Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Some unexpected length changes after altering wedding dress toile

Helen's wedding dress is a very fitted style.

I ran into problems when she markedly changed shape

I originally didn't realise this would be an issue. After all,  she was already slim, UK RTW size 8 - 10 at 6’ tall - pretty much ‘model’ proportions. She started a diet alongside a fitness regime. She wanted to get slightly below her ‘ideal’ weight, by a kg, and tune up her figure.

If she had been readily accessible for fittings, this would have been okay but as it was…

Early on, Helen made it clear she wanted the skirt to be bum hugging. Compromises were made on both sides and I think the skirt was a nice shape.

First problem was that the skirt didn't flow properly at the back. The rear portion was inverted. This was improved by a combination of making the angle of the under bum seam less acute and adding additional fabric - a godet-type addition, except the seaming wasn't visible as it was removed in the pattern pieces.


Except Helen had lost 5 kg and her shape had changed markedly. I don't know if she will be willing to show the before and after. I'll ask! She says her weight is in the ideal range - I was of course a bit concerned that she was markedly overdoing it when she lost 5 kg and threatened to lose more. Most of the changes are due to toning up her figure.

The toile had to be changed a lot - taken in by up to 8 cms in width at the waist!

I think things began to go wrong here.

The next toile was too tight. A lot too tight. 6 cms too tight! How did that happen? This was a toile complete in all details bar embellishments. The fitting session was taken up with the addition of fabric. Rory says that adding fabric is never as accurate as taking in. I guess I’ve seen this in action now!

I had to make up a quick new toile and post (are you counting the number of toiles here? - I haven't even mentioned them all!). Helen sent photos and I was extremely disappointed. It just didn't fit. It looked huge and baggy and shapeless and the bum wasn't fitted … I thought this was due to further weight loss and shape change. There were horrible pouches at front of both bodice and skirt. Ghastly. Rory, too, was at a bit of a loss saying she certainly hadn't expected that. We assumed Helen had lost more weight as she had threatened to do.

I went back to Missy on Rory's advice and with Dan’s help refitted the bodice. It looked great on Missy (I had rechecked Missy's sizes with Helen's and they were still sufficiently close) I removed the pouching (details in a different post) and made up a quick toile to take with me to Cambridge. I didn't refit the skirt on Missy as it looked as if most of the problems were bodice. In the photos Helen sent,  the back was pulling up and I did some work to alter that (again details elsewhere but briefly the bodice was altered more than the skirt to reflect what we saw on the photos, but the skirt back did have a small section removed to smooth it out)

In Cambridge I also had the opportunity to see the toile I had previously sent on Helen. More of that later.

Latest toile:
I am clearly not good at fitting, unfortunately! I made some changes to the bodice on one side and not the other with a view to asking Rory's advice. Helen wasn't wearing the right bra so I didn't want to over-fit.

The bum was not right. I suddenly realised (after a while of looking at it in consternation) that this was because the back skirt was not long enough at the waist. I unpicked the back bodice from the skirt to the side seams and the bum started to fall into place. There was a gap of 5 cms at the centre! There was still a gap at the side seams.

I then got Helen to try on the posted toile but just the skirt portion using the waist stay to hold it in place. It sat beautifully 3 centimetres below her natural waist and the bum shape was great! (I think the difference between the 3 and the 5 cms reflects the small bit I took off to smooth the back and of course the 5 cms is a less accurate measurement because I had to add in)

So at some stage I have lost that amount from the pattern. I'm not sure how, apart from the smoothing out. The why must be all those alterations, I guess. Sorry,  Helen, for assuming it was ongoing weight loss. She has agreed not to change between now and the wedding so that's something at least.

My next step?  You've guessed it - another toile!!

I will add the ‘lost’ portion to the top of the skirt. I will not modify the bodice at this stage as Rory too suggested I was in danger of just chopping away and away at it and not really gaining anything. When the skirt and bodice were joined, the waist in front was correct so I think that means I don't need to change front bodice length. I'm not sure about the back bodice.

Another issue, of course,  is length. The skirt will now be rather longer. Helen was keen to have the train longer and likes the longer length but I don't know if I have enough fabric! The fabric amount was measured out with shorter lengths. The fabric is expensive so we didn't want to buy too much,  of course. Fingers crossed! At one stage the bodice was cut on the bias and now it is not so that at least gives some hope for fabric quantity!

Helen is here this coming weekend for a friend's hen do and we can manage another fitting. It was going to be an all singing all dancing toile - I bought some beautiful Prada fabric that is much too good for a toile but I couldn't see fabric close enough in handle. I will use this anyway I think but not yet as fit is still an issue. I won't underline it at this stage. The assistant in the fabric shop thought I was making the actual dress from it. It's gorgeous enough! I bought the same quantity as I have in the silk. My underlining and lining fabrics were cheaper,  however.

Wish me luck!


  1. OMG you have the patience of a saint!! How to catch a moving target. I think I will start a line in Jersey wedding dresses. Good luck. We are all wishing you (and the dress) well K xXx

    1. Thank you! A jersey wedding dress sounds good at this point.

  2. Gosh. I would have given up by now I think. But you are tantalisingly close I hope.

    1. Thank you. I can't afford to give up! I think I am close now.

  3. I hope this toile works. I would think you are close to the wedding and hopefully will be able to start work on the actual dress. Hope all goes well.

    1. Thank you. 4 weeks today! I'm currently cutting out a lovely fabric as the last toile, with lining and underlining. Last toile fitting tomorrow (has to be the last that's for sure!) then start on the real deal.

  4. Look at the bright side, all this toile practice will speed up work on the real deal!

    1. Yep, you're absolutely right! Yesterday I made up a full toile including lining and interlining. I didn't finish seams and reused part of another toile but now feel confident that I can complete this in the time available - provided etc etc. Thank you.

  5. You are a trouper! I know this dress will be amazing.

    1. Thank you! The dress is very simply styled but I think it is/will be! very Helen

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Thank you, Joyce.
      It's tomorrow!
      Hoping for better weather.
      I saw your comment in my email but it has gone.
      I'll be starting to get back to normal next week.


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