The Wedding Dress: Veil and underskirt

sew a beautiful weddingAlong with my dress I needed to make a veil and an underskirt to give the dress a bit of volume. I wanted to make the underskirt removable to facilitate ceilidhing. Making these items were when the ‘Sew a beautiful wedding’ book by Gail Brown and Karen Dillon came into its own. I probably could have found the information online, but this was easier, and I am doing my best to avoid the terrifying vortex of wedding blogs, chat rooms and websites. I stumbled across a few during my wedding planning process, and they terrified me.

The Veil

IMG_0064The great thing about ‘sew a beautiful wedding’ is that it shows you how to cut different veil styles and lengths. I went with the simple ‘updated veil’ in a waistline length. My first comment would be that the lengths may be quite generous – on me this was bum length. However, the great thing about veil fabric is it does not need finishing, so I can just keep trimming it as needed.

I gathered the edge of the veil up, then sewed it onto a comb I bought from John Lewis. I am not sure if there is an advised way to do this – the book was pretty vague, but I did a sort of button hole stitch around the teeth of the comb. It kind of worked, but it was a bit of a mess, so I stitched my gold ribbon around the top of the comb and gathered the unfinished ends under this, which hid the mess beautifully. Easy as.IMG_0067

The Underskirt

‘Sew a beautiful wedding’ also has pretty good descriptions of making several different underskirts. I left this till slightly late, but when I sat down and read the instructions I had a slight moment of panic, as it said ‘find an a-line skirt pattern that fits’. I don’t have an a-line skirt pattern that fits, and I don’t have time to find one!!!

IMG_0069I had a little panic, and made several desperate plans before I had a brain wave – I still had my mockup skirt in a good solid cotton. This was a full skirt, but surely taking the seams in slightly would give me something close enough to do the job, and I already knew it fitted. This was a bit of a master stroke that made my life easy. In 15 minutes I had a quasi-a-line skirt whipped up. After that it was a doddle to fold and gather some net left over from a previous project into the volume giving ruffle and sew it on – quick and dirty. It’s ok, because no-one is going to see it!

The skirt

I don’t have any photos of the skirt construction, but it was a pretty simple task to construct. the major challenge was basting my silk satin fashion fabric and the cotton muslin underlining together as the silk had distorted beyond recognition – far worse than the bodice. I think I got reasonable approximation of the cut pieces in the end, but it took a frustrating day of tedious work.

Before I sewed the seams up I basted them and basted the whole thing to the bodice. I was glad I did as the pieces did not match and the waistline seam was all wonky. to fix this I used a piece of elastic to choose the seamline, then fitted the skirt pieces to this. I had worried about sewing the silk, but when I did so the cotton underlining made sure it behaved, although wasn’t as easy as the bodices pieces which are enclosed in organza.

After this the whole thing fades into a fitting nightmare. The skirt below the waist was too tight once all the layers of underskirt and seams were added, and when the bodice and corselet were joined one (just one!) side of the bust was too tight – both a case where all the individual parts fitted, but the sum of the parts was different. with less than two weeks before the wedding this caused major unneeded last minute stress, especially since the fabrics show unpicked stitches requiring very careful unpicking. however somehow it got done.

the hem was finished with horsehair braid to give it some structure, and pinned up by my quite stressed mum. then all that was left was some handstitching catch stitches on seam allowances….

yes, the wedding was on Saturday, so the big reveal will come soon.

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