Bridal Couture

I’m in downtown Muslin City at the moment, between the bridesmaids dresses and the very belated birthday dress for my (future) sister in law. So far I’ve made the FSIL’s muslin, had her try it on, and altered the pattern pieces according to the two changes we’re making (which was a pleasant surprise – it fit really well!). And on the bridesmaid front, I’ve completed both bodices and attached one to the skirt in preparation for Pip to try it on this weekend. Since the skirt is so enormously long, I actually didn’t have enough muslin fabric to make a skirt for each muslin. So I’m just going to swap the skirt out and attach it to the other bodice after fitting the first one (it’s a very loose design so the fact that it’s 2 sizes off doesn’t matter much!).

Can you believe I’ve gone through 8m of white viscose knit muslin fabric, between a top, my birthday dress, the FSIL’s dress, and the two bridesmaids dresses?? Wowza.

Anyway, while I’m sewing up muslins, there isn’t much to show off (I don’t mind putting photos of myself up in little more than a bedsheet, but it’d something else to subject your friends to that!) but I’ve got a ton of good sewing books to report on, so you’ll be enjoying a few good books with me over the next week or so…

So to start things off, we’re going to stay on the wedding theme with Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture, a book so amazing that it fetches RIDICULOUS prices online. It’s been out of print for years (also contributing to the resale value), but the copyright has just reverted back to Susan Khalje, and she is is self-publishing this on CD – you can preorder it here for delivery next month.

My mom bought me the book version for Christmas, and it is indeed every inch as invaluable as everyone says, not just for bridalwear but for those of you sewing eveningwear, prom dresses, or anything that really requires special fabrics or support. Apologies for the poor quality of the scans – the book has such a nice, tight binding that I don’t want to abuse it to get it totally flat in the scanner.

A lot of this book focuses on the special occasion fabrics involved in bridal wear, matching names with drape and hand, explaining the various fibres they come in, the size needles and stitch settings to use, and in the case of lace, showing photos of all the different types.

Having only sewn with lace in a lingerie context, I was blown away by all the cool ways you can sew lace to preserve the motifs across seams, darts, and hems. You can essentially recreate the lace with handstitches to get everything seamless. Having read through the lace section, I almost want to add in some on my wedding gown design, which is (in true “me” style) unadorned, unembellished vintage silk satin.

This books covers things I thought would be an afterthought, like hanging loops, but are vitally important in preserving the shape of the dress without stressing the seams.

The most applicable part for me, though, is the massive section on creating internal support. Since I’m having a cowl neck and deep back, I’ll need to create a bodice inside the bodice to hold everything in place and suck everything in, so my outer layer flows effortlessly on top. There shall be no “hoiking up” on my day!

I’ve shown only the briefest portions here, but this really is such a fantastic resource! It’s going to be absolutely indispensable later this summer when I start working on my wedding dress properly (18th September, if you’re asking), and the tips on dealing with silk satin and internal finishes are going to be very helpful even with these bridesmaids dresses. The sample dresses in the book have not aged well, but the techniques illustrated with them are still very much applicable even if the big, puffy sleeves and chiffon skirts are not.

So if you’ve got a special occasion coming up and you want your dress to be utterly top-notch designer quality, you cannot afford to be without this book, whether in printed form or on cd.

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