I had several sewing projects in 2011, but one dress in particular took most of the year to create. About a year and a half ago my brother's (then) fiance, Stacey, sent me a message that she would like me to make her wedding dress and asked if I would I think about it. I didn't have to think about it, of course I was honored to be asked to make her dress! :o)
Stacey had tried on a few dresses and had found "The Dress". However, she didn't want the puffiness of the gathered tulle over-skirt. She wanted something more streamlined, but with the same floaty effect. I searched bridal sewing patterns until I found one with the right silhouette. View A of Butterick 6926 was a perfect base for this dress. I added a chapel-length train to the skirt and changed the bodice to a sweetheart neckline.
After searching for months for affordable (cough, cough) beaded lace, I found the perfect trim at our local thrift store. I made a full length toile out of muslin for the first fitting. Other than a small length adjustment, the only other fit alteration that I needed to make was for a sway back.
I referred to Susan Khalje's book, Bridal Couture, quite a bit while constructing Stacey's dress. Using Susan's suggestions, I used a total of 15 pieces of boning and added a grosgrain ribbon waist-stay to the bodice. The bodice seams were catch-stitched by hand to the flannel underlining to keep the seams smooth on the outside. Once the bodice and the skirt were constructed and double-checked for fit, I started to hand stitch the beaded lace trim onto the bodice and the chiffon over-skirt.
This is about the time when things got very interesting as I ended up with a viral eye infection, in *both* eyes, that lasted for almost six weeks. I spent a lot of time resting with my eyes closed and a cool cloth laying across my eyes. Hand stitching was slow-going as I could only focus on the fabric and lace for about 20 minutes until I had to go rest my eyes for the rest of the hour. I felt like I was stitching blind! I never realized how much I sew by instinct until I realized I could thread a needle when I couldn't even focus on the eye of the needle. :o) I was able to get all the beaded lace onto the bodice and on the chiffon over-skirt. There are almost 10 yards of beaded scalloped lace trim that was hand stitched onto the hem of the skirt. Thankfully, my eyes were mostly healed before the wedding so I could enjoy the celebration.
Stacey's dress is one of my favorite sewing projects that I've made so far. I really stretched my sewing skills by adding several couture techniques that I will want to use in future sewing projects. I'm looking forward to my next formal dress project - it might be soon as one of my daughter's friends has asked me to make her prom dress.
In the meantime, I have some seat cushions to make for my husband's CASE 930 Comfort King tractor. Here on the farm, you never know what will show up next on my sewing queue!