Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Rise of the Phoenix (A Dress)

Stop the bus,my latest project is finished.  Phew.

Why the relief?  Well, it was a bit of a journey....

Raison d'etre...

I am the lucky (and grateful) recipient of four wedding invitations this year!  Can I get a whoop whoop?  So, I needed a new dress.  I toyed with the idea of making my own wedding dress, but decided not to.  Ever since, I've had a moment or two where I have thought how nice it would have been to make it.  So, I decided to test that theory and use one of the (3!!) wedding dress patterns I bought back in 2009....

The creation....

Armed with a voucher, I headed to Mandors and purchased some gorgeous fabric; then came home and washed it all up.  Good girl Rachel.
I then mocked up a muslin (first ever) from an old bedsheet to test the fit.  It wasn't quite Goldilocks: the top half was just right, but the bottom half was a bit snug (I need to eat/breathe/walk/dance, right?).  Cut fabric out per amendments required and set to it.

Oh!, the pattern I'm using is this one, Vogue 1032:


Somehow in sewing bits together, the bodice must have shrunk, because when I tried it on, it was too tight.  like sausage casing, I'm-not-prepared-to-admit-that-to-anyone-let-alone-the-internet tight.  BUT, that lace had cost £50 a metre (I managed to eek out what I needed from 0.5m and I ummed and ahhed so long about buying it due to the cost) that I HAD to salvage it!

So, I decided to keep the back as was, and draft a new front piece.  A piece like what I had dreamt one night anyway....
Cue pattern number two, Vogue 1203 (ooh, same numbers, different order!  BTW, I can't believe this is OOP.)

So, that's now on the front, wrapping up into the lace back.  Happy days. Skirt went on, dress was tried on and wouldn't you know it?  The skirt was a bit loose.  Odd, and annoying!  So I whacked additional width out of each side.

All that remained was hand-sewing (yay) and hemming.  I have come to the conclusion that I cannot hem things nicely.  I need to focus on improving my skills here.  My usual problems/faults are:
  • length - too short or too long.  Either way, I need to choose better lengths
  • stitching - clumsy/visible on the outside
  • hemline itself - uneven
Anywho, so I marked the length (with the dress on Maisy - my helpful dressform), thought "I really should check this" and then blithely cut it out then and there.  And I'll be honest, I wish it was a wee bit longer.  Like 2cm.  Just enough to give it that 1930's length, and to retain some of the flick of the skirt.  Whatevs.  That now lies on my sewing room floor.

The wedding is tomorrow, so I'll post some photos of me wearing it shortly, but in the meantime, meet Maisy.

 Some of the seams look a bit puckered... I hope that's not for real!

So, why the title "The Rise of the Phoenix"?  

Throughout the making of this, I felt like things kept going off-kilter, or dare I say it, even wrong.  But the dress refused to die, and I am pleased with the end result.  But, even better, I am STOKED that I didn't make my own wedding dress!  Result.

Oh, and in case you're wondering.... here's my actual wedding dress


  1. Maisy looks gorgeous. I, too, hope the puckering isn't real. I'm sure it will look fab once you're wearing it.

    Your wedding dress is gorgeous. Making one would have added another thing to stress about the wedding. Good call on not making one.

  2. Oh Rachel I think the trials and tribulations were so worth it. I can imagine you wearing it & the lace back/ cowl neck combo is dreamy. I can see it now, at the wedding- you are chatting to someone who marvels that "you made your dress, but the neckline, the fabric..." who then gets a beautiful suprise when you turn to speak to the person behind you who was admiring the gorgeousness of the lace is a conversation piece for all the right reasons. And don't you also look adorable in your wedding dress? Have a great time at the "do" (& all the rest this summer!)

  3. Aww, thanks ladies! Your comments are so nice I am blushing a little (but chuffed to bits too!).

    Scruffy I am totally inspired by your summer sewing plans....until I look out the window and see the TEEMING rain... smells nice coming in the window though at least.

    Melizza, the colour of your new blouse is lovely! I reckon leave the lace on the cuffs, but not the blouse itself. *Maybe* add some to the collar (it might look funny though). I am so impressed that you looked your fear in the eye and sewed up a vintage pattern AND that you graded it up - I have two that I'm too scared to do that with.... must.face.fear


  4. The dress sure looks gorgeous on Maisie. The colour is beautiful and I think it is great you ended up with a totally unique dress by mixing two patterns even if that wasn't quite your plan! Enjoy the wedding.

    1. Thanks Alison, I hadn't even thought of that! What a great perspective. :-)


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