Wedding dress progress: Godet lace

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

19 days left, and I actually have something to wear! After all my careful muslining and cutting and basting, the rest of the dress has come together in about three weeks. Partly this is because I obsessively planned out every step of it, and partly because I started to take shortcuts. In this post I'm going to talk about my godet lace shortcut, which is terribly non-couture but will probably look fine.

Also, I'll save you the googling:

  1. a triangular piece of material inserted in a dress, shirt, or glove to make it flared or for ornamentation.

I had no idea what this meant when I first started this project.

When I started blogging about sewing in January, I posted this picture of my mum's dress:

My mum's dress from 1976
My plan was always to take a piece of this silk and use it in my dress somehow. I decided that the godet on the side would be a good spot to showcase a slightly different fabric - it's a bit thinner and a shade darker than my silk, but otherwise a pretty good match.

Despite having apparently quite a lot of fabric, the construction of my mum's dress meant that I had to include a seam down the middle of the godet. In fact, to avoid extra seams there was only one part of the skirt that I could use, which unfortunately had a bit of staining on it. However, I'm covering it up with lace, and in the end you can't tell.

I took a deep breath and cut in to my mum's 40-year-old dress. This project has been a good experience in working with irreplacable/expensive fabrics.

About to commit to cutting!
I underlined the godet with organza to give it a similar body to the rest of the dress and then I overlaid this fine vintage silk with a piece of generic unknown fibre synthetic lace I bought off ebay. It's got a pretty little scalloped edge, but there's a problem! The lace edge is straight, while the godet edge is curved:

Hmm, now what?
Amazingly, I actually found someone else who wrote a blog about making this exact pattern, and in much greater detail. Her post on the godet lace talks about making a dart in the lace and sewing it invisibly to create a curved edge. I've seen other tutorials out there that involve cutting around individual lace motifs, shuffling them around, and then hand stitching to create the illusion of a seamless piece of curved fabric.

I decided that both of these techniques were too finicky, so I just pinned the lace edge where I wanted it to go, shook the whole thing out, and pinned pleats on both sides to take up the excess:

Cheat pleats in lace
Since my dress has a pleated bodice, I'm going to go ahead and say that the godet is just echoing the pleatiness of the dress. I hadn't yet cut my lace so I wrapped it around my dress form to simulate the look of sewing the godet in place, and I'm happy with how well the pleats behave. With all the other folds and drapiness going on, I doubt anyone will notice that I took a shortcut here.

An acceptable level of pleatiness
I love how the subtle contrast of the godet looks against the main fabric of the dress, but I'm not going to share a picture of it until after the wedding!

Wedding dress progress: cutting and basting the outer layer

Thursday, September 8, 2016

37 more sewing days until the wedding! Though ideally I'll be done long before that. Fortunately, I've been doing a lot more sewing than blogging, and my dress is actually dress-shaped.

In my last post I'd redone my muslin and made a bunch of adjustments. I transferred the adjustments to the original pattern and cut and marked my organza underlining with my favourite Crayola washable markers. In the couture dress class Susan Khalje has you use these organza pieces as the pattern to cut out your fashion fabric, so I started doing that. However, I noticed (fortunately early on) that the curved hem at the bottom of my dress pieces wasn't very curved. I went back and compared my organza to the original pattern pieces and found something like this:

Misalignment between organza and paper pattern pieces
The organza had distorted by several inches! This is partly because of the long bias edges, but probably mostly caused by me prewashing my organza.

My solution was to first pin the paper to the organza and then pin the organza to the dupioni. This was tedious, but it worked:

So many pins
I was very careful to cut the dupioni as if it had a nap and a right side. I'm not sure if it does or not, but I've heard that it can reflect light differently from different sides and directions, so I arbitrarily chose a "top" and made sure everything lined up the same way. Of course, grain lines are also very important, so I tried to be as careful as possible to cut it on-grain. The visible horizontal lines of the dupioni help with this, but also illustrate any little mistake.

Cutting everything with the same side up
Next, I thread traced all of the lines, both to transfer the markings from the organza to the right side, but also to baste the organza to the dupioni. I thought about using glue, but decided I had enough time to do it properly, and this way I could wash out all the marker lines and then iron the pieces flat.

More basting
I basted the front pleats into place before basting the side seam. This worked pretty well, and saved me many inches of hand stitching.

Much pleating
For the princess seams I basted everything together by hand before sewing rather than my usual lazy approach. These seams are right front and centre and I don't want any weird ripples or fit problems. I do have a weird ripple at the moment, but it's at the junction of the side seam and the empire waist, and I haven't decided if I'm even going to bother redoing it. However, my princess seams are pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.

Hand basting the princess seams
I also trimmed these seams very carefully and did tiny little catch stitching. I wasn't this picky everywhere else, but again, these seams are right front and centre. I think it took me as long to do this 6" seam as it did to do an entire side seam.

Tiny little catch stitches 
I actually sewed and catch-stitched my entire outer shell over the long weekend, but apparently didn't take any pictures, so here's a picture of Boomer:

Sewing is boring, you should play with me
Up next: godet lace decisions and attaching all the pieces together!