Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wedding Dress Wednesday: Button-off removeable train

Wedding Dress Wednesdays are guest posts written by my Mom, Janet

I sewed for the public for many years when Bonnie was a little girl.  My specialty was making wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses.  Back in the 80’s and 90’s, I made a lot of very formal gowns with high necklines, huge sleeves, and long trains.  Princess Diana’s gown was very inspirational to brides back then!

many late 80's brides found inspiration in Princess Diana's wedding gown

Brides would point to a place on the floor behind them and say, “I want it that long”.  On Bonnie’s dress, we started with a modest train idea, one that she could maneuver and dance in.  I made the trial pattern and black sample dress with about an eighteen inch train.

wedding dress "muslin" with 18" train

It was WIMPY!  I modified each A-line skirt section to make it wider at the hem and made the train longer. 

flat pattern altered for wider hem and longer train
I used flat pattern techniques, and “slashed & spread” each skirt section.  We felt that the center front of the skirt was too flat (it was cut on the fold) so I made the center front into a seam and swooped it outward at the hem.  Each piece helped make the silhouette of the skirt more flared and dramatic. Of course, if you make the underskirt fuller, it’s going to take more layers of flounces to cover it!  So I started sewing on flounces and checked how it looked.  The results were lovely! 

ruffled fit and flare wedding dress train

An unexpected bonus occurred during Bonnie’s walk down the aisle – we could hear her dress rustle as she walked! 

In the past, my dresses were bustled by either putting a ribbon loop, which enabled the wearer to swoop the train around on a ‘leash’ and control it, or; through a series of hooks, etc. the length was bustled up into a more manageable length. 

example of wrist loop to control wedding dress bustle

On other dresses, I achieved this by carefully hiding hooks so the bustled fabric fell attractively.
example of two ways to use hidden hooks to bustle a wedding dress

But Bonnie’s dress was different!  I felt that if we bustled up all those flounces, they would be bulky, rumpled and destroy the elegant line of the dress.  I had a dangerously clever idea: 

We’d take the train off!  How would a detachable train work???  Zipper?  Velcro?  Hooks?  BUTTONS! 

I took a deep breath and cut the completed dress off at the desired length!  Yipes!  

I hid the cut edge under the last flounce where no one would see it.  On each side of the cut edge I sewed a strip of matching dress fabric.  I made buttonholes on the dress half and sewed the buttons to the train.  That way, once the train was detached, you wouldn’t see anything unusual (like loads of random buttons). 

I spaced the buttonholes 3” apart and made them perpendicular to the floor, so the stress would be on the end of each buttonhole.

Button-off wedding dress train
I happened to mention to Bonnie that I needed to buy more buttons, (another trip to the fabric store), and she quipped that she wished I had her baggie full of buttons she had harvested off Tommy’s dress shirts that she cut up for his quilt.  Eureka!

We used 33 shirt buttons, recycled from Tommy’s shirts, how personal a touch is that?!!

Button-off removable wedding dress train, with buttons recycled from the groom's shirts!

Detachable wedding dress train
Button-off detachable wedding dress train

After the ceremony, her maid of honor, Katrina, unbuttoned the train and put it in a safe place.  Our design idea worked perfectly, the dress appeared complete, just shorter! 

Bonnie was able to dance and move around the reception with no problem and the dress still looked lovely.


Button-off removable train


  1. How clever of you. I love the Bonnie gown. What fun to be such a glorious part of the bride's special day!

  2. Fantastic! Absolutely brilliant.


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