I’m definitely feeling a little bereft this morning without the reponsibility of a wedding dress to make! I quickly posted a picture yesterday for you all to see, but thought I’d do an ‘in detail’ write up too, not just to share with you but to record this for myself too.
Kate had been and tried on a few dresses and we’d looked at a few online, but there’s two that had design features that Kate really wanted to incorporate.
The first is Margot by Stephanie Allin.
Kate loved the lace sleeves, waist sash and definitely the skirt from this design.
Second was this design by Venus bridal.
The sweetheart neckline and diamanté appliqué were important from this design but I know Kate’s favourite part of this was the lace edging and appliqués on the skirt.
Based on these, we set about making a rough sketch of how the dress features pulled together could look. Back in July, I started making some mock patterns out of lining material, but it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do, so I gave up and bought Burda pattern 7086, prepared to modify it.
Considering it was a wedding dress pattern, the construction of the lining & satin dress were actually very easy. Over the summer, the basic dress was constructed.
Working with satin was also a lot easier than expected. Although heavy and slippery, it wasn’t as slippery as I thought and I made sure everything was securely pinned beforehand. I made the sash, I made the bow, and the corset back kit arrived. With only 3 weeks to go, production was heavily ramping up
As work progressed, we came to a point where the next thing to do was the lace. Expensive, corded lace. I felt a little bit sick as I took the scissors to it, but it had to be done. Included with the Burda 7086 pattern was a lace jacket, and so I modified this to make the off the shoulder part of the dress. I made a toile, hacked it up, and drafted a pattern from that.
I was on FaceTime to Kate at the time of cutting the lace. It took a few deep breaths to start, but I was relaxed once I started and felt confident with the pattern. Even sewing the lace was relatively easy apart from the corded parts needed a little shove through the foot of the sewing machine. .
The lace came together nicely, and so I popped off to the scout hut with my sewing advisor Steph to cut the tulle for the skirt. We *just* had enough, and I wish we’d had time to get another layer but the clock was ticking. With the tulle now skirt shaped, it was time to start sewing on the lace edging.
A combination of motif size and shape plus fear of putting the lace through the sewing machine, I decided to hand sew the lace to the tulle. It took approximately 1h15 per motif, and there were 20 motifs in total.
After spending so long hand sewing the lace edging, the decision was made to use bondaweb to attach the motifs on the skirt, and stitch the edges down after by hand to speed up the process. Kate arrived from New Zealand and the first fittings happened. It all went well, but we really had reached a point now where the top had to be sewn to the skirt and made into a dress. I thought it was nervous when I started cutting the lace, but this was on a whole new level. It could have gone horribly wrong, it could have been ruined. I felt sick.
But PHEW it was fine! A dress! It was even easy to put the corset back in, if a little fiddly. We had something of a dress! Now there was the small matter of logistics…sashes and lace tops and oh no it’s too big on the bust, still more edging to attach to the skirt, it’s too long, edging to attach to the sleeves, running out of time for a final fitting, buttons and loops missing in the post….
On the morning of the wedding, I was still sewing the sash to the dress. The lace top wasn’t sewn up. Ah it’ll be fine.
It was still a bit long. The sewing machine chewed up some tulle. The lace top was sewn onto her. But Kate looked happy, and I really hope she felt comfortable in the dress.
As she walked into church with her son Ben, I cried.
I’m not religious, but it was a lovely service and the vicar was humorous.
They did it.
Kate has thanked me so many times. I had lots of lovely compliments yesterday. Many people have asked me how long it took. Some guessed at days…some guessed weeks….I honestly couldn’t put a definitive figure on it, but I’d say at least 160 hours, which is equivalent to 4 weeks of full time work.
Would it do it again?
Everybody has to start somewhere, and the dress was far from perfect. Maybe if I was more confident with techniques then I’d consider it again in future. I’m definitely not doing it again with a bride who’s 12,000 miles away!!
Congratulations Kate and Micheal. Here’s to a long and happy future with Ben X
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