When I decided to sew my own wedding dress, I knew that I wanted a long, elegant skirt with simple lines. Something that was either a circle skirt or an A-line.
The skirt turned into an unexpected challenge that required my sense of humor to keep me from frustration
Designing The Skirt
The skirt was designed to have two layers. The top layer would be chiffon and the bottom layer would be from the same satin I used for the bodice — extra from my sister’s wedding dress.
I knew I would have to draft both layers separately because I wanted the chiffon layer to have more width at the hem than the bottom satin layer for effect.
Drafting The Satin Skirt
The satin skirt was based on a 3/4 circle skirt, so I started by working the math — my least favorite subject! I’m going to spare you the details because I just learned that there are circle skirt calculators online! Where were these when I needed them?
To save you the trouble, here are a couple:
I chose to draft my skirt in four panels. This is where things started getting really interesting.
After finishing my paper pattern, I cut it out and ended up with only three pieces out of four! This is why sewing a test run with cheap fabric is important! Oops.
In an effort to remedy this, I made an emergency trip up the hill to JoAnn Fabrics. My goal was to find something similar to make that last piece. Again. Bad. Idea.
I found a fabric that I thought was close to the satin I had and bought enough for the last piece, but when I cut it out at home, the drape was so different that I knew it wouldn’t work.
Another trip to JoAnn’s and I came home with enough of that fabric to make the skirt … or so I thought. I happily cut out my pieces, only to find out that once again I only had enough fabric for three of the four skirt pieces. Agh! My wedding day was only a couple weeks away and I only had a strapless, boned bodiceat this point!
Well, I fudged. There was enough fabric if I cut out most of the fourth piece and then cut the remainder of it from a large scrap. Since it would be under the chiffon layer (and no one should be inspecting me that closely anyway!) I went for it and it worked. It might not be perfect, but that extra little piece of fabric has a story to tell. One I am glad I can laugh at.
A peek at the satin underskirt.
The Trouble With Chiffon
The chiffon skirt was drafted in a similar fashion to the satin skirt, but with more fullness at the hem and designed in five pieces. I didn’t want the center front of the gown to have a seam down it.
I adjusted the pattern several times before I was satisfied. I was paranoid about making the same mistake I made with the satin layer and not having enough fabric.
But chiffon comes with troubles of its own. It slips, slides and doesn’t stay where you want it.
Since chiffon is such a delicate fabric, it requires special handling for the seams. I used two lines of stitching: the first was a teeny, tiny zigzag and the second was a straight stitch just inside of that. I then trimmed the seam allowance.
The chiffon layer.
Hemming the Chiffon
There are a few things that are very difficult to do alone, like marking the hem of your own skirt. Thankfully, a friend offered to come help. Hannah was a lifesaver! She even offered to make my veil. I was running out of time and she did a fantastic job! I’ll share her work with you in a future post.
I wanted a rolled hem for the chiffon skirt but had never tried one. Then I learned that I could make a rolled hem with my serger. Easy peasy, right? Ha. I started hemming and immediately began having trouble … the chiffon was so slippery that the moment the knives cut it, it slid away from the needles. Talk about frustrating!
Nothing I tried worked. So I consulted Google. After some reading, I bought some lightweight spray starch and used it liberally on the hem. While hemming was still difficult, this helped tremendously. In hindsight, I would try the heavier starch because the chiffon was so difficult.
After both skirts were complete, I basted them together and then stitched them to the bodice. The zipper would go in after I finished the lace overlay for the bodice. We’ll dive into that next time!