Carefully constructed ruffles add a dramatic look to a basic gown.
By SUSAN KHALJE
It's always special when one of my students is working on a wedding dress -- and one recently was making one for her daughter's upcoming wedding.
The fabrics she chose were a very bright white satin (not too heavy, and the perfect weight for a wedding in a warm climate) matched with a heavily embroidered white organza.
Let me describe the dress. Its long sleeves were out of the organza -- the fabric was sturdy enough to be used on its own, without any underlying fabric to support it. The dress itself was from the satin, with the organza overlaying the bodice. A satin-lined godet was placed in the center back seam of the skirt. The final element was a detachable skirt -- organza over satin, with waterfall ruffles along its front edges.
Let me also share a little of our work behind the scenes. We underlined the dress fabric -- the satin -- with silk organza. We knew that a detachable skirt would be hanging from it during the ceremony and, while it wouldn't be terribly heavy, we didn't want the silhouette of the dress to be compromised. There were loops and white satin buttons down the center back of the dress; they finished just a few inches above where the godet started.
Godets are usually shaped like a pie piece -- a wedge of fabric -- but this one was very dramatic; it was a half circle and into the back seam of the dress. Embroidered organza overlaid the bodice. And although the edge of the organza was nicely finished, it wasn't quite fancy enough to serve as the "real" edge so my student purchased a more elaborate trim to attach to it. I carefully pressed it to firm it up -- face down into a thick towel -- and it was applied by hand around both the neck edge and the base of the embroidered organza bodice overlay. From a technical standpoint, it was very useful -- it allowed us to camouflage the hooks and eyes that would hold the detachable overskirt in place.
My student said that her daughter's heart was set on waterfall ruffles down the sides of the detachable train -- her daughter had even saved a picture of a gown that featured them from her childhood. Fortunately, we were able to create them without piecing the fabric. In this case, seams would have really interrupted the flow of the fabric. We simply cut large circles of satin (two for each ruffle, and two for each lining). The inner circumference of each circle measured 42 inches (the length that we needed, along the front edge of the skirt), and the ruffles were about 6 inches deep.
Fell into place
My student placed the right sides of the satin together, sewed the outer edges of the two circles, turned them to the right side and carefully pressed them flat. She then placed a row of staystitches along the raw edges of each circle, then clipped generously into the seam allowances. The ruffles were sandwiched between the embroidered organza and the satin, and once the fabrics were turned right side out and pressed, the ruffles fell beautifully into place.