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Wedding done, completed, success!
What I learned from making my dress
dragonzflame
dragonzflame
Intermediate
NEW ZEALAND
Member since 6/9/11
Posts: 60
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Date: 4/1/13 9:05 PM

Anyone who's interested, I've uploaded a couple of shots of my 50s Harvey Berin knock-off dress.

Here's the front

And here's the back (this one in colour!)

It was a heck of a learning curve, and I'm not ashamed to say that, even though the wedding was in February, I haven't had any desire to touch the sewing machine since ;-) The urge is starting to return, however, now that I've done some cleaning and rediscovered my fabric stash and unmade pattern collection!

I'm hoping I can help out someone, anyone, who finds this in a few days, weeks, months, or years and is feeling daunted. It's a big undertaking (and mine was simple) but it's so worth it.

How I did the dress:
- Fitted, shortened, and flared Simplicity 2400
- constructed inside bodice out of baby muslin and flannelette, which I ran the boning channels through (it's not a corselette as such because it doesn't fasten independently). I probably didn't need the baby muslin and could have just used ribbon for the boning channel. I just used plastic boning because it was all I could easily find that didn't cost the earth.
- The shell is poly satin, underlined with polycotton. The lace is allover lace I got online. I also underlined the bodice half of the lining with very soft cotton lawn.
- A grosgrain waist stay is attached to the inside bodice, fastened by a bra hook extender
- added a sloping shoulder to the bodice for the lace overlay
- made a petticoat (if you're thinking about doing this, don't even bother), discovered it wasn't poofy enough, added tulle, made it too stiff, got rid of the tulle, and ended up buying one, which I wore with the softer petticoat. Would have been easier just to buy a couple of petticoats in the first place.
- Horsehair braid in the hem
- the zip is handpicked and lapped
- All up, I think I did the entire dress for about $NZ300 (US$250), including fabric to make test runs out of. I'm happy with that!

What I learned:
- rayon is a pig to work with. I used it for the lining because it felt so nice and soft, and teadyed it to take off the blinding whiteness. But it stretched like crazy as I was cutting it, and kept sliding around. I made it before finalising the length of the dress itself, and had to do a lot of trimming and inaccurate measuring. Not the best hem I've ever done, but heck, it was lining and it was inside. Should have finalised the length first and not used rayon, softness be damned.
- lace is forgiving. Make a mistake, patch it up and nobody will be able to tell. However, the lace I used wasn't really designed for you to cut around the motifs and the cording kept pulling apart. There's a surprising amount of craft glue holding it together around the shoulders ;-)
- on that note, if you're using lace alone, get some soft tulle and reinforce the shoulder area. I had some but decided against using it because by the time I remembered I had it, I'd already sewn the shoulder seams and it would have been a PITA. I though the waist stay would hold it up enough, but I realised I needed some tension on the lace so they stayed on my shoulders. But it still stretched out big time with all the hugging, and the 'sleeves' kept falling down by dinner time. Doesn't worry me much because they served their purpose, but if for whatever reason I was going to wear the dress again I'd probably have to replace the lace sleeves, or cut them off and make it strapless.
- Waist stays are WONDERFUL.
- Susan Khalje said flannelette wasn't hot. I didn't believe her. But she was right. And this was on a beach, in a New Zealand summer.
- You'll need more time than you think. Budget at least an extra month. Especially if you're using lace. That scalloped edge? Cut off the yardage and sewn on by hand. That alone took nearly a fortnight.
- I made my own hair decoration (out of scrap fabric and lace) and birdcage veil. On the Thursday night. We were leaving for the wedding on the Friday. Don't do this. It looks fine, but I could have done it better with more time and there would have been less stress and tantrums.
- Satin, urgh. I wish I'd used Fray Check or something. It made a huge mess. The underlining helped a lot though.
- I sewed the seams of the dress shell and lace overlay a millimetre less than usual to account for the lining and inner bodice. It seemed to work well.
- There are no sewing police. It's easy to get hung up on the 'correct' way of doing things, but you can cut all the corners you want as long as you're happy with the way it looks.

-- Edited on 4/2/13 0:08 AM --

MaryDB
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MaryDB  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Washington USA
Member since 2/9/08
Posts: 632
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Date: 4/1/13 9:26 PM

Beautiful dress, nice work. Congratulations on your marriage, and thanks for sharing your dress.

Julkane
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Julkane  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Pennsylvania USA
Member since 9/14/07
Posts: 702
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In reply to dragonzflame <<


Date: 4/1/13 9:55 PM

Wow what an undertaking. You look gorgeous in your dress. Thanks for posting all these details about your project.

------
Elna Excellence 740, Pfaff Quilt expression 4.0, Janome 300E, Brother 8500D, Babylock Ellageo, Janome 900CPX CoverPro, Brother 5234 Project Runway Serger, Singer Treadle, Singer 66, Singer 99

http://juliannasjourney.blogspot.com/

Mufffet
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Mufffet  Friend of PR
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Vermont USA
Member since 8/14/05
Posts: 11419
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In reply to dragonzflame <<
thumbsup 1 member likes this.


Date: 4/1/13 9:55 PM

Lovely dress, and the photos are very nice!Congratulations!

------
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
--Dalai Lama

I have sewing machines

JanyceR
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JanyceR  Friend of PR
Beginner
Member since 2/3/07
Posts: 1683
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In reply to dragonzflame <<


Date: 4/1/13 10:10 PM

Thank you so much for your detailed post and photos. Your dress is beautiful, and a wonderful style. You captured the spirit wonderfully! A gown like this is not for the faint-hearted, and especially when you are the bride! Congratulations on both the gown and your marriage. And you are right - there are no sewing police. Thanks for that reminder!

------
Bernina 880, Bernina350SE,

AdaH
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AdaH  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Iowa USA
Member since 11/21/09
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Date: 4/1/13 11:59 PM

Great post. You listed a lot of useful information. The dress is beautiful.
Please post a picture of you in the dress.

------
Ada

Hauteaway
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Hauteaway  Friend of PR
Beginner
California USA
Member since 9/5/10
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Date: 4/2/13 1:55 AM

I also really want to thank you for posting so many great details of the process. I just bought some rayon lining for a dress that's on my to-do list, and either I am now very scared or I am forewarned and therefore forearmed. In any case, thanks.

------
YAN: Yet Another Nancy

minggiddylooloo
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minggiddylooloo  Friend of PR
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Virginia USA
Member since 5/17/05
Posts: 2364
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Date: 4/2/13 8:05 AM

Beautiful!

Thanks so much for sharing your sewing adventure with us, you and the dress are fabulous!

------
I'm finally a blogger!
sewming.blogspot.com

RobbieK
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RobbieK
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Alabama USA
Member since 5/20/09
Posts: 86
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Date: 4/2/13 8:08 AM

Beautiful dress! Hauteway, if you spray starch the rayon lining before cutting, it might help.

KathySews
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KathySews
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Michigan USA
Member since 10/1/06
Posts: 4020
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Date: 4/2/13 9:14 AM

Thanks for sharing your adventure. I thought your dress choice was beautiful when you first posted and am happy to see your results. I will revisit your post before my next attempt at a couture dress.

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