Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Wedding dress alterations

Following on from the last post, which explains the alterations made to bodice and hem of J's wedding dress here are the before and after shots

 Before - with hem pinned up indicating how much to turn up.   Bride felt bodice was falling down so was not confident in going strapless and was concerned that people would notice and talk to her bust rather than her.

After - at final fitting - hem layers turned up and rebeaded, waist stay added, elastic added to bust line and straps  added.  Bride feels happy and back in love with dress.  


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Wedding dress alterations

I'm so pleased to say that the wedding dress alterations are complete and the bride to be loves what I have done.

The plan was for me to shorten the hem - a challenge in itself with several layers involving horsebraid, lace and beading.  However, when I asked the girls to come back in the underwear they would be wearing on the day as well as the shoes, it was clear that more work was wanted.

Being well blessed J was clearly uncomfortable with so much on show and being strapless, she had brought a bra with straps because she couldn't find a strapless bra in her size and the band showed, and of most concern, she felt it was falling down and kept pulling the bodice up - accidentally pulling off beads in the process.  The train was also fairly long and heavy - great for the walk down the aisle but difficult to walk in for any length of time let alone dance.

Clearly just turning up the hem was not going to make her feel like a princess on the big day, so we agreed some alterations to the bodice and adding a bustle to hold up the train after the walk down the aisle.  This is what I did.

The hem - I tackled this first as I had already planned what I was going to do - turning up the hems of the skirt layers across the front taping into the sides.  I had done some prep. after the girls had first come round with their dresses - taking the lace and beading off, opening up the side seam of the satin layer and unpicked the horsehair braid on the hem side to make it easier to pin up the hem. On J's second visit - in the underwear and shoes she will be wearing on the day I pinned up the hem across the front lace panel, taping the hem at the sides and did the same for the satin layer.   I did the machine sewing first before tackling the hand sewing. I marked and cut the tolle layers.  Then measured, marked and cut the excess hem lining (using the amount cut from the top layer as I guide) and sewed a narrow hem on the bottom lining.  I finished unpicking the horsehair  braid, measured, marked and cut the hem of the satin layer, leaving 1 cm seam allowance, repositioned the horsehair braid and sewed it in place. Moving on to the hand sewing I repositioned the chantilly lace on the top tolle layer, hand sewing it in place before sewing on the beads.   
Hem Before alteration - pinned up indicating how much needs to be taken off

Hem - after alteration

Hem - after alteration

Hem After Alteration - showing lace and beading sewn back on

The bodice - my main concern was that J felt the dress was falling down and kept pulling it up.  So I added a waist stay to take the weight of the skirt.  I added a hook and eye to the top of the bodice back and added elastic across the bustline, which was sewn on using three step zig zag. I had measured the length of elastic needed at the second fitting to ensure a snug fit.  At the second visit we had discussed and tried J wearing the dress without a bra.  J had asked if straps could be added and brought some lace with her to the second fitting/ third visit. I used the lace to cover some lace bra straps that my daughter had (which is the something borrowed), adding a bit of beading to keep the lace in place and made some loops out of ribbon to join the straps to the bodice.

Bodice inside after alterations - elastic at bust line, hook and eye at top of centre back, waist stay, straps

The bustle - for the third visit and final fitting the focus was on checking J was happy with what had been done so far and working out the best way of adding a bustle, so that the bride will be able to dance in her dress, my daughter (as her bridesmaid) will find it fairly easy to put up the train on the day and of course the dress with the bustle will still look good. 


We had discussed adding a bustle at the second visit and I had taken the opportunity to pin where a loop would be needed to lift the lace top layer up to the button at the bottom of the back buttons.  So I had been able to sew a thread loop in place before the final fitting.  The thread look was made by sewing buttonhole stitch over several threads anchored in two places on the fabric. 

With such a heavy train and with so many layers more fixings were needed to distribute the weight more evenly and keep the pretty lace on show.  The third visit/second fitting was need to sort this out with J in her dress.

Bustle - thread loop - almost invisible unless you look really close

The satin layer was lifted by adding a thread loop and higher up a clear button.  Both were sew on the centre back seam line making easier for the bridesmaids to find them by following the centre back seam line up.  Then to keep the lace on top looking good I added two small buttons to the inside of the satin side panels and added corresponding thread loops made of thread chain.
Bustle - thread loop and button - added to ensure lace falls attractively 

I'm really pleased with how the final fitting went J felt great and was really pleased with the final fit.  The big day is next weekend and I am looking forward to seeing the wedding pictures.  This have been a challenging project but it was worthwhile to see J's reaction to how the dress made her feel at the final fitting.  Its lovely to have made a small contribute to J's special day.

Just got to take in the sides of my daughter's bridesmaid dress today then I can relax.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

October make

The theme for this month's make a garment a month challenge is sew and shine.  I have interpreted this to mean vibrant colour.

With the wedding dress alterations still on the go I have been thinking of what is realistically achieveable. So I got ready to go to town yesterday thinking of making a top and combining lunch out with Mr S with a visit to the fabric shop.

With the season getting cooler I put on my go to weekend wear for the last two years and realised the fabric is looking tired.  This dress is so comfie and easy to wear - I just put on boots and I'm ready to go.  I'm going to need a replacement.

 So I have changed my mind - instead of a top my October make will be McCalls 5706 dress pattern.  I'm making view A with the 3/4 sleeves.  The fabrics are a polyester mix two way stretch. The print will be the main fabric and the plain will be the contrast at neck and hem.  The total cost with elastic for this make is £28.

Despite limited time this month, this should be achievable, there are no fastenings involved, the pattern pieces are all cut out and I know it fits so this should be a quick make with the help of my serger.   This will be the third time I have made this dress.  So it also keeps me on track with my 2014 new year sewing resolution to find tried and true stretch and woven dress patterns.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

On my sewing table

My daughter is maid of honour at her best friends wedding and they have asked me if I could turn up the hems of their dresses, which of course I said I would be honoured to do - if I could.

The girls brought there dresses round on Thursday night and had a lovely  time trying them on with all the accessories.  They don't often wear dresses so it was lovely to see them looking and feeling like princesses. 

Luckily for me the height of my daughter's shoes means the hem of her bridesmaid dress does not need turning up but I will be fixing a little gaping at the top.

 The bride's dress is beautiful but this is definitely going to be challenging and time consuming.  There are four layers that need shortening.  Starting from the inside, first there is the lining with a narrow serged rolled hem, then tolle then double bagged  satin with horsebraid sandwiched inside at the hemline and finally the top layer of tolle with lace and beading.   

I had the day off work yesterday and spent the whole day unpicking the lace panel which was sewn across the hem to the top layer of tolle.  I still have a bit left to do before tackling the satin layer.

As the beads were sewn on after the lace panel was fixed to the hem they are falling off as I unpick the panel from the hem so I am keeping them safe and will  handstitch them back on after the hem has been shortened and the lace panel sewn back on.

I don't think I'm giving too much away with this sneaking peak.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Patchwork throw -update

In between other projects I have been making slow progress on my first machine patchwork throw.  I decided to make this my longer term project after seeing Nessa's instructions for the easiest quilt top ever.  I first posted about this project here in March.

I have finished sewing the individual squares and here they are all laid out.  

I did this about a month ago but it seems I have hit a block.  I was originally going to put a border around and have a go at quilting it.  However, having seen so many beautiful quilts online with sashing I'm not sure whether or not I should have a go.

I don't won't the quilt to be too large and unmanageable for my first quilting project but I think sashing will help the square pattern stand out.  Unfortunately I haven't got a clue what colour(s) I should use for the sashing and border or whether I should use a print - hence I keep looking at it but have made no progress for over a month.

Any helpful comments will be gratefully received.

Monday, 15 September 2014

September make complete

This is my first top for 2014 and hopefully is an improvement on the first version (in a grey and white print below).  I did improve on cutting out the fabric, so that there was no embarrassing, misplaced pattern pieces that had to be re-cut and I had enough fabric to cut out the cowl neck.

I amended the pattern from my previous alterations, by lowering the pattern above the elastic by 2 cms all round and the centre front by a further 2 cms, I lengthened the sleeve, increased the shoulder seam allowance to give more fit wriggly room and added to the front skirt panel the amount I had to patch into the first version because I forgot to make allowance for the full bust adjustment.   My mum helped pin fit the shoulders to eliminate the fabric pulling forward as in the first version.

 I like the colour and print of the fabric, the gathers and stitching on the sleeves are better and it does look like the pattern.  However,  I preferred the way the skirt panel of the first version lay closer to the body.   This version is a bit static and makes me feel big and a bit frumpy plus Mr S is not a fan of the cowl.  I will wear it a few times before I make a final decision as to whether I like it or not.

 I might try a top with set in sleeves next time.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

September make

For the September make a garment a month challenge I am going to make a top.  The first this year.  

I'm using Simplicity 2221, view A.  It has a cowl neck and longer sleeves.  The fabric is a polyester satin, brought a few years ago in an Abakhan sale for the grand price of £2.39 a metre.  I think this fits the September theme of a garment for the new season.

I haven't had much luck making tops due to fitting issues and have been avoiding them but thought it was about time I tried again.

  I have attempted this pattern once before and although it's suppose to be an easy make I had one misshap after another.  I cut the fabric wrong so there was not enough to cut the cowl neck piece on the bias.  I did an an adjustment for a fuller bust but forgot to amend the skirt part and had to add a piece of fabric.  I over adjusted the shoulders and the shoulder seams slide forward when worn. I was so fed up with it that I was careless with the top stitching and it looks clumsy.  

That being said it just about wearable but I know I can do better.