Thursday, May 19, 2022

A Wedding Dress, By the Numbers: Part 3

 Just a quick post about cutting out the fabric.

While I waited for the ordered satin, silk organza and embroidered tulle to arrive, I cut out the lining, purchased at Stitch Sew Shop

Full disclosure: I work at Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria, Virginia, but I don't get any compensation if you click through to the site.

Once the other fabric arrived, I headed to Stitch on one of my days off and proceeded to cut out the rest. 

It's a big job, with lots of yardage and large skirt pieces. I couldn't have cut it out at home. Although I'm

an employee with access to Stitch's large cutting tables, anyone can rent the workspace for $14 an hour. Just call ahead to find out available hours and make a reservation. With Covid, we are limiting it to only 2 using the workspace at one time. Also, see above disclosure. 

I don't remember exactly, but I think I cut the satin and organza on one day, and the tulle on another. 

All told, with the 4 different fabrics I would estimate that it took me at least 8 to 10 hours to cut out this dress.

Catch up on the story:

Make a Wedding Dress: Part 1

A Wedding Dress, By the Numbers: Part 2

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Wedding Dress, By the Numbers: Part 2

 By the Numbers Recap

The Muslin Pile Up

So, at the end of part 1, the getting started and making muslins "episode", I had spent about 5 weeks making 7 or 8 muslins. But we aren't quite ready to get down to the sewing 

Choosing and ordering the fabric came next.



Sourcing the Fabric

1: Embroidered Tulle; 2: Satin; 3: Silk Organza and 4: Bemberg Lining

 Long gone are the good ol' days when you can waltz into a fabric shop and waltz out with everything you need for a wedding gown. Here in the Washington, DC area, one of the go-to shops was G Street Fabrics which had a fabulous bridal department. They still have the bridal department, but the shop's look has more of a warehouse feel than it used to, and it's down to one location in Rockville, Maryland. Still, Laura and I took a field trip to Rockville. I wanted her to have a chance to feel the kinds of fabric that we were talking about. We made one purchase. The boning.

Moving on, we went online, and a priority was anyplace that could send swatches. We ended up concentrating on 3 online places:

1. Bridal Fabrics, located in the UK. They have gorgeous fabric with reasonable prices and ship around the world. Our biggest concern was turnaround time. Our window for sewing was tight, and while there were some definite maybes, we just didn't know if we would get everything in time.

2. NY Designer Fabrics. Also had some gorgeous fabrics but the fabric Laura loved from there had prices that were higher than what she wanted to spend.

3. Mood Fabrics won the day for 2 of the 4 fabrics (2 & 3 in the above picture) that we needed. Laura ordered so many swatches! She ended up ordering the polyester satin for $8.99 a yard and is hands down the nicest polyester satin I have ever seen and worked with. Frugal minded brides should not turn up their noses and the "polyester" aspect. It has beautiful drape and glow with none of the harsh sheen I have seen on other cheap satins. We also got the silk organza underlining there.

Laura ordered the embroidered tulle (1 in the picture) from an Etsy shop, and this was the fabric we waited most of August for it to arrive. This definitely played a role in our "can we finish the dress in time for an October 2 wedding" stress!

Locally, we purchased lining (4 in the picture) and notions from Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria, Virginia (where I also happen to work), as well as fabric for my Mother of the Bride dress and for the flower girl dress (more on those later).

How Much Fabric?

Since I wasn't using a pattern calculations had to be done. From the muslin making, I knew the bodice would take about half a yard. But the skirt? I took to graph paper. I didn't know any other way than to draw it out to get the estimate.

We settled on 7 yards of each of the 4 fabrics, and had leftovers of everything except the embroidered tulle.

Bonus: All the fabric used is machine washable!!

A Wedding Dress, by the Numbers: Part 1


Monday, May 9, 2022

Making a Wedding Dress: Part 1


How it started...

The story begins on June 8, 2021. After trying on dresses at a popular salon, Laura and I had lunch and went over the options. She really liked one dress in particular, but just wasn't ready to commit to spending over $1400. I suggested that, if she wanted me to, we could probably create a beautiful gown for around $500. I wanted her to be sure, but the wedding was in October, so we would need to get started ASAP!

She said yes to the dressmaker, me, also known as mother of the bride and grandmother of the flower girl... there was going to be more sewing than just a bridal gown!

Getting just the right fit and style...

So off we went! She found a knock off pattern on Etsy, and I mashed together some patterns for the first muslin. No pictures of this because after the first try on (with pictures taken on her phone), she sent said pictures to her friends and it was a big NO. Back to square one.

She had a second choice dress from the try on session. Square neckline, deep scoop back, princess seams, full circle skirt with train. Simple enough, right?

So I made a second muslin.

Not too bad. Definitely had some issues. Then I started thinking. Not always a good idea in hindsight. 

I was concerned that where the center bodice met the side bodice/strap area at the square neckline, the satin, lining, potential lace would just be too much fabric. Of course I didn't decide to make any changes right away, but tinkered with this fit at least one (maybe two?) more time before going with a design that had the princess seams curve and end at the armholes instead of the neckline.

I bought real muslin! Things were getting serious now. A princess-seamed fitted bodice combined with a bride that (rightly) wanted it just so meant I really needed to get to work. 


More muslins, more fittings. She worked from home, so popping in for a quick try-on was easy enough.

The straps in the back seemed to be the hardest thing to get right.

Eventually, you just have to say... this is it! We can work with this one!

And so it was on to the buying of the fabric! Coming up in Part 2.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Testing. Testing. Does this thing still work?

 It's been a minute since I last posted. Technically, over 3.5 million minutes. Lots has happened in my life since then. There will be no recap. This post is simply to see if I still know how to work Blogspot. It does seem since I last checked in, I got 3.5 million spam comments... at least 1 a minute. 

If all looks okay... and I do mean looks okay and NOT reads okay or is in any way, shape or form interesting... then I do have some ideas for future actual sewing posts because, hey,

 It IS a Sewing Life.

Barrett and a Lemon


In the meantime, enjoy this picture of my dog, Barrett, waiting for something better than a lemon slice to fall on the kitchen floor. Can you just see the disappointment on his face? I mean, there are only 3 things in the world that he doesn't like: mint, garlic (which I know dogs aren't supposed to eat) and lemons. 


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