Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sewing my Wedding Dress: the Bodice

First of all, thank you for all of your sweet comments about my dress and wedding. It is really sweet. If I'm ever feeling sad, I can read all of those comments to make me smile!

Wedding Dress Inspiration & Muslins
Pictures of my Finished Dress

I did not do a very thorough job of documenting my sewing of the dress. Most of my "in-progress" pictures are awful selfie cell phone pics that I text-ed to my mom so she could see my progress.

I made the first muslin of the bodice at the end of October 2012. Click on the link for the original post with my sketches and the muslin muslin. The pattern used (for parts) is McCall's 5321 for a strapless wedding dress with a giant poof skirt. I bought it on sale for 99 cents to use the bodice pieces only, as I wanted princess seams and had my own ideas for the straps and back. I drafted a rough idea of the back and straps myself and knew that would be adjusted later depending on the lace.

Making muslin 2 out of a sheer fabric gave me some more time to see what I needed to adjust. It helped me realize I did not want the point at the waist and instead just made it straight across, which is easier too. I also noted that the bodice neckline was too high, especially under the armpits, so I adjusted all of that. That was in November.
Then I procrastinated through January and then worked on my skirt. Finally, towards the end of February (and yes, the wedding was March 10) I got it together and sewed up the bodice.

The bodice has five layers of fabric: lace, silk charmeuse underlining, two layers of muslin to give support and encase the bra pads, and a china silk lining on the inside. So the front is three layers, bra pads in the middle and the muslin/lining is third layer. While there is a waist seam, the layers are joined individually. This turned out to be very wise as I was very displeased with the first set of bra pads. They looked very fake and awkward and creepy. Of course, no pictures, but take my word for it.
In progress, with the pads I later removed.
 The dress was at this point (below) when I finally made up my mind to remove and replace them. I monkeyed my way up between the layers and ripped them out and put in different padding. These were the cut up bras that worked so well for the muslin. The second, while different, also looked like shit. After getting cranky and angry, I was stumped for a while and then I tried the separate ones from Jo-Ann that had never looked right in any other dress and of course, they worked. I pinned them in and sewed them down very last after the zipper and hem and straps were complete, to make sure they were positioned correctly..
Straps are pinned and not yet hemmed. 
 While pinning it and trying it on, I realized that when all four edges of the back/strap piece were sewn down, there was no way to get into my dress. The narrow part at the knees makes it impossible to pull over your head; not that you want to do that anyways after you have paid someone to do your hair...

 In the end, I added hooks and eyes to close the right side under my arm. Since I am right handed, I could hook it myself, and that gave me enough leeway to slip it over my hair.
 Originally, I had meant for the pads to only be sewn to the muslin, and thus, be invisible. After all the drama with three sets of pads, I just whip-stitched them the the lining. It is still seamless on the outside. Plus, this was literally days before we left for New Orleans...
Hooks and eyes to hold it shut.
 I handpicked the zipper and while it is not quite perfect (like all of my sewing) it is fine and didn't pull apart and show while the dress is on. There is also a hook at the top, but there's not enough stress on it to make it want to unzip itself.
 As for the straps and the back piece, I had originally thought about trimming it with scallops. I made a version with them, but the scallops are too big and it looked ridiculous. I tried another version and ended up destroying it by trying to do a narrow hem. Hint: it looked awful. I had purchased some tulle for the skirt and I ended up not needing it, so I basically sandwiched the lace and tulle, sewed it, trimmed the edges, turned it right-side out and then top-stitched it, so it didn't immediately fall apart. While that is probably not "best," it was barely noticeable.

The straps are top-stitched to the bodice. I am a lazy hand-sewer and I didn't want any wardrobe malfunctions at my wedding. It's hardly visible to me, and I made it, so I am guessing no one else would even notice. Except perhaps for you ladies. 

I will leave you with two real life pictures:
and if you read all that, thanks for reading! :)


  1. WOW. I can't believe you made your wedding dress, that's incredible!!!!! Congrats :) on the wedding and on your sewing accomplishment :) xx

  2. Once again, it is all just absolutely stunning! Congratulations all around.

  3. Just seeing your final pics now as I was away over Easter - WOW, what a stunning dress!!! Well done for making such a beautiful dress, it looks just perfect and you look really beautiful.
    Congratulations again on your wedding too!

  4. That was a really well done chronology of the design and making of your dress. It really was beautiful and just yesterday a co-worker (friend on FB) told me how impressed she was with the fact that you made your wedding dress and thought it was beautiful. I agree 100%!

  5. I'm behind on my reader also so, let me start by saying Wow! It really is a stunning dress! Congratulations on your marriage and on this wonderful accomplishment. Thanks for the construction details.


Thanks for your thoughts and feedback!