Ivory silk dupion and lace dress with illusion bodice. Button back fastening and organza train the scalloped lace edging.
Official wedding pictures by Vincent Opoku of www.vopoku.com
Vanessa’s dress was truly a game of two halves, with a full, silk skirt to be supported from the waist with the delicate illusion bodice above. The tulle was dyed to match her skin tone and be as invisible as possible. Lace was then cut and hand sewn inside the neckline and low back shape with real ivory buttons and loops to fasten. The skirt was very full, over netting with box pleats into the top to ‘spring’ away from Vanessa’s body emphasising her tiny waist. More lace was hand appliquéd over the join from bodice to skirt and all down the skirt and on the train.
Detail of hand beaded lace applique with pearls, diamante stones and sequins.
Details of lace applique to skirt and train with hand cut and sewn lace motifs and scalloped edging.
Train wrist loop, with hidden something blue. All my dresses also come with a bustle button and hook-up for dancing in the evening.
Final fitting Pictures
above: train hooked up for dancing
Above: detail of the applique lace illusion bodice with hand beading.
Making Vanessa’s dress
Original design sketch
Toile dress fitting: this is the ‘practice run’ in cheap fabrics to perfect fit and style. The shapes are always very basic at this stage, though we have pinned a little bit of lace on the front for Vanessa to see how the ‘blending’ will work.
The nylon tulle used for the illusion bodice, and the cotton jersey to cover the bust cups both had to be dyed to match Vanessa’s skin, to be as invisible as possible. Covering a curved shape smoothly with flat fabric is not the easiest thing to do!
The real tulle cut and sewn, cups and buttons attached and ready for lace applique to begin! The thin, white lines of thread are my top edge guides for the neckline and low back shapes and the waistline, where the skirt will attach.
Cutting out lace shapes from the fabric
Stages one and two of hand sewing the lace applique. Trying to fill the space and neckline edges as symmetrically as possible, with lace that didn’t have every shape as mirror images!
Creating the net underskirt, to support the silk. Dealing with the shear volume of scratchy, stiff fabric, under the machine is a skill in itself!
The finished net skirt was three layers of graduated tiers of extra stiff net. I also added a rolled ring of net just below the waistline to support the pleats of the skirt and help them to ‘spring’ away from Vanessa’s body.
Detail of the underside of the train, where lined silk organza (bag lined with horsehair stiffening tape) meets machine hemmed organza (to be be hidden by lace appliqué) and graduated lining. Quite a complicated bit to get everything to meet and sit flat, while sewing the whole thing from the inside before turning through.
Sewing the skirt to the illusion bodice, another feat of volume management!
The skirt newly sewn to the bodice, with the lace held up and out of the way.
On the stand with the lace pinned down over the join ready to be hand sewn down.
Lace applique of scalloped edging and cut motifs to the organza section of the train, and blending into the dupion. Later this section is gently folded into 3D shapes and attached to the lining to keep the shapes from moving, as below.
Finished Dress on the Stand
Train spread out, and hooked up for dancing.
Detail of the applique lace illusion bodice with hand beading.