Jen is the fiance (now wife) of my husband's best friend, Jeff. Back in the winter, she asked me if I could make her a wedding dress out of her Mom's old wedding dress. As the months went by, we found out Jen was pregnant, so I had to put my thinking cap on and think of a new design. I had bought this Burda maternity pattern last year, since I noticed they were slowly discontinuing some of my favorite maternity patterns, so I snatched it up before they got rid of it. We ended up using just the skirt from her mom's dress, which had been gathered before, so I hoped it would be big enough to use with this design. It had 3 tiers of lace around the bottom, and since we had to convert the dress to maternity and hike it up under her bust, it needed about 6" of extra length, so I had to add another tier around the bottom.
The old dress had 3 strips of lace running down the front of the skirt, and they had been removed, and there were stitching marks showing. I bought some narrow lace that echoed the design of the lace around the bottom of the skirt. I also found some wide lace for the bottom of the extra tier. The wide lace matched the ivory colour of the rest of the lace, but the narrow lace was bright white. It needed to be more ivory. So, I attempted tea dyeing. I snipped off 3 samples of lace and grabbed 3 different tea bags from my kitchen, and I tested them. The red one on the left was obviously way off, but the other two were much closer.This is how they turned out. The middle tea is jasmine, and it matched the closest. The left tea is green/mint, and it turned out rather yellow. Obviously a no-go. As you can see here, the jasmine hue is the winner. I was quite happy with it. I made a big bowl of tea, only used one tea bag, and soaked the lace for 15 minutes before rinsing with cold water and drying. Success!
Re-fashioning the skirt ended up being the easy part of this dress. The bodice needed some tweaking. I made no less than 4 bodice muslins! The fitted bodice pieces needed bigger darts, as the one they provided gave hardly any shape and just hung flat in front of the bust. I made the dart bigger, and drafted 2 darts; one at the side seam, and one at the waist. This is Jen's first fitting. I originally envisioned the skirt with 2 pleats at the front, which looked quite nice, but there was too much extra width in the skirt, and it would have required me to take in the excess.
This is Jen's second fitting. You can see the sheer overlay on the bodice. This is what required all the tweaking. It took me a lot of trial and error to get this to fit right. It was at this fitting that I decided the skirt needed to be gathered. I have it pinned haphazardly to the bodice. Sure doesn't look like much, does it? Jen, thank you for being so trusting. I myself had doubts when I saw this mess. But I reassured you (and me) that it would look sleek and put together when it was finally finished.This is our last fitting. I have the 3 strips of lace sewn to the front of the dress, and the skirt is attached to the bodice the way it's supposed to be. I didn't put any gathers along the side seams for 8". It's just gathered at the center front and center back. And finally, I had a bodice I was happy with. Neither the bodice lining or the skirt lining is in yet. The skirt is quite sheer, so it definitely needed another layer.
I love how the gathers look at the back! So pretty! Here you can also see I have the first part of the lace hem extension sewn on. This is the 'lining' part of the extension.
Here is a side shot. I love how it looks kinda shiny here. And what a cute baby bump!
Here is a close-up of the bodice. You can see how the organza overlay is ruched at center front. I have pinned the lace and yellow ribbon so we could have an idea of the finished look. The yellow was Jen's idea. It's their main wedding colours. I think it gives a nice pop of colour!
Here is my lace hem extension. Click on the photo for a closer view. When I first bought the lace, I measured around the bottom of the skirt and just added a bit extra. I ended up with 6 meters. I did a lot of measuring and calculating, but the length I bought ended up perfect! I sewed the lace flat onto the organza, then I narrow rolled hemmed the top, and sewed gathering stitches 3/8" from the top edge. I gathered it in 6 different sections. The bottom of the skirt measured 200 inches, and the lace was 240 inches. This gave me 15% gathers, and it looked exactly the same as the others! Sometimes things work out perfectly. I was absolutely thrilled with how this turned out!
And finally, it's showtime!
I absolutely love this side view. What a beautiful train! And I didn't have to design it, cuz it was already there!
Here you can see I also sewed narrow lace and yellow ribbon to the waistline. I matched it up perfectly in the back and sewed in a centered zipper.
And a beautiful close-up of the front bodice. Aside from the trouble I had with the fit of the darts and the overlay, the neckline, shoulders, and armholes of this pattern were perfect. The bodice is fully lined in cotton broadcloth.
And last but not least, some gratuitous wedding photos. I love seeing garments in action, don't you?
Congratulations, Jeff & Jen! It was an honour to be such a big part of your special day!