This past summer I was contacted about making a custom-fitted wedding gown for a client in Australia. She’d been following my blog for a while and remembered the Beaded Leaf Gown that I made way back in the 9th grade. [If you follow the link - you know that moment when you look back on an old diary page and think, "I can't believe I wrote like that!"? Well I just had that moment. Please don't judge my middle school writing style too harshly. Haha I was only 14-years-old at the time.]
She asked if I could remake the Beaded Leaf Gown into a wedding dress her size. I'd already wanted to remake this dress, because there were a lot of kinks in the construction of the first design. This time I was able to sew it without any of the technical problems that I ran into when I first made it. Therefore, when she asked me to make it for her wedding dress I was excited with the idea of recreating it!
As I can remember, my inspiration was layered leaves. The bodice is in the shape of a maple leaf, as well as the leaves around the skirt waistline. The skirt leaves are inspired by elongated leaves that are each cut separately and then sewn into the waistline of the skirt overlay. There is beading along all of the skirt leaves and two of the waistline side leaves. This is to give a subtle emphasis to the leaf shape.
The invisible zipper was sewn into the back. Because I had panels of leaves overlapping each other along the waistline, I added hooks and eyes in the back of the panel so they could overlap the zipper and flow like the rest of the dress.
All of the appliqué on the front bodice was hand sewn on top of tulle into the pattern of a maple leaf. Each piece of appliqué is about 2 inches in diameter. Once it was hand sewn I lined up the tulle darts with the bodice darts, and hand sewed the tulle down into the bodice fabric, because doing so gives a better fit without warping or sagging. [This was an issue that I had with my first dress - I sewed the appliqué onto tulle without sewing darts first. ]
The applique in this gown is actually cut up pieces from this 1980s dress that I got at Goodwill on 50%off day way back in middle school. I was really happy when I found a photo of the same dress online just to see the before and after!
Overall, the construction of this dress took about 150 hours to make. What I find funny is that if you look back at my post from 2010, I've really learned to enjoy hand sewing and fine detail work since then. It's something that I look forward to in designing now. It’s funny to look back on that post; considering the title is, "Never want to hand sew again!!" Ha
The gown was packed and shipped to Australia in the beginning of January. This was my first wedding gown that I made for someone, and I feel like I learned so much about the process!