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Sep 28, 2017

Back to Work on Wedding Dress #2

With Val's wedding dress finished (I'll be posting some formal photographs shortly), it's time to return to Christina's dress; her wedding takes place at the end of October.

You likely already know that Christina's dress is comprised of a stiff, boned, corset worn over a full-length circle skirt.  Did I mention that this gown will be made in ivory silk taffeta (which I found at a great price at It's a Material World, the fabric store on 39th Street with the eternal "Closing This Friday" signs in the window)?  One thing about sewing bridal gowns: you learn about all these different kinds of supplies -- button-loop tape, covered buttons -- you never knew existed before, and become accustomed to working with fabrics like lace and taffeta that you previously avoided (for the most part).

For Christina's gown, I'd originally purchased plastic boning (the kind that comes already inserted in a narrow fabric channel), at Steinlauf & Stoller.  I used it for Christina's corset muslin (below) and it's okay, but I wanted stronger boning yet something I could easily trim to the desired length without needing metal pliers.  Kenneth King recommended heavy zip ties available for purchase at Home Depot and that's exactly what I got.  (I still bought my fabric channels at Steinlauf & Stoller.)

Above you can see the thin plastic boning as well as the thicker zip ties, plus horse hair braid and bra cups.
These 3/8" wide zip ties are from Home Depot.
My taffeta is underlined with sturdy cotton velveteen I had in my stash, a home dec weight.  I wanted something firm yet thick.  When stressed, silk taffeta seams can pull out; the velveteen cushions the silk so the seams don't pull.  Furthermore, the velveteen hides the imprint of the boning.  (The boning is attached to the seam allowance, so we're really talking two layers of velveteen between the boning and my fabric.)

In this sample, the nap of the velvet faces out; in the final corset, it faces in.
Boning channel with boning inserted.  Seam allowances will be catch stitched down (to the velveteen layer).

Christina has already tried on the corset without the boning in place, loosely pinned in back, just for fit.   With the boning (and lacing), the seams will be more rigid and the fit will be more corset-like (natch).

Today I attached my boning channels and inserted my boning.  I still have to close up my channels, catch stitch my seam allowances, cut my lining, have my grommets made (at Steinlauf & Stoller) and much more.  But I feel like I'm making good progress.

Christina's gown is completely different from Val's so the learning curve is different, which I love.  Val's dress was flowy; Christina's dress is much more constructed.  I've used boning in the past but I've never constructed a corset before -- I'm enjoying it.

I'll probably also be making Christina a little lace or beaded shrug.  Something like this....

Or this (I'm kind of fond of that ruffle):

But only after the gown is done.  Which -- I'm hoping -- will be in the next week.

And that's it.  I have a fitting scheduled with Christina on Sunday, so I'll have much more to tell in the week ahead.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I like the one with the ruffle too. You are so brilliant to be taking on such intricate tasks. Well done.

  2. Love the zips as corset boning! Great idea and I'm about to start a Bavarian dirndl, so will need them. Thanks.

  3. Using velveteen as a padding layer was a brilliant idea. I've used domette, a heavy weight English flannel, but velveteen may be easier to find. The heavy zip ties should work great. They are so much easier to find and cut than spiral steel and the stiffness should be better for Christina's curvy figure. I like the idea of a shrug. Lace would be nice but I also agree that the ruffled version is lovely. Thanks for the inside look. Val's dress in your previous post was stunning. I loved the way you used the lace.

  4. Loving your adventures in wedding couture. The first gown is perfection and this one is really coming together. Kenneth King overflows with great ideas. What a wonder he is!

  5. Your posts never fail to jump start my "sewing mojo" especially when reading them and sipping my morning coffee! The ruffled shrug would be absolutely perfect for her!

  6. I do think that for an autumn wedding, a more substantial shrug or bolero may be more apt than the (very lovely) lace one. Perhaps one with a slightly richer fabric of some sort as the collar and/or ruffle?

    1. Are you describing the transitional delight of burnout velvet?
      A fabric which has the peek-a-boo quality of lace, with the heft and grandeur of something befitting the occasion?

    2. Oooooooh! A white burnout velvet shrug!!! That would be fab.

    3. Fab indeed, Leigh. Texture and luxe effortlessly making a statement.

      Wonder what Scorpioninblue thinks of all this?

  7. Could I make a suggestion about the zip ties? I've made 18th century stays with zip ties like that in place of whale boning (no longer available!) and if you want to avoid poking at the ends (and possibly tearing the fabric or just digging into the skin in sensitive places), trim the ends to a curve and sand them slightly. The American Duchess has a tutorial on her blog on how to do it exactly, but you use dognail clippers to get the curves and some medium grit sandpaper. It doesn't take very long (and 18th century stays use a LOT of zip ties) and the finish is very nice. The rounded ends are also easier to thread through the boning channels.

    Just a penny for the pond! Good luck--it looks beautiful!!

    1. Second that one. Am pretty sure you have those clippers already (I love how a plan comes together).

    2. IIRC, you can also hold the ends over a candle or lighter (carefully!) and melt the sharp edges off.

  8. It is looking great. So you mentioned grommets - will this be a lace-up corset? With the show we are doing now (community theater) I have seen several outerwear corsets that lace.

  9. I made that little shrug with the ruffle for my daughter in law out of a white embroidered tussah silk. So easy and beautiful.

  10. Frankly, I am fed up seeing women wearing clothing that looks like their underwear. You'd think they had nothing more to offer than their bodies. There is much more to life than sex.


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