Wedding Dress, Stage 1: The Pattern

Back in January, I finally got around to going dress shopping for the wedding. Our wedding is July 6th, so I was just on the edge of a lot of the cut-off dates for ordering a dress–in most cases, you have to place an order about 5-6 months out. My mom, sister, and baby niece had come up for a visit specifically to help me choose a dress and we did a whirlwind tour of bridal salons in the area. It was great! We had a blast trying on a lot of dresses. I had originally thought I'd like a lace dress, which was one of the reasons I was totally convinced I didn't want to make my dress–I've never sewn with lace and I didn't really want the wedding dress to become my trial run.

Trying on about 30 dresses in one weekend, though, taught me many things about wedding dresses, including 1.) I absolutely did not want any lace, whatsoever, on the dress, and 2.) I really wanted a silk dress. Also, my top choice made me look something like a mummy:

We all loved this one in the store and then did a simultaneous recoil later on when we saw the pictures. A totally lovely dress, don't get me wrong, and I've seen it look gorgeous on women in pictures, but wow this is really giving off a bedsheet vibe on me.

The other dress I completely loved was Amy Kuschel's “Fillmore” dress–it has a striking split bodice, some pleated wrapping above the waist and then flares out into a trumpet skirt. Very modern and sophisticated and the silk fabric was utterly delightful. And way more than I had wanted to pay for my dress.

This is a deceptively simple gown and I was pretty much all set to bite the bullet and pay up when I decided that it really would be a lot more fun to make a dress like this. So over the last few months, I've been making several mock-ups. I obviously don't have a pattern for this dress, so I had to jury rig a pattern by splicing together the basic skirt from New Look 6401 and the sweetheart strapless bodice from McCall's 5850. This required copious amounts of tracing paper, and for about two weeks our bedroom was a confusing tangle of rolls of paper, most of them vaguely labeled something like “Wedding dress pattern 4.”

I tapered in the skirt a lot, mostly by laying it over the pattern for McCall's 5881, which I knew fit me quite well. The result was a fairly tight fitting sheath dress with a simple sweetheart bodice. The original dress has pleated side panels to give the skirt some fullness, so I slashed off the skirt at the knees, angled the slash up in the back, and then added in pleated skirt panels to produce a trumpet style dress and train. This was the basic result:

Not too bad! It sags a bit through the hips on my dress form, but fits me quite smoothly. So, next up, some details on the skirt (particularly the front section), the pleated front panels, the split bodice panels, and figuring out what to do with the back!



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