Welcome to part 4 of The Wedding Dress Blog! Today, we’re putting it all together! If you need to catch up, here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Last time, I talked about test versions of the bodice and skirt. I was able to use the bodice test lining in the final dress, as well as the “test” bottom skirt layer.
For the final bodice, I cut the lace and the underlining (crepe-backed satin). I removed any flowers from the lace that were in the seam allowance, and hand-basted the lace onto the underlining. Once the bodice itself was together, I sandwiched the yoke between the bodice and the lining to enclose that seam nicely. I did the wrong way the first time, which was a big bummer since seam-ripping on lace is a nightmare. Since the bodice was sitting too high on my bust as it was, I also had to add some additional lace to the shoulder seams. This was a bit of an adventure, but after watching several YouTube videos on matching laces, I was able to make it look fairly seamless. You can see the evidence of this in some of the pictures below.
The top two skirt layers are quite sheer. As a result, I chose to do French seams throughout. This gave a nice finish from both the inside and the outside. I mentioned in the Trials post that I had to add some length to the top skirt layers. My mom flew down to help me work on various components of the dress (since I do still have a full-time job!). She was very nervous about doing anything to my wedding dress but I trusted her completely! I also had her hem a bridesmaid dress for a wedding I was in two weeks before ours.
The process was far from seamless (heh). At one point, I sewed two panels of the chiffon together backwards. I did not have enough fabric to cut another panel so I knew I had to rip the seam. That was one of those moments where I just set everything down for the day and decided I would do it later. With the sharpest seam ripper I had and a lot of patience, I was able to make it work.
It’s a Dress!
Once all the skirt layers were complete, I had to put the skirt onto the bodice. The lace from the bodice is quite scratchy, so I put a layer of tissue paper between the chiffon skirt and lace top to prevent snags as much as possible. It looked a little ridiculous when I tried it on, but it did prevent snags! The zipper was finicky and I had a hard time matching the seam on either side. I also had a bit too much fabric at my waistline in the back (horizontal bunching). I probably need a sway-back adjustment, but for this dress, I simply adjusted where the seam hit on the bodice to get rid of the extra fabric. I enclosed the seam between the bodice and the skirt by hand-stitching the lining in place over top of it.
Since my mom was still in town, we set the hem. I am very glad she was here for that because I literally could not have done it myself! The base for my bed is solid, so I moved the mattress and stood on it while she sat on the floor. Because I didn’t have a train, this process was relatively straight-forward (albeit long!). I did almost pass out partway through, which was a kind reminder to not lock my knees during the wedding. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law FaceTimed during the hem-setting and were able to see the put-together dress almost immediately after I had sewn it together! Mom set the hem on the chiffon layer, which I hemmed first. After that, I set the hem (using my dress form) on the other layers based on that layer.
For the inner two layers (organza and satin), I did not cut them long enough. I thought I had added enough length to the organza layer, but once it was attached to the bodice, it was not long enough. Thankfully, I was able to make a hem band from each fabric. I also added horsehair to the bottom to give the skirt some body. If you look closely, you can see the hem bands through the chiffon, but they are not obvious.
I was on the fence about horsehair, especially on both layers, but I think it looked wonderful and I personally can’t imagine not having horsehair. I will note, however, that the horsehair I used was fairly narrow (1/2” or so). If I had found 2” horsehair braid, I might have only done one layer. Since I was low on time, I had to use what I could find locally. I am also unsure if the horsehair affected the hem length. It may be best practice to put horsehair in first if using it, before setting outer layer hems.
I decided the week of the wedding that we should add a nude lining to the yoke. The lace was too scratchy and I was worried my skin would be red and itchy the whole day. I cut a lining from leftover bra tulle and then we sewed around all the open edges. This also allowed us to have a clean finish on the edge after it was trimmed back. Mom sewed the layers together but refused to do the trimming, so that was my job after work one day. I was a bit worried the edge would be rough, but it wasn’t! We also used a slightly shimmery thread that she had used on my veil, which looked very natural with the rest of the lace fabric.
The night before the wedding, I added two Kylie and the Machine labels to the inside of the dress. It was tough to just pick two but I resisted the urge to have a giant row of labels. And lastly, the morning of the wedding, as I was having my hair and makeup done, my mom tacked down the nude yoke lining to the bodice lining so it would not flip up. Moments later, our photographers whisked it away for these beautiful photos.
The Whole Series: