The thing I’m most proud of on my wedding dress is how my beginner attempts at draping went. The whole bodice fit and looked exactly how I wanted.
I used an ivory satin base, rose print organza in between, and soft organza with subtle twinkle on top. With luxury interfacing and a boned muslin layer for support the bodice took the longest time to complete.
I started by mounting the rose print on top of each silk that was interfaced with my luxury weft interfacing from Alison Smith’s bridal sewing course. I agonized over the rose placement but in reality I didn’t need to bother as it’s just fuzzy pink underneath the finished bodice.
I assembled all the seams, clipped and notched then catch stitched the allowances. I then padded my mannequin and pinned my bodice up.
To drape the bodice I tried a few different size pleats (see below) but decided 1″ overlapping pleats pointed upwards looked best. Bestie, bridesmaid and bridal seamstress Charly advise positioning a big piece of fabric with the crosswise grain straight across the bodice, keep it pinned to my mannequin body, and then create the pleats.
Starting with the left hand side I had to hand stitch the under bust seam line and then trim the excess fabric down to a hideable length. This was turned under and stitched in place. I used a strand of yarn to remind me of the best curve for my right hand side seam line.
Draping the right side was much harder. I had to create a neat fold that started at the centre front point and then swooped aggressively to cover the seam line. I was too scared to mark the seam line on the fabric in case it didn’t come out so just put one tiny pink dot in fabric pencil at the centre point of the V. The organza was very resistant to draping into such a strong curve and it took 5 or 6 attempts. Then I had to match the second pleats on each side so they were the same height at the princess seam point but it still had to swoop under the bust pleasingly.
On both sides the most difficult areas were just under the bust point where a dart would easily absorb the curve. The organza was very difficult to position and I must have gone over the left facing side 15 times or more. Watch my upcoming video to see why. Eventually I found a way to absorb the excess and keep the pleats the same width. Lots of twisting the organza about and draping the full curve rather than trying to drape it in small sections.
The pleats start to overlap at the side seam, but I wanted them to be hidden neatly underneath each other – so the number of pleats at the side seams were even ready to match at the centre back. The pleats needed to be parallel across the waist to be flattering, but those last two pleats curve off into the seam allowance at the back away from the CB seam.
The other tricky aspect was pinning everything in place without catching the bra or padding on the mannequin below. And not pulling the organza too taught, distorting the rows above or fabric below.
To secure the pleats I decided to stitch at the princess seams and side seams then scattered stitches all over the bodice. I had to stitch in two ways; First tiny tiny tiny prick stitches at the top edge of the pleat (at the seam point), so tiny they weren’t really visible. Then prick stitches at the bottom edge of the pleat, inside the fold (for the stitches scattered around the bodice). There were a few places the stitches showed and undoing them was panic inducing. I stitched each seam in one go but for the scattered stitches these were done individually and knotted off/snipped before starting again in another place.
The muslin inner bodice was cut slightly smaller that the outer because all the organza made the bodice very firm and the muslin still had a little stretch. My boning was cut from an old h&m dress. The one I wore to charly’s wedding in fact. It’s as thin as lingerie boning (about 4mm wide, 2mm thick), clear and very smooth. It’s bendy but was already in a curve. I don’t know if it was set into shape during construction or if years of being in the dress moulded them into their shape but they fit like a dream.
Most advice for bridal sewing is to not place boning in the princess seams. It creates false shape, doesn’t add support over the bust and prevents adjustments down the line. BUT I ignored this because 1. As the bones were perfectly shaped to match my body they created a great shape, 2. I don’t need the bones to hold my bust up as I’m small chested and have a good bra, and 3. I hoped not to have to make adjustments. I made channels out of more muslin and stitched them inside with a little bit of wiggle room above and below which is very important for you to bend or move about. The muslin was the placed RS to the wrong side of the bodice and basted all around.
Aligning the pleats at the centre back was eyes down and hope for the best. The lapped zipper could have ruined everything. Everything was basted around the outer edges then the excess trimmed down. One wiggled out of place in the end but I don’t really care.
The last bodice stage was to install a lining made of duchesse silk satin. Seam allowance was clipped to help the sweetheart bodice shape, turn through neatly and understitched, then handstitched into place. And I decided to add rubber trimmed elastic to help the dress hug my body at the upper edge. A less attractive finish but worthwhile for that sense of security if you’re an enthusiastic dancer like me.
Next up! A look at the skirt. I promise it won’t be as long as this post. I’ll also sharing sewing tips, costings and more before the end of the month. Any queries please do share them!
Here is my review of a seriously cool book.
Daniel Vosovic’s Fashion Inside Out. Subtitled Daniel V’s Guide to How Style Happens from Inspiration to Runway and Beyond.
Daniel Vosovic is best known as the runner up from Project Runway season 2. He won the most challenges that season and presented a beautiful fashion week collection but missed out on the win to fellow contestant Chloe Dao.
This book isn’t a reflection on that time in his life but a thought-provoking investigation into fashion and style, from concept to reality. There are no real chapters but instead the book is divided into sections tracing this arc, and each division contains multiple passages, photo stories and interviews.
I won’t take you through each division or section one by one; I think it’s best if I cover the content in a slightly different way.
There are two main ways to be drawn into this book. If you’re interested in both, all the better!
If you are a sewist you’re most likely going to be drawn to the sewing and design topics covered in the books.
Daniel has written passages on:
- Sketching and using a croquis to convey your design and say something about the woman wearing it.
- Swatching for maximum benefit.
- A simple introduction to the mechanics of draping straight onto a dressmaking form.
- Rubbing off existing garments to make template patterns for adapting
There is also a handy list of sewing tips from the chief patternmaker of DvF, which aren’t all obvious things you’ve heard a thousand times over.
For those of you who have an interest more specifically in the fashion industry there are excellent sections focused on the associated businesses of fashion such as buying and production processes, but also on modelling, model management and stylists.
The discussion touches on the methods used to promote a brand and designs; the influence of fashion week and other runway shows, and the benefit of portfolios and look books.
Interspersed are interviews with designers, pattern makers, stylists, models, photographers, magazine editors and fashion journalists.
There are some big names in here; Diane von Furstenberg, Todd Oldham, plus the Project Runway team Heidi Klum, Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia (plus a foreword by the delightful Tim Gunn). And although the other interviewees may not be instantly known by their names, they are well established in their careers and offer excellent comment under Daniel’s questioning.
The only thing that disappointed slightly was that the photo stories felt a bit too wishy-washy for my liking.
They’re not compelling photographs and don’t reveal anything to the reader. They seem to merely fill space between the words and many are just glorified stock photographs, which have been “artistically” blurred (see below).
Many of the portraits capture Daniel’s (and his interviewees) love for the craft, which is lovely to see, but the images don’t say anything about the fashion industry or design process itself.
Finally I want to say that the design of the book was fantastic, and by this I’m referring to all the things that fascinate me in my day job in publishing: it’s wonderful to see the care taken in selecting the typography, layout, use of colour and graphic design for this book. They combine to make the text look visually arresting on the page and draw you in.
I’m a big Daniel fan. I liked his work on Project Runway and I think he’s definitely gotten better over the years. His fall/winter 13 collection is all kinds of gorgeous!
Check out the subtle print on this dress. It looks like an xray of a spine to me! I think it works wonderfully with the contrast and draping.
I’d recommend you get hold of this book and paw through yourself. Even just to rub your hands over the velvet photographic cover. That’s right, I said VELVET!
I mean if it’s going for £3 on Amazon.co.uk what’s the harm!?
P.S. Don’t forget the new season of Project Runway aired on Thursday July 18th!