Saturday, November 8, 2014

Construction Details: Lilac Wedding Gown--- Picture Heavy!!!

As promised here are the dress details below. The original gown & wedding pics are posted HERE. But before I get into details......

First off thanks to EVERYONE for all the kind words, comments, facebook likes regarding the lilac wedding dress I made! I'm humbled at how well this dress came together.  I definitely felt the love and really appreciated it!

For a dress that took a few months to plan, track down the right fabric and 2 weeks of straight sewing there's alot of details to this dress. I'd sewn gowns before but never one using so much fabric.Also, allow me to make a correction. The skirt contained 40 yards of fabric---the overall dress was about 45. I made a mistake in my initial blog post before.

Anyhow I took this dress on as definitely a challenge. I relied on my experience with gowns, much prayer (God knows) and learned a TON along the way. As with any piece of artwork in progress it's easy to be doubtful and I had those nights where I overanalyzed and second guessed myself. Despite it all you know you have to push forward and when you do you learn that you know much more then you give yourself credit for. I surprised myself with the production of this one (smile). Anyhow, enough with the sentimental reflection---let's get on to the nitty, gritty details of this dress.  If you're like me, I love to look at a pretty dress but oftentimes I'm most interested in how it's made. Here's some condensed info on how I made the dress  Ok, here are some pics and there are more details below.
(the Bride and I)

 (Front view with illusion belt. I really loved the color of the lilac and coordinating shimmery organza. Add the rhinestones and the whole dress just sparkled!)

 (Lace up in the back with modesty panel)

 (Modesty panel has snaps on one side to hold into place. And there's my business label:)

 (hanger looks included although I never use them & even discouraged my client in this case. The dress was a bit heavy so we just hung it over a hanger & stored in garment bag)

 (There were hundreds of these little "tacks" in the skirt. To get the fluffyness I pushed up the organza fabric and pinned in place. When I was happy with the positions I hand sewed each tack using double thread and only into the satin underneath being sure to not catch the lining).

 (dress on the table. It's so fluffy!!!)

 (Swarovski rhinestones up close. Notice the neat design. Came up with myself. All handsewn)

 (My client wanted a belt but I wanted one I could add afterwards instead of incorporating into each section of the princess seam bodice. After making a satin belt with organza overlay I noticed it didn't look right. I stressed over this for 2 days. Then I came up with the idea for an "illusion belt" (Thank God for that idea) so it gave her the belt she wanted to hold some extra "bling" and it wasn't bulky on the dress. I simply used double sided clear tape to hold it in place. Worked like a charm!)

(The dress was assymetrical and the front was really short---only 16")

(The lining and fashion fabric were sewn to each other. I did this before even attaching the bodice. So I sewed the 2 to the bottom of the skirt, uneven of course---One of the edges extended further then the other ---think it was the outer satin fabric--- so once I flipped it inside out and pressed it the lining wasn't visible from the outside.)

Ok, here's the deets..........

Inspiration dresses:
I was presented with  a gown my client had ordered but was the wrong style and didn't have a full enough skirt. From that I researched some gowns organza skirt wedding gowns online and was able to create and idea I knew she would like. Again, I wanted her to look like she was walking in a bed of clouds!

The Fabrics:
Lilac Satin- ordered online
Shimmery Lilac Organza- ordered online
Lining---in coordinating shade found at Fine Fabrics in ATL. Got is for $1.50/yard which was INSANE!!!! And it matched perfectly.

The Bodice:
It's 3 layers.
Layer 1: satin fabric with knit interfacing pressed on it, and organza
Layer 2: woven, mildly stiff interfacing sewn to satin fabric and boning was added
Layer 3: Lining fabric
I used some really cool bra cups that I took from another gown. They were tacked onto the middle layer. Although I used them my bride still wore a corset for extra support.

Swarovski crystal rhinestones Additions
Prior to this gown I'd only glued on swarovski rhrhinestones. This was my first time hand sewing them on. I ordered them from and talked to Darlene who gave me helpful info over the phone on how to install them. It turned out to be pretty simple and straightforward! I finished the bodice in about a day's time.

-I first drew out my design and then tested it flat in the same amount of space I intended to use on the gown.
-Once I was ready to get started on the bodice itself I used a heat erase marker to mark out the stone area. I left space for the upper bodice seam allowance.
-Used basting thread to thread trace outline. Ironed area to remove marker marks.
-Began with stone placement as outlined in trial layout. Started with adding center "circular" stone with hot glue and created design from there.
-"Glue baste" using hot glue a few stones down at the time. Always layout stone and check spacing before gluing. If you do glue down, hot glue makes it easy to pull stone off and tray again. Glue on the backs of the stones peel off easily too. The hot glue is what made this process easy.
-Again, not stones were laid in the seam allowance area.
-Once majority of stones placed I was able to go ahead and attach all bodice layers (organza/satin, interlining with boning attached & lining---3 layers mentioned above) then edgestitched.
-Resumed with adding stones around neckline edge using hotglue then sewing them in by hand.
Note: Use double thread, matching fabric and a normal to short length needle. You want to knot to secure after you've done each hole. Keep in mind the stones are glass so the double thread helps ward against possible cuts. You want to loop in each hole a few times.
I plan to do a video tutorial soon!

 (started playing with design flat using sheer tracing material. You can use anything, muslin, etc. Note how I drew in my SA and got everything fitted.)

 (Closer view)

 (Once I was happy with my design I moved on the the bodice front. I did most of my work flat as you see and as mentioned above used a thread traced boundary to mark my space. I laid out the rhinestones near the upper bodice seam allowance just for spacing purposes but DID NOT glue or sew them until I attached the bodice to the lining and underlining. Then I went back and sewed those on. That's the trick to doing it right!)

 (Making progress)


Corset Laceup
-I followed instructions per this website HERE. It was REALLY easy! It was my second time making one.

Skirt panel pieces were sewn together. Consisted of front center piece (16" long) which was the shortest, side front, side back, back---7 pieces total. Skirt was cut in 4 layers: Satin, lining, 2 layers of organza overlay. 9" Zipper was added to back panel piece.

Top layer of organza overlay was twice the length of each panel to allow for "bustling???"
Skirt and lining were attached at the hem. Small slit left in lining side seam to allow for "inner access" of skirt when I decided to close everything up.

Attaching Bodice to Skirt
Bodice was attached in it's entirety and basted at the edge before being sew to the skirt at the waist. I Then the skirt lining was attached to the bodice and skirt (by going through the zipper opening)over to create clean finish on the inside. The I hand stitched the lining to the zipper.

Creating the Poufy organza skirt

I wanted the skirt to look like my client was sitting in a bed of clouds.  I used safety pins to position the organza and create the busling effect. While my client was wearing it I started in the front of her dress and part of the sides. Once I liked the look I could fininsh up the rest with the dress on a form. I went back and handstitched using a double threaded needle. This took a considerably long time---over the course of a few days. There has to be 250+ bustles all over the skirt. The effect was well worth it! I started tacking the organza on the front of the dress while my client was wearing it for a fitting.

( I started tacking the organza on the front of the dress while my client was wearing it for a fitting.  I took it home to finish the rest. It took several days to complete!)

(I finished the rest of the tacking at home in my living room.  It took HOURSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! The trick with the tucks is to get the bottom of the organza placed and work your way up the skirt. You're pinning to hold at first so adjustments can always be made. Once everything was pinned I went to sewing. I was fishing out pins for days LOL!!!! This is the completed work but before there was organza fabric train everywhere. My Hubby and daughter were troopers. They were forbidden to occupy that part of the living room and were so gracious about it LOL!)

Calculating the Organza for each panel:
This by FAR was the hardest part. 31 yards of organza I had to put onto a 9 yard satin/lining underskirt. 25 of the 31 yards of Organza were continuous so the wrong cut would throw off everything. I planned, thought, strategized and planned some more. So glad I didn't cut until I was for sure! The goal was to make sure each panel of the overskirt had the same proportion of fabric despite each piece being different in length. After sketching and drawing diagrams I decided to go back to my Marine science research days and create an excel spreadsheet. I played around with different scenarios and came up with a plan that worked beautifully. The organza overly was done in 2 layers. The underlayer would be the the normal length pattern piece for each while the upper layer would be 1.5X that I added to the length of each piece. With that scenario I had just enough fabric for everything and could start cutting.

(Some of my Excel calculation work)

(This is what cutting out the Organza overlay (top piece) looked like. That's a very long pattern piece pictured---at least 3 yards long so see how much extra fabric I had to add to it to achieve the full skirt. That was ALOT of fabric to tack up!

And of course this was the result---see my Oct 26th post for all the wedding photos HERE!!! Ok, I think I covered most of the details.  Hope you found this info interesting/helpful:)

Again, I'm so thankful to have had this opportunity! It really helped me hone and develop my skills as a designer and sewer on another level! Hope I have more gown in the future (wink)!


  1. Amazing and congrats on a job well orchestrated! Hope that's spelled right.

  2. The dress is beautiful and a perfect fit! Great job!

  3. Oh my gosh!!!! (I refuse to use the OMG ;-)) You did a marvelous job on this dress and I'm sure the bride was a very happy one!

  4. What a wonderful wedding dress! You did an awesome job!

  5. I loves seeing how you created all those layers of "clouds". Such a lot of time and effort went into this gown, I'm sure the bride was thrilled to bits and will cherish her dress forever. Congrats on a job well done.

  6. So beautiful! You are one talented lady!

  7. I've done some bridal work, and the key to the job is translating what the bride wants into what can be worn by the bride to her wedding and all that entails (can you lift that, can you walk in it,do you care if you get rocks and dirt in the train if you have a farm wedding.... ); it's engineering/psychology more than sewing. That said, I have never in my entire life of gown viewing, sketching, sewing or argueing EVER seen anything like this. This is truly one of a kind. I am sure the bride is, as well, and I honor your amazing work, and wish her and her natty groom all the best.

  8. Beautiful job, that dress is stunning. The bride looks amazing! I can't believe the work you put into that, but it shows. :)

  9. wow, excellent job. Someday I will be as good as you are.
    BTW, how many more hours do you have left?

  10. Gorgeous Dress. You did such an amazing job. Congratulations.

  11. Beautiful work Victoria! This is truly a beautiful "one of a kind" dress! Unique to your client and I bet she was thrilled when she saw it!


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and for following me on my 10,000 Hour Sewing Challenge:)


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