sewing a flower girl dress

Monday, August 15, 2011

In the spirit of the new season of Project Runway, I challenged myself to make Emma's flower girl dress (for Aunt Dana's wedding) in 1 day. Well that's not including the test muslin and I didn't make the pattern from scratch, but I succeeded in sewing a layered, lined, crinolined formal dress in about 11 hours!
We got all the bridal fabrics on our trip to Fabric Row in Philly last month. I normally like to sew with cottons & linens because they don't slip & slide all over the place. I don't love using tulle and having to gather miles and miles of it. I've never even tried sewing beaded and embroidered organza, but I was willing to try it because it was so incredibly gorgeous!
One time consumer: removing beads along the seam allowances and tying off the loose threads so the remaining beads stay secure.
Another time consumer: hemming the bridal satin underlay by hand. It just wouldn't look right done by machine. The raw edges inside were finished off with the serger.
On the outer layer, french seams in the organza overlay completely hide the raw edges.  To make a french seam, sew a 1/4" seam with wrong sides together. Trim 1/8" off the raw edge, then flip inside out. Sew another 1/4" seam with right sides together next to the previous stitching, enclosing the raw edge inside.
You wouldn't think a simple sleeveless lined bodice would be tricky to sew, but if you've ever tried it, you know what I mean. I've always sewn the shoulders first, then attached the lining to the bodice at the neck. Then you have to try to do the armholes after the bodice is flipped right side out which requires strange contortions especially if the shoulder is narrow. It's almost easier to just put a sleeve on. I decided to follow the directions that came with the pattern (discontinued pattern Butterick #4117) which calls for sewing the shoulders last. It worked well but still required some hand sewing to close up the armhole at the top.
Clipping and backstitching the neck and armhole seams is crucial to keeping the lining from peeking out the edges. I go one step further and trim 1/16-1/8" off the armhole and neck edges of the lining before sewing, so the pieces are slightly smaller than the shell and more likely to roll to the inside. I do this on collars too and it works great.
Finally: the skirt. I didn't think it was that full until I did my 2 stitch lines at the top and started to gather it in. It's always a challenge to gather that much fabric and attach it neatly to a small bodice. I basted it on by hand first to keep it from shifting and bunching. The less handling the better though, because boy does that bridal satin fray!
Help me! I'm drowning in tulle!
And then as if that weren't enough ruching, there is an attached crinoline underneath that gets gathered in to the same waist seam and has it's own ruffle of tulle- a 250" ruffle to be precise! It's absolutely necessary, though, because the poufiness that results is so fabulous!

On deck next: dapper little vests and dupioni silk neck ties for the 3 little ringbearers...


ThatGirl said...

The bride's dress won't hold a candle to this beauty. :)

Becky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikki said...

You did an awesome job on the flower girl dress!

Post a Comment