Making a lace/chiffon dress

Hi guys! I’m sorry this isn’t a Schuyler Sisters post, but I’ve been distracted by some other very important projects.

This post is about the first of these projects. To fully understand my excitement about this project you’ll need some background information; My Nan announced at the end of July that she was getting married in less than a month. We were sort of expecting this announcement, but I wasn’t expecting her to turn to me and my sister and ask us to help pick her dress. She then asked me to make her one if we couldn’t find one! Luckily we found a dress and I didn’t have to make one (talk about pressure!), but I did end up making my own dress.

This is a fully structured gown, complete with a hidden laced closure and inbuilt petticoat. It was a lot of fun to make and fits really nicely, so it makes me look pretty too!

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I started by drafting a corselette using my measurements and a standard grid drafting system. Amazingly my first mock-up fit like a glove so I just took 1/2″ off the back piece to leave space for lacing. I cut the pieces out of plain poly-cotton, added a waist stay and under bust elastic to the inner layer then sewed two layers together. I then sewed in some cups from an old bra and finally sewed boning channels along all the seams and at the back to brace the eyelets.

I then made the first two layers of the petticoat, and attached them to a 5″ wide piece of cotton, which then got ruffled onto the bottom of the corselette. This was the foundation of the rest of the dress. (I later decided this was too much fluff for the shape of dress I wanted, so removed this petticoat and added a single layer one)

 

The skirt portion was made next, this involved making 1 gathered rectangle skirt and 1 circle skirt from two different chiffons. These were roll hemmed and a slit was placed in the back of all this to allow for a zip to be added later. These were then attached to a waist stay which had a hook and eye sewn at the back.

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I’ve tied the ribbon around the waist so I could see if the colours were right. This is also a picture with more petticoats than I eventually wore the dress with.

The bodice was then drafted, following the neckline of the corselette.DSCN0573.JPG

A mesh bodice was also sewn, and they were basted together at the waist, then attached to the skirt.

SAM_0580The fiddly bit was fussy cutting all of the individual groupings from this lace, which were then hand sewn onto the mesh layer of the bodice. This took forever but I’m really happy I did it, since it looks so pretty. I’m also planning to hand sew some pearls and seed beads into the lace for texture, but I didn’t have time before the wedding.

The top edge of the bodice was attached to the corselette by hand, most of the way around. the back 2″ were unattached and instead were lined and attached to a zip, this allows easy access to the corset opening. I also attached the waist of the dress to a waist stay, to keep everything in place.

Above is the back with the zip undone so you can see how the opening works, it’s not pretty, but it’s all covered with the zip and buttons so you don’t see it (below).

This dress cost me £42.63 and 30 hours of work but I’m so happy with it, and I’ll definitely be able to wear it again.

Things I learned from this project;

  1. Cationic chiffon looks pretty, but it stains soooo easily, literally just drops of water will cause permanent discolouration. It’s not really noticeable unless you already notice it, but the oil on your skin can also cause dark patches and these are noticeable.
  2. Cutting circle skirts from chiffon is a stupid idea, the central circle will never be round no matter what you do. I ended up with the back hem almost 2″ longer than the front with no knowledge of how. Stick to gathered skirts, or find some way of keeping the chiffon stable enough to cut.
  3. Cutting and sewing the lace appliques like I did is time consuming, but has a really good effect and I would definitely recommend doing this. Just find a tv show to binge watch whilst sewing the lace on.
  4. No matter what you do invisible zips hate having to transition between fabrics. Even moving the needle across to make the stitching line further from the zip didn’t really help. I think I made this worse by having a belt attached to the zip which increased the tension on the zip.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing my dress and have learned something! If you have any questions about anything I’ve done in this process leave a comment below or on my tumblr and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

Also, just a note to those who regularly read my blog. I leave for University on the 16th, so until then (and probably for a few weeks after) posting will be really sporadic (some weeks you may get multiple posts and other weeks none), so I apologize in advance for this.

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