Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wedding dress post 5 - the satin practice

This was a 4 day sewing-fest to make up a practice dress from the donated duchess satin. Mum came down to Glasgow to spend time here and had made a 2nd practice dress in cotton fabric, based on the blue one I had made and tried on whilst up north, and a whole bunch of measurements we'd taken.

It was a perfect fit around the hips and skirt area, so we used it to draw over the existing paper pattern pieces and make new paper pieces to cut out the satin.

But first, we decided to make the bodice fit better and get some practice using all the layers. The bodice requires an underlining (which is made up of iron-on interfacing and lining pieces), the main fabric (which is made up of lining and satin pieces, although we used some cotton instead of satin for this run) and finally the lace. So all in all, we had to cut out each bodice piece (of which there are 7) five times! All for that teeny tiny result below.

So (heavily cropped to preserve some modesty!) my mum put all this together. The bust wasn't quite fitting right, so we turned it inside out and just pinned it until it felt more right.

Then, having made new paper pattern pieces by marking the bodice and taking it apart, we moved onto the satin one.

This seemed to fit a lot better. The wrinkles at the bust are the result of a combination of things, like the weight of the dress isn't helping to smooth everything yet, we haven't snipped enough shaping triangles out yet (we found that 4 seemed to work nice in the end, for my wee C-cup) and hurried steaming of the seams.

One thing we also discovered is that there is lots of warnings out there about satin. Here's what we found; satin creased is probably final - if you have no magic hide-all lace overlay, be careful! That said, we did manage to remove most creases with the iron so it wasn't catastrophic. Some people had disasters putting pins in that left marks and holes - we found that using thin new steel pins meant that we didn't have this problem. Again, that said, we didn't go pinning like crazy into the satin outwith the seam allowances, and certainly would advise avoiding pins wherever you can, just in case.

We discovered when adding the boning, that it should be chopped so it's shorter than the seam allowance. We initially thought that 5/8" less at the top and bottom would be sufficient, but you also need a bit extra to turn all those layers over and then stitch the very top of the bodice. So chop a wee tiny bit more off. The pattern suggested boning caps - these just added too much bulk and were noticeable so we discarded them and made sure instead to cut nice rounded ends on the boning. But I can't feel it at all through all the layers anyway.

Also - pay heed to the 'boning placement line' and the 'straight of grain line'. Don't get these mixed up - we did!

So after the bodice, came the skirt. We went to my work, which has large tables, and used them to cut out the satin. Not many pictures of the actual process of cutting out the pieces, or putting them together, so here's a rainbow we spotted out the window before we left!

And then - the satin dress!

Obviously much whiter and shinier than my final dress, and without the lining or petticoat to make it less see-through, but we were delighted. My mum even cried a bit!

We learned from this practice, that adding the weight of the skirt pulled the bodice down quite a bit. In fact we decided to add an inch to the top of the bodice to give me some more modesty. But other than that, the fit was pretty bang on.

And we learned a valuable lesson about boning. Now boning (at least where I live) comes on a roll, and you ask for it by the metre. Pay attention to which way it curves. You want to pin it on the underlining of the bodice curving the wrong way, because once the underlining is flipped over and fitted to the sating/lining/lace pieces it will right itself. I don't know how to explain it more clearly, and it's a bit of a mindbender, but you'll figure it out as long as you're looking for it. As we did it right on one side of the bodice, and wrong on the other out of chance, the photos from a bride's view should demonstrate the importance of getting the curvature the right way round.

Above: wrong way - gaping out a bit under the arm. I imagine that as the day goes on, and the weight of the dress continues to pull, this could get worse.

Below: right way - curving into the body. The weight of the dress will only make this pull snugger, so should help with ensuring the boobs don't fall out - hopefully! And it looks much more tailored and smart.

So that's it for now. We went away, feeling much more confident about the dress, and how it was going.

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