September 27, 2014

DIY Wedding: Sewing my Wedding dress & Tips for making your dress

Making this dress was a process. I know that people have said that you should never make your own wedding dress, but I would have to completely disagree. Sure there were some moments of tears and frustration, but the feeling of pride and accomplishment on the wedding day far out weigh the negatives. So here is the story of my wedding dress.........

I certainly knew that I was not going to wear white. I was largely inspired by an Ellie Saab peach dress. Mum and I went fabric shopping, looking for a non white silk chiffon, satin and lace. I would have liked to purchase eco fabrics, but unfortunately they were way out of my price range and difficult to find. So I ventured to a few fabric stores in Perth and eventually found this pink/salmon coloured fabric. It was half price as well!

There were a few key themes that I had in mind when searching for wedding inspiration
1. Everything was going to be DIY 
2. Colour theme - I just love the colours and the romantic feeling in the Sophie Coppola film "Marie Antoinette", so this film was certainly an inspiration 
3. I wanted to incorporate some element of the Art Deco style into the dress
4. The wedding was in January which is the time for  hot Australian Summer days so I needed to take this into consideration, I therefore had to be practical. e.g. no sleeves for the middle of summer!

After scouring the net for months, I decided that there were a few musts.....
1. It had to be a gown
2. Deco inspired lines within the dress. 
3. Backless.

Here are a few images that I collected. Pinterest is of course a great way to collect inspiration. Here is my wedding pinterest. 

Inspiring dresses
Light green satin evening dress, 1932. Charleston Museum.
Katie May dress
Zac Posen
Jenny Packham

I decided to use the skirt section from the Vogue 1032 pattern.


After all of the research I finally made a decision on the design and put my thoughts onto paper. I was planning on the skirt having an ombre effect at the bottom, but ended up scrapping that idea.  


I have not made a gown before and therefore opted to make a muslin version of the dress. I used a Vogue pattern V1032 for the skirt section and draped and drafted the bust section on my dress form. It was difficult fitting it on myself, so I had many versions of the bust, just to perfect it. The most difficult part of the dress to create was the low back. I didn't want straps through the back, so I needed to figure out how to have a backless dress which was practical to wear. I ended up running the straps under the bust and then around the shoulder... if that makes sense.

One thing to remember is that you need to wear your intended under garment for all fittings. I opted not wear anything underneath, in hindsight I should have had chicken fillets for the bust... oh well. 

I made the dress in a similar chiffon/satin fabric as I felt nervous working with the silk chiffon. I read some blogs which detailed different methods for working with fine silk chiffon. I opted for the tissue paper option. It kept the fabric stable and limited any warping. Once I was 90% sure on the design, I started cutting the wedding dress fabric (I was not completely certain about the back, but I just needed to get cutting). 


This part was scary! But once I got into it, it was fine. I just had to double check! I invested in a large cutting mat and made use of my rotary cutter. The cutter made the cutting process a little easier. I then hand sewed the 3 layers of silk chiffon, silk satin and tissue paper together at the edges to avoid any warping.    


I then started piecing the skirt section together and tore off the tissue paper when it was all sewn. I sewed the bodice to the skirt section.

Once it was constructed I got onto the detailing. I hemmed the layers by hand and finished off the edges.


On a trip to London, I discovered this sweet little 1920/1930 inspired store, which stocked wonderful vintage style dresses and  jewellery. I knew that I needed to get this brooch as it complimented the lines in my dress. So I attached it to the centre back.

Unfortunately the photographer did not get any good photos of the back of my dress..gggrrrr. But my cousin snapped a few images. You can see the satin section that I added to the back to hide the zip and make the look cleaner.

One important component to the dress was the reception transformation. I needed to add something which would lift the chiffon train off the floor. So I added a loop to the bottom of the train and added a tie near to the zip so that I could lift the chiffon off the floor. You can see from the middle image how it looked lifted. Perfect for dancing up a storm.

So that was the process of the wedding dress. I learnt a great deal and would love to share some tips with you. 


1. Give yourself a timeline.
I started way too late... got there in the end but in hindsight, needed a timeline.

2. Reduce the pressure that you put on yourself
Reduce the pressure by telling yourself 'this is a great dress for you, at this time in your life'. This does not need to be your 'ultimate dress' of all time.

3. Make sure you have more then enough fabric.
I only JUST made it with the fabric!

4. Collect inspiration 
On pinterest!

5. Trust your decisions and go forth 
If you are an indecisive person, just remind yourself to keep going and be confident. 

6. Be practical about the design, think about the weather and don't be too overambitious
I wanted sleeves, but the Australian summer would disagree. Also be practical about your ideas. e.g. unless your wedding is years away, you won't be able to embroider the fabric.

7. Practice. 
If you feel nervous working with the textiles, practice working with similar fabrics, so that you get a feel for it. 

8. Have fun, persevere and be confident with your decisions! 

September 05, 2014

Sewing the Wedding Suit: Vest, Trousers & Tie

For the past year or so I have enjoyed making garments for my man, so when it came to our wedding, I couldn't resist making my 'husband to be's' suit! I nearly accomplished my goal of sewing the entire suit, but ended up one article short. I made the trousers, vest and tie... but ran out of time with the shirt. Overall I am super happy with the fit and tailoring of the trousers and vest.
Here I will share this "creating a suit" process with you all AND encourage you to sew for your man!

Step 1 : Choosing your patterns and if required, an accompanying book
Firstly I scoured the internet for patterns. I had made the Jochen Burdastyle trouser previously (my orange version posted here), though I knew that I wanted to alter it for a slimmer fit, so I invested in the tailoring Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide to Menswear book. The reviews seem to indicate that this is the best tailoring book out there. I was not THAT impressed, but in saying that I did not make a jacket, so perhaps the jacket section is strong? 

For the vest I chose the Burdastyle Jason pattern as I like the pockets and neckline of the vest. 

Step 2 : Create the Muslin version and make alterations
I created a muslin for both the vest and trouser and made the following alterations and transferred it to the pattern pieces. 

* Trouser alterations - 1.5 inches off through the centre trouser with some small alterations to the back seam
*Vest alterations -I took in about an inch on the side seams and altered the shape of the back to follow the contour of his back.

Step 4 : Choosing fabric
We were planning to purchase sustainable fabrics, BUT we ran out of time so we made our way to the markets to find this charcoal, pin striped wool blend. We also chose to use a brown satin for the back section. 

Step 5 : Cutting and Sewing the Vest
The instructions for the vest were pretty easy to follow. I had to look up the welted pocket on youtube to make sure that I inserted it correctly. The buckle for the vest was difficult to identify in the sewing store, so I needed to ask the shop owner. All in all it was pretty easy to assemble. 

Step 6: Cutting and Sewing the Trousers
The trousers were also pretty simple to sew. The most challenging parts were the welted pockets and fly, but I encountered  no real dramas.

Step 7: Constructing the Tie and adding a personal touch
I used a silk bamboo in combination with the fabric from my own dress to create the tie:)

There we have it! I created (nearly) everything just in the nick of time. I was super happy with the fit and he looked superb on the day:)
.......AND at the moment I am continuing to sew for him with some Thread Theory patterns. Jedediah pants and Comox Trunks are on the to-do list!

Next weeks Post: The making of my wedding dress!