Monday, September 10, 2012

here comes the bride's bodice

outside holding my pretend bouquet

The bodice of my wedding dress is finished!  YAY!  I worked all weekend, and by 3pm Sunday, I was putting the finishing touches on the armscye seams.  There are very minor issues with the fit and construction, but overall I’m pretty happy with it.

I am using McCall’s 6599, one of the brand new Fashion Star patterns.  It is marked “Easy,” which I felt was important – not just because I am a beginner, but also because I knew my fabrics and construction techniques were going to be more demanding than usual.  The fabric (4-ply silk crepe) turned out to be quite demanding.  There were tears, I admit it.

McCall’s 6599

So here are some shots of my muslin.  I actually completed it a few weeks ago but was too scared to cut into my fabric.

(please ignore my hot pink bra strap)

There was some excess material in the muslin, but I wasn’t too worried about it.  I knew it was going to have more than a few layers, and I wanted plenty of room to accommodate them.

The bodice shell, in fact, consists of 3 layers:  a pale blue silk crepe sandwiched between bleached muslin and an embroidered organza overlay.  I am sad to say that the organza overlay is 100% polyester, which I was trying to avoid at all costs.  I found this organza in the clearance bin at JoAnn’s, and the navy blue floral pattern won me over.  I didn’t even mind the glitter, although my entire house is now covered in a fine mist of silver glitter dust.  It was even in my fiancé’s hair, awww.

I have never sewn anything with an underlining, and I am officially hooked!  This bodice has so much shape and body and feels luxuriously substantial.

finished bodice!  (with denim skirt)

(I apologize for the quality of these pics, by the way.  I am by no means a photographer and totally fail at taking indoor pics.  I did scoot outside for a few shots in natural lighting, but it was super-quick because I was embarrassed to be seen by my neighbors posing in a half-finished dress that was pinned up the back.)

I have 3 concerns right now:

1)  sleeve length – I kept shortening the bracelet-length sleeves without thinking about them in relation to the waistband, and I’m not sure I like the result.  The waistband will be slightly shorter when I attach the skirt, but I’m still uneasy about the proportions.  I had chosen an elbow-length sleeve for the muslin and might still return to that choice.

2)  forward shoulder issue – I never learn!  I think I do have slightly forward shoulders because my tops always slide backwards on my shoulders, and my waistbands end up higher in the front than in the back.  GRR.  I thought it was OK on the muslin, but it is obvious in the pics that the waistband is riding up in the front.  Maybe it will straighten out when I attached the skirt.  I am keeping my fingers crossed because I don’t know how to fix it at this point.  Might have to sew it to my bra and call it a day.

3)  bullseye booby syndrome – There are two big flowers right over my nipples.  I can’t help but chuckle.  The size and placement of the floral motif turned out to be awkward to maneuver on the front, but I’m going to let it go and hope no one else notices.

But tell me that fit across the back is not 99% perfect?  YAY for small victories!

right side & wrong side, as seen from the ironing board

That picture up top is a great representation of the color.  It’s such a dreamy blue.  The lining is bleached muslin.


I am so proud of the neckline!  This was a design change from the original pattern because I wanted a modest sweetheart-ish neckline.  This is the first V-neck I have sewn.  It was a little trickly, but I think it came out well!

inside of sleeve

To finish the armscye seams, I cut the bodice seam allowance down to a quarter-inch while leaving the sleeve seam allowance at 5/8.  Then I wrapped the sleeve seam allowance over the other and sewed it down.  While certainly not couture by any means, it got the job done quickly – which is good because I hate hate HATE sleeves and armscyes.  The sooner I can get that unpleasantness over with, the better.

And now for the best part of the whole dress!  I wanted to include 2 very special things, and I decided to sew them into the waistband facing….

lace from my mom’s wedding dress

My mom agreed to let me cut apart her wedding dress overlay and use some of the lace.  She and my dad have been married for 41 years, and it meant so much to me to bring a part of her wedding into mine.


I will admit it.  I had a security blanket – for years.  My mom always said that I loved my blanket so much that she was going to tie it around my waist when I got married.  When I decided I had outgrown it, she put it up in an archival plastic bag for me.  I picked it up from their house a few weeks ago, and despite every part of me screaming in protest, I managed to cut off a little section.  This section now lines the front waistband facing of my wedding dress, which gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling – both literally and metaphorically!

So now all that’s left to do is sew and attach the skirt, insert the zipper, and hem the dress.  And maybe shorten the sleeves.  The skirt will be pale blue silk crepe with a silk chiffon overlay.  The next pics I post will probably be from my wedding day, but I could not resist blogging about my progress so far!  I feel such a sense of pride and accomplishment now that the bodice is completed.  I can’t think of any other garment I would rather be married in.

Signing off with my “sassy” pic (and please forgive the cut off head and feet)….


  1. Aw, it's beautiful Bex! I think you got a really good fit on the bodice. The sleeves seem like a good length to me, but if it's still bothering you once you get the skirt attached, you could always do a cuff in the satin or something.

    I love the unconventional dress style and fabric choices. It's lovely to see a non-strapless, any-colour-but-white-or-cream, and not floor length wedding dress! It's nice to remember that a big strapless white dress isn't a requirement for getting married.

    You brought tears to my eyes when you explained the piece of your Mom's dress and the piece of your security blanket in the waist facings. What a beautiful idea.

    I can't wait to see the final results, and pictures of your special day (if you're willing to share)! Good luck finishing everything up. :)

    1. Thank you, Heather! I hadn't even thought about a cuff, probably because I've never sewn one, but that might look really nice in the dark blue satin. Definitely something to keep in mind.

      I've wanted to get married in blue for as long as I can remember, mostly because of the association with trustworthiness and faithfulness. I didn't think I would feel comfortable in a strapless dress, and it's amazing how that's almost all you can find nowadays. So glad I've learned to sew so I can have exactly the dress I want.

      It feels great to have the tricky parts finished! Of course now I have a million ideas for honeymoon dresses that I want to make. Maybe I can squeeze one out in the next few weeks!

    2. You know, if you managed to finish your dress and put together a few honeymoon pieces before the end of September, this would be a spectacular entry for the PR wardrobe contest... :D *pokes with the enabling stick*

  2. It's coming along wonderfully! How exciting. Also, I really love your sassy pose - sass it up pretty lady!

    I agree your bodice looks great! And it really does help to get a skirt on things at times. I forget - did you do an FBA? 'cause my waist band tends to ride up higher in the front when I don't have enough room in my bust. But, like I said, I think it looks great. No one but you will probably notice it. :)

    I think your sleeves are great where they are, or if you wanted to shorten them you'd definitely want to go above the elbow. I think anything in between will look proportionally odd.

    So excited to see your masterpiece finished! :)

    1. Thanks so much for your input! :D

      You know, I've never done an FBA, but I am a C-cup and now I'm wondering if that would help. I have the Fit for Real People book, and I might try it on my next dress. For now I am seriously considering sewing a bra into the wedding dress to keep everything in place. I am excited to see it with the skirt attached. Like you say, that can make a big difference.

      I really wanted to participate in the Mini Wardrobe Challenge this month, but this dress was such a big project. I am glad that I can enjoy the challenge vicariously through you!

    2. Since most patterns are designed for a B cup, you might find that an FBA will help improve the fit a bit. But I think your bodice looks fine as is, even with the front waist riding up a tiny bit (no one will notice, I know it). Attaching your bra to it might help too.

      Also, I forgot to say this earlier, but I don't think that the flowers on the front look too bullseye-like!

  3. Oh congrats to you!!!! Well done on getting the bodice done and fitting so well. I spent a chunk of this afternoon unpicking bits of my wedding dress, with only a week and a half to go it's still far from finished... AGH! Sorry, back to you. Yo are going to look so lovely and the addition of lace from your mum's dress is so sweet and special.

    Zoe xxx

    1. Sounds like congrats are in order for you too, Zoe! :D

      How cool that we are both getting married very soon and both sewing a dress! I'm ashamed to say that I haven't done anything else on my dress since this post over a week ago. The skirt has a chiffon overlay, and I've discovered that working with chiffon makes me curse and then maybe also cry. I have got to get back to it... only 18 days to go, yikes! Sounds like we both need some good luck!

  4. You are too stinking cute, and fearless too! Your dress is beautiful; please come back and update us with final pics.