Making my Wedding Dress Part 3: Patterns, Fit and Construction Planning

So, I've talked you through the inspiration for my dress, and the design process. Next up was to plan construction. This was what gave me the most head-scratching. I knew I wanted a corselet or under structure of some kind, and I knew I wanted functioning covered buttons to do up the bodice. So it was working out the construction order of everything that was the trickiest. 

Final design - top layers: lace over duchess satin
Final design - under layers: corselet with attached petticoat
I made a list of techniques I would need to use on the dress that I hadn't used before, and resolved to get some practice in those areas before I made the dress. I bought Couture Sewing by Claire B Shaeffer and it was an invaluable resource, absolutely fantastic and so interesting. Later I also found a Threads Party Dresses magazine, which ended up having the tutorial I used for attaching my corselet. I had made my corselet pattern by this point myself, but it gave me heart to see that I had done it right!

So on to the pattern altering and fitting work! 

The under bodice (sweetheart neckline duchess satin part underneath the lace) was adapted from a pattern I already knew fitted me quite well - B4443. I redrew the neckline, and brought in the princess seams, especially over the bust, to perfect the fit. 

One of my toiles when working on the under bodice fit
For the corselet, I originally tried Kwik Sew 3166, but quickly realised a stretch corselet was not going to give me the structure I wanted. So I started again. I began from my newly altered B4443 under bodice pattern, lengthened it to hip length and then adjusted all the seams until it was skin tight. I basted a zip in to aid fitting and trying on! I did find I had to make big adjustments at the small of my back, as originally I was getting huge fabric pools and wrinkling there. 

The skirt was a good old circle skirt! Deciding on length was tricky and I spent ages dithering over that!!! 

For the lace bodice, I draped. So no pattern needed there, just a few toiles. As I type this, I still can't quite believe I did this, having never draped a thing in my life. And it worked!

First draped toile! You can see my first corselet under there as well.

The sleeve was adapted from the sleeve pattern of V8766. I altered it quite heavily as the V8766 sleeve has pleats at the head whereas I wanted set-in sleeves.


SO, I had decided I would have a corselet fastening with hooks and eyes, the bodice (satin and lace in one layer) fastening with covered buttons and rouleau loops, duchess satin skirt and lace skirt hanging separately, with an invisible zip in the satin layer and a bound slit in the lace layer. 

Late night rouleau loop practice. 
I compared my rouleau samples to the straps on a Hobbs dress I have, until I could get them just as thin.

The rouleau loops and the bound slit were new to me, so I did a few samples first. It was at this point I decided I would make a complete practice version of my wedding dress before cutting into expensive bridal fabric. It just seemed sensible to me to try out all the techniques, and the construction order to make sure it all worked before attempting the real thing. I’m really glad I did this, although of course it made the whole process MUCH longer! 


By Christmas I had my final design and was altering my patterns. I was delighted when one of my Christmas presents from Liam was this gorgeous notebook for me to document the whole process of making my wedding dress!



  1. That corselet is amazing and all of those button loops?! DEDICATION!

    1. Thanks Zoe! I will admit to being stupidly proud of the corselet! It's one of those things that wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be, but with a great result. The button loops took me a few tries to get them thin enough but I actually enjoyed learning how to make them!

    2. It's funny how some of the most tedious bits can become really fun when you're doing it for a make you absolutely love, well worth it!