A Very Nerdy Wedding Dress

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photographer Credits: Simply in Love Photography

Completed: December 2017

Accessories: 

Hair and Makeup: Cocoa Beach Spa

Patterns Used: 

How I Made it: 

A huge moment in any person’s life is their wedding. When my now husband proposed a little over a year ago, one of my toughest early decisions was whether or not to make my own wedding dress. I had a fairly specific vision in mind, but I also know myself and knew that I’d likely paralyze myself with indecision.

2017 was also an incredibly difficult year for me creatively, so when it came time to buckle down and really work on wedding planning, I decided to take the easier path and purchase a dress. I located a wedding dress maker on Etsy who had a design fairly similar to the dress I wanted for a rather reasonable price. I scoured her reviews and found nothing but good feedback, so I pulled the trigger, sent her my money and measurements, and let her do her thing. Or so I thought.

Around Thanksgiving 2017, I was going over my wedding checklist and realized I hadn’t heard anything from my dressmaker since I placed my order. I’ve had my fair share of experience with lackluster cosplay commissions (and fixing said situations for other people), so I reached out for a follow-up. My requested delivery date came and went with no response. I reached out again and realized that my dress hadn’t even been started. The dressmaker was apologetic and swore up and down I’d have my dress for the wedding, but I started preparing for the worst by gathering up materials and setting aside patterns. The dress I purchased arrived about two weeks before my wedding day and it was… bad. The fit was bad, there was no boning to be found, and the bodice didn’t appear to have any interfacing in it. Nearly all of my custom requests were forgotten as well. Thankfully the seller was quick to refund the money, but I found myself in a really tight spot: barely fifteen days until my wedding (even less until we had to fly out to Florida) and no wedding dress to show. So I cleared off my craft table and got to work.

Let’s move forward to the actual construction of this dress. I didn’t have a lot of time to second guess myself with barely 2 weeks to construct the dress, so I defaulted to the design I had in mind for ages: a Cambie style bodice with a super full skirt and a chiffon overlay.

Again, since I didn’t have a lot of time to second guess myself, I went with fabric my friends offered me from their fabric stashes (I seriously have the best friends in Cosmic Coterie <3) or stuff I could find at my local Jo-Ann’s. The base fabric was white casa satin and the chiffon overlay was also white from the casa line. My interlining layer was unbleached cotton coutil I ordered from Richard the Thread for some of my corsets this year. The lining of the bodice was the stained glass fabric cotton from Jo-Ann’s, and my skirt lining was a soft lilac Casa satin.

25627451_10210205578646007_1792787501_n
This bodice lining makes me so happy.
25627374_10210205620207046_1704215858_n
Skirt lining!

After making a quick mock-up of the bodice using Simplicity 1606 as a guide, I dove straight into this build. The bodice came together fairly quickly. For the fashion layer, I underlined the interfaced satin pieces to the chiffon and serged all the edges prior to sewing.

The back portion of the bodice was a little trickier. The chiffon layer is free-floating, but since I still needed to finish the edges of the neckline and the sleeves, I did a double layer of chiffon with French seams all around. The back of the bodice connects to the lining at the top, and then the sides connect to the front with a standard straight seam.

This gave me a tricky challenge I didn’t initially account for: the back bodice of the Cambie wasn’t quite designed for what I had in mind, and the arm hole was about a half inch too high. to fix this situation, I carefully trimmed down the arm hole, finished it with a zig-zag stitch, and covered the edges with a cute rose and faux pearl trim I found at Jo-Ann’s. I opted to put the zipper in the side since I wanted a clean and clear view of my back for photos.

For the interlining layer, I added German plastic boning to all the seams as well as the center front and center back. To keep life somewhat simple for myself, I used some spare grosgrain ribbon I had on hand to create the boning channels.

25555479_10210196362735615_2079283964_n
Whomp whomp. Didn’t work quite how I hoped.

The skirts were… interesting. For the lining layer, I drafted a half circle skirt to prevent potential wardrobe malfunctions on the beach. This layer was originally an aqua blue (one of my wedding colors), but the blue was too visible under the white. I instead went with a soft lilac (my other wedding color), which was perfect.

25589653_10210192466718217_1235716204_n
When your seam matching is on point!

The white satin layer was a full circle skirt, and the chiffon layer was a gathered double circle skirt. I finished the lining and interlining layers with half inch horsehair braid and the chiffon layer with a rolled hem on my serger.

2017-12-26 12.12.06
We’re not going to talk about how many times I went over this hem.

One of the final touches on my dress was a belt and butt bow. I wanted to incorporate the lovely lilac fabric Koholint gave me, and I also decided to add a butt bow at the last minute. I adore the slim jabot tails NyuNyu cosplay came up with for her Super Mercury, so I drafted up a set of my own for my dress. And because it was for my wedding, I decided to hotfix 300+ Swarovski crystals to it. Because bling.

25519911_10210193145815194_204283331_n
Patterning out the tails.
25593050_10210196268333255_1958646733_o
Bling.
25627686_10210215018041986_460214275_n
Even more bling!

The final pieces I made to accompany my dress were a matching bow clutch (the lining is scraps from the Beauty and the Beast stained glass fabric) and a lovely satin stole made from dress remnants. While the weather during the wedding was incredible at a perfect 70 degrees, a cold front came in as soon as the sun set. I was quite grateful to have something to keep me warm!

2017-12-31 09.28.232017-12-31 09.28.332017-12-31 09.28.48

Thoughts on this dress:

The stress of knocking out this dress two weeks before the wedding was hell. There’s absolutely no question about that. I’ll admit to several tearful breakdowns, a panic attack, and stress-induced vomiting during that time period. It wasn’t pretty.

This experience was also a great reminder for me on handling commissions. The way the whole situation was handled with my original dress was horrid, and it reaffirmed my desire to provide the best customer experience possible for my clients.

But at the end of the day, I have a sentimental story to share about this dress, and I’m far happier with it than I ever would have been about the dress I originally purchased.

2017-12-30 19.10.35
Selfie with our wedding guests!

Have you made your own wedding dress? What was  your experience like? 

Advertisements

Cambie #6: The Leaving Dress

I guess this technically meets April’s challenge requirements as well? Continuing on the wedding theme, here’s my friend’s leaving dress! It was kind of funny how this turned out. She was IMing me about 3 weeks ago, telling me she was stressed about finding a leaving dress since her main dress is so delicate. Then she started listing what she wanted: sweetheart neckline, A-line skirt, and sleeves-but-not-sleeves. So I sent her some of the wedding dress Cambies from Sewaholic and said, “You mean this dress I’ve already made 5 times?” Thus, I took on the task of making her leaving dress.

carissa cambie front

The Basics: 

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie View A

Fabric: Chiffon, charmeuse, and bridal lining. All of the fabrics used are scraps from her main wedding dress.

Alterations:

  • Some sizing weirdness. I had to make some adjustments for her shoulders and bust area.
  • Length: She’s 5’3″ (as a comparison, I’m 5’11”. Apparently I like to feel extra tall around my friends), so I had to do some length adjustment with the bodice. The shell fabric was also too delicate for pockets, so I just used the front lining piece for the shell.
  • I moved the zipper to the side seam.
  • Understitched the front of the bodice.

Notions: Zipper.

Make it again?: I swear, this time I’m taking at least a 2-month break before making a new Cambie. I’m also going to need to buy the pattern again or completely re-draft it from my old Cambies. I lose another piece every time I made this dress.

Favorite parts: I am really happy with how this looked on her. Granted, my friend can make a trash bag look cute, but I’m very pleased with the overall fit. I’m interested in taking on sewing and costume commission work in the future (like, years from now), so practicing on people now is giving me an idea of how I need to go about it. Since we didn’t have time to make an actual mock-up (I know, I know), I made a “muslin” out of the lining first then made the adjustments to the pattern and shell fabric.

Since this is a much nicer dress than some of my previous ones, I really took the time to match the darts and side seams. They came out perfectly! *does happy dance*

I also took the time to hand stitch the waistbands! Such a pretty finish. I have a horrible time making stitch in the ditch look nice, and this was perfect for making the stitch invisible from the front.

Cambie side

Other thoughts: OH EM GEE I HATE CHIFFON. If there is one reason I wish I had another week or two to make this dress, it’s the chiffon. That crap is a slippery, fray-happy bastard. I wound up just serging it to the charmeuse and treating the chiffon and charmeuse as one layer. Not the best idea, but it’s the only thing I could get to work with me with the time crunch. Do you guys know of any good chiffon resources or tutorials?

I’m also not happy with the hem. I wish I’d kept the skirt layers separate and done a rolled hem. Live and learn.

cambie back

Unfortunately, the bride didn’t get to wear the dress. The chiffon layer got damaged in transport (oil stain *cries*). There’s still leftover chiffon, so I may try to repair it when she gets back from her honeymoon. If she still wants it, that is. I was a bit bummed when she told me, but at least neither of us put any extra money into it. Plus, it was a great learning experience.

Now that this is finished, I’m back to cosplay prep! Dallas Comic Con and A-Kon will be here soon and I’ve got 4 costumes to make! Hopefully I’ll get 1 or 2 finished this weekend 🙂

Cambie #4: The Instruction/Conference Dress

I have a confession: this dress and blog post have been complete for about two weeks now, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to take pictures. Oops.

Anyway, say hello to Cambie #4! Or, a dress I can wear to places other than cons. I made this dress as part of my garment challenge. I wanted something practical, comfortable, and versatile that I could wear to work. The Cambie is one of my favorite dress patterns, so it was a clear winner for my first garment of the new year.

Front view. Oh dear glob, I need a haircut.
Front view. Oh dear glob, I need a haircut.
Side view. I love me some pockets.
Side view. I love me some pockets. Not sure what’s going on with my face. Pretty sure my BF is king of the awkward shots.

The Basics: 

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie, view A.

Fabric: 2 yds of grey Italian grey wool suiting blend from my newest fabric obsession, Golden D’or.

Alterations: Added 1″ to the bodice, opted for the square neckline variation, took out the front darts, understitched the bodice, and some minor tweaking for fit.

Time: 10ish hours. I finished the inside seams of the shell with a Hong Kong finish and also had some funky fitting issues.

Notions: Invisible zipper, bias tape used on the lining.

Make it again? Yes, after I get through a few other patterns. I’m thinking a pretty cotton sateen for my next go.

Favorite parts: Pretty sleeves, slash pockets, flattering design.

Other thoughts: WARNING: wall of text ahead.

I have some mixed thoughts about this dress. Now that it’s done, I like it, but it almost became a UFO (unfinished object) on several occasions.

The fabric is what really inspired this dress. I saw it on my first trip to Golden D’or in January. I bought it intending to make a pair of Juniper trousers, but then quickly changed my mind when I realized I could squeeze a Cambie and a pencil skirt out of my yardage. Score!

Since this fabric is a wool blend, I decided to err on the side of caution and use Eucalan in case of shrinkage. Problem was, my only local distributor was closed, so I had to wait a week for Amazon before I could even pre-treat my fabric. Ok, no big deal. I decided I’d use the time to make a muslin of the skirt since the A-line skirt is much more fitted than the gathered skirt.

Fast forward a week. Once I started cutting, I discovered that some of my pattern pieces were missing, so I had to redraft those based on previous Cambies. My biggest problem cropped up when I tried to attach the bodice to the skirt. My hip measurements are a size 10 in Cambie land (for reference, my bust is a size 16), but I forgot to allow for differences in darts and seam placement. Sigh. The easiest way to fix that mistake was to take out the front darts. I left the unmatched back darts in the back since I wear cardigans a lot at work (see: lazy).

It's a bit hard to see, but those darts in the back are off by about 1/2". Also, STUPID HAIR.
It’s a bit hard to see, but those darts in the back are off by about 1/2″. Also, STUPID HAIR. HELP ME HAIR GODS.

I had some trouble with the sleeves as well, partly because the sleeve lining is one of the pieces I had to redraft. I wound up taking about an inch off of them, which also helped with some weird drooping around the neckline.

Speaking of the neckline, I understitched the lining since I didn’t have quite enough fabric for a facing. At least, not with the pencil skirt from hell.

I guess this dress also *could* count for my new skills challenge, since I actually tried out my blind hem foot on this beastie. I think it turned out pretty well. I did the hem on the lining first so that it wouldn’t be visible if I messed up too much.

Still, all trouble aside, I think it turned out okay. I’m glad I stuck it out and finished. My sewing mojo has been really off lately, so finishing feels like a big accomplishment right now.

I mentioned that my work wardrobe is sadly lacking. My workplace dress is fairly casual, but I think this piece will be great for when I have to give presentations/instruction sessions and attend conferences. I still think it’s funny that I became a librarian partially out of severe introversion, but I do a metric crap ton of public speaking every semester.

Tl;dr I screwed up, but at least it’s passable and I know what to fix next time.

Also, I desperately need a real camera. Phone and iPad shots just aren’t cutting it anymore. Any suggestions?

Belle’s Village Dress (Beauty and the Beast)

belle selfie

Completed: November 2013

Hours Spent: 17ish (including seam ripping hell)

Worn at: Austin Comic Con

Why This Costume: I love Belle’s nerdiness. She’s one of my favorite Disney princesses. Beauty and the Beast was constantly on in my household as a child, beat out only by The Little Mermaid. Shortly after making my Star Wars Cambie dress, I decided I wanted to make the straight neckline version, and I thought Belle would be a perfect fit!

How I made it: The dress itself is the Cambie, view B frankenstein-ed with a Simplicity bodice back and a self-made strap. I made a few minor alterations in addition to the straight neckline. I cut the front of the bodice in two to get that really noticeable center seam and I added 3” to the skirt length. I also nixed the skirt lining since I only plan to wear this dress with a petticoat (and didn’t have enough lining fabric to accommodate a full gathered skirt). The top is a Jasmine from Colette. I altered the collar and added 4” to the sleeves, though I should have added 6″. The shoes I already had in my closet. Everything else was made from scraps.

The wig is a lace-front Matilda from Arda in Spanish Brown. Man, the wig was a challenge. There are a lot of tutorials for styling Belle’s hair in her gold ballgown and most of her village dress hair tutorials used human hair. My hair is currently purple ombre, so no dice. I went through four stylings to get the final result, and I’m still not happy with it. I originally styled it on the Matilda because I liked the length, but I couldn’t get the bangs to poof enough. I tried again on my Jasmine from Arda, but it didn’t want to stay on without extra clips. I also had issues with my hairline showing at the bangs. I finally got it to work on my Matilda, using a combination of Arda’s gravity defying bangs tutorial and this tutorial for Belle’s hair. I’ll probably wash the wig and restyle it before wearing it to Ikkicon, if I don’t decide to make something else before then :P.

Also, I made a hollowed out book to use as a purse. If you attempt this, allow plenty of evenings for trying (3 for me), don’t add too much glue (clumps), and take your time with corners! Mine didn’t turn out as neat as I’d hoped, but it works and still looks cool in pictures. I added magnetic strips that I got at Wal-Mart for $.99 to make sure it wouldn’t fall open on accident.

Thoughts on this costume: I’m so happy I could be a Disney princess! That’s been on my cosplay wish list for a while. This is also a very comfortable costume. So comfortable, in fact, that I think I’m going to make a couple more costume Cambies. Fluttershy and Wonder Woman for sure, but I may have to also throw in a Harley Quinn (I really want to play with two-tone coloring. Maybe a Harley fan would want one as a gift?).

This costume did remind me to take my time with projects, though. Initially, I tried to rush through it in one day, and wound up mucking up measurements, which lead me to think I would have to scrap the project. Fortunately, I found extra yardage of my dress fabric while on a notion run! You can read about the craziness here, here, and here. I’d definitely like to fix some things when I have time, like the collar of the shirt and restyle the wig, but I’m pleased with it.

Overall, I had a lot of fun with this costume at Austin Comic Con. So many little kids (and adults) wanted hugs and pictures. I was really happy about the reception! I’ll post more pics when I get them.

Also, I entered into a costume contest. Head over to this link and “like” my picture if you like my costume!

More progress!

I had this morning off of work, so I made more progress on Belle.

Belle dress and top

At this point, all I have left is to hem the shirt, make the apron, style the wig, and wash/give everything a good press. The collar on the top is a little wonky, so I might hand tack that down. I’m not terribly pleased with the in the front, but I think the dress will cover that up. 8 days to Austin CC!

Belle: Remaking the dress

Heya folks. I’m currently waiting on a flight, so have a post! I made some more progress on my Belle dress last night. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I think it’s finally starting to come together. I have it pictured here with a petticoat underneath.

20131107-144414.jpg

So a little background: I decided to make Belle’s blue village dress as my Halloween work costume a few weeks ago, thinking that since I’d already made a Cambie, that it’d be just a few hours to whip up a pretty and quick comfy costume. Ha. Not.

Getting started was pretty straightforward, but still required a few modifications. I took the bodice front from the Cambie and adapted it to a straight neckline. Then, I harvested the back from Simplicity 2813 and made a simple square strap to finish the bodice. I decided initially that I wanted to do a side zip, so I made that modification. I had also planned to make the skirt a full circle skirt that fell just below my knees (hahahahahhahahahahahaha).

Cutting is where my problems began. As soon as I started cutting, I realized I had way too little fabric to do all that I wanted, especially that giant circle skirt. No big deal, I’ll just make a gathered skirt instead. I didn’t have enough fabric to do the full front and back pieces, so I just modified the back pieces to accommodate. I also wasn’t fond of my zipper color, but I figured that it was an invisible zipper and at the side, so no one would really see it. Trying the dress on was a real buzz kill. Nowhere near enough volume and the side zip felt like a giant neon light saying, “LOOK AT THIS PIECE OF CRAP.” I was also having trouble with the top, so I decided to set the project to the scrap bin and try later.

While on a fabric store run about 2 weeks ago, I found the exact same fabric! Huzzah! I double checked my measurements before I left the store this time, and set about remaking the dress after much seam ripping. I still made a couple errors that I’m okay living with. I didn’t have a long enough strip for the waistband to be one piece, so I cut it into sections. That’s okay, since the waist will be covered by the apron anyway. I also didn’t mark my waistband with the seams for the skirt, so there’s more gathers in the back than the front. I think that actually works out pretty well, since it means my inseam pockets won’t be buried by the apron and there will be slightly less volume in the front. Hindsight is 20/20.

All of this happened in about three hours last night. It definitely needs a wash and a good ironing after everything is finished, but I’m already much happier with it. Let’s hope inserting the lining and remaking the top go just as well!

Some weekend progress

I accidentally got on a sewing roll yesterday. The BF is obsessed with beating Titan on hard mode in FF14 (meanwhile, I’m all “LOOK AT THE CUTE THINGS MY LALAFELL CAN DO!”), which gave me lots of time to sew. I made progress on several things.

Blue satin Cambie: The BF and I have a very fancy wedding to attend in a few days. I knew I had some blue satin sitting unused in my fabric stash and decided to turn it into a Cambie rather than spend money on yet another dress I’ll never wear again. I finished most of the dress in October, so I *only* had to hem the main skirt. Stupid circle skirts. But it gave me the chance use Gertie’s circle skirt hem tutorial. Love it! Very time consuming, but highly effective. It took me about 2.5 hours, but no bubbles at all! Wish I could say the same for the lining.

Blue satin cambie

Belle’s blue village dress: I did some work on the base dress. Spoiler alert: it’s another Cambie. I may have a problem… Anyway, this project is turning out to be an exercise in patience and a reminder to take time and plan projects rather than go cut happy. When I first tried working on this dress, I mucked up some measurements and wound up with too little fabric. I resigned the project to the failure bin, but fortunately I found additional fabric to fix it. There’s been a lot of seam-ripping in the last 48 hours. If all goes well, I plan to have it finished for Austin Comic Con in a few weeks.

Tofino shorts: I cut the pieces for my test run Tofino shorts from leftover Belle fabric. I’m making this project without the piping or the drawstring, so I expect it to come together pretty quickly. I might try to finish it this week or next.

All in all, a good run! Anyone else do some crafting this weekend?

Star Wars Cambie Dress

Chillin' with some ewoks. No big.
Chillin’ with some ewoks. No big.

I finally had a chance to wear my Star Wars dress at Dallas Fan Days. I’ve been meaning to post about this dress for a while now. Originally, I decided to make this dress and wear it for Star Wars Reads Day at work. Planning fell through, and we didn’t wind up having an “event” per se. So that left me with the con. I planned to attend all 3 days, but between sickness and terrible weather, I decided just to go on Saturday when my SO could accompany me. Since I wasn’t feeling like going in a full costume, I took the opportunity to wear my dress!

I got so many compliments, it kind of threw me off. I still don’t feel like I’m a very good seamstress, but several people made comments along the lines of “That’s amazing! I could never make it!” It was encouraging to think back and remember that just a year ago, I’d probably be saying the same thing.

The Basics: 

Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie, view B. Guys, I love this pattern. Tasia is amazing about posting tutorials and alterations for this and all her other patterns (Her blog is one of my favs and one of the ones I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to read the newest post. Also, I want all her patterns. Make it so, Interwebs). Cost: $20~ with shipping. Higher than what I normally spend, but it’s got the highest ROI of any pattern I own.

Fabric: 3 1/4 yds of Star Wars print fabric and 3 1/4 lining. Total cost: $40. Again, kind of high, but I didn’t time my sales shopping well. So there ya go. Still, it’s significantly less than what I’ve spent on the majority of my costumes 😛

Alterations: None, really, aside from adding 1 1/2” to the bodice (long torso) and 2” to the skirt length (long legs).

Time: 7~ hours. I could have probably finished it in one weekend, but I promised the SO that after D*C that I’d do things like spend quality time with him so that he doesn’t have to keep talking to the back of my head while hunched over my sewing machine.

Notions: Invisible zipper, bias tape used on the lining.

Make it again? Absolutely! I’m actually working on 2 other versions of this dress right now: one for a friend’s wedding (stashbusting some satin I bought for a costume ages ago), and one for my Belle costume. I also have plans to make a few more versions of this dress over the holidays, including one to wear to work and one for yet another costume.

Favorite parts: Pretty sleeves, inseam pockets, and giant poofy skirt.

Other thoughts: I love this dress. So much. I loved looking at all the pretty pictures on the Interwebs of other people’s versions, but I never thought I’d make one of my own. I’m so glad I did. It’s super flattering, comfortable, and came together much quicker than I imagined. I didn’t think that I’d like the gathered skirt, but turns out it works perfectly for my giant petticoat. Check out more pictures of my trip to Fan Days on my tumblr!

Given how well this went over, I think I’m going to start incorporating more nerdy dresses into my con mix. Be on the lookout for a Marvel-themed Macaron at the SciFi Expo 😉