Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wedding Dress Part 2 - the research and tips

This post contains all the research and reading I've been doing, as I have never made a dress before, let alone a wedding dress. Am I foolhardy? Well, my mum made her dress, my friend's mum used to make wedding dresses for a living, and I've got confidence! So let's see how this plays out...

First off, the wedding dress bible; Susan Khalje's "Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear". Although out of print (I borrowed a copy from my library), this can now be bought on CD here, and I would say it's an essential purchase.

Tips I've learned from here include: what kind of underlining to use, how different fabrics work together, how to shape and fit all aspects, and most importantly for me, how lace can be invisibly seamed and worked with. It includes different types of bustles, and all aspects of construction.

And other stuff I've found online that might help with making the dress [this is going to be continually edited as I find more information]

The muslin and starting out review of my pattern which includes the calming words "for a wedding gown the pattern was fairly easy for anyone with average sewing skills. There were a lot of steps, 65 in all, so it took some time to make it, but it went smoothly"

Deconstructing the practice muslin dress

The cutting and construction

Working with satin

  • Don't cut satin on the fold even if the pattern piece says so - creases on satin can be permanent! 
  • Watch out for satin fraying on the bodice
  • Some tips here including use a "with nap" cutting layout – satins tend to shade in different directions.


  • Underlining with silk organza Underlining is neccesary for many reasons I'm discovering; to provide a place to hem the satin invisibly - hem it to the underlining. Sew it to the satin (different websites give different advice as to whether they are hand or machine sewn together) before cutting out the pieces, and use it to mark the various bits of the pattern, darts, folds and so on so the satin is never marked in any way.
  • Mandors advice on underlining: "I wouldn't think that silk organza would make a good lining. I'd go with silk habotai, or just a nice bremsilk lining" - i think confusion - I think when websites talk of 'underlining' with silk organza they actually mean interfacing

Waist Stay
What is a waist stay? Basically it is attached to the dress at the bottom of the bodice like a bra strap, and holds the skirt up, so you don't spend the day in a strapless dress hoiking it up so the girls don't fall out. Tip; use bra back closures found at fabric shops.

Boning - some very good advice on boning here and some photos of boning being done.

Info gleaned from many places including, The Wedding Dress Saga blog

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