and what an adventure.
From designing our vows, to Bridesmaid melodramas, family dramas, weather issues, and taking a holiday for the first time as husband and wife, etc, I’m back, and what a tale to tell.
We just wanted a simple affair as far as we are concerned, it’s the people who make an event, but once you start to think about providing shelter and food and liquids, it can all start to whirl out of control, until you take it by the reigns and pull it back into shape again.
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A wedding for me, is about the community of people you surround yourself with. The people who you’ve spent most of your time with and connect with best. Invariably people will want to make contributions, and that’s awesome, but be careful of those who keep demanding to make contributions as they may not really be operating for the couple’s best interests, as much as they insist. Don’t give in just because you think it will make them happy. There will be tears in the end when finally the foot has to come down, it comes as a shock to those who usually insist on getting their own way with you.
The day itself was amazing, and experiencing the fountain of love that was flowing from family and friends alike was awesome. It was a supremely satisfying day, inspite of a sleepless week and night before, the atmosphere was energising.
The materials for the dress alone cost $700 and I spent about 70 hours total, all up, including designing the dress and fabric sourcing.
The fabric was French handpainted silk, and the lining and frills were also silk.
I found them in Saigon Fabrics in the city of Sydney, with a dear friend whose design skills I trust and respect. It can be easier to clarify one’s thoughts when there is somebody to bounce ideas off, but that person does need to be somebody whose opinion you really trust.
Once I had seen those materials nothing else compared to their vibrancy and softness. I just HAD to go back and get them for my dress.
The lining was a beautiful soft silk satin, and the frills were also 100% silk.
I used “shapewell” to give body to the silk underneath the chiffon, cottan tape to sew channels for the boning, and plastic boning to give the dress body and support.
I gave the back of the dress eyelets and a criss cross draw string so that if my body changed shape slightly I could still make the dress fit well. And put an invisible zip in the side to make the dress easy to get on and to get off.
I heard a story once about a friend’s sister who had so many buttons and fastenings on her dress that in the end she slept in it, on her wedding night, because she was too tired at the end of the night to work out how to get it off!
Once we decided to get married, I closed my eyes, loosened my mind and imagined what did i really want to wear? What style really suits my personality and sense of fun? What kind of a woman do I want to present myself as to my chosen life partner in the moments that we make our vows in front of our friends and family?
The result was a fifties/eighties/flamenco inspired dress in Jungle green, with tropical leaf prints all over it and highlights of birds of paradise flowers in magenta, orange and yellow. The idea was that the bridesmaids would be birds of paradise each representing one of those colours each. Becasue the bridesmaids are all strong minded powerful women in their own right, it was important that they represent themselves in a style that had them feeling gloriously gorgeous.
So we got to, getting our outfits together. We were in different states and different countries so most of our correspondance was via email.
For a while there it seemed as if I was going to have to design the fabric myself, but it meant that it would have to be printed on synthetic material. In the end, I couldn’t get the design looking as I wanted it to, and I altered those designs instead to create the wedding invitaion, which we printed on special textured paper and tracing paper on our printer at home.
In the end, I found a most gorgeous and vibrant fabric, and added the colours i wanted in frills at the hem.
My bridesmaids then became purple, yellow and orange (except orange became patterned with orange accesories) Yves Saint laurent, Sass and Bide and Lisa Ho, supporting Ube Love from Agent Costume, Yeah!
The result was so visual striking, it was totally amazing. Two of the girls wore their wedding shoes, which was fantastic, and they loved to be able to wear them again.
I totally love my dress.
If I could change anything, it would be that i wouldn’t have trimmed the frills as much as i did, tired and hurriedly trying to finish everything in time days before the big event.
But other than that, I wore it comfortably all night, kicked up my heels, and slipped out with ease at the end of a very long day, and slept soundly like a kitten, ready for the following day’s brunch.
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Luckily I had a dress making friend to help me take my measurements. I drew up my own dress pattern, and then made up a pattern in calico (a cheap firm cotton.) When it was ready, my friend helped me do a fitting. She pinned it in the right places to make sure it fitted correctly and exactly to my body shape. I then altered the dress pattern based on the fitting.
I was then ready to start making my dress out of the amazing fabric we’d bought together.
I used carbon paper and a tailors wheel to transfer the exact pattern pieces onto the fabrics.
The panels were not exactly symetrical, as my body is not exactly symetrical. It was important not to mix the left and right sides up.
I cut the panels out of the amazing green satin. We’d picked a green that was slightly lighter than the finished green I was after, this is because it was to sit underneath the chiffon, and we thought it would “illuminate” the colour better from underneath if it was slightly lighter.
I hand stitched the satin to the backing before machine stitching the panels together to make sure the fabrics didn’t move out of alignment. It is important that the pattern pieces are cut exactly on the grain, otherwise seams can twist or buckle.
To baste them, you need to lay them exactly aligned and flat, on the table. You do not pick these pieces up and stitch them flopping about in your hands. You keep them flat on the desk, moving them as little as possible while you carefully stitch, ensuring the two will not move out of alignment, and will behave as one, if that makes sense.
Once the panels are machine stitched together, you press the seams flat. Use a pressing cloth between the fabric and the iron, use a ham and press from the inside, then press from the outside.
Once pressed from both sides, you sew the cotton tape in to act as channels for the boning.
I padded up my mannequin so that it replicated my body shape, and pinned the bodice to the mannequin. It was now ready to get the ruching started and attached.
This back panel under the eyelets is the only bodice piece that wasn’t ruched.
nearly 2 metres of fabric was ruched into 50 cms.