Episode 22: Halp

Everything I know about wedding dress construction I’ve learned from watching Say Yes to the Dress, which is remarkably non-technical in its treatment of the subject, or from poring over pages and pages of Google Image results for lace wedding dresses. I get really close to my monitor, squint really hard, and try to find the seams.

Here’s the thing about professional wedding dress designers: I think they’ve evolved past the point of visible seams. Every damn dress I find looks as though it was assembled by making a model stand very still while the designer hand-weaves the lace around her.

That leaves me squinting really hard at pictures like this, muttering “Hmm…well, I guess they might have…no…huh…HOW THE HELL DID THEY DO THIS?”


I’ve been knitting this large rectangle, which was hypothetically going to be the back/sweep train part of the dress. A few days ago it occurred to me that when I made my ridiculous hobo toga dress (and turned myself into a human pincushion), pleating the fabric of this rectangle and fitting it inside the other skirt piece where they met at the butt area didn’t look completely awful. However, bedsheets are not the same as knit cotton lace in so many ways, including thickness. Following this theory, I tried folding the piece I’m working on like I’d done with the sheet and wound up with a bundle of fabric the size of my Cairn terrier.

Nobody tell Pnina about this.

As you can tell by the expression on Kaylee’s face, that’s not a great look. So, to counteract the terrier-butt-bunching syndrome, I started gradually decreasing my rectangle.


There’s something about changing from a nice comforting shape like a rectangle to a new, scary shape like a freestyle rhombotenuse (or, as I’ve been informed, an “isosceles trapezoid” for those of you who passed middle-school geometry) that induces full-blown panic in me. It happened before, when I started to decrease the original skirt; suddenly it hit me that I’m flying by the seat of my pants, and those pants might have a small dog attached to them.

So here I go, back to peering at 200 x 500 pixel blurry waterstamped images, saying “Well now, I think I know how to make a dress do that, but I don’t think I can quite pull it off.”

This picture was snapped moments before the model unhinged her jaw and devoured an entire craft services table.

That one’s kind of drastic, but almost all modern lace wedding dresses are done in the mermaid or fit-and-flare style, which hugs the hips and then juts out mid-thigh. Maybe that’s a sexy look if you want to emphasize your hips — if you’re not, say, ridiculously Italian, a genetic trait that allows every outfit from a burlap sack to a sandwich board to emphasize your hips. It’s a shape I think I could figure out how to make using strategic decreases and increases, but I would have to eat nothing but pencil shavings and red pepper flakes for the next 16 months in order to avoid looking like an amateur’s first attempt at artisanal sausage-making.

(I’ll have you know I just spent 20 minutes attempting to use the clone tool in Gimp to put Strong Mad in a lace gown to illustrate my fear of what I’d look like in mermaid lace. I have been defeated — in more ways than one.)

Once again, I feel stuck; I honestly don’t know what to do to my rectangle to transform it into a Magic Natural-Waist Dress With Sweep Train, Sausage on the Side Please. I guess I’d better keep watching trashy TV and squinting at Google until I get my Bridal Fashion degree in the mail.

3 responses

  1. I know this probably goes against eveyrthing you’re thinking, but … maybe go find a pattern for a similar skirt and train? Not to use, of course, but so you can see what type of shape you should be working toward.

    And the lack-o-seams thing? Two issues: 1. REALLY wide fabric (I bought some in LA’s garment district that was 3 YARDS wide. Seriously. Crazy.) and 2. Photoshop.


    • Aha! I must have had a mental block against looking at sewing patterns, because it had honestly never occurred to me before. Just looking at the line art for this pattern gives me a good idea of the construction I’m looking for: http://butterick.mccall.com/b5325-products-9440.php?page_id=153

      Of course, the bad news is I think I’m going to have to start over AGAIN. But it’ll be worth it if I don’t have another “OH NO SHAPING!” crisis in a few months.

      Thank you!!

  2. Kaylee always looked a bit amazed to be wherever she is. Now I am imagining all kinds of places she might find herself that would be just as amazing as a bride’s butt.

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