Friday, June 13, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress: The Time Has Come To Make The Dress


About 2 months ago I walked into Studio Fabrics and bought all the fabric I needed to make my wedding dress. I've kept it hidden in my sewing room all this time although I did bring it out a couple of times just to look at it and imagine the final dress.

For those of you who've been following along with this you'll know that I shared some original inspiration, made many muslins, perfected the skirt portion of the dress and got thoroughly overwhelmed on how to embellish the dress.

It's been a long journey so far and I haven't even started making the wedding dress for real yet.

I really mulled over all the inspiration for how to embellish this dress for a long time. I trawled through all the pictures on my pinterest boards, I read every comment left as advice or encouragement and I talked it over with some people to clear my mind.

I've made the decision that this dress doesn't have to look like it fell off pinterest and onto my body. It doesn't have to be sequinned, jewelled or adorned in any way that doesn't feel natural to me. In fact it doesn't have to be embellished at all.

I chose fabrics that I love. They may be simple and classic but they're fabrics that I couldn't get out of my head once I walked out of the fabric store.

In the end I wrote down three words that had to express what I wanted in this dress.

Classic. Feminine. Romantic.

These are the words that I came up with and they made me realise that the simpler the dress the better. I'm going to let my fabrics speak for themselves and I am relieved.


This picture is proof that my sewing room is the cleanest it's ever been. I even moved my stash to the shelves right beside my sewing table so that my whole experience sewing in there is inspired by fabric. Nothing else.

We've done extensive landscaping and turfing in the backyard to get it ready for the wedding and it calms me to be sewing this dress while overlooking my wedding venue. It allows me to keep everything in perspective.

So there's going to be a big long silence on this blog until the October long weekend. Thank goodness I've got my Spoolettes to hang out with and Frocktails to look forward to. It will keep me sane in the middle of the biggest sewing project of my life.

See you on the other side!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blue Ponte Top


A couple of weeks ago I found $10 on the ground. Now I can't justify the buying of new fabric with my current budget but I found FREE MONEY. Add to that I was travelling on the train line that went right past Cabramatta and, well, the rest is history.

I scored this great deep blue ponte for $5 to make myself another long sleeved top for winter. Boring but necessary. My remaining RTW tops for winter are all sporting holes and as I said in a previous post so too are some of my handmade long sleeved tops. So I've been working on replacing some basics in my wardrobe to get me through the cold mountains winter.


Oh, you'd like to see the shoulder accents? Sure thing.

This fabric was pretty nifty in that it had this great light grey colour on the reverse. I had initially wanted to applique some geometric shapes on the shoulders with it but that was proving way too much like hard work. So instead I just made another version of my Faux Leather Accent Top. I did actually cut out a pocket and positioned it on the fabric when I tried it on. The word boobpatch wandered through my head and decided not to leave no matter where I positioned it so the top remains boobpatch-less.


I'm actually not sure how to do a sway back adjustment on a fitted top like this so I live with the bagginess. If anyone has any resources for eliminating this just holler.

This top was made with my trusty Burdastyle Lydia pattern which I've made too many times to count.


Here's a photo of me looking smug in my new top. Hooray for warm, snuggly, functional and FREE clothing!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Blue Clouds Cambie Dress



I adore the Sewaholic Cambie. I made a Black version here and I wore it SO much over summer. 

The truth about this dress is that it was kind of a sewing fail. I did some mad panic sewing right before Christmas so that I could wear it on Christmas Day. I had about an hour or so of sewing left to do on Christmas Eve and a thought snuck into my head that I should probably try it on. That’s when I discovered that it really, really didn’t fit. The waist was too tight by a couple of centimetres and we all know what happens on Christmas Day right? You go from family to family eating ALL OF THE FOOD. So this dress was just not going to work. 

Because I’m stubborn I put it on my dressform and admired it for months. Note to self - maybe I should use my dressform for things other than hanging sewing fails on? Just a thought. I left it there because I was determined that I’d fit into it at some point. As luck would have it I’ve turned into the cliche bride slimming down for her impending wedding and the dress now fits! I mean I can breathe and move and live in that thing. It’s great!


I was making this dress just after they introduced videos on Instagram and had been pondering how to incorporate sewing a dress bit by bit into my Instagram feed. Since I was sewing this dress consistently over the Christmas Break from work I could sew during daylight and video as I went. It's not great quality because, well, it's an iPhone video on Instagram, but still - I think it's pretty neat. 

A Cambie dress made in 2 minutes? Click below to see for yourself!


So I'm a bit of a rebel and I didn't line this dress. I tend not to line dresses unless they're sheer. Perhaps it takes a little more effort to cover up the insides like I do but that's how I roll. I think this will also go into my honeymoon bag - and by that I mean I'm already packing my me-mades in my head with...oh about 4 months to go!

I have the perfect fabric for a straight-skirted Cambie for my next version but you probably won't see that until summer comes back again. But until then, you know what they say - if the dress fits!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Red Maxi Dress


I loved my first version of Simplicity 2362 that I began plotting another one as I was making it. I found this great deep red rayon voile from Lincraft and an off white rayon voile for the lining and bought 3 metres of each. The first version was great but the weight of the fabric and the way I constructed it made it a little more bedsheet-ish than I had originally planned. So this time around I was determined to find the drape-iest fabric I could to do this pattern justice.

I completely ignored the construction notes inside the envelope because I wanted to line the whole thing. I also wanted to underline the bust pleats because this fabric is so airy. I started by basting the outer fabric and the underlining fabric for all the bust pieces and sewed them together as one fabric. Then I took each of the three skirt panels for the main fabric and sewed them together with french seams and did the same for the lining pieces. I hemmed the lining fabric at this point because I had planned for it only to drop as far as the ruffle. I basted these two fabrics together, marked out my pleats and treated them as one fabric from here on. So I guess the skirt part is kind of underlined as well? 
Once that was all done I sewed the bust lining pieces to the dress turned it over, notched and topstitched it down. The photo below shows you the interior before I ironed the lining seam allowance and handstitched it down. 


You can probably tell from the way I constructed it that this fabric was difficult to work with. It's so light and slides around all the time so it actually saved me a lot of time and heartache basting and taking everything slowly. I did notice in the making of this that the slower I took this the more relaxed I was. In fact I had to unpick things a couple of times and I was so zen I didn't get cranky or swear. Not even once.


I attached the ruffle with a french seam as well to keep it all enclosed and this was probably the hardest part of sewing this dress. Trying to keep all those ruffles going through the machine evenly even though it was trying to play slip and slide with me. Oh and it turns out my maths skills are a little sketchy. This ruffle was meant to be ankle length but fell just shy of it once I tried it on. Let's call that a design feature shall we?

All the work was worth it in the end for how this dress drapes though. It turned out exactly how it looked in my head. I may not get much wear out of it seeing as the days are getting cooler but I made it up now anyway because it will be perfect for lounging about in on my honeymoon.


What you can't see from these photos is that I made the straps cross over in the back. Here's a picture of the straps and all the pleats. It's such a pretty pattern. I'm pretty sure this isn't my last version.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Belcarra in Black Crepe


I've been smitten with this pattern since Tasia announced it and I'm not normally one to buy a pattern as it's released but I couldn't resist with this one. It's the kind of pattern that will fill a hole in my handmade wardrobe. I love having tops like this that you can put on with jeans to wear out during the day or the night. It will also look great with some high waisted skirts so it's a winner all round in my books.

So the pattern. I made a muslin of this because I have about 4 versions in my head I want to make already. If I'm going to invest in a pattern that much it's worth the time to make a muslin even with a top as simple as this. My measurements fell pretty squarely into a 10 and the fit is fine everywhere. It's meant to be quite loose and flowy which I don't mind - great for lunches and dinners to hide your food belly! I did have a bit of trouble with the neckline binding which I'm pretty sure was partly due to working with a slippery fabric. The neckline binding is cut on the bias and once folded over it's about 2.5cm wide. You're meant to sew you're regular 1.5cm, trim the excess then turn over the remaining 1cm and stitch it down. This was a bit of a nightmare for me on my muslin so I'm glad I had a practise before busting out this fabric.


I bought this crepe fabric from a Spotlight Sale last year when I was planning my handmade wardrobe and I had originally planned to turn it into a Deer & Doe Datura. I'm really glad that life took over and this sat in my stash long enough for another, more perfect pattern to come along. I feel like it was meant to be on this one.

This top has french seams throughout even with the cuff - which was a bit more difficult when there's a bit of a pivot point at the bottom armhole seam. I took it slow and it all worked out fine. I conquered the neckline binding by sewing 1cm in, trimming the excess then turning the rest of the 1.5cm binding over to stitch it down. I felt I had much more control when I had a little more fabric to play with. Especially since it's on the bias and this is a slippery little crepe. I also took 5 centimetres off the length because it originally sat just above my crotch which, you can imagine, wasn't very flattering.


Overall I'm really happy with this top. I'm so glad I made a muslin and I'm so glad I took the time to french seam everything. I can now wear it on high rotation and not have to worry about it because I know it's so well enclosed.



This past week I planned to spend at least half an hour a night in my sewing room to see if I could get some sewing done after work. I'm pretty tired after an 8 hour day and long commute but once I forced myself into my sewing room I didn't spend less than an hour in there per night. So I managed to sew this top from start to finish in 4 x 1 hour sittings which I'm pretty proud of.

I'm a bit keen to sew ALL THE THINGS in the next couple of weeks because lockdown for the Wedding Dress starts in June so you may be seeing a lot of posts from me in the coming weeks!


Friday, May 2, 2014

Black and White Striped Jersey Top


Four years ago when I first got out my sewing machine I started off with this pattern from Burdastyle called Lydia. It's basically a renfrew and I've lost count of the number of times I've used this pattern. Call me crazy but I found knits really, really intriguing when I first started to sew and it took me ages to actually work with a woven (?!). I just loved how simple and comfortable and stretchy jersey was and it was SO forgiving of my awful sewing skills at the time. In the beginning I straight stitched entire tops like this knowing that they would eventually fall apart. Four years on I'm still wearing those same knit tops (to death) that I made. Granted a couple of them started getting little holes in the seams last winter but it's surprising to me how long they've lasted and how well they still fit me now.

Here's some pics of just two of them when I started to sew. Observe that I really liked ruffles when I started sewing?? Also observe I used to chop my head off in pictures??

Lydia Top with folded ruffle                                                         Lydia top with ruffles

I'm telling and showing you all this because it's often the most boring things we sew that we wear the most. I debated whether to even put this on the blog but I've learnt that one of my favourite parts of reading other people's blogs is seeing how they integrate their new pieces into their existing wardrobe. There's something really wonderful about watching other people develop and grow and make clothes that fit and flatter them. It's great to see the clothes fitting into their wardrobe and lifestyle.

So with that in mind here is my snuggly new top with some of my skirts. This is how it will get worn for a little while before my black skinny jeans become my uniform in winter.

Teal Green Kelly Skirt                                      Plum Skirt - Simplicity 2451                          Blue Hollyburn Skirt      
The fabric was $5 a metre at a store in Cabramatta and is really great jersey. You'd think for that price it might be thin or flimsy but not so. This is the good stuff. 

I'll be making a few more of these kinds of tops before winter really arrives to replace my beloved first makes. Stay tuned for some more boring-but-necessary clothing write ups - coming to you soon!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Book Review - Out of Shape: Debunking myths about fashion and fit



Are you human shaped? Then you should probably read this book.

I was fortunate enough to stumble upon it in my local library’s online catalogue. I have this habit of typing in words like “fashion”, “textiles” and “sewing” to pore over all the books I want to borrow. This book promises a lot just from its title so I wasn’t sure that it would follow through. A book about being “out of shape”? Diving into the realms of fashion and tackling the issue of how things fit? Could it be any more perfect for me seeing as that’s what fills my head every moment I think about sewing?

I need to tell you before I begin that this book struck a chord with me. As it unfolded every truth resonated with me. I found myself nodding along, uttering the occasional “yes!” and laughing at the author’s and my own shared angst about clothes and how they (don’t) fit. I will be talking up this book because I loved it but the views are my own.

From the outset the author sides with you telling you “I am a critic, and I reserve the right to call bullshit when I see it. I’m on your side - the consumer who faces small everyday agonies in wearing clothes”. She spends some time teasing out what is meant by the word “fit” and what is meant by the word “size”. These terms are already familiar to us. We know when we actually shop that we must choose a size to get the closest fit to our body but RTW can never really compare to a hand made garment. When using a sewing pattern however, we’re faced with a myriad of choices. Our measurements fall into one or a variety of sizes that we can grade and as we shape this garment and contour it to our figures we may choose adjustments along the way that allow the end piece to look like it was made for us. Because it was. Most people don’t have this luxury though, they’re stuck in between these concepts of size and fit not even knowing how to put their frustrations into words. The power of this book comes in being able to differentiate and explain these things.


“If fit is subtle and subjective then size is abstract and impersonal. Fit is cultural; size is industrial. It’s completely out of our control, yet it’s the part of clothes shopping that depresses people the most.” 
“Much of our angst about size and fit springs from the notion that to be socially successful, we need to constantly tend to and revise our appearance. I call this philosophy ‘orthovestia’, after the Latin words for ‘correct’ and ‘clothing’.” 
“Orthovestia doesn’t solve the practical problem of finding well-fitting clothes. Instead, it fools us into believing that if our clothes don’t fit it’s our fault for not understanding, training or disguising our bodies properly. It works by making us feel like failures who need experts to guide and correct us. But I want to show that what seems like helpful advice is really social control and moral shaping.”

In case that wasn’t enough to pique your interest the book takes a turn to look at how clothes have fit people throughout the centuries. She asks the question of why old clothes look so tiny compared to the clothes of today and goes looking for the answer in libraries, museums, galleries and vintage clothing stores. What I found resonated with me most about this discussion was the subject of underwear.
“Underwear aims to control and contain the naked human body so that it becomes inconspicuous and docile, and doesn’t call attention to itself through the textures of its hair and skin, its quiverings and bulgings as we breathe and move.”
One of the most striking revelations for me was the discussion about corsets. We look back on them as oppressive and wonder what that physical pressure would have felt like on an hourly basis with fabric taming your shape into the figure of desirability. Once the discussion turned to modern clothing she revealed that while we no longer have corsets physically restricting and shaping our bodies, we now have this internalised “corset of flesh” where we mould our bodies through diet and exercise to tame our shape into the very same figure of desirability.
“Our feelings of frustration and inadequacy about our bodies come down to this basic conceptual shift from an externally moulded silhouette to an internally moulded one. We’ve come to understand corsets of flesh as badges of freedom, modernity and self respect, and the fabric corsets they replaced as cruel, painful devices of primitivism, oppression and submission. And where once there were moral panics about young girls tight-lacing their corsets, now we fret about teenagers with eating disorders”
Never before have I come across a concept so startling and true. And it all came from underwear. While I kid myself about my shape and how clothes fit me I know that had I lived in the days of corset wearing I would have tightly laced it up to fit the ideal. And while I kid myself that I’m free to wear whatever I want and I have a good understanding of what works for my shape, I am most certainly trying to shape my own body through diet and exercise. My corset is different from those that lived in the past but here I am faced with the same oppression. This author has eyes that see through the layers of angst, frustration and confusion around clothing one’s self. She has a way of giving power to her ideas by stating them so simply and thoroughly. Her tone throughout the book is of someone well read and best of all curious about the workings of the world. She will lift the lid on so many details about clothing old and new and reveal them to you for what they really are.

Her journey throughout the book is to come to understand where sizes come from, how they differ in different countries as well as companies. She quizzes shop assistants on what size they think she is, she invites her blog readers to guess at her size, she leaves no stone unturned in her search for some truth or meaning in these little numbers we find on the tags of our clothing. At the same time she’s trying to unearth why we are so weirdly attached to our size when we know that clothing from every store in every country all over the world never fits the same. While we’re busy sorting through our own change room angst she’s trying to explain to us that the world isn’t actually trying to make us feel horrible about ourselves. Companies are trying to make money by trying to fit as many bodies as they possibly can. Their sizing is so dilute it never fits anybody perfectly. That doesn’t mean that poor unsuspecting clothes sitting on hangers in a shop are out to get us.

I felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole while reading this. A really awesome and well written rabbit hole of truth and wisdom. There are things in this book that I know I have been frustrated about in the past but I lacked the vocabulary or insight to describe it. 
“But just when we think we’ve figured out all the crazy-sounding body types and fashion rules, we learn we’re not even the best people to judge our appearance - other people are. As TV makeover shows and uncanny comic-book heroes tell us, we’ll grow either repulsively unfit or monstrously overtrained if left to our own devices.” 
“Yet we don’t think of this orthovestic gaze as cruel or oppressive, even though it’s precisely that. Instead it’s framed as helpful, as protective, as healthy, as sensible and as virtuous. And when we criticise other people, we choose to focus on our own helpfulness rather than how bad this might make them feel. After all, we only have their best interests at heart.”
Perhaps this book resonated with me because I’m currently shaping my flesh corset whilst making my real corset (aka wedding dress) to be worn on the day of most significance in my life. Perhaps it resonated because like the author I too have found myself stuck in a piece of clothing in a change room writhing around hoping on hope that no one will have to cut me out of the bloody thing. And perhaps it resonated with me because she’s just a really great writer.

Whatever the reason, I find myself having to return this to my library now. So I’ll be whipping out my card to buy this book to keep on my shelf to reread some day. Because it’s just that kind of book.

Want to buy it for yourself?

Try hereherehere or here.

Want to read more of her work?

melcampbell.com.au


So, has anyone else read anything like this that resonated with them? Any books I'm missing out on?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Black Knit Winter Dress


It's time for warm, snuggly dresses! I made these two ponte dresses last year here and here and wore them to death through winter with stockings and through the colder days in summer. In fact the geometric ponte dress is so pilled now I can only really wear it around the house. Note to self Fabric.com ponte pills like mad.

I had a fabric trip the other week where I bought a few pieces of fabric for some winter pieces, honeymoon clothing pieces and swimwear in mind. I also bought my wedding dress fabric too - more on that later! So this fabric I picked up from a shop in Cabramatta that sells designer remnants. Once I'd picked up one great piece of fabric and left it at the counter the guy kind of hovered around me telling me which designers they get remnants from and offering me discounts on basically anything I picked up. I like this fabric store! In case any of the Sydney Spoolettes are wondering it's called Van Hung and it's the store closest to where we had lunch on one of our meet ups.

This fabric is dreamy. It's a really thick jersey almost the thickness of ponte but the drape is gorgeous. I'm pretty sure it has some silk content too because it was a slip and slide under the needle. Basically it's perfect for a winter dress. It was about 1.5 metres for $17 - score! Which meant I had enough fabric (just) to make it a three-quarter sleeve length.


I made this dress with the same pattern mashup as I did for my ponte dresses using Simplicity 2444's skirt piece because I love the pleats. Seriously this pattern just keeps on giving. Last time I used the two most central pleats and folded the other one out. This time I forgot which pleats I'd used originally so I used the two most outer pleats of the three. Note to self: I have a blog for this kind of thing!

So you might notice I have this roll of fabric where I folded out the pleat which looks a bit weird from this close up but doesn't look to bad from far away. Those people that make patterns, they sure know what they're doing. I wish I had the ability to follow them all the time!


I used my usual neck binding method which I found on a Megan Neilsen tutorial because I love the clean finish it gives. I also added elastic to the waist so it wouldn't stretch out over time. I noticed on my last ponte dresses that they shrunk after a while and the waistline got higher and higher. I think this is partly to do with washing but not tumble drying the fabric before making those dresses. This time I washed and tumble dried this fabric so I could wear it longer. I also made the waistline hit my belly button rather than my natural waist which is a couple of centimetres higher. Hopefully all of these factors will mean that the waistline stays around my waist forever more.


I've actually got a backlog of knit items to put up on the blog which were accumulating in a pile in my sewing room waiting for hems. I was determined to hem them all using a twin needle but my machine and I are still fighting it out over the twin needle. I got so frustrated I ended up straight stitching all my hems. It's a bummer because the stitching will eventually pop but hopefully if I keep systematically trying my twin needle I'll work things out between us and I can hem ALL the knits!


For now I'm excited to have a snuggly dress for this cold weather that's creeping up on us!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress - Fabric and Embellishment

You'd think that the biggest decision when making a wedding dress is choosing the right silhouette, but it's not.  This bit was really easy for me because I tried a lot of dresses on and figured out what was flattering to my shape and size. My idea all along has been to create a silhouette just like the muslin I showed you.

However along with the silhouette comes this dilemma of how to make this the most special dress you're ever likely to wear. You want it to be dreamy without being over the top but how do you do that when the possibilities for fabric combinations and embellishment are literally limitless?

This has been my biggest struggle. You may think I'm mad for trying 3 different patterns for my bodice. You also might think I'm mad for drafting 3 different skirt variations for the bottom of the dress. But this part of the process has been easy. I've had a vision of what shape I've wanted all along but the actual look of the dress? No idea. Wait, no that's not right. Too many ideas. Way too many ideas.

I've let it be known before that I am addicted to Pinterest. I shamelessly visit at least every day. I started a secret board to collate images of wedding dresses and blog posts about people who had made wedding dresses before. But then I had to go and make another board to gather inspiration that would really hone in on details of beading, sequins, appliqu├ęs and so on. This has really helped me to think about the little details rather than just the whole dress at once. Because let's face it, a wedding dress is a really big frickin decision.

Confession time. I don't like lace. I don't like flowers. And I don't especially like white dresses. Dilemma much?

So the real reason that I haven't bought my fabric yet is because I just can't envision what it is that I want. I've found this really great heavy silk in a lush champagne colour which is going to be the body of the dress. I'm going back to buy this really soon but what to have with it? I know I want layers of tulle over the skirt and maybe a layer of tulle over the bodice with some kind of embellishment but what? And how much is enough? Or too much? 

So I've spent some time staring at the pictures in my Pinterest boards trying to narrow down just exactly what it is that I want. These two pictures are the closest. Just chop the right one off at the knee and you'll get the idea.

source                                                                                                  source

Embellished from top to bottom or just the bodice? Embellish literally from the neckline of the dress or leaving just that small bit of fabric at the sweetheart neckline to do the shape justice? This one below is also appealing to me even though the skirt shape is different. The design is delightfully asymmetric.

source

And then to add to all the decisions I have to allow for the fact that heavily embellished tulle on the skirt is going to affect the drape and how heavy it makes the tulle look in the final design. I'm also aware the if I want a heavily embellished beaded dress I have to start handsewing like yesterday. So there's that.

Because I'm not big on beading and bling I've also been trying to imagine what my dress would look like if I played with some draping, fabric manipulation, geometric shapes or really anything fancy looking that would add to the dress without making me feel like I'm trying to look like a princess. So although the below pictures don't have much to do with wedding dresses they're my kind of beauty. And if I choose not to have beading and do some fabric manipulation or something else instead that would be ok because it would be more me than finding whatever version of beading is tolerable for me.

source                                                          source                                                        source

source                                                       source                                                               source

source                                                  source                                                                 source 

source                                                             source                                                        source


no source                                               source                                                             source

Ok so this set is a little bit wedding related.

source                                                             source                                                          source

I know that most of these are haute couture designs and I'm not going to be creating anything like them but they give me inspiration and allow me to dream big.

So do you understand what I mean when I say I want a pretty, feminine and romantic dress without it going too princess? Is that possible on a wedding dress?

I'm going to mull over this some more in the coming weeks and torture myself by looking at every fabric on the internet. If you have an ideas/suggestions/opinions let me know!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Making My Wedding Dress - The Skirt

Welcome back to the next installment of the Wedding Dress Saga! I've still been revisiting my muslin one day of the weekend for the last couple of weeks to get the final pattern sorted.



So last we spoke I had Simplicity 5006 made and sitting quite well all over except for a few nitpicky things. Don't despair, I haven't gone and made another pattern. Three different patterns for my bodice muslin was quite enough for me!

I've spent the most part of the time since my last Wedding Dress post focussing on the skirt for this dress. I've known all along I wanted a tea length skirt that was quite full at the hem. I was pretty sure that I could draft myself a circle skirt and that would be the end of it. Not so. It's never that simple right??

I drafted a circle skirt and popped it onto my mannequin over the top of the bodice just to see what it would look like. It sat right on that waist line you can see marked on the muslin above. Firstly I hated how short it made the mannequin look (so you could imagine it on me) and secondly there was a whole lot more volume than I could handle. Lesson learnt. Apparently circle skirts are not for me.

So I set about drafting a skirt that could do two things: sit underneath the drop waisted bodice and have lots of fullness at the hem. I didn't love the idea of having a two piece wedding dress but if I could make it look like it did in my head I was at least willing to try. I spent an entire Saturday slashing and spreading one of my favourite skirt patterns to include deep pleats that would drape and flare a little less than a circle skirt. Long story short that fabric made it's way into the bin quicker than any project fail ever has. The idea was great but there was all this bulk underneath the bodice which looked awful. I love pleats, don't get me wrong, but there's a time and place and this was not it.

The next option was to draft a three-quarter circle skirt and hope that the volume didn't look too overwhelming on my figure. The maths hurt my head a little but I could tell as soon as I hung it on the mannequin that the drape was spot on. Dreamy in fact.

I tried it on myself over the top of the bodice again and fell in love with the shape of it. It was still sitting around my natural waist which was a problem but suddenly I had a skirt shape that looked just like it did in my head.

To make the bodice a little more flattering with the skirt I marked out a line on the bodice roughly 2 inches below my natural waist. I did some more head-hurting maths and got the skirt's waist seam to fit the new dropped waist line. And boy did it look awkward. There's a lot to be said for getting proportions right on your body to make something look flattering and this was a great lesson in what doesn't work. I had to stop and pack my things up after this because I really wasn't sure what to do next.

By the time the next weekend had rolled around I'd had an idea. I thought if I spent a lot of time carefully pinning I could possibly lay the top part of the skirt flat across the bottom part of the bodice down into that U shape. If I could get this to lay flat it would make the skirt drape properly from that U shaped seam line down. Since this was what I had wanted all along it was worth a try.

And look - it worked!


Never mind the terrible selfie in my bedroom that has no wallpaper on the walls anymore. The dress fits! And the skirt drapes beautifully! And the two things came together like they were meant to! 

Huzzah!

Notes on Construction
- Since my last post I cut notches into all curves in the bodice like a number of you pointed out I should have done in the first place - thanks!
- The giant fabric wrinkle under the bust did not go away at all after notching but I figured out the problem. I'd put the bust cups too high up in the bodice which meant there was this bit of curved fabric without anything to fill it so of course it wrinkled over itself. The bust cup on your right is in the perfect position and the one on the left needed to be dropped by another centimetre or so. You can probably tell that the wrinkle is coming from that left side. Once I got them both level that wrinkle disappeared - hooray!
- By the time I tried this bodice on properly with this skirt on the weekend I'd lost enough weight that I had to pinch this in a lot around my hip bones. This, combined with notching it properly, means that side wrinkle I was getting originally has also disappeared - hooray!
- I've pinned a small bit of gathered tulle as straps to see what the end result will look like and I like it.
- You might not be able to tell from this angle but the skirt is probably about 4 centimetres past my kneecaps. If it were too long it would have made me look stumpy but any shorter and the dress becomes a bit too casual. This length is working for me.
- I've successfully moved the zipper from the centre back to the left hand side so I can create a feature on the back of the dress. This will become a hand picked lapped zipper on the real dress.
- I've already spotted what I think is the perfect fabric for my dress. Once I've got the idea for the feature on the back worked out I'll be ready to buy the real fabric.
- That skirt is about 95% draping properly so I'll be more careful with my next muslin to get that drape perfect. It's also creating a hint of a V shape rather than a U shape and is slightly off centre.

So when do I make the real dress?
Good question. My measurements are changing and I don't want to distort my pattern pieces too much if I have to keep taking things in. So I'm calling this muslin stage officially over.
I'm thinking about making an all new muslin in June and then cranking the real dress out in July/August. That way I can do final adjustments a week or two out from the wedding (early October).

This means I've got a couple of months to sew normal clothes for me! And if I'm organised I could sew a bunch of things to wear on my honeymoon. Watch out world, I'm back to regular sewing speed!