Sleeves. Sleevils. Tricky little buggers.
I wanted to avoid them as long as possible, so I didn’t really bother mocking up my wedding dress sleeves.
Ok, I made one sleeve mock-up. I didn’t like it so I abandoned the pursuit of perfecting a sleeve pattern all together and just ignored the fact I wanted sleeves on my wedding dress until it was actually time to make and attach said sleeves. At which point, I formulated a plan.
I wanted full, flared, cap sleeves. Similar to this inspiration image.
To get this shape, the hem of the sleeve needs to curved. There was just one problem with this. I wanted to use the scalloped edge of my bodice lace for the sleeve hem. And this edge was, of course, straight across, not curved in the required simi-circle shape. How could I get the sleeves I wanted out of the fabric I wanted?
After a bit of brainstorming and contemplating pattern shapes and fabric options in my head, I figured it out. I would cut the sleeve pattern out of some sort of netting fabric, then shape my lace border to fit, following the tips and instructions in Bridal Couture for adding a lace border to a curved hem. But what netting would I use as my sleeve base to attach my lace to?
Admittedly, this stumped me for a while. I needed a netting that would be more sturdy than tulle, have a nice drape, not be stiff and itchy and be the exact same shade of creamy white as my lace. I could have ordered something online, but it would have been rather tricky to get the color just right. After contemplating this for way too long, I realized I already the perfect netting. The upper edge of my skirt lace was unembroidered for about the first 12 to 15 inches. It was a nice, soft, sturdy, netting in just the right shade of white. (I never realized how many shades of white there were until I started making a wedding dress!)
I cut the sleeve out of the netting.
Then I carefully cut out the border from either edge of my lace. One edge for each sleeve!
And it was on to shaping the lace to the curved hem of the sleeves!
Where the lace naturally wanted buckle around the curve, I cut small slits between motifs and overlapped the pattern.
Each motif got pinned in place as I went along.
After about an hour or two, per sleeve, my lace was shaped!
I then spent another 6 to 8 hours per sleeve carefully hand sewing the lace border to the netting with itty-bitty invisible stitches.
Oh yes, there's about 20 hours of labor just in making the sleeves.
That's not counting the time it took to set the sleeves. But we're not there quite yet.