The pattern was created using medium weight white pattern paper. I use a flat pattern design technique.
The skirt is based off of an a-line fit and flare. It is then cut into the desired amount of tiers. In this case I made four tiers. Each tier was adjusted to to have the same sweeping curve as the hemline.
The bodice darts were moved from standard to french. French darts go from the bust point to the side of the body. The bodice has two french darts on each side. Excess ease was removed from the armpit so the halter line fits around the bust removing gaps.
Cutting out the pattern took about two hours. The fabric cut was silk organza for the outer and silky cotton voile for the lining.
For the skirt, you cut each pattern piece several times the width of the fabric. The first tiers is cut one time so it has minimal gathers. The second tier has two widths, the third tier has four widths, and the fourth and final tier has eight widths. The underskirt was cut using the same pattern pieces cutting a few less pieces within the last two tiers.
Each tier was made and then sewn to the next tier. Starting with the first tier which was one width so simply basted and gathered. The second tier had two widths, so they were sewn together, then pressed and then the top of the tier was basted and gathered. That tier was pinned to the bottom of the tier above it and then hand-sewn.
The same process was used for the next two tiers. The third tier had four panels with a combined length of one hundred and forty-four inches and the final tier had eight panels with a combined length of two hundred and eighty eight inches.
You could use the sewing machine to connect the tiers but it takes away from a traditional couture (hand-sewn) process and finish. A hand stitch leaves the dressing looking and feeling more romantic and delicate with the gathers secured exactly where you want them verses a machine foot moving them.
After the outer bottom of the dress was complete, the same process was used for the lining, except the tiers were connected by machine. Being it is the underskirt and made of cotton the gathers are easily secured in place and its less important to have the hand finish.
The bodice front was cut three times. The darts were put in with the outer dress layer backed by one layer of lining. Then a separate inner lining piece was added for extra coverage. The back pieces have just two layers, outer dress and inner lining.
At this point the drape of the dress is crisp and new. We need to soften it up and give it that vintage look. I hand washed it, wrung it out, and hung it to dry for two days. It was hung bunched together but not twisted or tied, just lightly bunched together to give it vertical lines. Worked perfectly. The result was a dress that has a delicate vintage look.
Now that we have the dress mostly assembled, it’s time to add the details. Starting with the bottom tier. The bottom edge of the lace is placed across the tier seam. It’s a scalloped edge and each peak is at the seam with the scallop falling just below. The process requires the organza to be pulled flat from the bunching so that the skirt keeps its fullness. It’s done in two foot sections where the bottom is hand-sewn after its pinned flat and then the top. Again 100% hand-sewn to ensure a delicate romantic finish.
The lace is a four to five inch lace and also placed around the waistband. Since it comes up into the torso where it is wider than the waist a special cut and overlay needs to be made at the side of each bodice to open it up and keep the bodice the right width and smooth. Cut an opening from the top to about an inch above the waist and then piece in a some of the lace to blend. Then add the second style of lace over the length of the waist at the center.
For the lace detail framing the bodice the laces are layered. Placed along the side bodice lines from the neckline to the center back. The lace is folded behind and then back up to create a unique but matching lace. For the neck just one layer of the wider lace is used with some extra detail at the neckline where it attaches to the dress.
The closure is at the center back. A panel of loops is created from silk organza. Buttons are custom made to close up the back. Several of silk and a few of lace. Lace buttons also finish the closure of the neck.
The final steps will be marking the hemline which will be left a few inches past floor length with a long sweeping train. Some finishing will include additional lace detailing around the neck. Once the dress is complete it will be modeled and priced for sale. Check back for the finished photos and purchase options!
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