Kristin's Beaded Gown: Design and Fitting

This (beautiful, kind, dream-client) bride came to me after having looked all over town for a gown with a dramatic silhouette, embellishment AND coverage in the bodice and sleeves. She has a wonderful figure - slight, but with curves - and wanted something that would enhance her shape, not just cling to it, but she couldn't find anything that checked all of those boxes while also having structure and elegance.

I put together a few looks for her, and we agreed on a gown of silk/cotton Mikado with a dramatic fit and flare silhouette and sweetheart neckline, covered in the most gorgeous, hand-beaded Chantilly lace. The lace neckline is high and wide, plunging to a deep-V in back, and the waist is nipped in with a thin band of matching Mikado.

Here's a peek at shaping the back at the first fabric fitting. Can you get over this Mikado and those curves?? Perfection. The Mikado is backed with a layer of cotton, by the way, which gives it a depth and softness. It will then be lined in a lightweight silk. When I'm lucky, I'm able to use the cotton from the muslin fitting to use as the backing in the finished gown. This only works on structured silhouettes obviously, but it really elevates what is already a holy smokes gorgeous fabric.

In the bodice, the waistline needs to be shortened, the princess seams need some taking in and the smaller pinned darts on the sides are marked for ease. Instead of sewing darts there, I'll use a twill ribbon along the neckline to take in all of that excess. It allows the full shape of the cups to remain, but brings in the top to perfectly hug the body. It's one of my favorite techniques, and it works wonders on all necklines, creating a high-end finish. I'll write a separate post with a tutorial and some notes on shaping below the bust as well.

My first attempt at the bodice overlay was made in a fine netting, to use as a base for the beaded lace, but the fit was a bit too tight (see the bunching along the arms), and the more I looked at the heavy, beaded lace, the more I worried that the thin netting wouldn't be substantial enough to support it. THEN, I found just enough leftover Chantilly I had from a previous project, and the two looked so great together, I decided to layer them. Can't wait to see how it comes together. Just wait until I show you how that beading is coming together on the skirt! Uuuuuuuugh. Amazing.