Hey, Neda here.
This is one of my most-sold gowns in my collections for the last 3 seasons.
Her name is Feather.
It was featured in Vogue magazine, Bride’s, Martha Stewart, and InStyle.
Now I’d like to explain how I hand sew this gown from the beginning.
The most important element is the actual fabric!
I know it might be impossible to find this exact fabric, but you might find something similar to this and you still can apply some of my directions to your sewing project.
I examined the fabric, and saw all the cut leaves fall in one direction.
That meant I could not cut in Bias, and all the patterns I lay on the fabric have to follow the directions of leaves, especially on the seam-lines. So this kind of fabric is really challenging in cutting, and I had to pay extra attention to not waste too much fabric.
I started draping the bodice and the skirt with a similar weight, stretch and fabric flow.
I transferred my patterns from draping to paper. I gave about 1cm or ½” seam allowance.
I cut my bodice and skirt.
I cleaned the seam allowance from excess beads and any leafs that don’t have the whole look. If the space gets empty that is fine, we will hand sew leaves on places that need to be filled in later.
I cut the lining from the same pattern, and for lining I used soft lace underneath. That gave some depth and more texture underneath the leaves. If you pay attention to the pictures you’ll see some type of lace texture from parts not covered with leaves.
I sew lining first on the bodice and on the skirt. The clean side of the fabric and face of the fabric should touch the body and raw edges and the back of the fabric should face up. In this step you attach the zipper to the lining, the zipper should face up and the back of the lining should be clean around the zipper.
I place a straight grain tape of ½” (I prefer light silk organza) around the V-neck and the neckline and the back of the bodice. It should cover the seam allowance and stitch line. This is to prevent a stretching neckline and any parts of the cut pieces that are on bias and not straight grain.
I place the main fabric on the lining carefully, pin and then start hand sewing and attach to the lining. You should double-check for the flow of the leaves, cut any bulks or anything sticking out. I don’t turn the sides on the bodice, I place lining and the main fabric and keep the seams raw edged. This way it doesn’t make it bulky and heavy, and it’s ok since I will place a beaded trim and cover and hand sew the back of the beaded ribbon with silk grosgrain. So it goes like this: 1.Grosgrain ribbon, 2.Lining, 3.Organza straight grain tape, 4.Main fabric. And beaded trim on top, all hand sew together on bodice and skirt.
I attach the bodice and the skirt from the waistline. Look for any naked patches and cover with appliqué. At the end if you like a waistband, use the same trim and place it around the waist and hand sew to the dress.
Finishing time! I place the appliqué feathers on empty places, on the side seam if there are any empty spots. Hand sew them, and continue with cleaning the whole seams, edges, hook & eye etc. Clean cut your hem, I attached and hand sewn appliqué to the empty spots on the hemline. After that, I attached a small horsehair braid on the hem of the lining.
P.S. If you want to fit on the person before you finish, you should do that once with your muslin draped piece, so you can make changes before you transfer to your pattern. The second one when you have your lining and top piece ready and before finishing. You can attach bodice and skirt with hand baste stitching. If you need to change anything on the dress, don’t mark with a pen, or pin or safety pin. Instead have a red thread and needle, start making changes and mark with your red thread. Do this step on muslin fitting and the second fitting. This way you don’t damage any delicate fabric, and you won’t lose pins on the busy fabric.
I hope this is helpful and/or inspiring.
And I’d gladly answer any questions you might have!