The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

The Wedding Dress

1/17/14
Oh, I will always remember 2013 as the year I made my first wedding dress.  In 2007 and 2009, I birthed babies.  In 2013, I birthed a dress.

Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photo


Back in the spring, the friend of a client contacted me about making her wedding dress for an October wedding.  My heart started racing the moment I read the email.  Did I have the balls to take on a WEDDING DRESS when I had never even sewn with silk? Or underlined?? Or used scissors on anything anywhere near as expensive as vintage Chantilly lace???


Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photography


Yes. Apparently, I do.

Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photography

And Kristen, the bride, clearly knows how to gamble, because she trusted me to do it.

Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photography


Of the various challenging things I have done in my life, making a wedding dress most reminded me of what it was like to train for a marathon. At each stage of the process (making a boned bustier, cutting and sewing silk charmeuse, underlining, working with lace, putting all the parts together) I wasn't sure I could actually do the next step. I would study, think about it, procrastinate, think some more, make a cup of coffee, and then overcome all my anxiety by picking up the scissors (or the needle or the boning) and willing myself into action.



Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photography


I had back up, and that helped a lot. Rhonda Buss of the blog Rhonda's Creative Life agreed to be my consultant.  She came to the first muslin fitting and she made her self available by email and phone to answer ALL of my questions.  Every single one.  And there's a good chance I asked some of them twice.

Photographer: Lisa Frederick, Angel Photography


Dress stats

  • 1.5 spools of black Gutermann thread
  • 4 yards of vintage Chantilly lace from Supreme Novelty Fabrics in Chicago
  • 80 hours of labor - here and here
  • 3 yards of silk charmeuse from Fishman's Fabrics in Chicago
  • Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture book
  • 1 yard of silk satin (Fishman's)
  • 3 sleepless nights due to deadline that could not be moved
  • Gingher serrated scissors, borrowed from a friend
  • 3 yards of Bemberg lining (Fabric.com)
  • pair of wire cutters
  • 4 moments of feeling utterly sick with worry
  • a new found love of couture sewing
  • 3 muslins
  • 4 yards of black cotton batiste (Fishman's)
  • wrist injury (handsewing)
  • 3/4 yard Petersham ribbon for waist stay
  • waxed tracing paper from Richard the Thread
  • Vogue pattern 2237 (as a starting place)
  • 1.5 tracing wheels (the first broke, mid-project)
  • borrowed dress form
  • 37 nights of anxious sleep, spread out over 2 months
  • three irons (two died, one lived)
  • 1 Pinterest board
  • 1/2 package of royal blue bias tape from one of my thrift store hauls
  • 1 yard 1/8" piping for piping between dress and yoke
  • Couple yards of spiral steel boning (Richard the Thread)
  • gross of pins
  • 1 button
  • 1/2 yard satin hook and eye tape (Ebay)
  • The biggest runner's high you can possibly imagine.

 OFP-168804

 OFP-168864

 OFP-169082



A BIG thank you to my friend Lisa Frederick of Angel Photography for trudging out on a dreary day to take photos of the dress!  Thanks, Lady! They are beautiful!!

See more photos from the wedding on Outer Focus Photos' wedding album.  Brigette (Sullivan) Supernova does fantastic work!

25 comments on "The Wedding Dress"
  1. Yeah!!! It looks great. I love it. Gorgeous work. I worked in a wedding dress shop just out of college and they wouldn't let me do anything but steam them and do hems. Super high pressure. Well done. :)

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    1. Thanks, Aimee! Oof. Don't know how you survived on a diet of hemming . . .

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  2. What a glorious success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You did an incredible job.

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda! Gotta make my mentor proud!

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  3. WOW, Lisa! Just WOW!!! Absolutely stunning!

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  4. GORGEOUS! (I've never seen your blog before, but found you via FB.) And it doesn't surprise me one bit that Rhonda was so helpful - she is an angel.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Shams! And I couldn't agree with you more about Rhonda - she's one of most generous people I know!

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  5. Fabulous fit Lisa :) Wonderful ob.. I had been following all your posts and I am so glad it turned out so great !! Have a great day - - Diya TheHobbyHarbor

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    1. Thanks, Diya! It was a wonderful experience!

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  6. What a gorgeous, stylish couple! I love how they swapped the traditional colors. You did an amazing job. Absolutely beautiful dress!

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    1. Thanks, Laura! Very gorgeous couple - it was like sewing for a model! And I loved that she had green as her color for shoes, flowers - very modern!

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  7. Gorgeous and perfect, plus what humor in those socks & shoes (that must have been a private joke). The bride and groom look wonderful and part of their happiness might have been that beautiful dress.

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    1. Thank you, Carole! They are a pretty amazing couple - I love that they have such a strong sense of who they are.

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  8. This is so incredible! The dress is gorgeous and the bride looks radiant! Well done!!! :)

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  9. It is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Awesome, awesome job. What an amazing project. You've got some major skills, girlfriend!!

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    1. Thanks, Liza Jane! This project really helped me up my game!

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  10. Wow. This is simply amazing! The amount of work and care that you put into this dress definitely shows.

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    1. Thanks, Debbie! Compliments from fellow sewists are extra meaningful - you guys know what it takes!

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  11. Lisa, I finally took a moment to check out the wedding dress....how beautiful, clever and creative...your work and their message...
    Liita

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  13. Replies
    1. Thanks, Preethi! I just got another wedding dress order and I'm excited to do it again! (And you can translate "excited" to mean freaked-out-anxious-happy!)

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