Illusion neckline wedding dress with lace bodice and statement full skirt

corded lace illusion net lace bespoke wedding dress

Illusion neckline wedding dress with lace bodice and full silk skirt. Button back fastening and organza train the scalloped lace edging.

Vanessa’s dress was truly a game of two halves, with a full, silk skirt to be supported from the waist and a delicate illusion neckline bodice above. I dyed the tulle to match her skin tone and be as invisible as possible. I then carefully cut and hand sewed lace around the illusion neckline and low back shape. We added real buttons and loops to fasten the back. The skirt I made was very full, supported over netting. I pleated the skirt in large box pleats to ‘spring’ away from Vanessa’s body emphasising her tiny waist. I hand appliqued more lace over the join from bodice to skirt and then all down the skirt and on the train.

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Detail of hand beaded lace applique with pearls, diamante stones and sequins.

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ivory corded lace applique motif on silk dupion

Details of lace applique to skirt and train with hand cut and sewn lace motifs and scalloped edging.

Train wrist loop, with hidden something blue. All my dresses also come with a bustle button and hook-up for dancing in the evening.

illusion back wedding dress off the shoulder lace sleeve
scalloped edge lace cap sleeve wedding dress
tossing the bouquet black wedding traditional
custom wedding dress ivory silk and lace
tossing the bouquet lace edge veil

Final fitting Pictures for the Illusion Neckline Wedding Dress.

final fitting in finished dress black bride
bespoke wedding dress fitting picture bustle train

above: train hooked up for dancing

bespoke wedding dress corded lace illusion bodice
bespoke wedding dress corded lace illusion bodice

Above: detail of the applique lace illusion bodice with hand beading.

Making Vanessa’s dress

original wedding dress design sketch by felicity westmacott

Original design sketch

making Vanessa's dress, toile (practice run) fitting, front

Toile dress fitting: this is the ‘practice run’ in cheap fabrics to perfect fit and style. The shapes are always very basic at this stage, so we have pinned a little bit of lace on the front for Vanessa to see how the ‘blending’ will work.

making Vanessa's dress, toile (practice run) fitting, front bodice
making Vanessa's dress, toile (practice run) fitting, back
covering bust cups in custom dyed jersey for dark skin

I dyed the nylon tulle used for the illusion bodice and the cotton used to cover the bust cups, to match Vanessa’s skin. We wanted them to be as invisible as possible. Covering a curved shape smoothly with flat fabric is not the easiest thing to do!

illusion bodice skin tulle buttons and bust cups on the stand

The real tulle cut and sewn, cups and buttons attached and ready for lace applique to begin! The thin, white lines of thread are my top edge guides for the illusion neckline and low back shape. I have also marked the waistline, where the skirt will attach.

preparation for lace applique on wedding dress

Cutting out lace shapes from the fabric

creating the illusion and lace bodice hand sewing on the stand

Stages one and two of hand sewing the lace applique. Here I am trying to fill the space and neckline edges as symmetrically as possible. It was tricky with lace that didn’t have every shape as mirror images!

machine sewing extra stiff net petticoat

Creating the net underskirt, to support the silk. Dealing with the shear volume of scratchy, stiff fabric, under the machine is a skill in itself!

net skirt crinoline full skirt wedding dress petticoat

The finished net skirt was three layers of graduated tiers of extra stiff net. I also added a rolled ring of net just below the waistline to support the pleats of the skirt and help them to ‘spring’ away from Vanessa’s body.

construction details on couture bespoke wedding dress silk organza roll hem

Detail of the underside of the train, where lined silk organza (bag lined with horsehair stiffening tape) meets machine hemmed organza (to be be hidden by lace applique) and graduated lining. Quite a complicated bit to get everything to meet and sit flat, while sewing the whole thing from the inside before turning through.

bespoke dressmaker in the studio machine sewing

Sewing the skirt to the illusion neckline bodice, another feat of volume management!

making the dress bodice and skirt join couture techniques

The skirt newly sewn to the bodice, with the lace held up and out of the way.

ace appliqu? illusion bodice on the stand

Illusion neckline wedding dress. On the stand with the lace pinned down over the join ready to be hand sewn down.

lace detail with pin on wedding gown
lace applique detail on hand made wedding dress

Lace applique of scalloped edging and cut motifs to the organza section of the train, and blending into the dupion. Later this section is gently folded into 3D undulations and attached to the lining. This keeps the shapes from moving and changing position as the dress is worn.

silk organza and dupion ivory lace train scalloped lace

Finished Dress on the Stand

ivory silk wedding dress cathedral train with lace applique

Train spread out, and hooked up for dancing.

Detail of the applique lace illusion bodice with hand beading.

Official wedding pictures by Vincent Opoku of

If you’d like to discuss ideas for your own bespoke wedding dress just get in touch

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Felicity Westmacott

I write about all aspects of weddings, dressmaking, fashion history, and the human relation to clothing. I welcome comments and debate.

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from design to completionbespoke wedding dressesFelicity Westmacott
Dorking, RH4 1RT241 High Street• Visit the Studio •
Dorking, RH4 1RT241 High Street• Visit the Studio • 07762 543230TOUCHGet in