As soon as I finished my sister's wedding dress, I started working on a gorgeous Victorian wedding gown for a colleague, C. She has a PhD in history with an emphasis on Victorian women's experiences. Her mother is from Finland, and she really wanted to incorporate sapphire blue and silver into the gown to honor her heritage. We worked on the design process, the muslin, and choosing material and trims over the summer. As soon as we got home from my sister's wedding, I began sewing this gown in earnest. In some ways, it was much easier than my sister's gown. I was less emotionally invested in it (though I still wanted it to be perfect) and even though there were many trims and details, there was no lace to rework. Lace can be a real pain to work with. It has to be cut perfectly and mostly hand sewn so that it looks like one continuous piece of fabric, but in the form of a bodice or skirt edge or sleeve.
C. and I had five fittings in the last weeks before her wedding. She, and everyone at the wedding, were in love with the dress. It was perfect for her, exactly what she wanted, and I was very pleased with how it turned out. There were four separate pieces: the bodice, the overskirt and bustle, the underskirt, and the petticoat. The bodice has two layers of hand-ruffled lace, gathered brocade, and beading around the neckline, with a rhinestone pin in the center of the gathered brocade. The silver brocade center is offset by sapphire velvet ribbon and silver Venice lace trim. The rest of the bodice is silver dupioni silk. C. really wanted a corset-tie back, which I incorporated, using blue rat tail as ties.
The oveskirt and bustle of the gown are silver dupioni silk lined with netting for stiffness and "buoyancy." I wanted to stay true to the Victorian silhouette, but make the gown lighter and easier to wear. The netting held the shape of the bustle as C. danced, sat, walked, and knelt. The front of the overskirt is trimmed with two layers of beading. The back train of the bustle is trimmed with two rows of blue velvet ribbon and two rows of hand-pleated trim--one silver satin and one sapphire taffeta. Rhinestone bustle clips are scattered among the bustle folds in the back.
The underskirt is sapphire taffeta with a silver brocade inset in the center front. The bottom of the skirt is trimmed with hand-pleated silver brocade and sapphire taffeta trim and silver braid. Rhinestone flower trim separates the silver brocade from a sapphire taffeta border on the front of the skirt.
All the elements really worked well together and C. looked beautiful the whole day!