Fabric Sources for the Bodice
Lace: Alencon Lace from etsy (approximately 2.5 yards). The exact lace I used is no longer available, but there are very similar styles here. And I have found some others on ebay as well.
Mesh Lining: Stretch Illusion from Mary Not Martha on etsy. (1 yard) This stuff is the bomb! It was the perfect fabric for applying lace! It is very strong, but has enough stretch and recovery (even when I made it slightly too small!) More details in main post below.
Boob covering: beige knit from etsy (<1 yard)
Cups: I contemplated/attempted to add cups for support but couldn’t find the right size/shape. I took a chance that the dress would be tight enough as is… Buuuut it was not supportive enough, so I wore the adhesive silicone guys from Amazon.
More on the adhesive cups… I will say, they weren’t great for large breasts. They might have been ok if it wasn’t 20 degrees warmer than I expected it to be. I was sweating! So, needless to say, they didnt stay up that well. But, the bodice was very tight, so that helped. All in all, I like the way the dress looks in photos, but it wasn’t the best idea!
Sleeve buttons: Bridal buttons from etsy
A note about the bodice: I bought this dress form to use for this dress because it almost matched my measurements perfectly, and so I was able to construct the bodice by draping the lace.
I drafted the mesh lining piece from my measurements, and creating darts by draping. The shoulder and side seams were finished using french seams. You can see in the above photos that this isn’t super tight on the dress form at this point. The back seam remained open until I inserted the zipper at the end of the whole process.
The bodice was constructed by draping and overlapping pieces of lace. Lots of hand sewing! But i did reinforce a lot of places with machine stitching, but they weren’t visible.
I put a lot of thought into the placement of the lace so that it looked as seamless as possible. This was a lot of fun! I bought extra lace so I didn’t have to be scared about cutting into it! In the bust area, I appliquéd a second layer of lace in sections, which added more coverage.
The bodice and sleeves were constructed separately, and then sewn together.
I stitched the sleeve seam all the way to the wrist, leaving about 3-4 inches unsewn for the button closure. The sleeve seam was on the underside of the arm, so I didn’t bother hiding it.
After attaching the sleeves to the bodice, armscye seams were finished with a bias binding method of the same mesh fabric. However, it was just a strip of fabric and not actually on the bias, because it was stretchy. The sleeve seams were finished in this way also.
This was not very precise! I just cut enough fabric to cover the areas (2 layers sewn together with a slight dart, and turned in), and then hand-stitched it into place, catching only the mesh and not the lace.
I wanted the sleeves to blend with the bodice, so I cut sections of lace to cover the shoulder seams. This also served to reinforce the seam. And luckily, no seams busted on my big day!
The last thing to do on the sleeves was to add the buttons! I intended to fully button up the back, even if it was just the illusion of buttons lining the zipper, but I ran out of time AND didn’t order enough buttons (it was low on the priorities list!).
So I added 3 buttons to each sleeve, and attached a corded loop for the closure. In hindsight, I added them on the wrong side of the sleeve opening. You can see in the above photo, the loop is on the top, but I think the button should be on the top with the loop coming from the bottom. I can (carefully) get into the sleeves without unbuttoning them, but I think they still add an elegant finish.
Go back to PART 1: Inspiration & Design