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Ribbons, Wedding - Please Don't Take

lauchlen in dressdiaries

Reconstructing a late 30s - early 40s wedding dress.

Hello everyone! *waves lots*

This is my very first post here as well as my very first dress reconstruction. Since I've already done two posts about it in my journal, I'll just copy-paste them into this entry to save you all clicking links and me rambling about it again. *g* Then I'll add on the update from today. Yay!

So, before I tackle this dress (the pink one), in red, dupioni silk, I've decided I need to re-hone the sewing skills I haven't used in a number of years. That, and holy cow, sewing dupioni silk's going to be a LOT of work. Hong Kong finish on the seams, I need a proper tool for pressing, my machine should probably go in for maintenance since it's been sitting for about five years.

Anyway. *puts that aside* Until then, I'm taking on something easier to get myself back in the swing.

I bought the gown off ebay about, let's see... *counts* Probably a good eight years ago for twenty-four bucks plus shipping from the US. All in all, I think it cost me thirty-two or so.

It's not made of the heavy slipper satin most were at the time, but the design is beautiful, flowing and as divine as it is flattering.

Front Full Large
Click for bigger.

The colour was incredibly hard to capture, and no matter what dang setting I put the camera on, I couldn't get the precise shade of ivory.

The dress form is basically/sort of/mostly the same size as me there. Kind of. I need to make a cover that's ME, until that time though, I'll live with it as it is. My point? As you can see in this pic, where the arrow points;

Gapage Small
Click for bigger.

The dress is too small for me around the waist. The design of the bust, with its plethora of gathers, means it will accommodate a variety of bust sizes provided the gown fits your shoulders and back.

My plan to fix the too-small waist issue is to carefully pick out the seams on the front on either side of the lace. On the outside of the lace, closest to the side seams, I'll add fabric from the top of the seam to the floor. On the inside seam of the lace, I'll only pick it out from the waistline down. I don't want lines running down the middle of my boobage.

The back of the gown is just as lovely, if not more, then the front.

Back Full Small
Click for bigger.

I absolutely love the lace yoke and tri lace down the train.

Speaking of the train:

Train Tall Small
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Train Wide Small
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As you can see, the train is loooooong. I don't want to cut it off, so I'm trying to figure out a way to bustle it up since it has the old-fashioned loop for m'lady's finger on the underside.

The sleeves are too tight near the top, so they'll have to be picked out and made wider. I'll also need to modify the lace gather at the top since it makes my shoulders look... well, anyone need a linebacker? Yeah.

I'm going to line the entire thing in black. Where I widen the seams I'll place partially see-through cream muslin over the black. Each seam will be reinforced since the gown IS over seventy years old.

I figure if I work at it fairly consistently it should take about a week.

Update the second:

Okay, so, I got all the seams ripped out by the time I went to bed Tuesday night. Was out Wednesday through last night then out today for lunch. Which means I haven't had much time to work on the dress.

pinned in place small

As you can see, I've removed the sleeves, the front panel and picked out the seams from the shoulders to hem. I also took off the flowers that decorated the centre front of the bust area and lowered the bustline.

Everything is pinned to the dress form right now, and it looks like I'd pictured. I'm in the middle of debating whether or not I want to add the front panel back on as I'd originally intended. I like the contrast of the black with just the strips of lace down the front. Plus, if I leave it off, it gives me some of the dress material to use somewhere else should I need it.

So, what do you all think? Keep the front all black as it is in the pic, or add the front panel back on?


I've decided to leave the bottom front panel off. I like the contrast and that it really emphasises the inverted 'V' at the waistline.

Now that I've discovered the black lining looks as I want it too, it's on to deciding how to construct the dress.

The lady that originally made it left varying seam allowances. Some seams have a good half-inch, others have barely a quarter - bordering on an eighth. This leaves me with a dilemma. I'm trying to decide whether I want to fold all the seams on the original under and run a straight stitch down them then sew it together, or just increase the seam allowances as needed. The satin frays though, so I'm leaning towards the former.

Also, the original had the satin panels sewn to the edges of the lace. Since I'm lining it though, I'm pondering attaching the lining to the overdress as opposed to making them two separate dresses. I think it would add stability to the overdress and lace. Though the satin and lace aren't fragile (yet), they will be eventually and attaching them to a new fabric will help as they age.

Yes, no?

Okay, enough rambling. Pics!

pinned small
Click for bigger.

That's the back of the dress's top pinned to my muslin. I've taken out all the satin panels but that one, since that's the one holding the lace of the train to the dress. It's an easy muslin copy to make though. Pin and cut around.


cut out small
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Here's the left side-panel pinned to the dress form. I used the same pin then cut around method. And realised after I had the whole dang thing pinned to the muslin I should have doubled the fabric. Since, you know, the panel on the right would be Exactly The Same. *face palm* I'm sure we can all guess what tonight's project is.

pinned and cut small
Click for bigger.

After I've cut out the right side-panel, I'm going to add the extra inches for the waist-line expansion. Then I'm probably going to stare at it pinned up and hmm and hah over how to construct it.

Edited because I misspelt my title.


With the black against the white lace and the cut, it gives me a very art deco impression - kind of like these brooches:

Oh my goodness, I never noticed that until you pointed it out! I'm a huge art deco fan so that's very awesome. *g* Also, I think I want all those brooches, especially the two with enameling. One can never have too much adornment.
I googled "art deco brooch" and "marcasite" to find those.
Wow - it's BEAUTIFUL.
Thank you!

I'll admit it took me a long time to decide I was going to take the dress apart. I'm such a sucker for vintage and antique clothing in its original state. But, since it's not a family heirloom and I married just over a year and a half ago, I figured it wouldn't hurt. Right? *G*
Great decision. Definitely taking the dress apart was a good idea, and I hope the project continues on its awesomely favorable path. That dress is very VERY cool. It reminds me of an Amidala costume or something.