Tag Archives: wedding dress

Making a Wedding Outfit Part 2, The Petticoat!

Part 2 – The Petticoat

In the last post I talked about my greatest ‘making’ achievement yet – my wedding dress.  I decided to make this so I wouldn’t let my future-self down, and I’m so happy I decided to go for it!  The dress itself was fun, and aside from the corsetry techniques I picked up as I went along, was fairly straightforward.

Photo by John Perriam

Photo by John Perriam

I never, ever intended to make the petticoat. I’ve tried (and failed) with petticoats before, and I hate working with netting!  I even found a very reasonably-priced lady that makes petticoats in every colour under the sun, Petticoats-a-Plenty, and talked about placing an order. But for some reason I found myself looking at tutorials thinking it could be do-able, and ordering 125m of netting.

 Other than always-having-to-do-every-single-part-of-something-myself, the reason I didn’t order a bespoke petticoat was my complete inability to choose which colours I wanted to use.  I thought if I could see the colours first, things would start to slot into place.  I had already chosen two pairs of shoes and yarn for a cover-up cardigan (that’ll be the next post!) and I needed everything to match, obviously.

IMG_5204I ordered five 15cm x 25m rolls of premium netting from Raindrops Boutique which arrived the next day. Bias binding was more of a tricky decision, as I knew they’d show and need to match the shoes and yarn, so they all came from various shops.  My favourite was from Sew and Sew in St Nick’s Market in Bristol, it wasn’t cheap at 50p a metre, but the drape (can a ribbon drape?) was lovely. I also ordered a binding foot after watching this tutorial, which I can honestly say saved my sanity.

The petticoat tutorial I followed was from this one from Sugardale, and it’s really well written. The basis is that you have a series of strips of tulle in various lengths, sewn into circles, and these are gathered and sewn to each other to form the petticoat. 

Because my tulle came in 15cm wide rolls, I had to adapt slightly. The lengths I used were 12m, 6m, 3m and 1.75m, and then the final tier was made from 1m of cotton.

After working out a system, things got easier, but I was very grateful when my Mum offered to come and help. I think had she known what she was letting herself in for, she may have kept quiet! Thanks Mum 🙂

I cut my tulle by rolling out pieces to measurement – loosely folding the tulle into Z shapes as I went, so I could easily sew the length into a loop knowing it wasn’t twisted.  With the 12m lengths, this was a godsend! I marked every metre with a small line to make things easier to line up when it came to sew the tiers together.

That picture on the left below is all my different lengths of tulle neatly rolled up, to be sewn into individual petticoats.

netting_petticoatmountains_of_petticoat_tulle

Then we got to work. After a bit of playing, I managed to set my sewing machine to just the correct tension to gather the tulle by 50%, so each loop of tulle would be roughly the right size to pin to the next (smaller) tier.  As mentioned in the Sugardale tutorial, it’s vital that  the tiers are completed separately, so sadly you can’t go doing all the gathering first and then move onto the joining.

My preferred method to attach the tiers to eachother was to lay the longest loop around the ironing board, then set about lining up it’s metre markings to that of the one it was to gather to.  We then tacked each piece about 2.5cm below the gathering line, and reset the sewing machine to the right tension to sew without bunching.  I found it much easier to sew the tulle with the flat piece on top, and the gathered piece underneath, so the foot didn’t go crazy and jam up.

petticoat_nettingpinning_petticoat

There were originally 5 different petticoats in total, but I took one out on the morning of our wedding.  The peach just wasn’t doing it for me, and it was a smidgen too poofy.  It took the best part of a weekend to sew these, with two of us on the Saturday.  If you’re less anal about getting your all gathers even, it might be quicker!

With the binding foot and the help of the tutorial, the bias bindings were attached quite quickly, maybe 10 mins per skirt? It takes a bit of getting used to, so I would recommend practicing this first.  Hand finishing them is also a faff to hide the all ribbon edges.

finished_petticoat poofy_petticoat

Once all the skirts were complete, I cut a cotton layer to wear underneath to the same 175m measurement as the fourth tiers.  Then I cut a strip of cotton 1m x 15cm and gathered all 5 skirts, plus the cotton under-layer to this, then pinned and sewed the whole lot together.  Finally I made a wide hem in the top layer and added elastic.

Hopefully I’ll find some occasion to wear this part of the dress again!

 

 

Making a Wedding Outfit Part 1, The Dress!

Part 1, The Wedding Dress!

Photo © Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos

Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos

So, the reason my blog posts have been so non-existent since August is because I was beavering away making a wedding dress! In secret! I took so many photos along the way and I really wanted to share it with people, as it was a huge learning curve for me but I don’t have many sewing buddies I could geek out with over it.  

I knew exactly where to begin when it came to the style of wedding dress I wanted to make.  I have sewn several patterns before for a similar design and I knew this was something I could cope with.  In that respect I did minimum research, other than looking at other dresses in this style to check out the length, the fullness of the skirt and how low the neckline came.  

My main inspiration was this dress from Petticoats-a-Plenty

My main inspiration was the Ella dress from Petticoats-a-Plenty

I completed a pattern cutting course about 10 years ago, but I’ve only drafted a couple of dresses completely from scratch since. Using my original bodice block, I made a rough pattern for the bodice. I don’t feel I have changed shape at all since the first block was drafted, but I discovered needed to make a few major alterations, which was suprising as it fitted quite well at the time.  

drafting_wedding_dressmaking_alterations

After all the alterations were marked, I drew the outline of where I wanted the neck to be onto the block and then transferred all that to the pattern.

adjustments_bodicefirst_fabric

The photo above is the first “main fabric” I purchased. It looked great on the roll, but when I got it home I had doubts about it looking cheap, and too see-through.

I had real trouble getting fabric as I’m so indecisive. I was originally looking for a really lovely silk, but I found that most fabric shops in Bristol don’t stock it, and I was too impatient to travel as I wanted to get started right away.  The best I could find was Fabrics Plus in Downend, which has a selection of books with samples of silk in, but they are only around an inch square, and without seeing how the fabric draped I wasn’t keen to order anything from them. So I settled on cotton, as I’ve worked with it a lot before and I have no clue about silk.

sewing_room

The dress itself is a very simple design, which I ended up making several times.  I sewed a toile in calico first, though in fairness the fabric I had was much thicker than the fabric I wanted to use for the final dress, so it wasn’t a great representation. It helped to give a general idea of fit and to get the waist measurement right on the circle skirt.  This app tutorial was useful for calculating the measurements.

first_toile_wedding_dresssecond_toile_wedding_dress

Above Left -The first toile, in calico too thick to tell me a lot, and the second version, right,
which was going to be the final dress, but didn’t feel very special.

Once I was happy with the fitting I pieced together the dress in my chosen fabric, only to find that once it was all sewn together, I had totally gone off the fabric, it looked like a flimsy white summer dress rather than a wedding dress, and was slightly see-through.  

I realised then there would need to be a lot more construction involved than I initially thought.  I was always going to bone the lining of the bodice, but when I looked at wedding dresses on pinterest for help I saw there was a lot more structure to them. 

I’d love to do a tutorial on what I did here, but it was all quite new to me and wouldn’t be fair on the many bloggers who’s posts I used to help me along the way.  Three tutorials I kept coming back to (I made my boned bodice twice) were Sewing a Boned BodiceSewing a Butted (or Abutted) Seam, and the Making Bust Padding tutorial  all from A Sewaholic.  The tutorial about the seams and the padding were particularly useful to someone who has never made any kind of corset before.  The first bodice I finished was in calico and was so chuffed with it –  the stitching was neat and it fitted so well.  I’m kind of rubbish with toiles and I like to just get stuck in, and this was going so well I decided it wasn’t necessary to remake it in nicer fabric, as the calico was stiff enough to help with the structure.  But the colour was too dark and was clearly visible through the dress fabric, so I ended up making the corset again in a white linen I had in my stash.

Bodice1 padded_bra_cups

The bra cups were fun to make, and made a massive difference! I have always thought this style of dress completely flattens me, and despite buying myself a nice fancy bra I felt I still needed some help in this department. Originally I padded out the entire front, but this just gave me extra structure that I didn’t need and made me look a size bigger than I am, so I cut the bottom section off and just padded the cups.

I tacked the boned corset into the dress and instantly felt better about the construction, but I still wasn’t happy with the main fabric. It just looked a bit cheap and didn’t feel special.  

I decided to take a look at quilting cottons, as often there is a nice sheen to them and they have a good weight.  There seems to be a bit of conflict here as to whether they are good for dressmaking or not, but I’ve always found I like the prints and the stiffness has never put me off.  After more searching I found the fabric to make the final dress in Country Threads in Bath, which I love because it’s paisley!

final_fabricYou can’t tell this from any of the wedding pictures, but I knew it was there 😉

I went for rouleau loops to fasten the back of dress, for the simple reason I didn’t want to ruin all my efforts by putting in a zip. I’ve never made these before and was quite keen to add yet another new technique to my belt, so I took to Pinterest looking for more information.  The process is all very simple, basically you’re just sewing a very thin seam and turning it in on itself.  It took me a few attempts using different methods, and in the end I settled with the loop-turner technique, using a needle from my knitting machine. Then I chopped them all up and painstakingly tacked them all to a sheet of paper ready for sewing on to the dress.

rouleau_loops finished_rouleau_loops

 At some point during all of this I also made a lining and attached it, and then finally added a waist-stay at the end. 

Photo Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos

Photo by Jesse Wild, Wild Wedding Photos

All of the tutorials I used are pinned here, for easy access!

Stay tuned for the next post, when I’ll talk about the petticoat!