Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wedding Dress Adventure: First Draft

First Draft
Sewing my daughter's wedding gown is turning out to be a real "learn by doing" experience.

I finally got her into the first wedding dress muslin, or "first draft" as she calls it.  I think the most difficult part will be arranging to be in the same state for fittings!  This photo was taken in a hotel room in Charlotte, NC.  Since neither of us lives in Charlotte,  I had to stuff two muslins into an already crowded car and schlep them to North Carolina for the first fitting. Lesson number one:  Take advantage of every opportunity for fitting.

Luckily, the gown won't need lots of adjustment.  She wants a roomy fit so she can eat at the reception.  (Do brides actually have time to eat at a reception?)

The next step was making a muslin for the lace overlay.  I had to combine two different patterns to get an overlay that matched the silhouette of the gown.  The overlay will have long sleeves and jewel neckline.  The pattern I'm using for the overlay did not have the empire waist, so I drafted the bottom of the gown bodice onto the neckline and sleeves of the overlay.  That involved …gasp… moving a dart!  I went to my vast library of sewing books and found the help I needed in The Pattern Making Primer (Barnfield and Richard, 2012). I bought this book, not because I needed another pattern drafting book, but because I happened to be in a book buying mood on that particular day.  Lesson number two:  Buy all the sewing books you can.  You never know when a book you bought on a whim will be just what you need.

It should have been immediately apparent to me, but it wasn't until I began to think about actually sewing the first draft of the overlay that I realized I should be using cheap lace instead of cheap muslin! Well, duh!  The ubiquitous 40% off JoAnn coupon came in handy!  I bought nine yards of JoAnn's Casa Collection special occasion lace. Lesson number three:  Save those JoAnn coupons. 

World's worst lace?
I've loved sewing for over forty years and sewing that lace from JoAnn may have been the worst experience of my sewing life.  I think Jack Nicholson said it best in Terms of Endearment - "I'd rather stick needles in my eyes."  No, wait. Let me express that more positively.  Lesson number four:  I need to be very, very, very careful when selecting the real lace.  I ran to my bookshelf, tripping over the cats as I ran, and pulled out Susan Khalje's Bridal Couture and once my hands stopped shaking, I read the chapter on lace.  Knowledge is power.  I felt better after learning about different types of lace.

After drafting three bodice patterns and sewing that horrible challenging lace, I have something for DD to try on when she is here at the end of August. (see Lesson number one above)

While most of the family members were in the same place at the same time, DD and her cousins looked for the junior bridesmaid dress.  I was told, kindly but firmly, that I had no input in the selection of the girls' dresses.  Getting three different girls, under 13 to agree on the dress was an adventure in itself.  But it was fun and I enjoyed seeing them all dressed up.  I was glad my input was not required.  Lesson number five:  Enjoy the ride and don't sweat the small stuff.


  1. The muslin looks gorgeous, Elaray. Good luck with all the steps and I agree don't sweat the small stuff, this wedding dress is going to be gorgeous!

  2. What an experience. You are doing a great job.

  3. Good post! Lots of lessons to share and they are good ones. Good luck on your wedding dress journey, it really sounds like you have it under control!

  4. Isabel's DaughterJuly 15, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    And you thought retirement might be boring.... Great job on the muslin, a very tasteful silhouette. I know you will do your usual fine work on the dress.


  5. Lol, that really is the world's worst lace. I used the exact same stuff to test my own wedding dress. And promptly swapped the leftovers away when I was done!