Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Strapless guipure dress: hidden details / Part 1

I promised you, dear readers, the innards of my guipure dress! Below, I am posting an image of a work-in-progress shell. This is pretty much how this dress left the workroom after the Couture Sewing School in Baltimore.What's missing and will be featured in another post is an inner foundation (corselet) and lining. Here, I wanted you to see details hidden in a finished dress.

If you click on the image you will see it somewhat larger - I had to keep the file reasonably small for the web.
I know some of you wanted to know more about the engineering of such a dress. I planned an in-detail post first, but then I thought I may as well let you speak - I truly enjoy the interaction with you and believe that sometimes it is more fun to change the how-to post format and make it more like a conversation.

So, this time it is your call - ask me any questions about the shell, lace, underlining - whatever you want to be explained on this image. I will then compile a Q&A in a new post. How does it sound?

 And, of course, follow-up posts on the corselet and the final assembly are in making!


  1. How is the lace attached to the shell? Did you construct the lace outer dress then attached to the underlining?

  2. @joen. The lace (which, by the way has only one center back seam) is sewn to the underlining. You may have noticed the horizontal lines of stitches (grey thread) on the muslin... I basted the lace to the underlining every one inch, line by line.

    The center back seam was not sewn yet, so I spread the dress on the table. You will need to pin the lace to the underlining before, so the lace is matched and the grain is not distorted.

    I started sewing (by hand) at the hip line (the widest part on my dress) and worked my way down to the hem, slightly shaping as I moved down (the skirt is slightly narrower at the hem).

    Once the skirt part was done I pinned the lace to the center front and center back along the grainline and shaped the rest by pushing the lace together. I had to cut the lace at the most shaped sections and to applique it, but it was minor. All in all it is still a big rectangle piece of guipure (60" by one yard, or almost one meter of 150" wide lace).

    Also, the center back piece of lace is not finished yet, this is where the most applique work will be done. But more about it later in my finishing post.

  3. Looking great. I have to think more about a question.. Xx

  4. I can't tell from the picture above if your back seam with the lace is matched or not? What do you do when the repeat of the lace and the dress circumference don't allow you to match the lace pattern?

  5. Oh, and I'm dying to hear about the corsolete you've made for this too :)

  6. This is STUNNING. I'm excited to see your corselet!

  7. @poppykettle: the back seam is not matched yet, and you are right, the lace won't match automatically because the circumference may not fit the repeat precisely.The main problem here is a possible overlapping of more prominent lace details, such as flowers in this lace.

    The only thing to do is to cut out the motives along the center back seam and re-applique them distributing the repear evenly. You won't achive the same distance, but the it will still look better than two overlapping flowers all along the center back seam.

    If, however, the overlap is minimal, what you can do is re-distribute the lace on the back before you sew it on to the underlining (see y comment above), pushing the flowers and leaves slightly together - this will prevent some overlapping at the center back seam.

    One thing to remember is that in many cases there is hardly any shaping at the center back seam (it is usually cut on straight grain), so it is also important to keep the lace motives aligned along the center back line. Most shaping occures at side seams.

    (I hope it sounds coherent :-)

  8. Are there any tips you would give for attaching the lace to the underlining? Does the lace tend to stretch?

    You said: I basted the lace to the underlining every one inch, line by line. What do you mean with 'line by line'? Is it horizontally across or? Is it done to prevent stretching?
    You can tell I have never sewn any lace...but I want to try

  9. @ Sewing Princess: the lace is not a tightly woven fabric, so it will sag or stretch after a while. Guipure lace even more as it is heavier than any other types of laces. That's why it is important to secure it at regular intervals. I basted the lacefollowing horizontal lines one inch apart, starting with areas that didn't need shaping and where I had straight grain. Then areas that need shaping are pinned in place, small portions of lace are cut (you may need to remove a leaf motive, for example) if absolutely necessary, otherwise, you just push the pieces together and secure them with a stitch. In fact, Guipure lends itself better to shaping without cutting and applique than any other lace. I will try to upload a tutorial later this week to demonstrate shaping with guipure.

  10. Thanks for your response to my queries Marina - I happened to be in my favourite fabric store yesterday and saw a lace I fell in love with - I might have to go back and buy it after being inspired by your dress!

  11. ooh can' t wait to see this. The innards look amazing too. So inspiring this detail and precision in your work!

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  13. This is STUNNING. I'm excited to see your corselet!
    lace dress



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