the Dress (+ Detail Pics)

DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comTime for a quick recap! What have I done so far? I’ve designed, drafted, muslined, fitted my pattern. Then made a trial dress. Spend hours on making a couture corset, which I ended up not wearing, sigh. Again, spend hours on hand-embroidering my bodice. All preparations done. Check.

Finally, it’s time to have a look at the construction of the dress. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, this post is picture-heavy!

After all these teaser pics and showing you details (as I will do again in this post), here’s a quick reminder of the actual design of the dress. It’s based on Jenny Packham’s Esme dress, changed to my needs:
DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com(This is a sketch of when I thought I had to go without the embroidery)DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

So what do we do first? Well, yes we pre-wash our fabrics. I actually skipped that part. I didn’t want to take any chances as all my fabrics were 100% pure silk and you don’t want to mess with expensive fabrics. I wasn’t planning on washing my wedding dress anyway, so it wasn’t that important.

So my first step was to iron metres and metres of fabrics. Why am I telling you this? Well, it’s simply part of the process. As I mentioned before, wedding dress sewing isn’t romantic. At all. It’s nerve-wracking and most of all, it’s work. A lot of work. And some of it is acutally pretty boring. So here is me ironing 6 metres of my silk lining fabric:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comI started sewing all four (!) skirt layers first, starting with my lining. It was my first time working with silk, so I thought starting with a layer you wouldn’t see was pretty clever. And I practised on some fabric scraps as well. I noticed pretty quickly that the knack with silks is simply using millions of pins. I didn’t use any gelantine or starch to prepare my silk for sewing and it still worked pretty well. Sometimes laziness pays off.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Trickier than the silk itself were all the bias seams at the skirt panels. Most seams of the dress are french seams, so I had to be extra careful. The lining seams got a bit stretched, but they’re pretty much invisible anyway.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

As you can see, I chose a blush pink/salmon coloured silk for my main lining. It’s a very drapey, soft silk and although it’s not transparent, it was slightly see-through. For that reason, and as a ‘reflecting’ layer to create more luminosity I lined the lining, because why not. The lining lining is a cream poly satin that I used as a lining for my trial dress. Here’s a picture in which you can see the actual shape of the skirt panels pretty well. This right here is one of the two back panels (on the right) and the foldes front panel:

DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The skirt is basically the Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt, lengthened and flared to about 3m of hemline.

Now you all want to know what fabric I used as fashion fabric/top fabric, right? Well, here we go!

From the beginning I knew I probably wouldn’t end up with a white dress. I didn’t want anything too out there or, for instance, a bright red dress. I wanted it to be a pretty blush tone, champagne or dove grey. It took me ages to find the perfect fabric and I finally found it on Goldhawk Road: it’s a 100% Pure Silk chiffon (I say organza) fabric for 22£/pm with an ombre effect: it’s ivory blending into a really lush, blush pink from one border to the other:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Although in retrospect I’d say it’s not the ideal fabric for a fitted, slightly mermaid shaped dress, it was simply perfect. I got a lot of compliments just because of it’s subtle and pretty colour. Our wedding was pastel themed anyway, so all the pieces came together in the end.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comIsn’t it simply georgeous? It’s almost like liquid rose-gold.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

So here’s a rough coloured version of the sketch:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

As you can see I wanted the blush pink lining to peak through the sheer ivory top layer of the bodice. The skirt would also be lined in blush pink, with a double ivory/blush pink top layer, so the ombre effect would be subtle but still pretty visible on the dress as a whole with the brightest colour at the top, blending into a darker salmon pink tone at the botton.

The plan was to create a unconventional wedding dress that would still let me look like a bride. So bridal at the top, individualism at the bottom.

After embroidering the bodice fabric, I cut out the bodice pieces, sewed front and back panels together and finished the seams. I created the lining bodice, a spaghetti top which is lined and basted top layer and lining together at the waist seams. I didn’t attach the spaghetti straps until after having constructed the dress as a whole with an added waiststay. Only after that step I knew exactly where the top would sit and how long I needed the straps to be.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Apart from the french seams on the sides of the bodice and skirt panels, most seams were hand-sewn. I finished the neckline and armhole edges on the sheer bodice with a hand-rolled hem, the go-to technique when finishing silk fabrics.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

I decided to add a pretty detail on the front and back when I attached the lining straps:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Here you can see the understitching on the lining’s lining and where I handsewed the straps onto the lining bodice.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

A very fine hand-rolled hem at the neckline with just enough edge standing over to keep the sequins from my skin (scratchy!)DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The back opening is finished with a hand-rolled hem as well. (I spend a lot of hours doing this while watching Homeland non-stop). The button is vintage, a single one I found in my collection.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Here’s the loop I created for the button. If you look closely, you can see a tiny piece of white cotton fabric in the corner, to stabilise the silk georgette from the strain of the button fastening.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The ruched shoulder seams…DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

…also with the edges finished with a hand-rolled hem. I actually didn’t sew the row of sequins up to the seamline. I left a tiny gap of about 1,5cm on each shoulder piece and added single sequins after sewing both pieces together.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Now to the skirt:

First of all, I had to deal with three layers of silk fabric plus one slippery layer of poly satin. So yes, there was basting involved. First, I finished all seams on the skirt (except for the hem) and then basted all four layers together at the open centre back before the zip went in.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

One last fitting before sewing in the zip along the newly marked seamline. I sewed the zip in by hand and I might have added a row of machine stitching afterwards, but I can’t actually remember.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Here’s a photo of the finished zip and waistline with sewn-in waist-stay:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The raw edges are sewn onto the lining, thus finished. I added a small tap at the bottom of the zip to prevent any raw edges from itching (especially since I had to shorten my zip by cutting off the lower half). The centre back seam then blends into a french seam below the zip:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

I’m pretty happy with the result. None of the delicate silk fabrics got caught in the zip during all these numerous fittings, which is pretty awesome. DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

You can also see that I created tucks and pleats instead of darts of the top layers of bodice and skirt. The lining pieces all have darts. This is to have a bit of give in the delicate, non-stretch silks to prevent them from ripping, e.g. when sitting down.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

End of the zip blending into the waistseam and finished seams of the open back:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

I recycled an old bra for the waiststay closure:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The waiststay is attached to the waistseam at the darts and side seams, invisible from the outside:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Here’s the well-enough matched-up french side seams of bodice and skirt. (You can see the subtle difference between the georgette at the top and the organza at the bottom)DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

The colour scheme top to bottom:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

All four layers (roughly 12m hemline), three of them hand-finished. This pic was taken after the wedding, so please excuse the frayed seams and dirty fabrics.DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.comDIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Here you can compare the texture of the embroidered georgette to the delicate silk organza:DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Well, and that was it. Apart from the more-than-average-priced fabrics and a lot of hours of fitting and handsewing, I simply have sewn a dress I wore to a special occaision. There was no wedding dress magic involved. So if you are thinking about making your wedding dress yourself, do it! All you need is time and a lot of nerves.

So you want to see the finished dress? Here it is:

DIY wedding dress by thisblogisnotforyou.com

Just kidding. That was enough pictures for one post. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the final post in this series: The big reveal! (Although you probably have a pretty detailed picture of the dress in mind by now. It might not be very huge surprise tbh.)

So there will be wedding pictures soon! And, if you don’t mind, I’ll share some other wedding DIYs after that, as well. Let me know when you get tired of all this wedding stuff! I’m sure not done yet.

If you missed out on any of the other making of posts, just click on the wedding dress tag below or choose the DIY Wedding category on the right to find your way to the other posts in this series.

xx

Charlie


Happy sewing!

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18 thoughts on “Wedding Dress Part VI: Constructing the Dress (+ Detail Pics)

  1. Hi Charlie,
    What a labour of love! I hope your husband appreciated the work involved in being a beautiful bride. I made my own wedding dress when I was a 20 year old university student so it was basic and low cost.

    1. Thanks! Oh I think he does. He was involved in the process from day one and had to deal with all the frustration as well 😀

      Oh that’s lovely! I’d love to see a pic. You can email me one if you’d like to. x

  2. I feel like I’m holding my breath as I read these posts!! Can’t wait to see the finished dress (I haven’t cheated and peeked). I am in awe of your dedication.

  3. I’m following each blog post religiously! I’m hoping to make my own wedding dress this year and your blog is unbelievably helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to share each detail with us. You’ve done an incredible job, you should be very proud of yourself. Xx

    1. That’s great to hear! I hope you find reading about my experience somewhat helpful. And I hope you have just as much fun as I had making my dress. Thanks for following this series so patiently x

  4. I have loved following along with all the steps you have put into constructing your dress. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final reveal. I’m sure you must have looked beautiful.

    1. I felt really pretty in this dress. Having it made myself made it even more special because I knew how much my hubby and family were proud of this as well. Thanks for following along this journey x

    1. Oh yes, it was a labour of love and pretty frustrating at times, but definitely worth all the trouble.

  5. Wonderful dress. I am working on a wedding for my daughter and I am trying to insert the zipper and my skirt part has three layers – top chiffon, satin skirt and lining underneath. Can you tell me how to separated the skirt seams under the zipper? And also how you managed to do a french seam under the zipper? I only need a french seam in my chiffon layer, but cant figure out how to make the transition. Thank you.

    1. Hi there! I sewed french seams at the back seams of all four skirts seperately up to where the zip starts. I basted them together at the raw edges and installed the zip. The raw edges I finished by hand. I clipped the seam allowance below the zip so they open up above the french seams. Does this make sense? When you sew a french seam and want to transition into a pressed open seam, clipping the seam allowance is pretty much the only way you can achieve that. Or at least, it’s the only method known to me 🙂 Hope this helps! Good luck with the dress for your daughter! x

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