Wedding dress post #1: The muslin

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The project begins for real!

No, I'm not done with my couture dress project yet, but I'm tired of the fiddly finishing stuff (the next step is hand-sewing a zipper) and eager to get to work on my actual wedding dress. Besides, I need to know how much fabric to order, so I felt justified in putting the couture dress aside and making a mock-up of my wedding dress!

I've had my pattern (Vogue 2842) for a while, but I've been debating what to do for the inner support structure. My experience with my first boned bodice on a dress I made last year told me that I would need more than the pattern calls for if I want my strapless dress to stay up, and I happened upon this awesome tutorial for making a boned strapless bodice. The author Catina of even provided a pattern that was more or less in my size. Perfect.

One thing I learned while making this muslin is that I will need a lot more boning (hehe) than I thought. I had a bit of the featherlite stuff that you can get at Fabricland, but not enough even for the muslin, and it's kind of a pain to work with anyway with super thick channels and a very tenacious curve. Not wanting to leave the house, I experimented with using zip ties:

Creative boning
The zip ties are really quite similar to featherlite, though they are both narrower and thicker. In this picture the zip tie is on the left and the boning is on the right:

Zip tie vs featherlite
The zip ties are also easier to break (though that may be because mine are who-knows-how-old), so I won't be using them in the real thing - I actually ordered some fancy German plastic bones from Farthingales, a Canadian corset supply company. However, the zip ties were great for the practice bodice, which ended up fitting without too much modification! I basted in a zipper so I could fit it on myself, but here it is on my dress form:
My boned bodice muslin
You'll have to trust me when I say that it fits me a lot tighter than it fits my dress form. I guess she doesn't mimic me quite as well as I thought.

Here's a picture of the back, with my accidentally inside out zipper:
Back of the bodice
I also used this project as a way to get to know my new sewing machine, which was pretty awesome. The wrinkles you can see in the back of the bodice are a result of excessive tension, both top and bobbin. I've never had to adjust bobbin tension before, but it smoothed things out nicely. However, I figured the wrinkles wouldn't interfere with the fitting too much, so I carried on to the dress itself.

At some point along the way of going through the couture dress class, I started running out of patience. While I followed all the lessons to mark the stitching lines and thread-trace the muslin of my couture dress, I decided to just go ahead and cut out the size 10 of the wedding dress muslin. Part of this is impatience, but I'm also not convinced that the couture method is necessary for me since I'm fairly close to the standard size and shape anyway. This dress is also only really fitted at the bust, and the rest of it just kind of hangs from the empire waist. Anyways, moving along to cutting out the biggest pattern pieces ever:

The front and back are so big that the pattern pieces need to be taped together
I knew I was making it shorter, so I just cut it as long as I could with the 45" width, which ended up being 6" shorter and still went to my ankles. In the end, I'm chopping off 16.5" to bring it to sort of tea length.

I had almost finished cutting the whole thing out before I realized that I'd forgotten to double the fabric for the back pieces. Whoops. Not wanting to unpin and lose my grain alignment, I just laid the second piece on top of the pinned down pattern piece. This ended up working really well because the broadcloth is so see-through: I could trace the lines on one side with a pencil with tracing paper underneath, and mark both sides at once! Magic. Maybe this is a thing people do all the time, but I was excited about it.

Efficient simultaneous marking
Moving right along, I went back to my new-old sewing machine and began following pattern instructions. Pleating the bodice took the most time, but overall it went together very quickly. There's only 9 pieces including the godet, and it's really quite a straightforward design. The pleats all folded up nicely except for the top one, but since they're only stitched at the edge it ends up working out:

Pleating the bodice
The top of the dress ended up matching the inner bodice fairly well, so I sewed it down at the top edge and the zipper and tried it on! I had to let the waist out a bit to get it to flow nicely, but overall I was very happy with the fit "out of the box". I don't have a proper crinoline yet (and haven't decided if I'm making it or buying it), but I did have a giant red tutu, so I wore that and cut it down to a length that I thought looked reasonable. Here it is!

I'm basically ready to get married
The godet is on the right side of the picture, so that'll be a fun part to play with - I'm thinking maybe lace on top of a piece of silk from my mum's dress, which is a shade or two darker than my white silk. I might also do the pattern's suggested lace over the bust to match the godet, but really, I'm more excited about the construction than the frilly details.

Finally, here's the inside of the bodice. It's just a muslin, but I think this looks kind of awesome:

Inner detail
If I were doing the couture way, I'd have to take this whole muslin apart. Fortunately, I only have a few modifications to do that are easy to mark on the pattern paper, so I'm going to keep this dress just in case it comes in handy. Halloween costume perhaps?