Wedding


I’m just going to warn you, straight up, that this is a loooong post with a lot of pictures.  But it covers something that I wanted to know how to do, and I couldn’t find a good enough tutorial on the Web so I figured it out myself by trial and error.

One thing I knew about my wedding dress — before I even sat down to draw, before I looked at fabric — was that it was going to have a row of tiny little buttons with loops.  They’re so romantic and dreamy — and even though I wasn’t going the white wedding dress, romantic was definitely on the cards.  It’s like wearing a veil: sure, I could do without it, but when else am I going to wear a dress that can legitimately require assistance just to get it done up?

The buttons needed to be about 11mm wide — that’s 7/16 of an inch to those of you over the ocean.  And every time I went to cover one in the silk dupioni, said silk unraveled and puckered and was just generally dispiriting.  I asked around and had a play  — here is a better way.

Draw your motif on a clean sheet of paper, in black pen that can be seen through your fabric. The motif should be at least 2mm (technical term — a smidge) smaller than your button.

Cut a piece of silk three or four times the button’s size — this is not the time to be stingy with fabric.

Trace the motif ever-so-lightly with a pencil (you may need to use a lightbox or a window) and thread your needle with one strand of embroidery floss.

Of course you can use any stitch to embroider your button, but I used ol’ reliable, chain stitch.  For this one, you bring your needle up, wrap the floss around the needle at the front, pull tight, and repeat (it’s easier to understand from the pictures.)

Huzzah, done!  Sorry about the weird colours.  My camera, it seems, cannot deal with tiny macro shots of shiny silk.

Self-cover buttons will almost always come with a cutting guide on the packet.  Cut out the appropriate size and push a pin through dead centre — find it by folding the circle twice.  Now rest the pin on the dead centre of your motif and push the cutting guide down.

Trace around, leaving a smidge of room because you’ll be cutting well inside the line.

Take a scrap of lightweight, iron-on interfacing and iron to the reverse side.  It’s best to put a light cloth between the iron and the silk/embroidery.  You don’t want to burn the silk or squash your stitching.

Now cut around your circle, inside the guide line.  Thread your needle with regular cotton and make small running stitches all around it.  Leave a considerable tail at either end (I could have used more in this example — at least 10cm or 4″.)

Pull tight, making sure that your motif remains centred.  You may need to wrap the thread around the shank to get it tight enough.  This is fiddly work.  Be patient.

Place the backing on the button. Use a fingernail to make sure all the edges are sitting underneath the backing, then push down firmly all around the sides.

Congratulate yourself and take a photo!

Now go find some other places to take photos.  Admire how pretty and how tiny it is.

Ahhhh.

Now you can get married!

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We have many wonderful pictures from our wedding day, but this is the one tacked to the wall of my sewing room.

Take a little bit of this…

Add a little bit of that…

Add a dash of standing on a table, waiting for people to stop taking pictures and start pinning lace on your hem…

And you feel pretty much ready to get married.  Almost… (I’m writing this the day before…)

I’ve scheduled this post to publish at around the same time Dan and I tie the knot, so if you’re reading this, the deed is done.  I’ll be off on holidays for a week — if you’d like to see photos, the lovely Jessie will put a few up on her site within a day or two.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve helped out with helpful comments, sage advice, and helping hands.

Well, here we are, it’s almost time to get married.  Two days from now in fact.  Am I overtired, worrying over every detail, convinced SOMETHING will go wrong?  You betcha.  But I’m also loving it!

Today I baked many batches of a cake that’s traditional in Sri Lanka, called Love Cake.  Our plan is to incorporate it into our marriage ceremony, and then give a piece to each of our guests.  For us the cake recipe is very special: Dan remembers it from his childhood but the grandmother who made it for him is long gone.  I recreated it from five separate recipes, then fine tuned it until the flavour was just right: taking his expert advice as I went along and making changes to suit our tastes.  It seems like there are as many Love Cake recipes as there are Sri Lankan mums and grandmas.

This is ours.

  • Take three mixing bowls — one needs to be large.
  • In bowl one: mix 10 egg yolks and 800g sugar.
  • In bowl two: beat six egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • In bowl three (the large bowl): mix 500g semolina with 250g melted butter.
  • Add yolk mixture to semolina.
  • Add to this 500g finely chopped cashews, 200ml mild honey, 200ml rose water, 2tspn rose essence, a dash of dark rum, chopped zest of two lemons. one heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon, and one heaped teaspoon ground cardamom.
  • Fold whites in, gently, a little to begin and then the rest.
  • Pour into two greased, lined, 9″ square pans.
  • Bake at 150C for at least an hour or until a knife comes out sticky but not with liquid mixture attached.  If the cake is dry and firm, it’s overcooked by Sri Lankan standards.  If tops show early signs of browning, cover with aluminium foil.
  • Take out of the oven and, when cool, slice into bite-size pieces.
  • Share it with those you love.

I hope you enjoy this.  There’s no picture of the finished product yet because they’re still in the oven!

See you all on the other side!

What a weekend — an engagement photo session (ours) and a wedding (our friends Andrew and Rose — Dan was best man).  Click on the link to take a sticky at the amazing engagement photos, taken by Jessie.  My dress is the latest project, an Elvis print voile over pink tulle.

We played around in all our favourite Melbourne places, from the Flinders St Clocks where we met for the first time, to the park, to Degraves St… and then finally to our ‘real home’, the lights and the flavours of Chinatown.  We were mucking around in front of the camera for hours and Jessie (and her lovely helper Hannah) never complained… love you guys!

Oh, and I’m totally going to blog about the wedding, but it deserves space of its own.

I’ve been tulle-wrangling lately…

Some things are going well, like the boned foundation of the bodice.

Others I am not sure of, but am waiting to see how they turn out, like draping bias cut silk over the bodice.  (After the photo this was clipped back to seam allowance and sewn down to the foundation.)  I’m not sure that it’s not too busy.

Other things are causing me to lose sleep, like this enoooormous skirt.  (we ran out of tulle for the final tier, probably a good thing).

I think it needs to go back to being more like this.

So this is why wedding dresses are stressful.  It’s not just that there are more intricate foundations to reckon with.  The hardest part is that it’s a once in a lifetime dress: it’s hard to call it ‘good enough’ and move on.

On with the wedding dress fun!  These photos are from Friday, when I spent some hours in Ringwood with bridalwear expert Julie Spencer.  I’m so glad that I a) decided to find some help and b) found Julie and her friend and colleague Karen.  I must have called twenty dressmakers and more pattern makers in an attempt to find someone who’d teach me as they worked.  Whilst I understand their reluctance to have me hanging around, slowing them down and wanting to do things myself, learn how things are done, it was frustrating.  Calling all dressmakers: you could make a mint in private sewing lessons with a bridal focus.

First of all, off to ‘The House of Franke, Stuart”.  Franke Stuart has been around for decades.  They once made dresses and now they sell a fabulous range of bridal fabrics and laces.  They also make hoop skirts.

I picked up a hoop skirt they’ve made for me, and fabric such as I have never even *held* before.  There’s a long length of pale blush dupioni is for the bodice and skirt, there’s 15m of soft tulle for the overskirt, a couple of short lengths of darker dupionis to ‘see’ about layering in the skirt, and some organza.  All pinks, all as pale as possible.  The photos below are of a session ‘just playing’ with everything pinned together.   The skirt is sewn out of the basic dupioni and we used a strip of it to stand in for the bodice.

I also picked up a tiny bit of blush  lace and you can see it pinned to the first overskirt below.  I wonder if I can afford to stitch lace over the bottom edge of each overskirt.  That would be pretty, no?  What do you think?

I’m not going to use the darker dupionis though.  So I have to find some other use for that fabric.  It was worth trying though!

Yeah, it’s not going to work.  Simple is best.  That second skirt, though, is the organza, and I think (there are so many decisions to make!!  eek!) that it would be very sweet lined with the dupioni and made into a bow for the back waist?

There are almost too many possibilities!  So: I learned a few things.  For important and expensive dresses like bridal gowns, Julie uses a 2.5cm seam allowance so that the dress can be let out as well as in.  If the diet is a fail, no problem.  There are special feet that will gather up tulle and other fabrics and create ruffles and gathers: I didn’t know that.  And if your fabric is fine and you want to put only a light hem on it, don’t iron it over twice like you’d normally do.  Turn it with your finger, just a few millimetres, while sewing it down.  Turn again, sew again.  Light and easy.

Next lesson is scheduled for the 6th, when I’m going to bag out the skirt with its lining and build the overskirt layers.  This is So.  Much.  Fun.

Oh, and!  I want to ask you — five tulle skirts or three?  These are the important questions!

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