Earlier this year, one of my wonderful students, Barbara, decided she would like to make a wedding dress for her new daughter-in-law to be, Rocio.
The wedding was to be held on the beach at Stradbroke Island (in Moreton Bay) off the coast of Brisbane. As Rocio is an ecologist, such a beautiful outdoor setting was perfect for her marriage to James.
She and Barbara shopped for a basic pattern which could be adapted to her chosen style and, once the dress was made in a lovely cotton print, the fit was adjusted and, not only did Rocio have a lovely new summer dress, but we were ready to start!
Rocio and Barbara purchased the beautiful silk taffeta and corded Chantilly lace at The Fabric Collection in Sumner Park. The colour is just beautiful – a lovely clotted cream shade – and suits Rocio’s colouring perfectly.
To support the taffeta, Barbara has underlined the whole garment with silk organza and hand stitched all the seam allowances to the underlining to keep them in place. The dress has been fully lined with lightweight silk satin. A half slip of several layers of bridal tulle lightly supports the skirt – this was essential in the breezy weather which sometimes occurs in a beach setting.
The lace was draped over the bodice; shaped and hand stitched in place. Scallops were appliquéd by hand around the neckline.
The inspiration for the adornment of Rocio’s beautiful gown incorporated a randomly ruched swathe from the underarm on either side and crossing in the front.
Rocio has a classic hour glass figure and once the dress was underway, I suggested that a more structural bias basque would be much more flattering. I had seen this technique in an article by Kenneth D King “Curved Tucks” in Threads magazine Issue #166 April/May 2013.
The bias construction causes the basque to follow the waistline curve of the garment and adds an interesting point of interest between the beautiful lace covered bodice and the pleated silk skirt.
To be sure that Rocio would be happy with this detail, I decided to test a mock up in calico on the dress form first before committing to the silk. She was absolutely delighted so it was on with the silk.
The bias strips are 4” /10cm wide and carefully pressed in half (right sides out). The strips were then stretched and curved while being steam pressed. When cool, they retain the curved shape and are ready for assembly.
I used a June Tailor cut and press board to pin each strip in place, starting at the top and weaving in a dip at the centre front. Strips were steamed over the board to set them in place; carefully pinned and hand stitched on the underside of each edge to the strip under it.
All the raw edges on the wrong side were hand stitched in place using acatchstitch.
Once the basque was completed, it was pinned in place from the centre front to the centre back and hand stitched to the dress from the inside. Each strip was carefully matched where the invisible zip was to be inserted.
Barbara did a wonderful job and should feel very proud and satisfied with her achievement.
Rocio was a beautiful bride and very grateful for her special gown. She and James enjoyed a wonderful celebration at the start of their lives together.