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Help! Wedding dress ripples

flytootall | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Help!  I’m sewing my first (and last) wedding dress and I’m on my 5th muslin, two of which are out of the actual fabric (woven stretch satin).  My stepdaughter wants it extremely fitted (she’s 5’11” and extremely thin).  I’ve tried everything and there are still ripples.  I tried fusible interfacing along with underlining; no interfacing and just underlining; and boning in the lining.  There are still ripples.  I made the bodice looser–still ripples.  I thought of attaching the bodice to some sort of undergarment that attaches under the crotch, like a bodysuit, and somehow attaching the full skirt (taffeta and layers of tulle).   In Bride’s magazine, 80% of the fitted dresses have ripples.  How can I alleviate this problem?  I’m new to this site.  I used to log on to the bulletin board at Sew News, but I don’t think it’s there anymore.  Thank you for any help you can give me.  I’m running out of time (and patience).


  1. GinnaS | | #1

    sewingworld.com has a little more traffic and you might get an answer faster.  I'm sorry that I cannot help you.


    1. flytootall | | #2

      Thank you.  I will try that.

  2. suesew | | #3

    I think you are trading "extremely fitted" for the ripples - especially in a fabric that has some stretch. Make the lining as tight as she wants and cheat on the top fabric a little.

    1. flytootall | | #7

      Thank you everyone for your advice.   The expert came back from Paris, where her family lives and came over to help me.  Fortunately for me, this lady has more talent than anyone I've ever met in my entire life.  She was trained in Paris and India.  I learned a lot today and she said the boning should take care of the problem.  I hope so.  As God is my witness, I will NEVER make another wedding dress in my lifetime.  However, I must admit that since this is my first time for a lot of things (boning included), subsequent times (if there are any!) should be easier.  Once again, thank you!!

      1. mem1 | | #8

        You are a very brave woman! I hope that you are toasted at the wedding!

        1. flytootall | | #10

          I have changed email addresses ([email protected]) and just read your comment. No, I was not toasted at the wedding. The bride did not wear the dress. I knew she was never happy with it, although my sister said it was much prettier than the one she bought for $1,000. Live and learn. The dress I made was beautiful; however, I did have yet another problem with the waistline seam, which was very thick, since it had 13 layers of tulle gathered very tightly. There must be a machine that fuses all those layers together, because all the dresses I looked at had a very thin seam at the waistline. Like I said, never again!!

          1. Jean | | #11

            A step-daughter? Ungrateful wench! ;-) Bet you were glad to see her given away. Chalk it up to 'no good deed goes unpunished' and never sew for her again.

          2. FitnessNut | | #12

            I'm so sorry to hear that after all your hard work, the bride didn't wear the dress. Try not to feel bad about it or take it personally.....it certainly couldn't have been anything you did. Some people are just like that :-( I'm sure the dress you made was lovely.

            Edited 9/29/2004 1:08 pm ET by Sandy

          3. SewTruTerry | | #13

            I hope at least that she paid for the material and that you did not get stiffed.  I know how disappointing it can be when there are ungrateful people that you have to deal with especially when they are related to you.  I think the problem was that this dress never should have been in the stretch material in the first place. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to say no.  This is something that I am having to learn over and over again.

          4. flytootall | | #14

            No, she did not pay me one cent for the materials; however, the dress was going to be my gift to her.  I am learning to say no and I'm getting better and better at it every day.   If I would've had more time, I would have started over with white bridal satin.  I didn't have time, and I'm so thankful for that!!

          5. louise | | #15

            Dear Fly

            13 layers of tulle! wow!  The most I ever had to jam in was about 10 yards, but I pressed the living daylights out of it after stitching down the gathers and binding them with a bias of batiste.  The only suggestion that I would make is to break up the layers and stagger them over a tiny skirt yoke so that they will still present the fullness, but not all at the waist!

            Too late I know and I agree, ungrateful wench!  You could give it to her daughter for Hallowe'en some day, just for spite.


          6. flytootall | | #16

            Since this was my first (and last) attempt at a wedding dress, I did not have the expertise required.  Your idea of staggering the tulle on a yoke is fabulous.  I'm thinking of pressing the living daylights out of it and binding it in the batiste, as you suggested and then try to sell it on eBay.   Then again, I may not.

          7. louise | | #17

            Dear Fly

            Go for it! It would do you the world of good, and besides, what does one do with an extra wedding dress?

          8. User avater
            artfulenterprises | | #18

            One of the easiest ways to reduce bulk in a multiple layer gown is to cut the layers as gores (tapered at the waistline so there is actually much less fabric at the waist than at the hem) . There will still be plenty of poof and bounce at the hem to please any young woman.

      2. FineArt50 | | #9

        another thing about puckers.  if you have a sewing ham.  take the flat lining material and the outside material, lay it over the ham and lightly steam it across as in around the body.  It's a slight curve, but just enough.  the pieces are somewhat shaped.  then you pin the layers together after steaming and before removing from ham.  then stitch the way it is pinned (Flatlinging into one piece.  Stitch edge to edge, with no back stitching about 1/8th of an inch outside the seam line on all sides.) This allows the layers to curve much like on the body.  You do need a foundation garment and boning but this enhances those techniques as well.

  3. user-294974 | | #4

    Hi, the ripples should point to the problem.  Are they horizontal, diagonal or vertical?  Are they still there when the weight of the skirt is on the bodice?  Don't look at it in harsh lighting. I found when I would fit a bride with strong morning light coming in my east facing windows, every little bump would show, but not later in the day...due to the angle of the light.  Most ready to wear bodices are almost as stiff as cardboard and have 3 to 5 layers.  Stretch lycra with all that would be almost pointless as it would not stretch any more, but you could fuse it, watch out for the temperature though.  I have a sewing business and work on both wedding dresses and skating costumes.

  4. louise | | #5


    Having done some highly technical sewing, I venture to say that the ripple problem is because you are fitting the garment to accommodate a (relatively speaking) unstructured form.  In Claire Sheaffer's book about couturier techniques she reveals why those movie goddesses all looked so great during the golden age of film.  Any high quality fitted garment with detail such as folds, pleats, embellishments etc. includes a corset or support garment made to match the dress design, so if a smooth fit is required, the separate support garment takes the strain and effectively makes the wearer match the requirements of the dress.

    Putting it in plain english and using a simpler example, if your bodice has buttons up the front and you desire a close fit with no gaping, you make a long line bra, the bodice is then fitted with the support garment in place and voila! no gaping of the button closings.  There are one or two Threads magazines which detail how to make a bustier, which can be extrapolated to a support style undergarment. 

    An addition tip for strapless designs, which is often overlooked, is to edge the top 1 - 2 " of the support garment with the dress fabric.  If the "bra" peeks out, it will not be noticed, because it blends with the garment!  Hope this helps

  5. SewTruTerry | | #6

    I am wondering if the puckers that you are talking about are due to the fact that the needle and or thread that you are using are all wrong.  Experiment with longer or shorter stitches as sometimes the machine will stretch one layer while gathering the other layer.  Also the other advise given here about the lighting is also good advise.  And the advise about the under garment being the support and not the dress doing the support.

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