Sewing Circle: Vintage-inspired wedding dress time!

We've got a fun but tricky one on Sewing Circle this week.  It's coming up on wedding Season, and I got a Facebook query from Katie about this lovely dress on Ruffled.

Q: Please please help me figure out what pattern to use to make this dress! I've been obsessing over it for my wedding dress, but I haven't found just the right pattern, and I'm scared of sewing with lace!  

A: Hi Katie, it's so exciting to be making your own wedding dress. =).  I'm sure it'll be beautiful!  Don't be scared of sewing on the lace, but make sure you cut carefully and you'll be fine.

It looks like a lace overdress (layer) over a matching ivory underdress, probably attached at the waist so it's only one dress.  I can't quite tell but it almost looks like the lace has scallops around the neck and armholes; it may have been woven like that for the manufacturer, in each size.  We can't replicate that at home!

You can either give the lace a very tiny hem, very carefully!, or I would either use a matching lace sewn to the overdress and topstitched or use the scalloped border of the lace cut off and used as if it were lace yardage.  Although, the skirt looks like a circle skirt so they weren't able to even use the lace edge border there.  If you made it gathered or pleated, you could use the border as the hem.

As for patterns, you could use something like Simplicity 1873 for the lace overdress...

...and rather than cut out a lining or facing, turn under the edges of the lace.  Again, very carefully!!  That's where it might be tricky, so go really slowly.  Actually, it would look best if you did it by hand.  Turn it under 1/4" then another 1/4" and do a whipstitch with tiny stitches on the outside.

The underdress you could make with the same pattern, but with much narrower straps, so that you know the straps line up right.  Or, you could use a pattern like Simplicity 4531 (I think it's out of print but there must be something similar or one for sale online).

Then, of course, add the satin belt!

It's definitely a unique project but I hope that was helpful.  Readers, what insights do you have for Katie??  Have you ever made anything like this before?  Any other ideas?

14 comments

  1. Oh my gosh, sooo pretty!

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  2. Lace doesn't really ravel, so you could also very carefully cut the edges and leave them alone. A straight stitch along the edge will help keep it from stretching. And you can add scalloped lace trim from the trim section if you can't find scalloped lace yardage.

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    1. That's true, that's a great idea on lace that has a pretty edge pattern!

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  3. Perhaps use organza to make working with the lace a bit easier. Make the organza and lace one piece. That could help with hemming and stability.

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    1. Ooh, also a great idea! Would be beautiful, too, to have that extra sheer layer under netted lace.

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  4. Anonymous5/02/2012

    One way that you could get the scalloped edges on the neck and sleeves would be to use a "shell stitch" which is a heirloom hand stitch often used on baby clothes. The best tutorial for this is at the blog "Old Fashioned Baby".

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    1. Cool, great tip, thanks! That is a beautiful technique.

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  5. Thank you so much Suzannah! I bought Simplicity 4531 online, and now I just have to get the courage up to start at it! I think I'll do a mock-up dress version first to practice a bit. But I'll definitely let you know how it comes out. And thanks, anonymous, for the tip on the shell stitch.

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    1. Oh, great, so glad to hear! It's a great pattern. Definitely make up a cute summery version! I did one last summer here:
      http://www.adventuresindressmaking.com/2011/08/retro-fabric-dress.html

      It was super easy with a full lining for the bodice. Have fun!

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  6. Anonymous5/03/2012

    I made my wedding dress with a lace bodice and would HIGHLY recommend getting Susan Khajle's Bridal Couture. The tips were amazing and definitely worth the high price tag. Good luck!

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  7. Lace is so lovely! I have decided that it's going into my wedding dress, which I am making myself... but not until next year... phew! Great ideas, thank you so much

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  8. Does anyone know of a good substitute to pattern Simplicity 4531? I love the look of those dresses, and so badly want to make one!!!

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    1. Unfortunately, I've never seen one!! You could draft one using any plain bodice pattern that fits you, or you could get a similar look with this http://mccallpattern.mccall.com/m5094-products-5064.php?page_id=108 or this, cut off at the waist http://butterick.mccall.com/b5761-products-22659.php?page_id=155.

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