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 is a sketch of when I thought I had to go without the embroidery)DIY wedding dress by

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

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

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:

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ruched shoulder seams…DIY wedding dress by

…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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The colour scheme top to bottom:DIY wedding dress by

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

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

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

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.



Happy sewing!


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Wedding Dress Part IV: The Story of the Corset

wedding dress corset by

Hellooo lovelies!

Man, you deserve a massive thumbs up for bearing with me and being so patient! Here’s the good news: Eventually there will be pictures of the final dress (& wedding!) on the blog. Don’t despair. But I don’t want to spoil the fun by posting them before I finished showing you the Making Of!

Hint: If your curiosity gets the better of you, pop over to my Instagram where I already shared some sneak peeks a couple of weeks ago!

So today I’ll share the Story of the Corset with you. You’ll have to wait till the end to learn whether it’s a happy or sad story. Again, no spoiling!

There’s just one thing I have to spoil for you: The idea that wedding dress sewing is romantic. It’s not. It’s chaos and hard work. But mostly chaos. Here’s some evidence:

wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comAs I mentioned in the previous posts, my backless dress required an alternative solution regarding the understructure. A normal bra wouldn’t do. I always wanted to try and use a couture understructure in a garment and what better garment than a wedding dress, right?

Well, it turned out to be a pretty nerve-wracking process. As far as I know, there are no backless corset patterns out there, so I knew I would deal with a lot of adjustments.

I tried a couple of things. First, I used a corset pattern from a Lingerie Making Book I own. I changed the pattern on paper to get the shape of the back I needed for my dress:wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by

I muslined it a couple of times, making minor adjustments (one at a time), but it just wouldn’t work. The fit around the bust was horrible, the cup pattern just didn’t work at all. The cups weren’t the typical U shape, but kinda longish and flat and there was no way of working this out.

I then drafted my own cup pattern using my beloved Patternmaking for Fashion Design Book. The fit was much better, but not to my satisfaction. In the picture below you can see some alterations after fitting, e.g. the tiny dart I pinned right under the cup. wedding dress corset by

I had some nice lightweight sew-in bra cups (courtesy of The Stitchery) which unfortunately just wouldn’t fit in my drafted cups. As neither bra cups or muslin worked, I decided to start from scratch yet again.

I kept the bodice pattern of the corset and grabbed an old bra that fit me well. I took it apart, only keeping the bound underwire and padding: wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comUsing the padded cup, I draped some muslin fabric over it and created a cup dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comHere’s the finished cup pattern. Later on in the process, I cut up the pattern and added a seam instead on keeping the dart, for a better fit (see next pic).wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by

Here’s the muslin with lightweight 5mm polyester boning in, a cotton waist stay and padded dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comI was happy with the fit so far and only slightly changed the shape of the padded bra cups by adding a dart:wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comTo reduce bulk, I cut out the dart and sewed the edges together by dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by

On to the corset sewing!

As used in couture understructure, I used 100% cotton bobbinet, also called Swiss Tulle, which is a lightweight, soft tulle fabric with a hexagonal weave. It’s pretty strong and holds the shape very well, doesn’t itch and it’s perfect as a base for adding embellishments in couture dresses.

I bought mine on Goldhawk Road in London. It wasn’t cheap but much cheaper than when you order some online.

wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comFor extra strength and to prevent stretching, I cut out too layers, one on the bias and one on grain. You can see the difference in the picture below:
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Here’s everything pinned together and ready to sew:wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comFor the cups I decided to use some of my lining silk fabric to underline the bra cups (just for prettyness nothing else). As the silk was very delicate and slippery I handbasted the two fabric together before dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by

The assembled cups. The curved seam allowance is clipped in a round shape for an extra smooth curve and handbasted to the dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comI then added the underwire which was also handsewn into the dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comAnd in go the padded cups! (More handsewing!)wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comJust as a side note: I stay-stitched the curved seams to prevent stretching out. Here you can also see my cotton ribbon pinned on to repare the boning channels.
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Looks nice so far, right?wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comThe channels for the boning are sewn onto the dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comI used two different width of polyester boning (courtesy of The Stitchery). As I am using very lightweight fabrics for my dress, steel boning would’ve been too heavy and bulky for the dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comNeatening the neckline before attaching the silk bias binding strip with handstitches:wedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comThere was the issue of preventing the corset from collapsing forward as I had no straps and hardly any structure to balance it out in the back. I used some pretty lace elastic to build enough tension to keep everything in dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comwedding dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comLast but not least, I added the waist stay. It’s a 2,5cm wide grosgrain ribbon that I sewed onto the boning dress corset by thisblogisnotforyou.comIt not only helps to keep everything in place but is also super pretty:wedding dress corset by

Sounds all pretty good so far, eh? After a couple of weeks of working on this, I ended up with a pretty decent corset.

Well. I’m afraid this isn’t a happy story after all.

(No, my dog didn’t eat it. I don’t have a dog, although I’d love to.)

wedding dress corset by

As I mentioned before,  I am using very lightweight silk fabrics for my dress. Once the dress muslin and corset were finished, I basted the corset into the dress and tried it on. It just didn’t work. The corset was fine, the dress too, but they, at least, surely wouldn’t get married. The corset was way too bulky, not skin-tight enough around the bust (which is near impossible without a back and straps). Also, although I used the lightweight polyester boning, it showed through the fabric. The actual fabric was even more lightweight than the muslin fabric, so this could only get worse.

You can sort of see the problem in the photographs, but it was even worse IRL. Sooo, after a moment of uncontrolled anger and despair I realised I had to let this corset go. It would definitely not be part of the wedding dress.

Bummer, eh?

wedding dress corset by

Some of you planning to wear similar backless dress in the future might want to know how I dealt with this situation in the end. After anger and despair changed into dissapointment and eventually acceptance, I searched Amazon for about an hour and decided to get a self adhesive bra for 7€ to try and see if this was a possible solution. As it was quite cheap I ordered two different sizes, to be on the safe side.

I was very doubtful at first, but this bra actually worked. It even is the right exact same colour of my lining fabric. I wore one a whole day just to see if it would stay on and it did. They’re reusable and I kept the other one as backup on the big day. I didn’t need it though. It feels weird at first, but I got used to it. It only required a bit of boob hugging every once in a while when no one was looking, whenever I felt it was coming loose at the edges. So for someone small-chested like me, this is actually a decent solution.bra

Wow, you read through the whole thing! Thanks for that! Hope you enjoyed the post and don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY this week!

Special thanks to The Stitchery, who sponsored some of the dress and corset supplies and notions such as boning, ribbons, bra cups, button band and zip. You rock!



Happy sewing!


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