Wedding Dress: Sewing with Crinkled Fabric

Tutorial: Draping a Wedding Dress Skirt

The fabric which I’m using for the skirt of Megan’s wedding dress is absolutely beautiful – it is crinkled, ruched with elastic thread, so it has lots of give and great texture. When hung on the grain, it looks boxy but when draped on the bias it hangs beautifully.   The bottom line is that it is easy to see how the skirt will look but difficult to envision how to make a garment from the fabric.  To make it a little more difficult, the fabric design isn’t completely symmetric and if given a choice, one would want to avoid seaming over the ruched medallion.

Last of all, the fabric is only 45″ wide which limits the width and length of the finished skirt.  Essentially this allowed for a 45″ square, give or take a few inches for each the front and the back. Megan is 5’3″, so the skirt is long enough however if she were tall, the length wouldn’t work.


In thinking about how to make the skirt, the following are the steps I took to drape this skirt:

1.  For weeks the fabric hung on the bias, just clipped to a hanger.  During this time it stretched quite a lot. The truth is that I was also afraid to cut the fabric because I had only one chance and didn’t want to mess up.  I guess that’s called procrastination!

2.  Using silk organza to later be used as a skirt underlining, I drafted a skirt in the desired shape.

3. Once I was comfortable with the shape of the silk organza, I laid it on top of the skirt fabric and pinned it in place.

4.  Then I hung it again for several weeks and allowed the organza to stretch out.

5.  Last of all, I basted the underlining to the skirt at the seam line.  This included careful positioning of the small creases which give the fabric a crinkled look.  The front and back were then basted together.

Drafted skirt with side seams basted

6.  Before cutting most of the excess fabric, we were able to do a fitting of the skirt with the top to determine the best place for the waistline.

7.  Finally after this was completed, it was time for some serious cutting of the excess fabric.

8.  The side seams were also machine sewn at this point.  Given that it was difficult to sew a straight line on this fabric, the underlining acted as a guide for the side seams.

Current Status:

The wedding is about 6 weeks away.  The top is fully constructed and attached to the skirt.  The zipper is basted in and this weekend will be the last fitting and hemming.  Stop by after June 12 and you can see the end product!

Teaching Teens to Love Sewing – NOT!

How to discourage teens from sewing

Several days ago and as I often do on a Sunday afternoon,  I made a trip to JoAnn Fabrics to purchase tulle for the flower girl dresses I’m sewing.  This was the second type of tulle I’ve purchased, but that’s another story.   While waiting to have the tulle cut I witnessed the most disappointing scene.  Nearly frantic and obviously overwhelmed by the experience of being in a fabric store, a mother and her teen-age daughter came to the cutting table to ask for assistance.  With a photocopied shopping list in hand it was clear that the mother and daughter were shopping for fabric and notions for a sewing class.

As usual for a Sunday afternoon, there were 2 clerks at the cutting counter and not another staff member to be found anywhere in the store.  Already having waited 15 minutes I was holding “number 59”, the ticker was well past 70 and every person in line patiently waited with a cart full of fabric to be cut.    By now you have the picture.

Frantic mother: “Is there someone who can help me find fabric.  I’ve never been in a fabric store before.”

Teen: Embarrassed, she split to another more teen-friendly area of the store.

Employee: “You’ll need to take a number and stand in line.”

Frantic mother (looking around for assistance):  “I’ll need to wait forever – I don’t even know where to start.”

Me: “I’m just standing in line – is there some way I can help?”

Mother: “My daughter is making a backpack for her class but I have no idea what type of fabric to buy”

Clerk: “Number 59”

Another customer: “I’ll be waiting for a long time – let me show you where the denim fabrics are.”

Customer service aside, isn’t it so sad that the stores who should be creating their future don’t have staff who have either the time or the interest to advance sewing and assist those who will be their future customers?  What if this mother and teen had a positive experience?  Maybe the daughter would have enjoyed sewing and would have become one of us “crazies’ who love to spend time in a fabric store?

Toilet Paper Wedding Dresses

Creations for Non-Sewers

While everyone isn’t blessed with the ability to sew, I’m sure that like me, many of you wish your friends and family would just give sewing a try.  Maybe they would like it.  Instead we hear things like, “I could never do that” or “I don’t have the patience”.  Worst of all is the person who assumes that every garment will look like the horrible project from Junior High.  Many years ago my first project was an apron.  At that time, even my mother didn’t wear one, so why would I consider it enjoyable to sew a dowdy apron?  Years later my children made items like football pillows or a gym bag.

Here’s a project for sewers and non-sewers alike, and I’m guessing it built much more confidence than an apron or a pillow. Recently at a bridal shower for my daughter Megan, the women divided into groups, each with rolls of toilet paper in hand and a three to seven-year old waiting to become a bride.  With each group gathered in a different part of the house so we wouldn’t “cheat” and look at the other ideas, the participants in each group thought about and created the design, carefully wrapped, tied and tucked. Here are the models and dresses in the making.

After about 20 minutes, we had 5 beautiful brides and about 20 adults who enjoyed creating the garments.  Aren’t they adorable?

Aunt Eileen, thank you for the creative and fun project.

Spring Break in Sunny Greece

10 days in Heavenly Greece

Last fall when Kevin found a great airfare to Greece, I said there would never be time for a spring vacation, as we have two weddings this year.  Megan and Chris are getting married in June – a topic which you’ve probably tired of, and our son Shaun and Deb are getting married in September.

The airfare was too good to resist and we just returned but without a single sewing story.  On most trips I find a wedding or beautiful fabric or textiles to photograph, but this time there were no weddings and no fabric stores.  There was lots of sun, icy blue water and tile roofed villages.  Most of all it was relaxing.

For me, one of the delights of traveling is walking through the local markets smelling fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.  The markets are bustling with people and there’s always something of interest.  I spared you the photo of lamb intestines and other internal organs.  Being there over the Eastern Orthodox Easter was especially fun because of the preponderance of fresh lamb in the markets and to see the holiday customs.

Fresh Lamb, Sausages and Tsoureki

Vacation is over and it’s time to sew.