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.

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!

OK, so I’ll have to admit, I can be headstrong.  I’ve been so insistent on making my dress myself, that I refused to even think about getting a dressmaker to help!   After three goes at building a bodice toile for my dress, and the same number of frustrated wollopings of fabric into the bin — too sad to blog about it — I called in the experts.

Isn’t it funny though, that as soon as you let your barriers down and ask for help, things seem to work out?  I’ve found two lovely ladies, one a patternmaker and one a dressmaker.  Julie and Karen worked together in a bridal store for twenty odd years, so they know what they’re doing, and they’re going to help me make The Dress in their homes as a kind of masterclass.  Instead of paying for dressmaking, I’m paying for guidance and learning new skills, which I much prefer.

Julie fit this final toile on me today (by the way, that skirt is just a placeholder bit of bemsilk, not the final pattern).  And I have bought such wondrous fabrics! Silk and organza and tulle…  but photos will have to wait until two weeks hence, when I promise to take photos of the cutting process.  It’s so nice to be excited about this again and I can’t wait to learn and share bridal construction techniques.

Dart class coming up tomorrow…


There’s only one problem with my wedding dress pattern, but it’s a deal breaker.  Pointy 50s boob darts might have been great in 1953 but now they say LOOK AT ME I’M WEARING VINTAGE.  All the modern patterns I can find have princess seams, which are fine in general but not for this particular dress-of-my-dreams.

I bought this pattern today from the ever-fabulous sandritocat, fingers crossed.

Oh, can’t resist: “Oh, Matthew!  Puffed Sleeves!!”

It’s not perfectly done yet.  It needs a button, a belt buckle, and a waist closure.  It fits very differently in cotton to jersey; only needs one button instead of three.

There were a few days when I was sick of it and thought it was too much, too colorful, that I should cut the top off and use it as a skirt.  So I got the Masculine Quilt Advisor to take a photo.  I thought if I could wear it around (albeit pinned together) and see it in a picture, I could make a rational decision.  Now I like it, love it, and I’m going to finish it.  Yay!

My Mum’s mini Schnauzer is staying with us for a week or two.  I’d meant to post half an hour ago to show my next dress pattern, but Mitzi was getting restless.  After a game of chasey around the house, she volunteered to be my pattern model.  Selfless of her.

Thanks to Nicole for the advice to buy Burda or Butterick patterns.  The Lady Who Knows at my favourite fabric shop agrees that New Look are tragic.  Which is an ego boost.   I’m also looking for a copy of the Walkaway Dress (Butterick 4790) in something close to my size.

This is much more complicated to make than the New Look is, but that’s a good thing: it’s fully adjustable, as a pattern should be, and it’s nicely finished.  Plus, it’s a real wrap dress, not a goofy fake.  The waist closes in two stages: two sets of hooks and eyes, and then a belt.  A nice touch, and one that can even be adjusted in the future if the dress turns out well and outlasts my current size.