Wedding Dress: Part 5 (The fabric and The Dress)

I hope you’re as excited to talk about my fabric as I am!

I bought my final fabric from Misan Fabrics in London (unfortunately they don’t have stock online so I can’t point you towards the exact fabric). It’s pretty special. It’s a cloque jacqard, mixed fibres. Parts are white, parts are off-white. Parts are shiny, parts are not. Parts are rippled, parts are flat. Hopefully you can see what I’m talking about below.

The whole thing is textured. Quite unusual for a bridal fabric, but I love it.

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I transferred my adjustments from the dress muslin to my paper pattern and started playing with the placement. Right up until the moment I laid a long length of the fabric out on my kitchen table, I’d thought of it as abstract, which of course it isn’t. There are clear repeats in the pattern forming ‘bands’ of similar blobs all the way down. This presented a dilemma; whether to cut the pieces to preserve the ‘bands’ all the way around the dress, or whether to do something different? To make things worse, I had just over 6 metres of fabric and was cutting around two fabric flaws/stains. After much placing and pinning, and replacing, and repinning, I flipped some of the pieces upside down so that there would be no band effect on the dress, to try and make it look as abstract as possible. It took a few goes pinning it all so it would fit and avoid the stains at the same time (and my table is only 2 metres long), but eventually, I took a deep breath and started cutting.

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Wedding Dress: Part 4 (Skirt Lining)

Hi folks, hope you’re still following this series and haven’t gotten too bored with the whole thing! Today’s post is a quick one about the skirt lining and some of its features.

Full disclosure: I wasn’t planning on having a skirt lining at all, the dress was going to just be on top of the underskirt with a regular hem. I bought horsehair braid for a nice crisp hem and everything. But then I changed my mind.

I wanted a bubble hem – to keep the volume of the skirt all the way down to the ground and give it more of a rounded, bubble appearance. To get the bubble effect, you make the lining narrower and shorter than the skirt, and join them together right sides together. The skirt is gathered onto the lining and the whole seam is hidden on the inside.

The point is, this can only work with a lining because it has to be held up from the inside all the way round. So, I cut a lining, following the shape of the original skirt (luckily I had metres and metres of fabric).

Here it is, wrong side out over the underskirt. You can see that I’ve made it narrower at the hem by simply tapering the seam allowance. Note that this only happens in the bottom fifth of the skirt as the underskirt tulle wants to be unimpeded to produce the volume required above that.

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Wedding Dress: Part 3 (The Corselette)

Welcome back folks, today we’re talking corselette construction!

Firstly, I need to give a big shout out to Laura Mae at Lilacs and Lace as her post on corselette construction here is absolutely excellent and formed the basis of what I ended up doing. Thank you Laura Mae! There are not many resources out there on corselettes so do read Laura Mae’s very informative post if you are thinking of doing something like this yourself.

I also read Susan Khalje’s “Bridal Couture” from cover to cover (it’s OOP – HOW IS IT OOP???!! – and very expensive online but Clare was kind enough to lend me her copy – and to show me her wonderful wedding dress that she made in person!). This book is highly recommended to anyone thinking of making their own dress as it covers every aspect of construction. Some of the styles are a little dated but the information is brilliant.

Here’s my muslin for the corselette section, which is loosely based on Burda 02/2011 #113, extended to the high hip and with a few other tweaks.

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Note that I used an invisible zip here as the least bulky option. I hadn’t heard that you are apparently not supposed to use them in wedding dresses because they are apparently not strong enough (I read that somewhere recently). For what it’s worth, my dress used two invisible zips, one in the corselette and one in the dress itself and they were absolutely fine. Anything other than a concealed zip down the centre back would have ruined the line of the dress, IMO.

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Here’s how it looked under the dress muslin – I trimmed away a bit of what was showing through the armholes in the final version.

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Wedding Dress: Part 2 (Muslin)

This is the second post in my series about my wedding dress. Today I’m going to be talking about the muslin I made and how it helped me finalise the shape of the dress and the underskirt.

I started with my own copy of my Martini pattern as a base – not that you’d ever know it, looking at the shape – because it had had many fitting tweaks and was the most up to date version of a good fit. But it helped me get the fit right straight away. I had to mash several pieces together and redraw them all and… well I ended up with this (below). I played around a lot with the shapes of the arm holes and neckline and I removed most of the fitting ease from the bodice (the top half wanted to be pretty much skin tight as it would be over a corselette). The skirt shape was  a pretty exaggerated bell.

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You can see I’ve drawn on the back armholes in pencil.

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Wedding Dress: Part 1 (Inspiration)

Hello Everyone. I want to talk to you about my wedding dress!

As you may or may not have heard, I got married a few months ago, and yes, I made my own dress! It’s been an absolutely epic project taking the best part of 6 months continuous work (free time and weekends only). I want to share the whole process with you in a series of posts, as it’s really too epic for one post alone. I’ll start from the beginning and take you through all the interesting (and the mundane) sewing details over the coming days. Note that this is obviously not a refashion but it’s a personal sewing project that’s been very important to me, so I hope you’ll indulge me. I’m not going to reveal final pictures until the end, so you can enjoy the journey as I did from start to finish in chronological order, I hope that’s not too frustrating.

Where does one start when making a wedding dress? When you’re making your own, you can have literally any shape imaginable. You can use literally any fabric and have as much or as little detail as you like. So narrowing it down was tough. The main criteria for me were that I wanted something that suited my personal style (which I think of as classic, elegant and with a slight ‘fashion’ edge – at least, that’s what I aspire to) as well as a figure flattering shape (which for me means exposed shoulders, fitted waist, not strapless). I briefly considered a fitted skirt before coming to my senses and realising there are hardly any opportunities to wear something ball-gown like, and came up with my design motto, “Go Big Or Go Home”…

I looked at lots of designers, lots of bridal sites and even tried some dresses on to get a feel for the shapes. Here are some of the images I was working from.

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Jennifer Lawrence in Dior.

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Super Scarf

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So… I’ve had this scarf for a little while. A few months. It’s got a really pretty colour scheme and is shiny without being too shiny. I bought this in Sweden over the summer (in the Red Cross/Röda Korset shop in Arvidsjaur) and if I remember correctly, it was in a sale bin where everything was SEK 5:- (about 50p). Given that it’s marked SEK 25:-, I think I got a good deal. I actually picked up several scarves and doilies from the same bin which have yet to make it to the blog.

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Anyway, it’s polyester, which is fine, because look at the colours! It’s actually quite a big scarf (a metre square, or so) and I’ve been pondering what to do with it for a while. I was going to cut it into a couple of squares and make a basic top, but wasn’t really feeling like that would do it justice.

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Red Carpet Copycat: Marion Cotillard in Dior

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So… this jacket was sent to me by blogger Being Zhenya as part of a blogger swap organised by Martyna at Spoolish and Miche at Buttons and Birdcages about two years ago. Two years?! Yes, I know it’s been a while, sorry Zhenya. I asked her for something to refashion and she sent two great items from the thrift stores of Minneapolis. I’m a bit sad that it’s taken me this long to get to it, but the package didn’t arrive in time for the original post deadline so it went onto the back burner.

Anyway, it’s a poly-rayon women’s blazer in a brilliant cobalt blue.

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It’s well used and looks a bit sad on the stand.

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There are a minimum of features – no lining, only one button, no cuff detail, no shoulder pads – there aren’t even any real pockets.

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Of course, as soon as I saw those pocket flaps, I was like – DIOR FALL 2012 – well, in my defence, it was November 2013 at the time.

Here’s Marion Cotillard wearing the object of our copycat affection in November 2012. It has a lace skirt and jacket style bodice with lapels – and pocket flaps!

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The Refashioners 2015

Following the success of the last series of ‘The Refashioners‘, Portia asked me to participate in her refashioning challenge again this year. You can see what I made in the last round of the challenge here.

This year, the raw materials for my refashion were chosen and sent to me by Elisalex from By Hand London. As you can see, naughty Elisalex (never one to play by the rules) selected not one but two shirts in similar sizes and colour schemes.

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One shirt was stripy taupe and white.

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The other was also taupe and white, but a subtle dotted pattern. The fabric was thinner and had an element of stretch to it.

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The Travelling Tablecloth

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It may surprise you to learn that I bought this tablecloth in Lapland. In Arvidsjaur, Sweden, in the Red Cross charity shop, to be precise. I was on a trip up there at the start of the summer and because it rained a fair bit during my stay, the charity shops of northern Västerbotten and Lapland were a good distraction (although my favourite Red Cross shop in Jörn has sadly closed down).

The tablecloth itself is a thick weave often used for placemats, though it’s bigger than a normal placemat, that’s why I think it’s a tablecloth, perhaps from a side table or coffee table. Anyway, I paid SEK 10:- for it (a little under £1). It caught my eye because of its pretty pink, grey and cream colour scheme, so I snapped it up (along with a few other examples of doilies and table linens, which you will be seeing here in due course). Of course, I wanted to wear it here in London – no sense wasting pretty textiles like this on homewares!

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Bamboo vs. Betty Draper

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I bought this men’s cotton shirt in the Save the Children shop in Whitby for £3.49 after I fell in love with the print. At the time, I thought it was palm trees, but now that I look closer, it’s more like bamboo – it’s a green and beige print on a navy background. It’s actually not all that big, despite being a Large. Since the cotton is relatively heavy, I earmarked it for a dress, but then forgot about it for several years. With an upcoming trip to (spoiler alert) Portugal, I dug it out recently to be given a makeover as part of my holiday wardrobe.

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