Weddingote: Starting and Progress

Pad stitching on the lapels.

After finding all the little flaws and tweaks in my test garment, I decided to not finish it (primarily because of the alarmingly short waist), but to go ahead and get started on the final creation for my wedding, coming up in just under two months.

It was brain-melter getting this thing cut out, due to my limited yardage, the back pieces being cut in one with the skirt, and my burning desire for a 60+ inch skirt (waist to hem).  I’m still a little nervous about the total yardage I have in the skirt, but in pinning it all roughshod on the dress form, I think it’s going to work out just fine.
Does this train make my butt look long? Lol … this was, like, 90+ inches from waist.  I trimmed it up to about 60 inches, still a nice trailing hem.
I’ve been picking my way through the construction little by little.  There’s a weird order to everything because of the shawl collar.  Right now I have the front pieces all lined and faced, and attached to the back pieces at the neck and shoulders, but the back seam is just basted.  I like to do my closure first, then fit the back through the side back seams, and finally the center back seam, to make sure everything is as well fitted as can be.
Pad stitched collar looks pretty alright.
The pad stitching on the collar was quite fun and seems to be working.  This is the first time I have tailored a collar, and it probably wasn’t the best to start on silk taffeta, but I can see what a wonderful effect it will have on more wooly textiles.  I steamed the thing like crazy last night, and I think it’s laying pretty alright.  I can’t expect perfection on something I’ve only done once, so I’ll settled for pretty good.  I have to remember that before two weeks ago, I was perfectly happy with regular, non-tailored collars; this is just an improvement.
Attaching the back to the front was particularly difficult, but thanks to 18th century methodology, worked out alright and is laying smoothly.  Plus I like the look of prick stitch.
I’m realizing the difficulty with this gown is that it is so simple that any mistake or ill-fit will be painfully obviously.  I’m hand-stitching pretty much the whole thing, even the long seams on the skirt, because the taffeta is quite finicky, and even the most careful machine stitching is too much pucker.  I want maximum control.
It’s beginning to look like…something.
Onward! The front closure and side back seams are next, followed by applying the rest of the skirt.  Sleeves will be last.


  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    August 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM

    What a beautiful colour it is too, like the sea on certain days here when not too sunny. And it is looking very good! If you get fed up with hand sewing, try a smaller needle on your machine the finest kind (not sure of how needles are sized in the US) It makes a big difference xo

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 28, 2013 at 3:17 AM

      Thanks for the tip! I think I do need to change the needle in the machine to something finer. I've been turning the seam allowances on the skirt and stitching with the machine, but was planning to do the long seams by hand, so they don't pucker, but I think I need to test the small needle on a scrap first, because I'd really rather do the long seams on the machine. /lazy me!/

    • MrsC (Maryanne)

      August 28, 2013 at 8:35 AM

      Oh darling, really there is nothing lazy about it! ๐Ÿ™‚ Even haute couture ateliers sew the long seams by machine ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just think new and fine, new and fine for needles, and absolutely test it out on a scrap, always wise ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo (PS SQUEEE!! I loves weddings!!)

  • AuntieNan

    August 28, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    Gorgeous! Don't forget to "grade" your seams, where you cut the seam allowance away in layers–widest under the top layer of the collar, for instance, and narrowest where it doesn't show. That way there is no lumpiness in the turn. Your hand stitching is just to die for. I am very impressed!

    • Lauren Stowell

      August 28, 2013 at 3:19 AM

      Oh shoot! That would explain that visible seam allowance on the collar. Hrm, I have to open up the facing stitching to get to it. I should have underlined the lapel facing with muslin, recommended in the tailoring books I have, to pad it….

    • Unknown

      August 28, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      If you can open it at the facing and get good access to the collar – or better yet, be able to turn it wrong side out – then you may be able to insert a layer of underlining. I would cut the underlining without an outer/leaf edge seam allowance and tack it in place to the seam allowance of the collar itself, making sure that the underlining layer will lay between the seam allowance and the top/facing fabric when it's turned right side out again. Along with grading the seam allowance, this would help mask any bumps the seam allowance might make. If in the process you get the opportunity to press the top/facing without the seam allowance directly underneath (maybe put a piece of light card inside to press against) take it; it will help eliminate the indentation caused by pressing the collar with the full seam allowance underneath. I hope that helps! I think your dress is going to look absolutely gorgeous! And I'm glad you enjoyed the padstitching. I'm a huge fan of it myself ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Scene in the Past

    August 28, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Looking lovely! For what it's worth, 60" is exactly how long I made the skirt/train on my Gala dress, the 1690s court dress. I think it's a great length! ๐Ÿ™‚

    ~ Ginger

  • Mistress of Disguise

    August 28, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    This is looking so fabulous! I love that colour, and the collar looks really fantastic. I don't have the patience to hand-sew an entire gown, so mad props to you!

  • Brandi

    August 28, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Beautiful collar & I love the color & the train. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cannot wait to see the finished gown & wedding photos. Love that you are sharing the gown's journey with us as it goes. So happy to be here to see it take shape.

  • Bianca Esposito

    August 29, 2013 at 4:18 AM

    I am so glad you have chosen this gown, it has always been one of my favorites too! Your version is turning out beautiful so far! I can't wait to see the completed gown. I'm a first time comment-er but a long time admirer and I can't wait to see your wedding pictures, congratulations!

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