Making my Wedding Dress Part 5: Fabric Shopping & Work Begins

I didn't change much in terms of construction between my practice dress (The Blue Dress) and my wedding dress.

The fabric, though, deserves to be talked about.

I shopped AROUND for my fabric. The trouble was, I had a very specific idea of exactly the type of lace I wanted. I was also very concerned that it was the right shade. I'm so pale that a lot of "ivory" fabrics are pretty much the same as my skin tone! So I needed white or pale ivory.

I also spent more than I originally planned to. The cheaper laces just weren't doing it for me, and try as I might I couldn't find any mid-priced lace that ticked all my boxes. If I'd been after corded lace it would have been no problem - there seemed to be loads of that about at reasonable prices!

In March, after a lot of internet research, I hit up Soho with one of my bridesmaids, and tried all the fabric shops there, dodging the showers as we went. We finally struck gold in the wonderful Broadwick Silks. They had an amazing selection of absolutely beautiful (and eye-wateringly expensive) luxury fabrics. But what made the whole experience so much easier, more fun and more special was the lovely assistant, Kelsey, who helped me. She went out of her way to find any and every lace that matched my description, even schlepping out in the rain twice to their sister shop to bring back more options.

Kelsey stood me in front of their mirror and "dressed" me in a base layer of duchess silk satin, then draped each lace in turn over that so we could get an idea of what it would look like. My lovely bridesmaid was great and took loads of photos for me! We were there HOURS, tried every lace they had and eventually found The One. Heart-stoppingly beautiful lace. Lace handmade in France, with a gorgeous scalloped edge, lace that was super soft and very delicate. And very expensive. I shall use every last scrap!!!!

I took the plunge and bought that lace, but I couldn't afford the lovely duchess satin Kelsey had draped over me. Especially when I had seen duchess silk satin on Goldhawk Road for half the price! I headed straight there, to UK Textiles, and got my duchess satin for £35/m from the lovely chap there.

It was a bit more difficult to find the right colour silk charmeuse for the waist sash, button loops and covered buttons. I needed a pale ivory but it seemed really difficult to find. Eventually I found a good coordinating colour in Goldbrick Fabrics, and headed home feeling absolutely worn out!!

I carefully planned my cutting layout, especially on the lace. I wanted the sleeves and the back neckline to mirror each other (symmetrical lace motifs), and managed this with careful layout thinking. I do have quite big offcuts so I'm planning some more lace makes to use up the leftovers!

Here are some shots of the finished dress, and a few photos to highlight construction. These were taken in the early evening, and the light did a bizarre thing to the colours, making my satin and lace look positively cream. In reality it's a pale ivory.

There were a few things I did differently on my wedding dress to my Blue Dress.

Instead of adding an extra front-shoulder piece in to finish the neckline, I brought the back pieces over the shoulder to join to the front neckline with a hairline appliqué seam. It worked so much better and made more design sense.

I have LOADS of shots like this through the entire process of me using photos to help me with fitting and lace placement 

This time I did appliqué seams by hand on the bodice side seams, and I just love how invisible they are. This is me trying to "show my workings" before I pinned and stitched them.

The seam line is marked with thread tracing and the lace motifs either side of the seam line overlap and are appliquéd by hand for an invisible seam.

I added a lining underneath the petticoat to stop scratchiness! I'm going to have to go back and add one to the Blue Dress now as it is a bit scratchy to sit in. The Wedding Dress was a dream though. also because of scratchiness, I finished the edges of my Wedding Dress petticoat with ribbon.

The layers! Here you can see the lace hem (still only tacked), the duchess satin hemmed with horsehair braid, the ribbon-bound edges of the petticoat and the lining I added. I just overlocked the lining hem, as it wouldn't be seen and I did NOT want to hand-hem a third circle skirt for one dress, wedding dress or not!

TIP: to stop the corselet hooks and eyes from catching on the lace of the outer dress while working on it, I covered the hooks with washi tape!

Each lace I used throughout this project (toile lace, blue lace, pricey French lace) has behaved differently, which is why I'm really glad I draped my bodice. The luxurious and very soft and supple French lace is much more malleable than the others were, allowing me to stretch and shape it over the bust and round the arms more easily, making for a better looking and comfier garment in the end.

Because my Wedding Dress lace is quite an open design, I had to be really careful when sewing it that it didn't get all ruched up in the open parts. Over open parts of the lace I sewed over a scrap of Swedish Tracing Paper to stabilise it, ripping it away afterwards. It really worked and gave me lovely flat seams with no bother.

As I got further into my dress-making journey, I got more and more excited. Here is the moment when I tried on the almost-completed dress (the hem is still just tacked here), and danced around in it for ten minutes like an excitable child!

Argh! So proud!


  1. You should be proud! It's bloody amazeballs! (some of those prices are terrifying aren't they?! Typically the lace I chose came under that category so I could only get half a meter, imagine the terror I went through when it came to cutting it out, measure 10 times cut once!....)

    1. Haha yes I know, I was the same! cutting out those big circle skirt pieces from my terrifyingly expensive lace was nerve wracking - knowing I had to cut them right as there'd be no way I could cut or buy more!!

  2. Oh my goodness, the lace is beautiful! I also love the petticoat with the ribbon edge, and what a great tip re the washi tape!

    1. Thank you Lynne! The lace is even more beautiful in person, so delicate and soft. Xx

  3. Wow, I'm absolutely in love with these last 2 dress posts. They're both so beautiful and I'm in awe of all the amazing techniques you've used. They've made me very excited and ambitious about my own dress next year. I've saved your posts for future reference and may well be emailing you with further queries if that's ok?

    1. Thank you!! I'm a little bit in awe too, I really didn't quite imagine I would use all these techniques and have it all turn out so well! It was just sheer determination and my perfectionism that got me through. I'm glad you're excited about making your dress!! I would LOVE it if you would email me to ask any questions, would love to help (if I can!). Also very excited to hear about the progress of your dress xx