So my mockup was meant to be made by the end of the chistmas holidays, it is now mid feb and it isn’t finished. Whoops. In my defence I have been ill.
I have however made progress, the bodice is fitted pretty well with boning sewn on and it looks pretty good. For the boning I followed the principles laid out by Susan Khalajie in Bridal Couture which really illuminated boning for me – I feel I understand the principles behind using boning now, and feel empowered to use it where it is needed including adding it to patterns that don’t specify its use. This particular bodice currently has … pieces.
I did have to make a number of alterations – the shaping of the two side bodice pieces has been changed quite a bit, as seemed to fit best. I was glad I had my inch seam allowances to allow me to make such large alterations. No pictures of this yet – I need to note the alterations and take the bodice apart. I had quite a few issues with fitting the front piece. The main one is that when I relaxed a fold appeared under my bust. I searched my books and the internet, but couldn’t find any clues as to how to fix this, although it was hard to search for something so vague. Interestingly I have the same issue with another princess seamed top I made. I came up with a list of ideas for what the problem might be:
- the front piece was too wide below the bust causing sagging
- the front piece was too narrow below the bust causing pulling
- it needed boning up the centre of the front piece of the bodice
- the top of the bodice above the bust needed supporting with boning to prevent the sagging fold under the bust
- the shaping of the curve under the bust needed changing
- the front bodice piece needed stretching along the seam with the side front
In the end with nothing except my list to go on I ended up taking out the basting stitches between the front and side front seams so I could pin them and try adjusting through several of my ideas in front of the mirror. What finally fixed it was stretching the front piece out. This meant the bottom of this piece was a good inch below the bottom of the side front piece, and totally messed up the notches along that seamline which I will need to fix. Now I had a mystery – was the problem my pattern alteration, or another alteration I need to make to fit princess seams properly? Some investigation with a tape measure shows that the seam along both pieces is the same length so the issue is not a dodgy alteration – it is a fitting issue. I have solved this for this garment, but I am not sure how to take this forward into future alterations, I will have to marinate on this.
This also meant I decided I needed to make a second mockup – preferably in a silky fabric – I am concerned about my ability to stretch the front piece along this seam with a slippery fabric. Therefore I have some cheap satin on order from an online store for some practice.
The second and third fitting failures came with the skirt. Having fitted the bodice I moved onto attaching the skirt. First I tried the skirt with the godets from New Look 6454… it was a disaster. Too much going on. Too many curves. It just didn’t work on me – it was all out of balance. I am sure a skirt with godets would work on me with a less fitted top (an idea which I have added to my sewing wish list) but for the wedding dress this was out. So I fell back on the full skirt, which I knew from past experience and my trip to the wedding dress shop would definitely work on me.
It didn’t. neither me or my mum could work out why. It just didn’t work on my hips, it didn’t flow off them giving me the curves we were expecting
What was clear from both skirks was that the seamline did not want to be quite so low on my hips as I had drafted the pattern, but moving the skirt up the bodice did not solve my skirt fitting woes
I was bemused, what had I done wrong with my Franken-pattern? It looked ok, when I held it out it seemed to be the right shape, but for some reason it was all wrong. Both of us were stumped. I spent an evening looking at alternative patterns resolving to redraft the skirt using an actual pattern as clearly I had messed up. I was so frustrated I took the mock up upstairs to ponder on as I went to bed. Then I happened to try on the skirt without the bodice, it fell over my hips and pooled on the floor. I was so confused. I picked it up and held it on my hips. Suddenly I realised: it was too big! Something so simple and basic, I couldn’t believe I had missed it. It wasn’t just a little too big. It was huge. I have no idea how – the bodice fitted fine, but the skirt was humongeous despite the stitching lines matching up on the pattern pieces. I had assumed when I attached the skirt to the bodice any excess fabric would be taken out through gathering and tucks, which would be fine at this early proof-of-concept stage. For some reason it had not. When I pinned the excess out of the way suddenly the skirt flowed off my hips in the way I expected. It worked!
I am so relieved. It is clear that I need to do a good bit of work on the fit of the skirt and I still need to transfer all my alterations for the mock up to the pattern pieces. And I need to make decisions about the sleeves, I also need to make myself a rough sewing order to make sure I get everything in the right order so I get the finish I want on the dress, but the basics are falling into place. I keep telling myself the time I am taking now will reduce the time needed for sewing and fitting the actual dress, we will see…