Quest for the Wedding Dress: Part 2 + Free Scalloped Lace Edging Pattern!
My mother texted me while I was in a meeting the other day.
“Only 17 weeks until the big day!”
Oh my GOD, mom.
The past few weeks have been dotted with short, intense, panic-inducing moments such as these. Fortunately, this one occurred within the confines of my head, so I was able to cruise through the remainder of my meeting with a semi-straight face. My little freak-outs started rather suddenly after catching up with one of my bridesmaids and a highly-skilled seamstress-friend a few weeks ago, at which time I was given a blunt reality check regarding the assembly of my wedding dress, and how little time I actually had left to finish it.
I was feeling quite confident in my little collection of crocheted lace motifs and timidly pondering my next steps into assembly when I met with my dress-making guide, who has a lengthy background in constructing custom wedding dresses and fancy lingerie (among so many other skills!). I explained to her how I intended to build up the lace bodice around my dress form, then hang some sustainable material or other from the bottom of it to create the lower skirt portion of the dress. I would wear a simple little slip underneath, and voila! Wedding dress! Too easy, right?
She took everything in, thought a brief moment, and then gently explained that hanging any fabric from my delicate lace would completely distort it, if not destroy it entirely. She told me that It would be best to create my own bodice to which I could sew my crocheted lace directly on top of, and pointed out that I would likely need to redesign certain aspects of my dress if I didn’t want to have to tape myself in. She briskly circled me with a tape measure, listed out dozens of measurements which my bridesmaid duly jotted down on a post-it note, and just like that she was on her way, leaving me feeling stunned, inspired and terrified all at the same time.
I have some minor experience with sewing, limited to the knowledge of threading my machine (thanks to a home ec. class I subbed in for once), and sewing square things like bookmarks and frumpy pillowcases. I admittedly tried to make a cover for my papsan basket-chair last summer, but it came out less than round (it currently resides unseen in my basement). Needless to say, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Fortunately, I also spent some time learning about and practicing CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) with a psychologist last year, so I was already armed with some excellent tools for managing my impending panic. I took a few deep breaths, relaxed my tensed up shoulders and recounted how I had taught myself another skill only too recently; crochet. I had done so by watching dozens of instructional Youtube videos, pouring through needlecraft literature from the library, constantly hyping myself up with inspiration from craft blogs, and plenty of good old fashioned practice. I decided then and there, that this needed to be my approach to learning sewing.
I quickly located an excellent video on How to Drape a Sweetheart Bodice by fashion designer Daniela Tabois. She does a fantastic job of coaching viewers through the draping process, from a detailed list of required materials all the way up to a functioning test piece. In her following tutorials, she explains how to transfer your test fabric to a usable paper pattern, and then onto to assembling the final bodice in your fabric of choice. Following her cheerful guidance, I tackled my first drape.
It went relatively well!
As per Daniela's preemptive instructions, I marked out two additional seam-lines with ribbon and pins, divvying up the surface area of one side of my dress form into 4 similarly sized panels. It took a few attempts to figure out how to make the muslin material lay flat without any puckering on the curved surface, but with enough pins and cut-notches, anything appears to be possible! I traced a dotted line along each seam, and added an additional 1/2 inch allowance on the muslin. Following that, I cut out the 4 very differently shaped panels and then pinned them to one another along my dotted lines. I hurried back to my form and carefully reapplied the test-piece. A near perfect fit! Not bad for a first attempt, and certainly nothing a few little adjustments couldn't fix. I poked, prodded and re-pinned until I was satisfied that the material was hugging true to my form. Then, I peeled it off again and adjusted my seam allowances. Satisfied that the shapes were accurate, I copied them in reverse onto more muslin for the other side of the form. Finally, I basted all of the pieces together and with breath held, slipped the test-bodice around my form
She fits! (I did a double check and tried it on...twice. Just to be certain). I was so delighted with the process that it was hard to sit back and just appreciate it; I just wanted to keep going with my sewing! I've instead had to busy myself with browsing for potential materials (including used wedding dresses) and working on more and more crocheted lace. More on fabrics later!
In the meantime, please enjoy my free, self-drafted Scalloped Lace Edging pattern below!
Scalloped Lace Edging
You may use whichever hook size and yarn weight you desire to make this lace, although it was designed with lightness and delicacy in mind. I used Size 40 embroidery floss and a 1.00mm hook for my lace.
Make a slip knot. Ch7. Dc in the farthest ch from the hook (1st ch). This will form your first "triangle". *Ch5, Dc in the middle of the top of your first triangle (2nd ch before the dc). Ch3, then dc in the same stitch.* Repeat until your foundation row reaches your desired length. I wanted my chain to measure 26 inches, and I ended up with 118 "triangles".
NOTE: You need to finish with a multiple of 10 + 8 triangles.
Ch1, turn, and ss up to the middle of previous ch5 (3rd ch). *Ch7. Ss into the next ch5 space.* Repeat to end of row.
Ch1, turn, and ss up to the middle of previous ch7 (5th ch). *Ch1. 12 tr in the next ch7 space. Ch1 and ss into the next ch7 space. Ch 5, ss into next ch7 space, ch 5, ss into next ch7 space, Ch5, ss into next ch7 space.* Repeat until 3rd last ch7 space of previous row. Ch1. 12 tr in the next ch7 space. Ch1 and ss into the last ch7 space.
Ch1, turn. *Skip first ch and puff stitch in space between two tr posts. Repeat for next 10 spaces. Ch1, ss in next ch5 space, ch5, ss in next ch5 space.* Repeat until last ch5 space of previous row. Skip first ch and puff stitch in space between two tr posts. Repeat for next 10 spaces. Ss into final space.
Ch1, turn. *3dc in space between first two puff stitches. ch3 and picot, then 3 more dc in same space. SS to space between next two puff stitches. Repeat x4. Ss into ch1 space. 2sc, ch3, 2sc in same ch1 space. 2sc, ch3, 1sc, ch4, 1sc, ch3, 2sc in next two ch5 spaces. 2sc, ch3, 2sc in next ch1 space.* Repeat until last ch 1 space following two ch5 spaces of previous row.3dc in space between first two puff stitches. ch3 and picot, then 3 more dc in same space. SS to space between next two puff stitches. Repeat x4. Ss last ch1 space.
Bind off and weave in ends. Enjoy your new scalloped lace edging!