I’ll warn you, this is going to be a loooong post… this is how I made the bodice of my wedding dress.
The bodice of my wedding dress was a boned corset with sweetheart neckline and Chantilly lace sleeves. As soon as I started looking at dresses online, that was the style I knew I wanted. I loved the dresses at House of Mooshki in particular, and was sad I didn’t get to try any of these on!
The Bodice Pattern
Of course, there wasn’t a pattern I could find which was exactly what I wanted. That would have been too simple. Altering a pattern seemed like the only option, but I wasn’t overly confident in my ability to pull it off!
The first pattern I thought would be a good starting point for messing about with was Simplicity 4070. After I made my wearable toile I wasn’t convinced. The shape was ok, but not quite right and the size of the thing was all wrong. It was far too big, which ruined the corset lacing at the back because it had to be pulled together completely. The dress was fine for evening do I wore it for, but the pattern needed a lot doing to it to make it what I needed for my wedding dress bodice. That dress is now languishing in my wardrobe waiting to be altered.
Hello Lamour Dress
A long, long time was spent trawling the internet for patterns that might fit the bill. And blogs of others who had made their dresses. What can I say, when I need to do something I research the hell out of it first.
After all that, the pattern I needed popped up in my Instagram feed. I used the Lamour Dress pattern by Charm Patterns as the base for everything else I did. Why this pattern? It came in different cup sizes, meaning no full bust adjustment (which I’ll confess I’ve never tried) and it was designed to have steel boning.
I spent at least a month weighing up whether to buy the pattern or not, to be honest. I’ve read some fairly negative reviews of Gertie’s patterns and was worried that the fit wouldn’t be right. My fears were eased a great deal by Andy buying me an amazing birthday present: an adjustable dress form! Of course, as soon as I went to buy the pattern, Gertie had pulled the paper copies from sale with the promise of an improved pattern coming soon. I decided to take a risk and buy the PDF copy anyway. Then I had it printed onto A0 size (ain’t nobody got time for taping a pattern that big together).
The Lamour Dress has halterneck straps that can be tied in a couple of different ways. As I didn’t need these it meant that I didn’t actually need half of the bodice pieces either. For the muslin I just used the pieces meant for the lining and they were exactly what I needed. The pattern had some utterly pointless detail right in the centre of the neckline, like a pleat. On my first muslin it didn’t even line up at all. For my second attempt, I ditched that and re-drew the shape of the sweetheart neckline. My second muslin was spot on and I felt really happy with it, so it was onto sewing the real thing. Eek!
Sewing The Bodice
I enjoyed sewing the bodice together, it just went together really smoothly.
The bamboo silk bodice pieces were underlined with cotton and then used a fairly heavy muslin for the lining. As I was going to use steel boning I didn’t want to be using anything too flimsy. Usually when I sew something, I rush a bit and cut corners. Sewing this really taught me the value of slowing down. I was so impressed with the finish of the bodice when it was done. I don’t think I’ve ever underlined anything before!
I’m annoyed that I can’t find the photos I took of this part, because I was so happy with the result. So instead here’s the most hipster of our wedding photos:
A Crash Course in Corsetry
Having a corset bodice was an absolute must for me. I love the look of them, especially on wedding dresses. The Lamour Pattern is designed for a zip, so all I did was make the width of the two back panels of the bodice smaller. I needed a modesty panel too. After much internet trawling to figure it out, I just drafted a rectangle piece which I then tapered towards the bottom. The modesty panel wasn’t added until towards the end though and I didn’t make a muslin of it.
Thankfully the Lamour pattern was designed for boning, so I bought some steel boning, tips and pre-made channels for it to go into. That made everything fairly easy and actually, the only part of my dress that I didn’t do was cutting the boning to size. I tried and failed miserably so Andy did that for me.
I made sure to sew the channels onto the lining before attaching the lining to the bodice. Thankfully it all went very smoothly.
The loops were trickier because I had to figure that out for myself. I couldn’t work out what to make them from and went around in circles on the internet trying to find ready made loops. Of course, I’d left it too late to get anything made for me from my own fabric so that idea was scrapped pretty quickly. Instead I bought some satin cord for the loops and double faced ribbon for fastening.
When the satin cord arrived I really didn’t like the look of it. It was too shiny and too white and I thought it just looked tacky. I decided that I needed to cover it with my bamboo silk so it would match and look a lot nicer. That was a process in itself, so let’s save that for another post!
What About The Sleeves?
Ah the sleeves. Another must for me but something that made sewing my wedding dress far harder. I bought the most gorgeous beaded Chantilly lace to make the sleeves without really thinking about how I was going to achieve it. First, I thought I just find a pattern with the sleeves and just use those. Easy right?
My first idea, to make things so much easier for myself, was to make a wedding dress topper. Literally a jacket that fastens backwards with teeny tiny buttons. I’d tried one on when I went to look at wedding dresses and it seemed to solve the whole how-to-hide-my-arms problem quite well.
I had a go at making a jacket kinda thing as a muslin and wasn’t convinced. By this point the stress was ramping up as we’d got about two weeks until the wedding. Moving house six weeks prior to the wedding day really messed up our plans! At this point I should have realised that I needed to figure something else out, but I didn’t.
As terrified as I was to cut into my lace (which at £70 per metre is the most expensive fabric I’ll ever buy) I went ahead and did it anyway. The lace wasn’t too awkward to sew but it was very time consuming and I went about it all wrong really. A while before I’d read a blog (I think) about how to piece together the lace so that the seams can’t be seen. When it came to cutting out, I totally forgot all about and ended up with an ugly straight seam all down the front of the bodice. Sewing past midnight is really not my forte, I can’t think straight. I should have taken the time to sew it properly by hand. I didn’t sew it as one piece as I wanted to use the scalloped edging instead of hemming.
It took me an absolute age to prep the lace for sewing. The beads that were in the seam allowance needed taking off. Otherwise they’d break sewing machine needles and upset my Juki no end. It seemed like a real waste buying beaded lace at this point. There were more beads on the floor than on the lace by the time I’d finished.
So, I sewed the lace together, put the finished thing onto the dress form over my wedding dress and… felt like crying. It looked horrible. I’ll cut a long story short here and just say that I unpicked it all. Then decided to have the lace part attached to the dress as you can see in the finished photos. It wasn’t what I had in my head when I started, but I was pleased enough with the result. I just think that it made the bodice of my dress look too plain; I’d definitely have preferred lace over the whole thing.
That was a much longer post that I thought it would be, so I’ll leave it there for now!