Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Progress...17 days to go

I spent the entire past weekend working on my dress. I'm not finished but very pleased with what I have learned. I highly recommend to anyone wishing to make bridal or evening gowns to locate a copy of this book: Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear (Paperback) by Susan Khalje (ISBN: 0801987571). I was able to locate my copy from a UK seller on Amazon for about $30. Unfortunately, this book is out of print so most copies are quite a bit pricier.

Following most of the recommendations from the book on wedding gown construction, I have made the following additions to the instructions already included with the Vogue pattern I'm using.

#1 Organza underlining:

  • Underlinings may be basted to your fashion fabric to support the fabric. They can impact the color and drape of the fashion fabric. In this case, the organza provides lightweight support to my satin skirt, increases the poof factor (ball gown skirt), and prevents wrinkling of the satin.

  • Organza is probably the most common underlining for wedding gowns but other possible materials may include a cotton batiste or a lightweight fleece, depending upon the desired effect and what part of the gown you are underlining.

  • Baste each panel of the skirt's fashion fabric to matching skirt panels cut from organza. You will then treat each 2-layer panel as one piece.

  • Susan Khalje suggested in her book that some bodices and/or skirts may not need lining if the underlining is sufficient for modesty. I couldn't stand the feel of the polyester organza so I also purchase white poly lining. Yes, there are 3 layers to my skirt.

#2 Boning in the bodice:

  • My dress didn't call for boning but I wasn't getting the smooth, firm look to the bodice that I wanted. The boning helped flatten and smooth the tummy and my back (both my tummy and back are round).

  • Susan Khalje suggested applying boning vertically to the bodice center front, under each bust point from waist to just under the fullness of the breast, just along the sides of the breast, bodice side seams, and 2 places evenly spaced on the bodice back.

  • Boning should start and end just outside the seam allowance. Each end of the boning should be rounded so it doesn't poke you.

  • Test out boning placement on a muslin first. Remove the boning from the channels and hand baste in place on the fashion fabric, once you are happy with the placement.
  • Sew in an inverted U-shape using a zipper foot. Start at the waist end of each boning channel, sew to the top and over and back down the other end of the boning channel. Do your best to sew on the edge of the boning channels. Making the boning channels too narrow and tight will cause the boning to turn within the channel. You would expect a tight channel to keep the boning from shifting but you will get the opposite result.
  • Don't re-insert the boning until you have reached the last possible step before closing off the open end of the boning; often when you sew the waist seam.
  • I used the cheap roll of lightweight boning you can buy in any fabric store. This is a little hard to work with because it is rolled up so tightly. I will investigate better boning options for future projects.

Hand Basting

I despise hand basting. I always skipped it or used the machine to baste. This probably has a lot to do with how I was taught to sew (skipping any bastings, stay tape applications, etc.). Hand basting is time consuming upfront but will save you time during the sewing and greatly improves the look of your garment. Many fabrics are slippery when you put them right sides together for sewing. You don't realize how bad they have slipped until you get to the end of a side seam for a skirt and find one piece 1 inch or more longer than the other piece. Hand basting fixes this. Hand basting also keeps you from having to pin pieces together and pull the pins out as you sew. Even with pins, my seams have never matched up. Where you baste in the seam allowance is up to you but I prefer to baste 1/2 inch into the seam allowance and stitch at 5/8 inch. My hand basting is loose and I simply pull on one of the stitches until I have a free end to tug. With a few easy tugs, I can remove the hand basting from the seam allowances and press open the seams.

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