Finishing Jenn’s Couture Wedding Rehearsal Top

In my previous post, I took a little aside in Jenn’s bridal blog series to share one of the custom millinery pieces I made for her. But my seven posts prior were about taking her mom’s 1970 wedding dress apart and hand crafting it into a custom-designed custom-fitted wedding rehearsal top for my friend Jenn

This post starts just after the basted final fitting– and ends with a finished couture top. I hope you enjoy my epic photo-filled behind-the-seams play-by-play!  

Basting Becomes Permanent

After returning to North Carolina from Brooklyn, I unpacked the basted top. By referencing the pins I placed in the fabric during the fitting, I recreated the changes on my paper pattern. Transferring post-fitting improvements back to the paper is one of my favorite tasks! I love figuring out the puzzle of how everything is going to ultimately fit together. 

When I no longer needed the pins from the fitting, I pulled out all the basting stitches in the areas I was changing. One of the many benefits of basting is quick and easy scar-free stitch removal (which can be really fun!) 

Next, I pressed the to-be-updated areas flat again, …

…used the corrected pattern to draw in the edits,…

… then stitched on my lines with permanent stitches!

And in the areas that didn’t change in the fitting, I was able to stitch over the basting with permanent stitches and give it a good press. After all my prep, all of my questions had been answered and I was confident there were no more changes to be made. I rarely ever need unpick permanent stitches, because the basting sets me up for success!

Sleeve Déjà Vu

During the basted fitting, we also decided to shorten the sleeves. After taking the pieces apart,…

…I measured how much I pinned out during the fitting

…and removed it from the bottom of the sleeve. This meant cutting off the gathering stitches and the little openings I made.

So I did them again! Head over to this blog post to see how it was constructed the first time and this final time. It was nice to have gained some practice!

It was also nice to have gained some photos! I used a sleeve assembly photo from the first round to (quite literally) set myself up the same way in the finals.

Lining and Assembling the Peplum

Next I was ready to add the lining, starting with the peplum. I cut a long strip of my silk lining fabric and slipped it on the backside of the peplum, behind the hem. I was able to reuse the original hem from Jenn’s mom’s wedding dress (shortened just a tad to keep the 50 year old stains tucked inside)The hem lace was added to the edge by Jenn’s grandmother in 1970; I simply hand stitched it in place. 

I only allowed my hand stitches to reach through the lining and underlining layers. This means, from the front, the stitching is invisible!

Once lined, I added new gathering stitches to the top edge before I began to gather and pin it in place along the bodice waist.

Bonus Tip: How to get your own blood out of fabric!

As I was pulling and pinning, I pricked my finger leaving a bright red blood stain inside Jenn’s top. No worries! Removing your own blood from fabric is an easy trick!

Did you know that your saliva will get your blood out of fabric? Next time you accidentally prick yourself, give this a try: Spit on a paper towel and dab it onto the fabric (or just put the fabric in your mouth). Wetting it with your own spit, makes it all but disappear! (I’m told this only works with your own blood and your own spit- though I have not tested other scenarios). 

This trick is especially useful for wedding dressmakers like me who often work in white. Don’t tell my brides (I guess?), but it is pretty inevitable that their dress has had my blood and spit in it somewhere! 

If you sew, chances are you will prick yourself at some point. I hope my unlucky prick offers you a helpful trick!

Back on track, I hand basted the waist seam in place and then stitched it up with permanent machine stitches.

To close up the lining of the peplum, I hand stitched the loose edges along the zipper, …

…and gave it a careful press with the iron, before finishing the final bit of hem.

Lining the Bodice

Next, I used my corrected pattern pieces to mark the silk lining…

…and cut it out,…

…before pinning the lining’s seams and darts together line-to-line.

Once, the bodice lining was stitched and pressed, I employed a dress form. With the form wearing the top inside out, I was able to drape and pin the lining pieces properly in place.

Then I removed the top from the dress form and replaced the pins with hand stitches!

The inside was starting to look sharp!

Adding and Finishing the Sleeves

To figure out how I was going to add the sleeves and finish the armholes, I started with making a sample. Since I only sew custom, there’s never an instruction booklet. I work out my plan by testing my ideas with my materials in small samples throughout the custom process. It’s super helpful and great practice!

My plan began with basting the sleeve head in the hole with a strip of bias.

Then I added lines of machine stitching (my seam + a zigzag just into the allowance) before trimming all of the layers close to my stitches.

Then I wrapped the bias around the trimmed edge before hand stitching it in place.

Beautiful, don’t you think?

Finish Line!

As things really started to wrap up, I trimmed and graded the neckline seam before folding over and finishing the collar.

I made a little something special to add inside…

…before finishing everything up!

YAY! After months of hard (and fun) work, Jenn’s couture wedding rehearsal top was officially complete. 

High five! Thanks so much for following along this couture journey!

But wait... there's more...

Though Jenn’s engagement shoot veil and rehearsal day top were now both complete, I’ve still got one more custom item to share about before the final Rehearsal Day/Wedding Day post. 

As you may remember back when we were still in the design stage, I’d be making a festive piece of bridal millinery for Jenn to wear during her wedding ceremony. My next (and 2nd to last) post in Jenn’s bridalwear blog series will be all about it! I hope you enjoy it!

NEXT POST: Follow the full story as I create a fun veilette for Jenn to wear during her wedding ceremony!

NEXT POST AFTER THAT: The final post in Jenn’s series sharing photos from the rehearsal day and her wedding day! Yay!

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Hi there! I'm Brooks Ann.

I’m an independent designer and couture dressmaker for one-of-a-kind bridalwear located in Hillsborough, North Carolina. I also teach the sew-curious both in-person and online.

My blog follows along with the couture process of how each heirloom-quality custom wedding dress is made from idea to wedding day, as well as other interesting tidbits related to sewing, weddings, and body positivity.

Stay in Touch!

Sign Up for my FREE Newsletter!

You’ll get blog posts right in your inbox, plus extra goodies in your roughly twice a month. Plus, “Peek Inside My Sewing Library” in the first email!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

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