It still was quite a lot of work, but the hardest part was just working out in my head how to do each part and in what order so I wouldn't be left with a lot of hand stitching. Besides the places where the lace is hand-tacked for a ruched effect, I only hand-sewed about 8 inches of fabric!
I mentioned that I made a sloper for this dress so I'd know the fit was right... I used this series from Ikat bag, and while most of my measurements below the waist were completely off due to a wiggly child, it didn't matter because I only needed the bodice portion for this dress.
I am SO happy with how this dress fits! It's very difficult to zip up in one spot because of the thickness of the fabric, but there is a perfect amount of ease for the dress to look formal without being uncomfortable.
The only change I would make, if I were working through this again, would be to lengthen the bodice by 2 or 3 inches... I just think it would look better with the wide sash.
Initially I made the skirt and the lace overlay 6 inches longer than I needed, and was planning to do pickups in both layers, but I didn't like the way they hung, so I cut 6 inches off of the lining/underlining layer and just left the overlay longer.
The pickups were carefully measured out onto the lace and hand-tacked to the underlining in 16 spots... they echo the pickups in the bridesmaids' dresses.
I love the tulip sleeves too... they also echo the bridesmaids' dresses, although on those dresses the overlap is in the back instead of the front.
It was pretty fiddly trying to sew the seams on the sleeves, so I hand-stitched the lining seam together as well as a couple inches attaching the lining to the underlining and overlay. The zipper was the other truly fiddly spot, but I managed to sew it with only one spot that isn't right... and the sash covers that spot.
Not only did I manage to sew the whole hem together, but I figured out two different ways to do it with minimal hand-stitching. My first method was to leave one entire side seam open until after the hem was done, sew up as much of the side seams as I could by machine, and hand sew the few inches that were left. It worked, but then I cut off quite a bit of the under layer, and with it my finished hem, and by that time the entire dress was sewn. If I ever make a fully lined dress again, I'll show you how I did the hem the second time, which was even simpler.
I learned a lot about working with underlined lace from making the boleros for the bridesmaids, and the most important thing I learned was to NOT baste the lace layer to the underlining by hand or machine... instead, I used quilt basting spray (affiliate link). It was about 4 times as tacky as I had expected, so it worked really well... the hard part was getting it to stick just where I wanted and not everywhere else!
I sprayed the back of the lace and smoothed it onto the underlining before cutting the bodice and sleeve pieces out, which really helped prevent the lace from distorting and stretching while I was cutting. The tackiness did wear off slightly after a couple days, so I would spray and sew in the same day when possible. It really saved me a lot of time though, and in general just worked better than thread basting.
This dress really was a lot of work, but I couldn't stop at fully lined and complicated. I wanted the skirt to stand out from the body more than it was, so I made a pettiskirt too!
The pettiskirt is very different from the dress... I used nylon tricot chiffon, which doesn't fray (but which was much more delicate and slightly more stretchy than I had imagined it would be) so nothing but the waist band is finished. I tried making a pettiskirt once with chiffon that did fray, but with all of those gathers and layers, even serging all the edges was next to impossible... I never finished that version.
I followed this tutorial from Girl. Inspired. but changed the height of my tiers to 5 inches each. I made a mistake, and the top tier isn't gathered into the waistband as much as it should have been, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I also left out the lining, since this is only going to be worn as an underskirt.
Cutting the fabric out for this was a terrible pain, especially since I had pre-washed it and the edges rolled. Once cut, it wasn't too hard to sew together, I just had to get the hang of it all. You can tell from the photos that some of the layers are slightly longer in spots... those are pieces I sewed near the beginning.
And what does my little daughter think of all this? Well, she cried every time I took the dress off after a fitting or taking photos. She loves it, wants to wear it all the time, and keeps asking when the wedding is. =) And I only have one thing left to sew for this wedding: the alterations on my bridesmaid dress.
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