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Help with fitting strapless wedding gown
Simplicity 3878
orata

orata
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Date: 7/18/12 1:41 AM

Hi everyone,

I'm trying to possibly sew my own wedding gown and started working on a muslin of Simplicity 3878 tonight. I was hoping to get some advice on it. It was originally a couple of inches too large in the bust; I pinched out the extra room on the muslin and used that to adjust the tissue pattern accordingly, cut out a new CF and side front pieces from that pattern, then put it back together with the zipper and added the boning. Here are a few pics--just one layer; I quickly basted a line at 5/8" across the top and bottom to keep the boning in place, and folded the fabric under to better see how it will look once assembled:

front
3/4 view
back

A little hard to see what's going on in the 3rd pic there, but it's a mirror shot of my back, taken over the shoulder.

It now fits fairly securely, but it kind of sags in between the breasts and I'm not sure why (does the center front piece need to be narrower?)--it kind of dips down in the cleavage instead of skimming straight across it. I couldn't see this originally, but in the 3/4 shot I can see some lines coming out in kind of a starburst from the top center of the chest.

Also, it's comfy as long as I sit up straight, but if I slouch at all, the boning cuts into my upper chest. I don't know if that's a problem or not. I can't assess the fit in the back super well, looks a little bulgy around the bra band, but maybe I just need to buy a longline bra, or maybe the bulge will be covered up once I put on the layer of fashion fabric?

Any suggestions for how to improve the fit? I pinched out all the obvious gaps, but something still looks non-ideal here.

I'm aiming for something like this dress, and would also welcome any tips for fabric choices and techniques... a few specific questions below:
- The pattern doesn't call for a waist stay, but I was going to add one. I have a (ill-fitting) strapless dress from Target with a wide elastic band in it for a waist stay, but the tutorials I've seen online say to use grosgrain. What would you recommend and why? Are there particular online tutorials you would find most helpful for doing this?
- The bodice muslin shown above (which I was going to use as the lining for the full muslin) is a medium to heavyweight cotton from an old curtain or something I had in my stash.
- I bought some tulle and poly charmeuse for the muslin, but I started thinking that for the bottom layer, rather than the charmeuse, perhaps a fabric with more body like a shantung or dupioni would work better for a poofy skirt/structured bodice and also be easier to sew. The tulle overlay is going to basically cover up the charmeuse anyway.
- What kind of lining would be good? Is something too slippery just going to encourage slipping and sliding? I thought a medium cotton like the bodice muslin might possibly actually work well.
- The owner of my local fabric store suggested sewing some clear elastic around the top of the lining to help it cling and stay up well. I forgot to ask if this should be sandwiched between shell and lining, or on the outside of the lining so it can kind of cling against the skin.
- Pattern calls for a lapped zipper--any particular reason here not to go with an invisible zipper, which I have more experience putting in? (ETA: I just saw the thread in the Bridal and Formalwear Sewing about why not... i.e. regular zippers are stronger. So ignore this question)

My mom has been less than supportive of the whole DIY idea, and I would love to prove her wrong and sew a beautiful dress ;)
-- Edited on 7/18/12 1:42 AM --
-- Edited on 7/18/12 11:21 AM --

sno
sno
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MN USA
Member since 6/17/07
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Date: 7/18/12 4:58 PM

When I've made strapless garments, I underline the bodice with a heavy interfacing. The bodice should be able to "stand on it's own", which would eliminate the sagginess in the front. Infact, in some instances, I've underlined both the outer fabric and the lining fabric.

As for a waist stay, I don't see the necessity of adding one to the dress since there is a gathered skirt attached at the waist. The purpose of the stay is to support the dress. With the use of heavy interfacing and a waistline seam, the dress isn't going to go anywhere.

To keep the seams laying smooth over the bust, after clipping the seams and pressing open, I use a catch stitch to attach the seam to the underlining, taking care not to stitch through the outer layer. That way your seams will be nice and crisp without adding bulk.

orata

orata
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Date: 7/18/12 5:12 PM

Thank you so much for your input! Do you see a fit issue with the bodice as is or do you think the sagging will resolve itself via the heavy interfacing?

couturemom
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couturemom
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Date: 7/19/12 9:18 AM

Bodice front fit: In order to smooth out those wrinkles, it looks like you could take out the seam over the bust and push the fabric up (so that there would be excess fabric at the top when you were done. I'm not sure how that would translate to the pattern, though. You could just try un-doing those seams and pin them back together while it's on to see if you can get a smoother fit.

I am actually making this dress right now for a designer who is trying to sell 'going away dresses' online. She chose a shantung and a silk organza for the overlay. I agree that a stiffer fabric for the skirt would be better than charmeuse.

You may want to underline the bodice in a lightweight flannel. That provides just a bit of padding and keeps the seam allowances from showing through. Then, as sno said, you can tack the seam allowances to the flannel where they don't want to lay flat.

Where exactly is the boning cutting in when you sit down? You probably won't get to sit down at your wedding or reception, anyway - ha!

I think the clear elastic is supposed to go on the outside of the lining against your skin. If you have good boning, and a nice snug fit, you won't need it, though.

I personally would go with a silk crepe de chine for the lining. It feels so luxurious on your skin - like wearing a nightgown. Check out dharmatrading.com for the best price (they have a natural white color - undyed). Another option is bemberg/ambiance rayon, which you can get from a lot of online sources. Do NOT buy the cheap acetate lining from JoAnn or Hancock's. It will just be sticky if you start to sweat at all.

jadamo00
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jadamo00
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Date: 7/19/12 10:07 AM

Okay, this is not to replace proper fitting, but you may also want to purchase a body adhesive called Bikini Bite to guarantee against wardrobe malfunctions. It's on Amazon. Competitive body builders us it to keep those teensy tiny bathing suits in place...



j.

arianamaniacs
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Date: 7/19/12 10:47 AM

In complicated dress patterns like Belleville Sasoon, there is often 4 layers, one or two of which is a sturdy foundation layer. Most corsets have at least 3, the middle one being either of sturdy fabric, or heavily interfaced. Adding more layers to the finished product will fix this problem. Since it's your wedding dress, I'd give another muslin a go, using some cheaper fabric as the outer layer to see how the sturdier foundation makes the bodice look.

orata

orata
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Date: 7/19/12 12:08 PM

You all are awesome, thank you so much! I think I finally figured out what was happening with the wrinkles. I had taken some width out of the CF piece when taking in the bust, which I think was unnecessary. On another try, I left the front as is and chopped more width off the side front pieces and the wrinkling/sagging seemed to resolve itself. I think I need to take a little more out of the back but then it should be pretty close.

Thank you for the advice about the fabrics to use. I'm going to skip the charmeuse headache (will save it for a honeymoon nightie or something, maybe?) and buy some shantung and probably some flannel and sew-in underlining. I have already ordered Petersham ribbon and hooks and eyes for a waist stay, and horsehair for the hem(to answer my own question, it sounds like Petersham will provide more support than elastic and mold to the body better than grosgrain--found this page with more info: http://gorgeousfabrics.com/blog/2012/04/05/the-what-and-why-of-waist-stays/)

orata

orata
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In reply to jadamo00 <<


Date: 7/19/12 12:10 PM

jadamo00, a friend was suggesting this adhesive stuff to me too! She said for her gown, she used some special double-sided tape that was so sticky they had to melt it off with a hair dryer after the wedding...

jadamo00
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In reply to orata <<


Date: 7/20/12 10:13 PM

Yes, my understanding is that Bikini Bite holds like a BandAid, and hurts as much to peel off... but, I figure, that's GOOD!

:)

j.

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