Wedding Dress Part V: Embroidering the Bodice
This is probably the making of part of the wedding dress I am most excited to share with you! That’s very likely because it was the most fun part to create. Assembling a garment is fun, but it is also pretty repetitive as it is a similar process with many garments (even a wedding dress is just a dress after all). So trying something I haven’t done before was exciting and helping me loads to keep my sewing mojo up during the process.
The embroidery was initially part of the plan but I kind of discarded the idea once I started making my dress. I thought I wouldn’t have enough time because I procrastinated for too long and didn’t really start until five months before the wedding.
While making my dress I was really unhappy about not using embroidery and also, the dress seemed to become a lot plainer than I wished.
Eight weeks before the wedding, when I knew I could finish the dress on time, I decided to take a week out of the sewing schedule (which I didn’t stick to anyway) to try my hand at embroidering. I had never done this before, I didn’t have an embroidery frame, I didn’t even have the notions yet.
Not a particularly promising outlook, right? I decided not to get a frame and experiment with a DIY solution, and also ordered relatively cheap acryl beads, diamonds and sequins online.
At first I experimented with shapes and arragement of the different sized and coloured beads etc. I roughly stuck to the embroidered pattern of the Jenny Packham Esme dress I based my wedding dress on.
It’s a beautiful Art Deco style pattern which really suits the 1930’s silhouette of the dress. I changed it a bit here and there and also used a different colour of sequins to match my fabric. The colour of the sequins is hard to describe, it’s not gold or rose gold. Actually more like a warm silver if that makes sense? It reflected the colour of the fabric really well which helped ‘carmouflaging’ the sequins a bit so they weren’t too loud.
Before testing out DIY embroidery frame solutions, I used a small embroidery hoop to check if my fabric was suitable for embroidering.
My lining fabric is silk satin and my main fabric silk chiffon (although I’d say it’s a silk organza rather than a silk chiffon). Anyway, the fabrics are way too delicate to hold the strain of heavy embroidery, so I got some extra silk georgette in the exact same colour (which was lucky) when I bought my wedding dress fabrics last summer.
The georgette is as lightweight and transparent as the chiffon/organza, but much stronger and actually worked really well with my embroidery attempts:Once I got the knack of it, I had to think about creating a larger frame which would fit the whole of my bodice plus seam allowance. I used some styroform boards and pinned the fabric on it very tightly. The advantage was also that I could pin my template underneath so I didn’t have to mark the pattern on the fabric.
Here you can see my template underneath the fabric, which I drew with pencil on drafting paper to make sure the pattern was neat and mirrored exactly.
The outline of the seamline was marked on the fabric with basting stitches.I actually didn’t use too many different kinds of beads and diamonds:
- cream white rocailles beads
- silver rocailles beads
- transparent beads
- sequins (silver/gold coloured)
- 3 different sizes of acryl diamonds (5mm, 10mm, 12mm)
I had roughly outmapped the lines and shapes, but the exact positions and arrangement of beads and diamonds came about during the creative process.
It was so much fun, it was hard to stop. But I had to get on with the rest of the dress, so I limited the amount of embroidery compared to the Packham dress and only embroidered the bodice front and back pieces.
It took a week and three seasons of Homeland to finish.
My back hurt a lot during that time, but it was absolutely worth it. Embroidery like knitting can be very addictive because it so relaxing in a way.
What do you think? Do you have any experience with embroidery?
Next time I’ll share the last steps of assembling the actual dress before the big reveal! So make sure you pop by!
Stay in touch!