Wedding Dress: Part 7 (The Big Reveal)

I hope you’re still following along this epic series and haven’t gotten too horribly bored by the whole thing. It will be over soon, I promise!

I’ve written at length about all the different parts of the dress… the corselette, the underskirt, the dress shell and even the veil, but seeing at all come together was a very satisfying moment.

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Here’s how the whole setup works. The corselette layer is attached to the shell (lining) above the bust. The skirt lining is attached to the shell at the hem only. The waist of the skirt lining is free and goes between the corselette and the shell. The underskirt goes between the skirt lining and the corselette, and is separate/removable. Clear as mud? Good.

Essentially the only tricky thing was getting the underskirt on once the dress was on, because it had to go between two layers.

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To help keep the skirt lining in the right place, I attached it to the corselette with some thread chains. I cheated and rather than hand sew some beautiful chains, I just chained off on the overlocker and cut it into 10cm lengths. Then for each piece, I threaded it into a medium sized needle (using a needle threader), took a small stitch through the corselette and the skirt lining, then tied knots in both ends.

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Maybe it’s more obvious below. These chains help keep the lining up inside the dress so I can get it on, but also leave the waist free because the underskirt waistband has to go under the lining waistband.

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Of course, it wasn’t as easy as that. With all the added weight of the skirt lining, which remember, I wasn’t originally going to have, the underskirt hoops I made from three rows of boning were buckling when I walked or sat down. I must say I got a bit hacked off with it at this stage – partly because there wasn’t really enough space in my house to walk around in the dress to see whether it buckled only when I walked into something, or whether it would have done so of its own accord, and partly because I was facing a fairly serious problem which I wasn’t sure I could solve. The idea of sewing on more boning filled me with dread, because wrestling that underskirt, which was completely covered in scratchy tulle, under the sewing machine was not a pleasant thought.

Drastic measures were called for. I decided to make sure it was strong enough by adding a much less flexible hoop made of wire, that would definitely be strong enough to hold the dress up.

It was an emergency. I ‘borrowed’ three wire coat hangers from Mr CSC’s wardrobe while he was out.

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I cut off the hook ends with pliers.

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And I straightened them out a bit with my hands.

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Making a hoop the right size required sellotape, which worked a treat.

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I actually covered the three sellotaped joins in white grosgrain because I couldn’t bear the thought of something that ugly being in the dress.

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And finally, I hand stitched it to the inside of the underskirt, under the boning. It made a huge difference and I could breathe a big sigh of relief at this point. Disaster averted.

The only other changes I made in the days running up to the wedding were to add a few more tulle ruffles around the bottom of the underskirt where it was looking a bit thin, and shortening the skirt lining to take the dress up a bit, after I had a final walk around in my shoes. The last thing I wanted was to trip on a too-long dress when walking up the aisle, so I played it safe and made it a bit shorter.

And now… the moment you’ve been waiting for… some wedding pictures!

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Thanks for sticking with me for this long, folks… normal refashioning service will be resumed shortly.

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140 comments

  1. Fadanista

    Un. believable! What a beautiful bride you make, and your dress is totally stunning. I remind myself that I knocked out my first wedding dress one Wednesday night with some fabric pinched from my mother’s stash! Clearly little thought went into it – it didn’t look too bad though..

  2. Michelle Robertson

    Absolutely stunning, well done on such an amazing piece of art, which it truly is.
    And congratulations on your big day.

  3. Fabric Wrangler

    OMG – that is amazing! How beautiful is your dress and I agree with mancunianvintage – your red shoes are the perfect touch. How brave to tackle something so complicated and…well, BIG! :)
    Congratulations Mr and Mrs CSC – long life, happiness and love to you both!

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you Fabric Wrangler, you are too kind! :) The shoes are pink, though I guess they look red in the picture. We had a wonderful day and it’s such a great memory!

  4. JaneyB

    Absolutely beautiful – you and the dress! What an incredible achievement! Love the red shoes. I’ve so enjoyed following your story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Charlotte

    You are so clever! I always see things in charity shops I would love to re fashion but I cant sew. This dress is absolutely stunning!

  6. Naomi

    Loved reading about the process but it was exciting to finally see the big reveal! I think both you and the dress look beautiful and I particularly like the cut of the armholes/neckline. Are you going to store it? You will need a whole closet for that skirt :) Congratulations on the wedding too!

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Naomi, thanks for reading! I’m storing the underskirt separately, and it’s kind of collapsible. The whole thing is in a big box. Hopefully safe from dust for years to come!

  7. kellyannwashington

    Oh be still my heart… The dress is breathtaking and you’re simply gorgeous! I love the way your veil looks in the breeze. Like a trail of stars is following you wherever you walk. You did an amazing job!!

  8. Jules

    Beautiful bride & beautiful dress! Amazing achievement! I would love to make a wedding dress ☺. Great that you wore red shoes instead of the usual ivory!

  9. Gill

    Long time lurker but had to post on this. Simply beautiful, you are so talented and made a lovely bride. Have been dying to see the final result, it’s been like waiting to see who shot JR! Well done and lots of happiness in your marriage.

  10. fabrickated

    The dress worked so well, and all the elements came together. I love the veil blowing in the wind, and the picture of you cuddling him and the skirt going to the right. Beautiful and amazing. Well done. A superb piece of work (even the coat hangers!)

  11. Mrs H

    It’s a stunning dress. You are a clever girl. Congratulations and every best wish for a happy healthy married life together

  12. Ailsa Barr

    Beautiful! It was worth all the hard work, truly unique and very you. Congratulations!

  13. Connie

    Wasn’t bored with any of it. Love the dress, veil, shoes everything. So worth all that work.

  14. Claire

    Thank you for sharing all your details with us and your beautiful wedding photos too. What a fabulous dress – no one else has a wedding dress like yours! How cool. Many best wishes on a great, happy marriage.

  15. Chris @ makeandwear

    Congratulations to you and your husband. Absolutely breathtaking work, from start to finish. I made my own dress and remember the sheer extent of the work involved, including trying to fit yourself and manipulate underskirts and dress layers. Thanks for sharing so much of the planning and making.

  16. Ruth

    It’s really stunning – you did a fantastic job! It’s one of the smaller details, but I particularly love the way the stars on your veil stand out in the photos where it’s blowing in the breeze. Congratulations to you and Mr CSC!

  17. Sarah

    Incredibly lovely. Your smiles are infectious!

    Thanks for sharing the whole process with us. What a treat!

  18. vintage51

    Reblogged this on vintagethrifter51.com and commented:
    You look absolutely ethereally stunning and so happy in your dress on your special day. Congratulations on your wedding and your dress. Cheers, Michele

  19. Miss J

    You are truly talented! Great to see you make something from scratch, especially something this important. Best of luck to you, your business and your marriage, and by the way, it was lovely to have met you!
    Looking forward to the next refashion.

  20. suzibrooke

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. The dress is gorgeous and suits you wonderfully. I LOVE how the stars show up in the veil. Um a wedding photographer, and these pictures are just beautiful. Well done.

  21. Naomi

    Maximum, maximum respect on the whole thing. (And you looked stunning in it which is the whole point!) I imagine this must have been an immensely satisfying process.

  22. Gema

    No-one could be ‘horribly blored’ by any of that process, I don’t care WHAT they’re interested in; the whole thing, from start to finish has been incredible. Yes, you’re a talented seamstress, but you’ve also taken risks, reinvented the wheel at various stages, all the while maintaining incredible craftsmanship. Just. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing in so much detail, so that we may all benefit. X

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks so much for your support Gema, it’s been a long process but I’m so happy with what I’ve achieved and I loved wearing the dress on the day! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed reading about it.

  23. Helen S

    You look very good in your dress and it’s a major achievement to put it all together. My favourite part is the veil, it’s an heirloom type piece that could be used with many other dresses. The shape of the shoulders works well and is very original looking. The skirt was a lot of effort and seemed to need modification after modification. What happened when you sat down or needed the loo? I read that Lily James as Cinderella, had to use a potty. From your experience would you change anything if starting again? Thanks for the many excellent posts sharing this labour of love.

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you so much, Helen! Haha, no potty required, thankfully the underskirt remained relatively collapsible between the hoops, so I managed toilet breaks without too much difficulty. To sit, I just lifted the wire hoop a little before perching on my chair and it was absolutely fine. Possibly the only thing I would change would have been to buy a hoop skirt and modify it rather than starting from scratch, as the stiff netting I used scratched my hands a lot and was a bit of a pain to sew on my ordinary-sized machine. Still, I was really happy with the dress and loved wearing it!

    • charityshopchic

      Thank you so much for your good wishes! I’ve sewn on and off since I was a child but took it up as a hobby when I wanted to make my own dresses at university. I definitely didn’t imagine that I would progress to making my own wedding dress!

  24. Gem

    My 3 and a half year old daughter saw me looking at these pictures and said ‘When I’m a Princess I want to wear that Princess dress!’

  25. Caty

    This was awesome! I love how you made the dress versatile so you could go from the wedding to the ceremony, dance, sit, hug and all that with the same dress while wearing something that is so uniquely you!

    I wouldn’t put in that much effort, I wouldn’t have it in me
    I can feel the work you put into every little stitch…

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Caty, thanks for commenting! Yes, the dress was designed to be as practical as possible and still be dramatic! It was a lot of work but I loved wearing it; definitely worth it!

  26. Toots Totes

    That you made your own wedding dress will stay with you as one of the wonderful memories you have of this very special time. Many congrats on a triumph of a creation and wishing you many more happy moments in the years ahead!

  27. Nina

    Oh, my goodness, I hope you are so proud of yourself for this most magnificent dress! I’ve loved reading all about it – so much thought and craft, it’s incredible! x

  28. bertied

    Congratulations, the effort was well worth it you looked amazing.
    Just one question how did you keep the design secret from your husband to be?

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Bertied, thank you for your good wishes! I’m lucky enough to have a spare room in my home which I use as a sewing room. I made that room out of bounds for my husband for several months before the wedding, with the door closed. It must have been difficult for him not to peek inside!

  29. Claire

    Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing some of your wedding photos and I do love that particular part of England, looking towards Robin Hoods Bay the scenery is just stunning! I’m amazed at the structure you’ve created in your dress, a feat of engineering, and it stood up well to those strong sea breezes, along with your gorgeous veil, it must have been well anchored!

    • charityshopchic

      Hi Claire, thank you very much! Being local to that area I’m biased, but I do love it. It was pretty windy on the day but the dress stood up fairly well – my main worry was that the veil would blow off, but it didn’t!

  30. scruffybadger

    Amazing!! What a creation and totally stunning. I love your photos ( of course!) and how fab to have a record of the devotion you put into making your dress such a personal contribution to such a special day. X

  31. Ann

    Thank you for sharing your sewing journey to the altar. The wedding photos are splendid, you made a beautiful, happy bride, and I found myself shedding a tear or two of joy, although we have never met!

  32. kellyac

    I loved reading all your wedding dress posts, you did a wonderful job! Congratulations for the dress and the wedding!

  33. francescapia

    Wow. Really wow. How long did it take you to make this incredible creation? You are stunning. And you make a beautiful couple. Congrats on an haute couture dress! (I ask how long it took you because mine took me about three months to make and it was nothing as amazing as yours, it was 1991 and the height of the Princess Di dress mania… I was planning a bias cut dress something like Carolyn Bessette later wore when she married John Kennedy, and the fiance got to know and sulked because he thought I should have a princess dress…. so I made one – bustier bodice, off the shoulder puffed sleeves, neckline edged with silk roses, huge puffy skirt and train with acres of petticoats – you get the drift… I should have known we weren’t meant for each other!) Anyway, that was relatively simple next to this. The underpinnings, the sculptural effect, the neckline – incredible work! You are a star of the sewing world:).

    • charityshopchic

      Hello francescapia, thank you for reading about my dress! It took about three months intense work to make this (evenings and weekends) plus a few weeks working on the veil and comb. Plus many months of research and design beforehand. Your dress sounds incredible, certainly a huge project! Thanks for your kind comments and good wishes!

  34. Debi

    Yippeeee! So stunning and lovely! What a masterpiece!! Thank you for sharing–it brought a big smile to my face :-) Happy trails to both of you!

  35. emily

    I’m in complete awe at the entire process/problem solving/sheer wonderfulness of this dress! Congratulations, what a wonderful memory to have!

  36. Heather Lord

    Congratulations – on both your dress and veil, which looked absolutely stunning – and your wedding. I loved following along as you worked on each step. Thank you for sharing your incredible journey with all of us. You did a fantastic job. You should be so proud of yourself and your fabulous achievement. Well done!

  37. Anne thomson

    Ive just caught up on your news. You both look adorable and your dress is stunning. Well done you

  38. jillaurellia

    I just read through the 7 part wedding dress series. WOW! What a fabulous result! Today is my 29th wedding anniversary and in 1987, I made my own dress. I love that your shoes are pink! That’s the only thing I would have done differently. Wear colorful shoes!

    • charityshopchic

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this series and thanks for your kind comments. The pink shoes were perfect for the occasion, I thought! Congratulations on your anniversary! :)

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