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!

August 13, 2014

DIY Handmade Wedding - The Flowers!

For the forth installment of my DIY Handmade Wedding posts/tips, I am talking flowers!

When searching for flowers we decided to shop local and for local flowers, so we chose to go with Australian natives! Luckily a friend of my mums knew about a wholesale flower store who sold to the public. Everbloom in Leederville had a large range of native flowers. 

We ordered the flowers and I picked them up the day before. They kept well in the laundry in buckets overnight. I suppose it was probably a good idea to get Australian natives for a DIY Australian summer wedding.

Having the Australian theme meant that I had to have Banksia's and Kangaroo paws. Mum made a lovely flower arrangement in an old vintage wooden box (You can see it in the first image). 

 For the table settings we chose the New South Wales Christmas bush.

For the bouquet we ran out of time to practice before the day, so we were arranging 2 hours before the ceremony (as you can see from the image below, I am still in my pajamas at like 13:00!)..... I probably should have sorted this before, HOWEVER! I loved our bouquets. Some how, mother and daughters got it done just in time. The mixture of eucalyptus, misty blue and pale pink flowers, I just LOVED it. Super proud of our last minute, inexperienced efforts.   

Our flower concept really worked well for our theme. So overall I was SUPER happy! and ready JUST in time for dad to walk me down the isle.

Posts still to come..... making the grooms suit, making the wedding dress, making the cake toppers, how to do a backyard wedding AND MORE!

July 28, 2014

DIY Wedding - Creative Name Places with a sewing twist

I wanted to inject as much of our personalities into our wedding as possible and the name places expressed my love of sewing! I found an image on pinterest which had made use of the spools for the name places so I borrowed the idea.

I purchased the spools on Etsy from Crafty Wool Felt. You can buy different quantities of the spools and they also have the plain wooden cake toppers to paint.

We varnished the spools by dipping them in the varnish and leaving them to dry. Thanks mum for your help!

I then wrote the names on plain paper with a Deco inspired font and used a pin to fix the name to the spool. Sometimes the wood was too hard to stick it into the wood, so I had to place some blue tac in the middle of the spool and fix the pin that way.

All in all, I was pleased with the result. The wedding guests were impressed with this small injection of sewing love:)

July 21, 2014

Handmade Wedding: Sewing the Bridesmaid Dress

Today I will be sharing the process of making my sisters bridesmaid dress!

The bridesmaid dress was a little challenging as most of my ideas didn't end up working.  I wanted my sisters bridesmaid dress to be art nouveau inspired with a casual twist and mine to be more art deco inspired..... the nouveau never really eventuated. But one thing which saved me was a last minute fabric buy. When buying the wedding silks and chiffon's, I saw this orange flower print and couldn't resist a reckless purchase. Little did I know that this decision would save the big day!  The theme of the dress also needed to be casual garden wedding friendly.

Fabric manipulation
For the bodice, I used a basic block pattern and shaped the back piece. I started using this fabric manipulation technique that I saw Christopher Palu from Project Runway do on a number of garments. Not having a great deal of experience working with silks and chiffons I decided to use tissue paper as a stabilizer. Firstly I ruled lines 1cm apart on the paper. And layered the fabric and paper; silk, chiffon and then paper on top. Following the lines, I sewed across each pattern piece. 
I then ripped the tissue paper off (which was not a fun job) and cut between each sewed line. 

Things aren't quite going to plan:(
I was planning on continuing this technique for the skirt but had to forfeit the idea when the chiffon on chiffon skirt version ended up totally warped. No one wants a wonky skirt! Time was running short so I had to make a decision fast. When I get to this point of 'sewing despair' I sit in front of my fabric stash, waiting for the solution to bare its wonderful head. This wonderful fabric was like a beacon of light, shining amongst the other fabrics.
So the solution was to cover the peppermint fabric with the chiffon floral. It did feel sad abandoning the initial concept and cover up my hard work:( But something had to be done

Circle skirt and Hand Sewing
I cut the 1/4 Circle skirt (using the calculations in my circle skirt tutorial) and started to drape the chiffon on the dress. Hand sewing all the way. 

Sewing and the sun
During the summer months I find it hard to be inside, so I often take my sewing outside!

Kass got her hair done in a braid. I initially wanted her to wear it out, but living in one of the windiest cities in the world could potentially be a problem for long hair. I really like how it all turned out.

All in all I am happy with the dress and feel that it fit the garden theme of the wedding very well:)
Thanks sis for being such a great bridesmaid!

Still to come...... the grooms suit, my wedding dress, crocheted cake toppers. Plus much more.