So…it’s finished! Honestly.
I’m going to wait to show you the final result until after the big day, when hopefully there may be at least one or two photos of me not pulling a photo face like Chandler from Friends. In the meantime, I’m going to share with you a few of the finishing touches of my dress, and what I learnt along the way.
My dress is pretty much a copy of a dress I tried on in Candy Anthony, a specialist 50’s/60’s wedding dress designer. The one I fell in love with had a polka dot bodice, with a scalloped lace trim. When I first started looking at materials, I naively hoped to find a similar fabric, before quickly realising for the edging to be curved and on both sides of the shoulders, it must have been made specifically for those pattern pieces. So taking the advice of someone in a Soho fabric store, I looked for a polka dot tulle fabric, then a scalloped lace trim embroidered onto a similar tulle fabric.
My polka dot (or flocked spot as it is apparently called) tulle is from the Silk Society in Berwick Street and was an eyewatering £66 a metre, luckily I got away with 0.75 of a metre and still have a little left over for something else… The trim I searched high and low for something I liked and that was a similar colour and eventually found one in Fabricland for just £1 a metre. Which just shows you that the expensive Soho shops aren’t the only options for formal wear!
The trim actually looked like this originally…. And I just used the scalloped edge.
I realised in order for the edging to lay flat I was going to have to ‘cut and paste’ the scallops, so they would follow the curve. I put the dress on the mannequin and spent a great deal of time working out where to cut the trim and join another scallop. I wasn’t sure of the correct way around, but found it looked best with the trim on top and bodice overlay underneath.
I then sewed them on by hand within the thick embroidered edge of the scallops using a sort of back stitch with the small stitches on the front. To join two scalloped I used a whipstitch. After sewing along the entire neckline I used nail scissors to cut away the excess tulle from the trim and behind the trim, from the bodice overlay. When it came to the armholes I didn’t need to cut and paste the scallops so just used one long strip and joined at the underarm seam.
Considering I sortof made the technique up as I went along, as I couldn’t find anything useful on the net or my sewing books, I’m very happy with the result. I was worried it would be obvious, but after showing it to both my Mum and sister, neither had any idea until I pointed out the exact place where the scallops were joined.
Another finishing touch I’ve used for the first time is a horsehair braid hem, also called a crinoline hem. It was suggested to me by my seamstress friend, and gives the hem a lovely full look and structure to the bottom. The crinoline I used was from Hemline which comes in a pack of 2” wide by 3m long, and I used 2 packs to get all the way around my 29” skirt.
It’s incredibly simple to do actually, just sew to the right side of your skirt using a ¼” seam allowance, then fold to the inside, which encloses the raw edge. I used a gathering stitch on the other edge and used it to help manipulate the braid to stay flat on the other side, then catchstitch the edge to the main fabric by hand. This worked for me, using a textured fabric like dupioni silk, but with a lighter, smooth fabric it might be better to underline first so the stitches don’t show though.
Here are a couple of articles I found incredibly helpful and have pictures too!
I love the look this hem technique provides, and it was surprisingly easy, so I will definitely be using it on the bridesmaids dresses, and any circle skirts I do in the future!