The lace bodice was one of the most challenging (and exciting) parts of sewing my wedding dress!
If you are new to this series, check out my previous posts:
Part Four | The Lace Bodice (You’re here!)
Guipure lace is one of the most beautiful laces I have ever seen — and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I purchased a beautiful Guipure lace off of Ebay and later learned that it is one of the most difficult laces to sew. Thank goodness for Alison Smith and Craftsy !
Before doing anything else, I put the lace on the boned bodice to see how I wanted it to look. It does not have a balanced pattern (it’s asymmetrical), so this helped me figure out how to place my pattern pieces.
Preparing The Pattern
I prepared the pattern pieces out of a pattern fabric (Similar to this). This semi-translucent fabric is very helpful for creating sewing patterns, especially when you need to see what is underneath. In this case, I needed to know how the lace motifs worked with the pattern pieces and how they interacted with the darts.
The bodice pattern was designed to be cut with the center front on the fold. With lace, this approach doesn’t work because you need to know exactly where you’re cutting. There’s too much room for error. So, I duplicated the pattern piece and stitched them together to create a full bodice pattern. I marked my darts, waistline and notes.
The most nerve wracking moment of the entire wedding dress project was that first cut into my gorgeous lace … knowing that I might butcher it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen!
Marking and Sewing the Darts
With an open lace like guipure, you can’t just mark darts with a pencil or water soluble pen, so they must be hand basted in. As you can see in the photos, I used a dark navy thread for this. You can use any color, as long as it doesn’t match your fabric. It needs to be seen!
I also marked the seam allowance in this way so that I would be able to follow it easily. Lace can shift around so this is a really great way to keep it in check and know that you’re sewing in the right place. Because who wants to try and rip a seam out of guipure lace? Not me!
Once the markings were done, I stitched the waist darts and the bust darts. Every seam included a strip of inch wide tulle sandwiching the lace so that the sewing machine didn’t ‘eat’ the it or get stuck. After sewing the darts, I trimmed off the extra lace and pressed them to the center.
I stitched the shoulder seams the same way and encased them in silk organza to stabilize them and prevent them from feeling scratchy on my skin.
I modified the sleeve pattern slightly to make it flare more moderately than the original pattern. Again, I laid the pattern pieces over the lace to see where the motifs were and how to cut them.
The sleeves needed a finished edge, so I used a lace trim I found at JoAnn’s that (happy day!) matched my guipure lace perfectly.
After carefully pinning the lace trim where I wanted it, I hand basted it in place with tulle behind it. Hand basting on a project like this saves so much frustration! It’s worth the extra effort. I used a small zig-zag stitch to sew around the inside edge of the trim. Talk about time consuming! After that was done, I trimmed the tulle and the excess lace behind the trim.
The sleeves were set in with the same method I used for the shoulders: with tulle and silk organza.
Then I did the same with the side seams.
I decided to go with a v-neck finished it with the same trim as the sleeves. I thought sewing that trim would never end!
Attaching The Lace Bodice
After the lace bodice was complete, it was time to attach it to the dress. I carefully pinned it to the boned bodicee. Using a straight stitch, I sewed through both layers up the side seams. I did the same for the darts.
Then I inserted the zipper. When you insert an invisible zipper into a heavy lace like guipure, you simply stitch further away from the zipper coils. This allows enough space for the guipure to fold and still gives you the invisible zipper.
After the zipper was in, I hand finished the lining inside the boned bodice.
I folded the lace edges of the upper opening under and used a strip of silk organza to stabilize them.
The tiny floral buttons are just for show, behind each one is a hand sewn hook and eye. This was one of the final steps of construction … and I finished that around midnight the night before my wedding! After that, I sewed two long loops of ribbon into each side so that I could hang the dress up without stressing the shoulder seams. I was done!
I am so thankful for my friend, Hannah! She did such a lovely job on the veil and it made it so special to wear something she made for me.
The veil is a Juliet style based on this one. The lace on the cap was the same guipure as the bodice. Hannah also used the same trim for the edge that I used on the sleeves and neckline – and it took seven yards of it!
Thanks for joining me on this journey of creating my wedding dress. If you have any questions, please comment below! I’d love to help any way I can.
Have you ever made a wedding dress? I’d love to see it!