a frou frou wedding gown

Did I mention that I’m doing the alterations on Vicky’s wedding gown? Umm, yeah… and it’s been an interesting process so far! I was one of the fortunate few who was there when she found it – and wow, is it amazing! It’s a Reem Acra gown – pure silk satin, with some lovely embroidery and a touch of beading and sparkle.  (As a side note, she bought it at Vows in Watertown, MA… and I am so going back there to find a dress for myself sometime soon… well, unless I decide to go back to making my gown. Put that’s another tale for another day…)

Anyway, she came by last week, gown in hand, to get fitted and decide on the hem length. Well, the bodice needs some alteration above the bust point along each of the front princess seams. No big deal, right? Yeah.

Post alteration... all the bits are pinned in place waiting to be tacked down.

So, nearly four hours later, the bodice is mostly altered (I just broke a machine needle and decided that was a good stopping point) with the following remaining to do:

  • right side lining needing to be taken in
  • the right side canvas interlining needs to be basted back to the interfacing layer
  • right side top edges sewn back together
  • the lining understitched along the top edge
  • lower edge of bodice lining stitched to skirt lining
  • bar tack along the outside edge of each front princess seam to keep lining from rolling out
  • all the embroidery and beading handstitched back in place on the gown front

It took some patience to remove the tacking stitches without wrecking the netting or embroidery!

And THEN we can start on the hem. Yikes. Actually the above should go pretty quickly – the toughest part was removing all the tacking stitches on the embroidery and then rearranging them back over the altered piece. A bit of trial and error on the first side, but now that it’s almost finished, I’m very happy with the results.

The only thing I’m not enjoying is all the bodice layers – 5 all together, plus the embroidery and some interior boning in a few places.  On one hand I love seeing how the gown is constructed. On the other, it’s a b*%@# to take apart and put back together. The embroidery was done on very fine netting, but much of the netting is cut away so that the embroidery appears to be on the surface of the gown. This means that in some places, the individual motifs that were cut to close to the netting are starting to come undone and each individual stitch needs to be tacked back down. Such fun, eh?

The next outside layer is the silk satin and that’s underlined with silk organza. Easy enough – except that they are both slippery.

the guts... all six layers

The interfacing layer is a dense but soft canvas – not one I recognize – and it duplicates the bodice in shape but as a separate and distinct layer. Each seam is pressed open and stitched 1/8″ away from either side of every seam, through the seam allowance. Sew through boning is added to most seams, but stops below the bust along the princess seam. There are also extra pieces in the back and at center front. There’s also a piece of tightly woven canvas (feels similar to waistband interfacing) that is basted to wrong side of the interfacing layer, about 1/4″ below the top seam line. That piece is about 2″ wide and extends from side seam to side seam across the front.

Last is the lining – a regular synthetic lining – really pretty basic… and of course, annoying to press as most synthetics are!

Plus many of the layers were basted together – embroidery to top layer, underlining to silk, those three layers to the interfacing – before being sewn and then understitched along the top edge.

However, any small annoyances aside – it’s fun to work on such a gorgeous gown. And despite some of the challenges of working with a gown that is so well made… well, I can’t help but enjoy learning about what went into making it! (Oh and there are photos… but as usual I can’t find the card reader to transfer the pictures. ugh!)

**Edit** Photos finally added!

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