Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wedding dress alterations - bra pads

I opened out the lining at the waist and slipped the bra pads in and pinned them into place. Tried the dress on and it looks a tonne better. The wrinkling under the arms is almost gone and the wrinkling down the front is greatly reduced. I suspect when i sew the pads in through the lining and then put tiny stitches along the seam lines on the fabric to pull the boning into it's proper position the wrinkles will completely disappear :)

I took the pads out and trimmed the top to make them a bit straighter (ie rather than curved) so they'd fit closer to the shape at the top of the corset and popped them back in. The lining is getting rather frayed so i don't want to push my hand through it again. Fingers crossed the tacking and then sewing goes well so i don't have to.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Corset lacing

I'm rethinking the corset lacing. I think the bridal loops that i got (which are actually intended for buttons) are too close together for a corset (1cm wide loops right next to each other) and so the ribbons are touching, and you don't get the full effect of the lacing - from a distance it just looks like a block of white down the middle. I've already sewn the lining and don't feel like unpicking it all, so i think what i'll do is tack down every second loop to the outside of the lining (ie the inside of the dress). The loops won't bother me when wearing it as i'll have a modesty panel in (which is something i still have to make and figure out how it's attached).

Got the bra inserts on the weekend too so sometime this week i'll unpick some of the lining and position them, tack them in place and see if that corrects the wrinkling effect.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help with lacing and photos

My lovely flatmate offered to help me take another lot of photos of my dress for the competition, after i showed her my first attempt at lacing by myself. It took her about 20-30 mins to lace up the back (something to factor in for the wedding day) and the photos turned out a lot better as she was able to arrange my train for me. So now my competition entry is in the post :)

I'm not entirely happy with the top of the dress though. I think that the pattern is made for a girl with, er, bigger assets than me! It fits but isn't quite stiff enough and so wrinkles at the sides, like so:

I hope that adding some bra pads into the dress will fix that, by filling out the bust area of the dress and also by providing more stiffness to that part of the material. I'll test it out by getting some and tacking them onto the inside, and if it works i'll open up the lining and put them in properly. Although, i think i may have to do that anyway as the lining contains the boning so i don't know that the padding will have much effect, being on the inside of the boning.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hem finished!

Finished handstitching the hem this afternoon and ironed it flat. Then with a few hours left of daylight i had to put the dress on to take a few photos for the competition.

I had thought the hemming was tricky. Has anyone else tried to lace up a corset backed dress on themselves? It's not fun, i can tell you! I managed - took me the better part of an hour and the ribbon was twisted instead of being flat but the dress was on and staying up :) I took the camera outside to take the photos against my dark blue fence as the background, but the only thing nearby to act as a tripod was the BBQ. So i dragged it away from the fence and threw my dress mockup over it to protect the camera from grease/dirt and set up the shot. Then i looked down.

I was leaning against the dusty slightly greasy edge of the BBQ. There was now black dirt striped across my skirt. Dammit!

I brushed most of the dirt off so there was only a bit remaining and started the timer on the camera. Most of the shots i cut off the end of my skirt so it took a bit of fiddling round but i got some very amateur shots showing the whole dress... hey it's a dressmaking competition not a photography comp so it's all good!

I thought taking the dress off would be just as bad but it was much easier to pull the ribbon out than thread it in. One of the top loops gave way though; something to fix another time. After an entire weekend working to finish the hem i've had enough for a while.

Tomorrow i'll print out the photos and mail the entry, then i'll take a rest from sewing. Will probably start again when i get some inspiration for the beading to go on it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hemming a wedding dress by yourself - Part 2

Ow. The balls of my feet are killing. How am i going to walk in my high heels for a whole day? I am going to go with my idea of having crystalled Havaianas for when i get too tired.

I think a lot of it was caused by my weight being mostly on the front on my feet as i stood, checked, bent down and repinned what seemed like a few hundred times. Took me an hour to adjust the hem with the horsehair in it. I'm fairly sure i've got it to a reasonably even hem about an inch above the ground now.

Next step now is to repin so i can remove the horsehair and press the hem flat with the iron, before following the instructions for the hem. Then i'll see if the stay needs to be rehemmed higher and tack it to the bottom of the lining along the seams. This will take a few hours. I hope to have it finished by tonight, as i want to take some photos of it for Spotlight's formal dress competition which closes next Sunday. I've got no idea of how i'm going to get the back laced though.

Hemming a wedding dress by yourself... very difficult. It's heavier than it looks, you're in heels and basically doing squats each time you adjust a pin. On the upside, no need for the gym!

Hemming this dress is difficult; because of the bustle and the gathers in the skirt, the fabric flicks out in some places and under in others, and it's hard to tell where the pin should be for floor level. I think this will work to my advantage though by the same method - people won't be able to see if i've got it slightly uneven because of the sculpting of the dress.

I've put the pins in and taken the dress off. I'll pin the horsehair around the hem, pin up all the excess hem fabric and put the dress on again to check before i start cutting. I can't do up the lace up back by myself and my flatmates are out, so the dress is being held up by a belt around my ribs. Very professional ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bustle completed

This evening i sewed the last hook on for the bustle and have bustled the dress up ready to measure for the hem. I was too tired after work to do any more so the hem will have to wait until tomorrow. I'll pin it at floor length first then figure out where to cut it so that it finishes 1/2 - 1 inch above the floor.

Before sewing i was at the shops on the way home from work, and bought a strapless bra to wear with the dress. It'll help a lot with the correct fit for the hemming tomorrow.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Clutch purse pattern

Before dinner tonight i sewed a simple clutch purse to go with my dress. It took only a couple of hours.

To make the pattern, i took a scrap of paper and cut out of it a rectangle, 10.5x6cm, and rounded off one of the ends to made a semicircle 2cm from the bottom. This makes the sides. For the main body of the purse i used a full sheet of A4 paper.

I cut out two of the side pattern pieces and one of the body in the heaviest fusible interfacing i could find, which was marked 1600 and i estimated it to be a medium weight. Placed these fusible side down on the right side of my fabric (as i wanted the satin side to show rather than the shantung) and ironed them on, then trimmed around the edges. As it was only a medium weight interfacing and i wanted the purse to be able to stand up on it's own, i also cut another body piece of interfacing and ironed this to the lining fabric. Then i cut out two side pieces of the lining.

Sewing the curves was the trickiest bit. I pinned the two side pieces to the top of the body, with the long sides meeting. Sewed straight down until i got to the curve (using a 1cm seam allowance) and then used the side piece to pivot round the body, sewing one stitch at a time with the needle down so i could lift the presser foot to curve the side piece. You end up with a 3D J shape. I clipped the curves and trimmed the seams, then turned the lining shape right side out and placed it inside the fabric shape. Then i sewed all around the edges, leaving one edge raw so that i could turn the purse right side out.

With the purse now right side out i folded the raw edge of the lining and fabric in, and sewed a topstitch right around the purse. Ironed it so that the wrinkles from being turned inside out were gone, and measured for the magnetic clasp. At this stage i realised i should have put the clasp on before i'd joined the seam for the closure flap so that i could put the clasp through the lining layer only - oops. I've lost my stitch ripper though so nothing to be done except put the clasp through both layers. So, in the photo below it's visible. I'll cover it up with a brooch or crystals, or a rose. Haven't decided yet.

Pics below of the purse from the outside, and inside showing the lining (no flash so the detail is better). Costing: about $3!


Saturday, September 5, 2009

How to bustle a wedding dress

I think i could almost write a how-to on this. It's fiddly and tricky to get started but then once measured and you know what to do, it's just a bit of hand sewing.

I took a lot of advice off this site, Leanna Studios. It is written by a professional dressmaker who has pictures of several different types of bustles she's done and a description on how she did each one. I went for the Tufted Bustle in the end as i thought it suited my dress best and allows most of the fabric roses to still be visible. I loved the look of the Austrian bustle as well, and the Ballroom style pick up bustle.

To actually make the bustle, i laid the dress out flat on the floor and picked up the middle rose on the back seam, moving it to just below the first rose, and pinned it. Repeated that for the third rose and that brought the raw hem at the back almost to the level of the front hem. There's two roses on the mid back seams so i did the same to them, and then the side seams i bought the two bottom roses together. This wasn't enough to bring the side seams high enough, so i took another point 20 inches below the last rose and brought that up to the rose. This made the hem fairly even the whole way round the dress. I tried it on, with my shoes, to make sure.

The diagram above is an indication of how i did the bustling. I'll give it to my sister to help her in her Maid of Honour duties, along with one on how to lace the ribbon through the corset back of my dress!

To join the bustle points i used hooks and eyes. All that i could find available in Spotlight were silver and black ones from Birch, and their website indicates that the silver (nickel) is the 'white'. I know there are actual white ones available but couldn't see them in the shop and really didn't want to drive all over Perth looking for some. I used the eye below each top rose and the hook above the lower rose. The first ones i put on i spend ages winding the cotton round them to cover the silver, but then i thought better of this and simply put a couple of threads through the bottom of the outermost petals of each rose, to bring them closer to the hooks and hopefully hide them from a casual observer. The two bustle points that are on a plain seam and not hidden by a rose i wrapped in the cotton. It's still visible but the eye is not as easily drawn to it, as it would be if it were silver.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Horsehair braid and ribbon and shoes! Oh my...

Yesterday was late night shopping so i made the trek out to Spotlight to get the last items for my dress, but forgot my shopping list so went from memory. I remembered the ribbon for the corset back, the horsehair braid for the hem (gives it a bit more stiffness to stand out and away from the bottom of my tulle petticoat), the interfacing and magnetic clasp to make my clutch purse, and even remembered to get some ripstop nylon to make a water-resistant (ie spill resistant) dress bag so i can carry my dress on the plane and not worry about it getting stained.

Forgot: a zip for the dress bag, and the florists tape. Still i think i did pretty well remembering the rest! I'll ask Rob to pop by as he works close to Spotlight.

Then i went by Kmart to grab those shoes i'd seen for $25. At this point i was still in two minds about whether i should get these cheap ivory shoes, or go for a more expensive silver shoe that i could wear again. The Kmart shoes were comfortable and looked nice, but was it really worth it to buy a shoe that would probably only be worn twice (Rome and Perth) and then have to be stored away as i don't generally have white/ivory evening dresses? $25 is cheap, but...?

Kmart decided for me. The sale had ended so they were back to $40 (still cheap) and the only pair in my size were the display pair and had no box and were slightly grubby. There is no rush to get the shoes so i put them back and thought i'd wander around the other shoe shops to see if there was anything in silver - last time i'd looked at the shops i was focussing on ivory only and didn't notice anything else. Betts had several gorgeous silver pairs so i tried them all on, nearly fell off one with a very high heel, and found a pair i really liked. Waaay over my budget ($120) but if i'm able to wear them again then i can take the item off my wedding budget completely (reasoning is that it's not specifically just for the wedding).
So many things accomplished in one night :) i was quite pleased. However i've given myself a new task. In the shop i tried on only one shoe and walked around with it and my other foot in my flat boots on tiptoe. Walking was no problem, actually i asked the helpful sales girl what height the heels were, guessing them to be around 6-7cm. She measured and told me 10cm. I was very surprised that i could walk in them but thought that to be a good thing. When i got home and put both shoes on i did my usual high heels wobbly ankle walk complete with my heels slipping out of the shoes occasionally! I'm only used to sub-6cm heels and will have to do a fair bit of practice in these before next year. A friend recommended cleaning the house while wearing them, i think that's a great idea!!

One more item that may cut down on the ever expanding costings - my bridesmaid's dress. We were looking at dresses online one night and really couldn't find anything we liked in the right colour at a decent price. Chantelle was happy to pay for a dress but as i'm dictating the colour i didn't want her to have to pay too much. Suddenly i thought of a dress i bought in Canberra last year which i wore to a graduation dinner - it's a red satin cocktail dress, 3/4 length and strapless and has a black tulle overlay. Chantelle's around the same size as me so i suggested that to her. She'll try it on at Xmas when she's back in Perth, hopefully will fit her and she'll like it enough to wear it on the day :)