A Very Nerdy Wedding Dress

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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.

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This bodice lining makes me so happy.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Patterning out the tails.
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Bling.
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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!

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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.

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Selfie with our wedding guests!

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

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 🙂

April Challenge #1: A Belated Valentine’s Macaron

Are you noticing a theme yet? I get really ambitious with my sewing projects and then realize I still have a 40-hour a week job and life obligations. Oops.

Anyway, I started this Macaron back in February, intending it to be a dress for a Valentine’s Day date with the beau. I ordered my fabric from Mood in late January, but there were some shipping mix-ups and I wound up having to pick up the fabric directly from my local post office, which has insane hours and I can never seem to make it there before or after work.

I got the fabric the week of Valentine’s Day, and nearly finished it all in 2 evenings when I ran out of bias tape for the neck and arm holes. V-Day came and went, and my almost-finished dress just sat on my dress form and stared at me. There were some minor tweaks that I though about making (the interfacing I used on the waist was meh and one of my front pleats doesn’t exactly line up correctly). But I moved on to other projects. I mentioned it to my friend that got married last week, and she said that I HAD to finish it for her wedding. Well, if it’s for the bride…

Me and the lovely bride. She made this dress with her mom! It's absolutely stunning.
Me with the lovely bride. She made this dress with her mom! It’s absolutely stunning.

The Basics: 

Pattern: Colette Patterns Macaron

Fabric: 2 yds of a glorious garnet cotton sateen from Mood (I’d been eying it for months) and 1 yd of lace from Fashion Fabrics Club

Alterations: Lopped off the sleeves. I finished the neck and the arm holes with bias tape due to the sheerness of the lace. I cut a straight 16, but I should have tapered to a 14 at the waist and hips [scribbles down notes].

Notions: Thread and zipper.

Not quite as matchy as I'd like, but I don't think people will be looking too closely at my armpit.
Not quite as matchy as I’d like, but I don’t think people will be looking too closely at my armpit.

Make it again?: Yup. I have a fun and a dressy version complete. Now I want to make a casual and a work-friendly version. Maybe with an A-line or a pencil skirt? I forgot to add the length to the bodice. I need to add that to my notes for next time.

Favorite parts: Aside from my previous gushing over the lovely bodice, I adore the way these fabrics compliment each other. I really want to use my scrap fabric to make a few accessories, like a bow belt, a clutch, and some shoe clips.

Other thoughts: I’m just really, really happy to have this project done. It was bugging me all of March. I really like the sleeveless option on this dress. It makes construction super quick (aside from a 2 month break in-between sittings:P). I nixed the pockets on this version, but I wish I hadn’t. They really are quite handy.

front - macaron

Hanging with the beau. At least it worked for one of our dates!
Hanging with the beau. At least it worked for one of our dates!