Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wedding dress post 6 - the cutting out

I went up north to see my mum for this bit, as she has much more space in her house. I had the huge roll of satin, the lace and my Singer sewing machine. We had 5 days to get as much as possible done so hit the ground running...

My advice for the cutting of the fabric - imagine how long it will take and then quadruple it. Unless you are using cheap easily replaceable fabric (unlikely!), you will need to spend a lot (a lot!) of time thinking and measuring before cutting.

Also, because by the time we got to cutting the final fabric we'd made seven bodices and three skirts, I would advise always date adjustments in your notebook, and when drawing amendments on paper patterns, pick a colour and write next to your dated amendment what colour you used. Ideally once the amendments have been made, redraw new paper pattern pieces, as inevitably you will make more amendments. Don't end up like us, with multiple colours and no idea which was the most recent! We had to cut up the satin dress and use it for making new paper pattern pieces in the end. This was a huge shame because that dress could have been donated to a theatre company or something. It still might if we get around to restitching the pieces (I imagine it'll take a stiff drink though to encourage us to pick up the needles for this again though!)

Before cutting, we consulted the Bridal Couture book again, and I took the opportunity to wear the satin dress for a bit, to check the fit while moving around and sitting, and most importantly, to check I could breathe properly!

We spent an hour convinced we hadn't ordered enough satin because it wasn't fitting the pattern layout, despite having done mock ups with the pattern pieces months ago on the kitchen floor, and having made the satin dress a fortnight before. Angry phone calls to Butterick were planned!

As it turned out, the only problem was that we had put the piece on right side up instead of wrong side up. The simplest of things, but the nerves and tension are high with the pressure of getting it right. Our saving grace a million times was that there was two of us, constantly checking each others decisions and making sure we were doing it right.

Luckily, we have a great mother-daughter relationship, and as I mentioned at one point during our chats, we haven't yet reached a stage where one of us is sitting outside on the doorstep, while the other implores them to stop crying and carry on!

The satin all laid out in the hall in a desperate bid to avoid creases.

The advice out there said not to pin the paper pieces to the satin, or put any tracing wheel/fabric pencil marks. There wasn't much advice on how then to go about cutting out the pieces. So we went with measure straight of grain (x1000 times) then place Caithness glass paperweights. Keep all pins inside the seam allowance. Add tacking threads at points, and then cut the fabric. Very very carefully.

Get distracted and photograph pretty wedding shoes sparkling ...

... before moving on to the lace. This was the most stressful part, as I had some difficulty getting it in the first place at a cheap price. One shop had it for £185 a metre! As I needed 7 metres that just wasn't an option. Fortunately I found it direct from a mill for £34 a metre. However, the 7 metres I had was all that they had. Screw this up, and that was it, until mid-May when they are expecting their next shipment. Given that the wedding is mid-June, that is just too close. So with that tiny bit of pressure hanging over us, we began ...

... by taking photos of it sparkling in the sunlight, and just couldn't give it the justice it deserves. It's stunning, stunning fabric. One of the main things we learned from cutting lace were (and we even read this, but didn't absorb it so I'll write it in bold) if you're not sure how the pattern of the lace is going to look, lay the pattern piece underneath the lace. Such a simple sentence. Yet we spent at least a couple of hours thinking the pattern was going the wrong way for the train and it never occurred to us to check by simply placing the lace over the pattern - it's see through after all.

You see, we had heard that lace doesn't have a straight of grain, but we decided we weren't confident enough to test this theory (we're still not sure whether it's true or not) and so we decided cut the pieces making sure that the lace pattern ran straight along the straight of grain line. Here's a photo of a sketch;

You see? The lines show the direction of the lace pattern. although not completely straight, it fans out nicely at the bottom. Except, when we had cut out all the pieces (fanning out nicely) for the front, front side and back side pieces I had a moment of doubt. I was convinced that the final two back train pieces still to be cut out were going to 'fan in' and be the reverse of the rest of the skirt. We tried turning the pieces to go the opposite direction, but the pattern was too clearly defined as one way and it would definitely look upside down, even if it fanned out instead of in.

I have to confess to a moment of nausea at this point. After a couple of hours talking about adding appliqu├ęs down the train to hide the worst, we suddenly realised that there wasn't a problem at all! We double-checked after mum had the idea to lay the pattern piece underneath the lace - it was confirmed. Worrying for nothing!

The lace front pieces laid out, with the scalloped edge laid over to get an idea of how it'll finally look. So after five days, all the pieces were cut out, and I went home for a rest, ready to come back a for Easter weekend.

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