Below is a quick sketch I threw together of how I think I want the dress to end up looking. I have an unfortunate tendency to ignore hips and waists in my sketches, so bear with the optimism — I’m not that thin.
The main changes to the front are removing all of the ruffles and changing out the front panel since it’s made of lining fabric and will probably tear. The lining is also shiner and a looser weave than the rest of the skirt fabric, so even if it did hold up it would still look out of place. One of my biggest challenges is going to be finding a matching fabric for the new front panel.
I’ll be using the fabric from the front ruffles to change the structure of the bodice. Right now I’m leaning towards princess seams, though I don’t know exactly how I feel about that since I’ve never really liked the look of exposed princess seams on a wedding dress — I think they bring the overall formality down quite a bit (and scream 90’s).
Whether or not I do the princess seams I will have to somehow make the bodice bigger. I’m toying with the idea of a corset insert, though that would really take away from the vintage feel of the back and would make me get rid of the buttons, which would be a huge shame.
I’ll also be using the ruffle fabric to drop the waist about three or four inches just so I don’t look so short waisted. I’ll be making a beaded belt to cover the seam where I lengthen the bodice since it miraculously hits me at my natural waistline. Ignore the weird sketch there — I was trying to recreate the chantilly lace pattern and obviously I failed.
Finally I’ll be changing the neckline from a scoop to a V/sweetheart. I’ll leave the lace overlay because I’m so incredibly in love with it, but I may attempt to either drop it down a bit or make the neck wider.
Next to the corset vs button closure my biggest indecision right now is what I should do with the sleeves. I’ve never thought I’d have a long-sleeved gown, but the detail on the sleeves is so incredible (especially how the white fabric cuts away at the shoulder and upper arm) that it would be a huge shame to take them off. If I did end up getting rid of them I know I’d have to make them into some type of a jacket so I could still wear them. Since the wedding is in February though I have every reason to leave them on. So decisions, decisions.