Sunday, 21 August 2011

Full Circle

Well. Well well well.

Sometimes, when you're in the middle of something, you feel like it's never going to end. It's impossible to see the finish line from the centre of things. All you can see is horizon. And you can't imagine having everything done.

Last week was a bit like that. We thought we had come so far, and only had a tiny bit of work to do. Then.... as seems to have happened at most junctures... then, on the Saturday, we pressed all the edges of the lovely bodice we made the week before. And everything got a little bent out of shape.

The thing about delicate fabrics like dupion is that, put the steam droplets from an iron into them and they will fu-reeeeek out. Rather than the tough, shaped, paper-like consistency they previously displayed, they'll go all charmingly soft. Which is cool, unless you, like us, need a structure to keep your design in place. SIIIIIIGH.

So last Saturday, there may have been a small amount of tantrum. Even a few tears. And certainly a feeling of "let's just pack it in".

But no! We shall not fall at the last hurdle, we decided. What do you do when your top won't cooperate? You whack an inch off it at the neckline. So we did. And, thank the lord, it worked a bloomin' treat. And in fact, dare we say it, looked better.

Disaster averted, we pressed on (without actually pressing on the dress, to avoid similar results). An lo. She took form and was completed(eth).

Zip in, on it went and finally, there was the dress which had been shying away from us all along.

All that remained was the hem.

Don't mind the monkey, he's just helping me out a little. As an aside - a few years ago I got my first fancy hat (as possibly mentioned before, I have quite the thing for hats and fascinators).

However, being that it was from H&M said hat had been crushed in a pile of other hats in one of those big box things they're so fond of in H&M. So the veil was waaaayyyy out of whack. I solved this sartorial dilemma by pinning the veil down across Monkey's face so that it sorted itself into a more face-like shape. Voila!

My own dear sparkly heart had a similar problem - the lovely veil was flying up up and away and not draping dramatically as it should. So here it is being pulled out courtesy of helpful Monkey. Cheers mate.

Anyway, let us stop digressing and go back to the task at hand. With mum taking a well-deserved break in Spain, I had 10m of hem to tackle this weekend, between the lining and the skirt itself.

Check it out - that's a whole lotta hem laid out there.

So it began with pinning. More pinning. And just a little bit more pinning.

The skirt had to come up by an inch all the way round, so the plan was to overlock it to just below where the inch was and turn it up from that.

In this instance, the overlocker (NEHHHHRRRRRRRRR THUDTHUDTHUD NHREEEERRRRRRRR) has been quite the saviour. Trying to cut with a steady hand round ten metres is no mean feat - no matter how many pins you use. With the overlocker, it just gets whacked off as you go which saved a tremendous amount of time.

So round and round I went. I took the lining as a practice run. Slowly round it went, chopping off the excess and coming out all neat and pretty.

Happy that I had given myself quite enough training, I moved on to the skirt itself.

I thought I'd be quite terrified, so I put a bit of Sex and the City on in the background to keep my ears entertained. It was the first season where it's a bit rough and they still continually break the fourth wall.

But then, finally, it was done. And just in the nick of time - as you can see from this pic << the second 'looper' thread was mere seconds away from running out. That is NOT what you want to happen, trust me.

So now that it's all overlocked I guess you think I could relax. No. Because it's then back to pinning, pinning, pinning - all round the 10m again.

I managed to remember that my mum had told me to pin the lining the opposite way from the fabric. I managed to get it in a relatively straight line. I managed to even put the pins in the right direction (if you don't sew, you won't get that - but trust me, it makes a huuuuuge difference). And of course I had Carrie and Co to keep me going through all the pinning.

It was time to run it through the machine and hope for the best. Luckily, I managed not to randomly stick up the skirt, or sew and extra bits together, or catch the hem so that it was "all bumfly" in Mum terminology.

Thus - tada! tralala! Hemageddon had passed (we've been using -ageddon a lot as a suffix of late. Love it).

Actually, this pic is a cheat. It's the dress before hemming. But I only took pics of myself wearing it and - just in case, just in case of the slightest, most unlikely chance of C coming across this, I don't want to risk it.

So there we have it. Full Circle (it actually is, I laid it out on the bed like a big circle and it looked really funny).

I have to say, putting it on, that I'm so glad we did it.

For all the extra stress, and the effort, and the worry, it is worth it to have *exactly* the dress you want. One no-one else can have. And one which means something. At this stage, I couldn't care less if everyone else hates it. I'm just glad to have it.

The only thing left, you may notice, is the belt. Having had yet more thoughts on this subject, we've decided to do a wee beady thing. That's all to come. But it's done. It's done!!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Pins, pins, and more pins.

To say we've had a busy weekend would be a bit of an under-exaggeration.

There were pins, so many pins. And so many attempts.

See, last week, I think we were quite pleased last week, thinking we'd got far ahead and today wouldn't be too bad.


In the end up, there was rather a lot to do, because nothing was *quite* right. There's that little bit, here and there. Half a centimeter here; quarter of an inch there. As little as it might seem, every piece makes a difference. Especially when you finally have the right underwear on, which I did thanks to some truly fabulous pieces from What Katie Did.

Everything went one step forward and two steps back, all weekend.

Anyway, we tried one bit. We cut out another bit. The front was wrong.

We fixed the front. The back was too small. We cut out new backs.

The sides were squinty. We cut out new fronts. The sides were still squinty. We repinned them. They were just about right.

We weren't sure. We cut out the new front in silk. We pinned it up.

It was definitely a bit of a slog.

Then, finally... it all came together. We tested out the top in the silk, fitting it perfectly - and then sewed the sides up to see how it would look. When that was done, we held the silk for the skirt around the bottom and, for the first time, we could see how it will actually look when it's finished.

Next week is deadline... we've figured out, however, that we have 10m of hem to sew. Yeah, really. That'll be something!

Also this week I've sorted out a couple of other things - in that, after a trail round Glasgow's vintage emporiums, I finally got my gloves. Trying quite a few stores, it was surprisingly difficult to get white or ivory gloves which weren't stained or ripped in some way. I was beginning to despair when I stopped by Retro in Kelvinbridge.

Downstairs was an accessory-lovers' dream; a huge, glass-fronted cabinet, with drawers stuffed full of gloves, scarves, ties, etc. Gloves were, obviously, the point so I tried not to get distracted by the other bits. There were three drawers with a selection of white, ivory and cream gloves in a huge range of styles and sizes. Heaven. I ended up buying a creamy ivory pair (which was not, as I feared, too creamy against the fabric) and a back-up red pair. Much love to Retro.

Anyway, I realised the only item which I might possibly need, but don't have (and am not yet sure I want) is a garter. I remember seeing my mum's garter when I was wee but I'm assuming that, like the dress itself, that's long gone. So I had a quick look tonight.

And indeed, while I'm not looking for anything big, and certainly don't want to spend too much cash on something so random, this lot are A-Mazing. Who knew such work could go into a small bit of elastic for round your leg?

Holy Matrimony, Batman!

This is just awesome. I'm not the biggest batman fan in the world, and while C does like, he's more of a superman/Clark Kent type. But still, respect must be paid. Check it out here.

Lacey McLaceington

This one is really pretty, I thought. My concern might be, how does it stay up properly with a tie at the back? I could be the bride who breaks something by tripping over her own garter. No
ta. But for prettiness, yes. Here it is.

"He had it coming."

This one actually made me laugh out loud, which was unfortunate as C was sitting right there. He asked what I was laughing at and then when I said I couldn't tell him, he went in a wee huff. Oops. Anyway.

The King

Hail to the king, baby.
There's something very appealing about getting some Elvis involved. The only thing is, it's a bit insulting to the groom to have another man's visage on your thigh.


I did a little search for cameo
garters because the engagement ring is a cameo. All in, they're a little too "bar girl" and for some reason cameo also seems to include feathers. Aside from the feather, I do like this one.


It's unlikely I'd be believed, but I honestly just came across this without searching. But.

Ruby. Slippers.


You'll notice there are two, this comes from what I think is an American thing where you have a "tossing" garter to throw to the bachelors in the group, and an "heirloom" garter to keep. I really just need the one, I don't think I'll be throwing it around. But with cost and P&P bringing this baby up to £40, I'm thinking I can find another quite happily.

There is, of course, the other option. To add it to the DIY pile. To be honest, I had a look for some guides; I'd seen this one on Rock'n'Roll Bride a while ago, and found this one which I think is a bit more my style. It's not complicated. But at this stage, it's like... really? Another thing to make? Probably not...

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The time is now.

This weekend just gone was a busy weekend. First off, we finished off the last bridesmaid dress. Well, kinda. There is a little bit of handsewing left over, after we've double-checked that it definitely fits just right. Because unpicking that shiz just ain't worth it.

Another good point was that my mum finished her dress all by herself and it looks fabulous. It's a beautiful, vibrant blue and she's even taken the time to add a beading pattern on the front, which looks mega-professional. Colour me impressed - also pretty excited as it looks even better than the bridesmaid ones. Which means that we can only be improving as we go along.

So having gone through every possible delay, we found ourselves at the precipice - with nothing left to do but The Dress.

Mum was in rather a panic as she didn't quite remember how much we'd already done. In fact, we had already cut out and fitted the lining, checked the length, and all that jazz. So it's mainly a case of just getting on with it.

Taking a deep breath, I smoothed out the silk on the table and started to cut... krruuuupt.
There's something very calming about that stage of the process, where you just relax and concentrate on cutting along the lines. It's quite soothing and helps you think about how all the sections will come together.

Every piece is now cut out and all that remains is to piece it all together nicely. We've given ourselves a two-week deadline. We shall see.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

So here's to the golden moon.

I think my Grandma had just about the best laugh in the world.

In conversation, you would often hear it bubbling out of her - or, more likely, bursting out. She had a knack for telling you half an hours' worth of troubles, then making a joke about it all and letting out a gale of laughter; or spinning out one of her favourite stories, chuckling through it, her voice cracking with excitement as she got to an important bit.

Of late, the laugh hadn't been making much of an appearance. Things had been hard to say the least. But the last time I saw her, there it was; not as big or brash as it once was, a shadow of that really. But still there.

There are stresses that people let themselves be pulled into when they're planning a wedding; something I've discussed before and which C and I both try pretty hard not to buy in to. What you try not to consider is the idea that the people you always imagined would share the day with you can suddenly be gone - which makes me all the more glad I haven't been wasting time worrying about what specific colour of red our roses might be.

We were - sadly - prepared for the idea that my own grandma would be unlikely to make it there on the day; as she hadn't been well for some time, and we didn't think she would have been strong enough. I did hope to at least be able to show her the finished outfit; clothes being something of a shared, passed-down obsession.

But not having Craig's gran there - the kind, wonderful, "very easy to become fond of" Toots - wasn't, to be honest, something either of us had even considered.

All of a sudden, though, we find ourselves having lost both of them, within a week of each other.

Even writing it down seems a bit too ridiculous; I mean, come on, universe. And yet, one Monday after another we had a fateful call, and one Friday after another we had to say goodbye.

What I keep remembering is what seems like a bit of a daft thing. When we were looking for a venue, there were quite a few reasons we chose ours; but one was how easily accessible it would be for the grannies. On the day, it will be hard not to think that neither of them are able to benefit from the wheelchair-ready ramp entrance to the venue.

Two such wonderful ladies. How I wish they could be there.

So here's to the golden moon
And here's to the silver sea
And mostly here's a toast
to you and me.

Friday, 24 June 2011


Three down now, thanks to mum's hard work on the handstitching. I have Louisa's home with me so that she can try it on and thought I'd upload a quick pic.

The tartan bit isn't the aforementioned wrap, by the way - just in case you thought because it's hanging down the middle it was a crazy nonsensical thin one. It's a sash for the middle.

The thing is, although this is a crap photo, I think it shows quite well the beautiful colour of her dress. I think it's my favourite of all the fabrics.

The only problem is, she's so teeny I could only ever hope to fit my arm in it, so borrowing is somewhat out of the question. I'll just have to get some more fabric for myself.

Anyway, today's my birthday. I was worried about how much we'd have still left to do by now, because the day before, June 23, marked the three-months-to-go stage.

Also, we're rather suddenly about to move flat, which was never really planned to be part of this year's stresses. So suddenly things are a little more up in the air.

What else is left? The flowers. Ah, the flowers. I think I've been saying "That's the one big thing which is left" for like two months. And I did almost sort it before. But finding the time is not really working right now.

So let's let it go again for a while. Birthday means presents and (with a certain amount of instruction, obviously) C presented me with this awesome Janine Basil hat.

I don't know who Brad is or what he might not understand.

Although he doesn't know it, Janine Basil's shop on Etsy is also where I got my headgear for the big day.

Here it is. Now, normally I'm not particularly big on the rhinestone thing but for some reason I did quite fall for this.

Janine was extremely accommodating - even adding a little birdcage veil for me, despite my poor explanation implying that I wanted a full bridal veil attached ("I'm not sure that will work", she very tactfully replied).

Sunday is back to work on the dressmaking, as I've got to recut part of Emma's dress and get going with that wrap making.

Birthday holiday over then! I hope Brad will understand.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Give 'em a hand.

One of the strangest things about getting married is that you find yourself worrying about things which, ordinarily, you probably wouldn't even consider. Even if you make the strongest of efforts not to turn into one of "those" brides. You know, those brides. I'd like to think I'm not doing too badly on that front... but I'm sure no-one would tell me to my face if I was.

So this week, imagine my alarm at the ridiculous amounts of time I spent pondering, wondering, looking a pictures of, and generally giving head space to, ivory gloves. I'm not even kidding. It must add up to several hours so far. Maybe in a way it's keeping my mind off other concerns of the moment - but I think a big part is down to wedding mania.

Wedding mania takes the most sensible of people, and convinces them that it really is important whether you wear a tie or a cravat. That there could be life-changing consequences to their choice of table decoration. I don't usually feel like this, to be fair, but I have found myself fixating on certain details - and this week, it was the gloves.

I have a dangerous feeling it won't abate until I actually buy a pair, but in order to try and break through this craziness, I've decided to share some of them here.

Why gloves, you might ask? We just do not wear enough gloves (or small hats) any more - and they are so much fun. I've got quite a few pairs - we're not talking the wooly variety. Time was a lady wasn't fully dressed without her gloves.

A certain style icon, Jackie Kennedy Onassis (pic), was THE glove-wearer. And they added a certain something to her finished, beautifully refined style.

Anyway, I love them, so here we are in ivory glove obsession.

The main reason I'm currently in a glove-sourcing frenzy is that the shop where I originally planned to buy them has, apparently, closed down. While I'll probably end up getting some from one of Glasgow's many vintage shops, I thought I'd have a quite look on Etsy one lunchtime and an obsession was born.

Who new, after all, the sheer variety
of white/ivory/ecru/'light cream' gloves were out there?

Some have pearls, some have beads, some have embroidery, some have cut-outs, some have lace, some buttons.

Some are plain, some scalloped, some with ribbed parts. Some leather, some cotton.

There are these delicate lace kid leather numbers, very pretty I'm sure you agree.

I'm not sure, however, whether they are a little too fussy.

Here's an alternative, then. Plain but delicate,
they look quite lovely - and would compliment the style of the dress.

The only thing is - and this is where wedding mania really kicks in - are they too white? The dress, after all, is ivory.

Whitey ivory clashy nightmare potential? Or is that just crazy talk? The problem is, without seeing them in real life, it's hard to know.

I honestly do not want to care, but I cannot help myself.

And so we come to these ones. In terms of colour they're obviously a lot more ivory (too ivory?).

They've also got some very beautiful bead detailing, little pearly-style beads which would go very well with the traditional string which will be worn on the day.

All of which is probably irrelevant as I'll now decide (after an incident with some wrongly-coloured bridesmaid shoes) that I cannot possibly order them online anyway, and take to the shops.

Phew. Mania abated. Now on to something which really matters.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Two down, four to go

Yup, really. We've reached, if not yet the halfway stage, kinda almost at that point.

Two dresses are totally down (although one still needs tried on, so let's not get too cocky). One's cut out in full, stitched together in part and not far off the finish line. One's been cut out and fitted in lining. Mine and mums are in roughly that stage as well.

The finish line might not be in sight, but it doesn't feel like an impossible dream either.

What's keeping us at the moment is what my friend Oonagh refers to as "life admin"; we've had a couple of wedding things to try and sort out, we're suddenly looking for a new flat (hopefully that hurdle has been leapt already) and we're looming close to a danger point in terms of jobs and what not. Plus, it's both C and I's birthdays in the next couple of weeks, so work may go out of the window on that account.

But at least we can feel, one piece at a time, stitch by stitch, that we're getting there.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Hats off to the MOB

Yesterday we found ourselves on an epic mission.

You'd think a trip from Glasgow to Edinburgh couldn't be too dramatic. Well, you'd be wrong.

We made the journey for two reasons: 1. Postcards for Project Invitation (more on that at a later date). 2. To visit a lady about a hat.

The hat lady was very nice and, after several were on and off her head, my mum selected one that will be dyed and made to match her beautiful silk material. She's already started making her own dress (from a very nice Vogue pattern) and this hat, indeed, will be her crowning glory.

Unfortunately, little did we know we would make the trip in some pretty extreme weather. Trees were strewn across pavements. Rain and wind whipped across our faces. And trains - like the one we planned to take home - were suddenly cancelled.

We got back to Waverley Station to a wall of cancellation and reports that all rooms in the city had been booked up. It was looking grim. Fortunately there was light at the end of the tunnel - and for once we were glad that it was the headlamps of an oncoming train.

It ambled in to the station, all innocent, all "what do you mean the announcement immediately before this one said all trains were cancelled for the rest of the evening?". Home we finally arrived.

A couple of days before, we had finally embraced the power of The Overlocker.

Unlike our nice gentle sewing machines (not to be used, apparently, without shoes for fear of electrocution - according to overprotective mum) it makes a noise like this:


Which is somewhat alarming. However, we finally braved ourselves up and started overlocking the seams of the first bridesmaid dress. For Lynsay, it's a boatnecked, navy dress, which is really pretty. It's a fairly simple design, and there was only one small hitch - catching a little of the lining, which is not really what you want when there's a knife slicing off the odd ends of all your material. Oopsie. Duly patched up, the dress is well on its way to being completed.

Now that you can see one nearly done, it's much easier to imagine how the rest will come together. All we have to do is steel ourselves to the THUMPNHEEEERRRHHHRRRRRRRR and everything will be well.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Always the bridesmaids.

I've been taking a couple of weeks off from The Dress again (hence no updates) because mum's off on holidays and we're still quite afraid of both the overlocker and cutting the silk. Don't worry, we'll get over it.

In order to gear myself up, I've been forging ahead with some bridesmaid dress action.

Donna and Lynsay have both had themselves measured up, so I made them go through the pinned up lining ordeal just as I did.

My mum being just a tad on the overprotective side (you should have seen our cycling helmets when we were wee. Laughingstock of the street), I often laugh when she is concerned about pricking me with the pins in such constructions - as there's really not much you can do about it other than wear a vest and hope for the best.

However I now truly understand, having had to put the pins near other people who I care about. It is quite scary to think how many times you could prick them and it does make you feel pretty bad. Sorry mum, shouldn't have been so sarcastic (although, the likelihood of that changing is pretty slim). After having experienced the terror myself, I can sympathise a bit more. I also found myself doing the thing I always find hilarious when mum does it which is playing with bits at the back of the dress and asking questions about it, despite the fact that the person inside the dress can't see at all what you are doing. Whoops.

Those two are progressing nicely - I've chopped out the lining and fabric and sewn both up - now they need a visit to the overlocker before being finished off. Which means buying a ton of thread given it takes four lots each time.

Otherwise, I've been trying to sort out their shoes. As with me, they'll be wearing red shoes, but we had a bit of an epic discussion over what shoes, from where, what about these, how about this, do you want heels, here are some flats, no you can't have glitter because I'm special, etc.

Things came to a head when I realised I was behaving like some shoe-seeking maniac, dragging C across shop floors and into hitherto unexplored territory (Garage shoes? Yeah, I know..) at a mere glimpse of red. I knew it had to stop. I made a list, and they've all very helpfully picked a pair. Unfortunately one of said pairs has already sold out in the right size. Sigh.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Click your heels together three times.

Saturday was a fairly successful day. The lining, which we cut out a few weeks ago, was provisionally stitched together by mum to do a final proper fitting.

Even though it's just satin lining, you can already see the form the dress is going to take, and it looks quite lovely even that way. Mainly the morning consisted of mum promising not to accidentally pin me but we got a good idea of how it's going to look.

We also called the overlocker into action for a practice session. Luckily, it came ready-threaded, so we haven't had to cross that bridge yet.

What we did do was practice a bit of serging. Now, I'm pretty used to my sewing machine by now, so the needle flying about doesn't really bother me. But when there are two needles, two "loopers" - needleish things at the bottom which shoot in and out - a knife flying about and some sort of strange spring going in and out, it starts to get a little scary again.

The results, though, make it all worth it. The neatness of the serged seams and the way the overlocked edges are fray-free, will give everything, as mum keeps repeating, "a more professional finish". We certainly hope so.

This week I also started cutting my first bridesmaid dresses. We went up to Mandors for a big fabric shop - one lot of navy blue fabric, one lot of royal blue, and one lot of "turtle" green. The fourth lot, which will be a kind of turquoisey bluey greeny is waiting til the bridesmaid in question can have a look and pick the colour herself.

Into this
rainbow will be my favourite fabric everrrrr... silk dupion in "Flower of Scotland" tartan print. I made a dress from this a couple of years ago for a friend's wedding and, if I didn't think it was mean to make them all dress like the Bay City Rollers, I'd probably have decked them all out in it.

Anyway, the colours fit together within the tartan, which we are going to turn into wraps (one side tartan, one side plain colour to match the dresses). Such is my plan. Mum has yet to be convinced of the genius of it... we shall see.

The thing which is causing some issues - in my head only - with the bridesmaids is the accessories. I think I've driven them half crazy with links to red shoes. Red shoes, you see, are the defining factor.

Why? Well it brings us back to the movies. Which is, of course, the Wizard of Oz.

Bridesmaid Louisa - officially my longest-serving friend, who I have known since she was born - says she remembers me telling her I would wear ruby slippers whenever I got married.

I had red shoes when I was little, but when I got to university I found the first pair which really could earn the ruby slippers title. They were flats from Office and they were loved so sincerely that I wore them thin, so badly that they let water in and started to fall apart. I still have them because I could not bear to put them in the bin.

Luckily, a few years later Marks and Spencer had a flash of shoe genius just before Christmas
and came out with these beauties. Not only with the sequins but with the high heels too. They are pretty much the perfect shoes. C duly bought them as my Christmas present that year (I knew he was a keeper).

Although I've worn them a couple of times, I have, rather oddly for me, kept them in good nick by not wearing them to death. And as soon as we got engaged, I boxed them away so that they'd be good on the day.

Don't worry - that's about as sentimental as I get.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Getting over The Fear

The Fear, as I'm sure you've experienced at one point or another, can grip you at any given moment of importance in life. In our case, The Fear arrived just as we were pinning the pattern to the Official Lining.

That's right - no more practice sessions. This was serious business.

We figured cutting the bodice in lining first, to get the fit just right, was the best plan. However mum now refuses to wield the scissors in case
something goes wrong. Eventually we had to have a reality check and remind ourselves that this is, when all is said and done, just a frock. Just a frock. Which is, mum said, exactly what she said to herself when making her own dress (41 years ago last Thursday!).

So with that ringing in my ears I got snipping. We cut out the bodice and skirt lining - with another jolt of The Fear as my mum pointed out we had, rather daftly, forgotten that we've adapted the pattern to put the zip at the back rather than side, so I had to very gingerly cut the skirt back in half. Phew.

After the trauma was over, we pinned it all together (the conversation went much like this: Mum: "So we'll pin it all together first." Me: "Boring! Let's just go for the stitch." Mum: "I'll stitch you in a minute.") and tried it on me for size.

There was a minor issue in the fit at the front, which means instead of the darts on the pattern we have developed a crazy-but-brilliant system of double-darting to make it actually fit to my shape. Also for reasons completely unexplained by the pattern, the back of the bodice came out a good half inch shorter than the front. Those problems sorted, we feel we can have a good run at the proper thing next time (at least in terms of cutting and fitting it... before we get brave enough to stitch it all together).

The other main development is that my mum has bought an overlocker. What is an overlocker, you ask? It is the thing which makes all of the seams and hems all pretty and neat - which, understandably, is somewhat desireable in a wedding dress.

The overlocker, however, is still in its box as we also have The Fear about using it. It's got a combination of knives and needles which is somewhat intimidating, to be honest. What has been removed, however, is the informational DVD which mum made me sit and watch. It shows you how to thread the FOUR (FOUR!) different parts of the machine, how to do a rolled hem (without, eh, showing you what it looks like when finished) and how to attach attractive sweatband-cuff-things to your clothes (unlikely to every be a feature which is used) but, unfortunately, doesn't go in to how not to slice your fingers off with the big fat knife inside.

I'm sure we'll figure it out without disaster. If not, at least it'll make a good story for the speech: "Yes, originally the dress was going to be white, but after The Incident we thought dyeing it would be the best option."

Thursday, 31 March 2011

First time in quite some time.

It's been a while, I know, since any update here. I've been away, and mum's been away, and nothing much has been happening of late.

Until this week that is...

On Sunday, we had a little trip around the shops. Originally it was to look at a little red jacket my mum had spotted on one of her online searches. It was, unfortunately, a little disappointing in person.

We swiftly abandoned that plan, but on a trip round the other concessions in Frasers (for it was there) we bumped into another darling number. Short, ivory, with a beautiful little collar to boot and a mix of wool and silk. In short, it is pretty super. And super pretty. So one box was ticked. Phew.

Then today... well today was a big day. We went back to Mandors with one express purpose. It was time to bite the bullet and just get the silk. There was one specific fabric we'd identified on a scouting trip and it is beautiful, ivory, Chinese silk dupion. Seeing in the roll, it looked amazing, but when the sales assistant ("Helen - for the win" on her badge, which is pretty rad) pulled it out to cut, you could start to imagine how it would look when it was made into a dress. The colour, the texture and the shape it holds will be stunning, if we can pull it off.

There is, obviously, a lot less ceremony to buying your (future) wedding dress in a stretch of four metres than it is to try something on and spin in front of a mirror, having found the one. But that doesn't mean you don't feel a tingle as you imagine how it will look.

Fingers crossed.

Anyway, while in Mandors we also found a pattern for the bridesmaids dresses. Now, hold the phone, you may think. This wasn't in the original plan. But sometimes the plan changes for you, without you really having a choice. Also, we think we may be on a kick now. Might as well make it as big a challenge as possible, eh?

Anyway this is the guy. The dresses we had originally pegged (on Dessy) had a bateau neck and
a halter neck, and you'll probably notice that both options are here. In fact the high necked dress
here is virtually the same as the Dessy one. So I'm hoping it will work out well.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Have you met my good friend Maria?

Today we tried The Dress - or the toile of it anyway - for size. Aside from a little length in the bodice, it was pretty damn good.

There's a moment in West Side Story - another of my favourite films - the first scene with Maria. She's in the shop with Anita, who is has made her a dress for her first dance in America.

Maria's not happy whatsoever that it's white and is trying her best to get the neckline lowered - "One little inch; uno poca poca..", to have it died red, anything. Then when the dress slips over her head, she suddenly realises that, in fact, it's the perfect dress for her.

MARIA I hate this dress!

ANITA Then don't wear it and don't
come to the dance.

MARIA [shocked] Don't come!
[Grabs the dress.] Could we not dye it red, at least?

ANITA No, we could not. [She starts to help Maria into
the dress.]

MARIA White is for babies. I will be the only one there
in a white-

ANITA Well???

MARIA Ahhhh-sí! It is a beautiful dress: I love you!

Anyway The Dress reminds me a little something of West Side Story. Not that I protested like Maria when I put it on - I loved it even when it was sitting on Diana still. But the white dress with the red sash, definitely has something of that style to it. 

As mum says, though, we hope to have a happier ending than Maria and Tony.

How did it feel? A little scary. Aside from a few small tweaks, it's just right. I think it was received well by the small audience of my mum, dad and future mother-in-law. Hopefully it will be on the day.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Mum's the word.

We've been away at another wedding (C's cousin actually - beautiful bride in an absolutely stunning dress, and nice times in a haunted mansion) so I've had my eye off the ball, dress speaking. Instead I was forging ahead with a coat for the wedding we were going to which has helped boost the confidence factor a little.

So on the issue of the bodice, I'd been working on putting it out of my mind. Mum then got in touch last week some point highly excited - she had been back to Mandors and found yet another pattern to try (yeah, it's getting a little ridiculous - but if it works, it works).
She then went ahead and made a new version of the old bodice to try in proper silk, and another of the new bodice and brought them up to the flat to show me.

This involved a bit of inventive dancing around in the bathroom as C was in the flat too - he was commanded several times to turn his back on us and under no circumstances to even think about turning round until we said so. I sneaked off to try them. And, lo and behold, the new pattern was the winner.

Although I don't have a pic now, allow me to describe - it's a scoop neck, rather than a v-neck, but still has a v-back. And it's very pretty. So much so that mum has been instructed to keep hold of the test one she made so I can make it into another dress afterwards (it's in a lovely turquoisey colour which will look just great with a little gathered skirt attached).

Now, despite me telling her she didn't have to as it's quite a lot of work (consider the massive length of that hem) mum has finished off the practice dress. So on Saturday I'll get to give it a try. This, hopefully, will be emotional in a good way. Gulp!

Friday, 11 February 2011

It's not as easy as it looks, is it?

Unfortunately things got a bit bleak at the weekend.

There we were, ploughing away, trying our wee practice dress. We cut it out of cotton, cut the lining, everything going swimmingly. Within merely an afternoon, we cut out the whole thing and put the entire bodice together, and the skirt too.

We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves in fact, in the way you only can when you feel like you're steaming ahead. And it seems to be only when you're feeling that way that you suddenly hit a brick wall.

So we had the top and the skirt section ready. The skirt was pretty much perfect for our purposes, and seeing it over the petticoat was quite exciting (even though, because we'd used such thin material for the practice, it meant the skirt turning a peculiar pink colour).

Then I tried to put the top on and we were somewhat deflated. It fits - but it doesn't fit the way it should, you see. There were weird sticky out bits on those beloved princess seams. There were elements puckering and pooking which were simply unacceptable. We were confused - especially given the practice top was exactly the same size as the lining-only practice we'd done.

So. What went wrong? Our theory is that pressing the cheaper cotton we got for the practice whacked it somewhat out of shape. It also seems that the facings of the dress don't quite fit in satisfactorily.

And what the hell are we going to do now? Well after bodice-gate (as it shall henceforth be known) we had a rather long, sometimes calm and sometimes panicked summit where many suggestions were thrown around. For my mum, this was not really helped by the fact that, still wearing the skirt, I was enjoying having a spin around to see it fly out rather than concentrating.

There's some stuff we're considering.

1. Back to the drawing board and look for another pattern
2. Make a practice bodice in the actual silk, to remove the doubt of the cheaper cotton
3. Get rid of the stupid facings (which will require moving the zip to the back of the dress. This would actually, having considered it, be a bonus in terms of easily getting in and out of it).
4. Er...

Anyway mum text me last night saying she had a solution. What it is, I don't yet know... but I'm sure we can work a way around this.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The First Cut

So the time came, this weekend, to give it all a proper try. Yup, deep breath and plunge forth into the deep. The first cut.

Of course, we kinda chickened out of doing it properly. We also realised we neglected to buy any lining for the practice run dress - which was a bit of a silly oversight given we wanted to check out how to do all of it, and get it all perfect. Oopsie. So until the practice lining was brought in, we thought we would have a shot at cutting out the top, and the top of the skirt, in some leftover lining at mum's house and see how it looked - and, more
importantly, if it would fit.

We pinned it all down and had a go. It actually turned out quite well (despite a minor upset in accidentally cutting out a size 16 in the top of the skirt).

The top fit, happily, like a treat, even over my cotton dress - and the v-neck front, it seems, will
hit in exactly the right point (above what my mother would refer to as "too tarty" but below matron-esque standards). Even in weird, leftover black/navy lining, it looked elegant and almost kind of beautiful already. Check out Diana there. She's loving it.

We swiftly, therefore, got quite excited about the whole
thing and now are if not cavalier then certainly less timid about the real thing.

We'll still be doing the practice first though. Just in case.

Take it as Red...

Oooh yes, I agree, that is some bad punnage. I blame my colleagues.

Anyway, a very exciting delivery arrived at my mum's house last week. That's right, we've done a *wee* bit of cheating. In that, rather than create our own petticoat (although I do have a pattern and have knocked up a somewhat reasonable one before) we would cheekily just order one.

Well, to be honest, that pattern I had called for like six metres of netting-y type organza-y fabric and it was pretty much a pain in the ass. Also, there was an issue of keeping things as streamlined and smooth as possible under the dress - so we thought the best bet might be just to go for the order.

Anyway my mum, quite the internet-savvy lady, searched out Costume Cabin on my behalf. "Specialising in custom made petticoats and tutu's" (although not, sadly, apostrophes). It is pretty magnificent as petticoat-making sites go. First of all, they're made to your specification, so technically if you said "Hey Costume Cabin I want a floor length, lime green petticoat with an orange ribbon trim" they would set about it for you.

Ours was, happily, a less terrifying request. Isn't Red pretty? It's four layers, with a lining at the bottom (saves sitting on net all day) and red ribbon trim.

Apparently when Red arrived it was squishy squish squished into a little plastic bag (sensible for posting). It then, my mum reports, slowly grew, expanded and puffed itself back out again to its current glory. Naturally Diana is having a shot just now. I did try it on of course. "Do you like it?" was mum's question - quickly answered with a visual cue of me dancing about in front of the mirror, giggling. You can take that as a yes. I barely wanted to pry the thing off again. I am already thinking of other dresses I have which I may be able to squeeze it under.

Might not be appropriate work-wear though. Hmmmm.

Anyway, I must commend Costume Cabin for their service. It came oh so quickly, and it is - to the very last thread - exactly what I wanted.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Our exciting new friend.

This week we ventured into the treasure trove itself - Mandors. Fabric, fabric everywhere. Of course, it was just for a preliminary look, but 40 minutes later we had done a good scouting of some gorgeous silk dupion and silky lining, and also pulling over some over to a table and holding it over some bright red netting to make sure it didn't shine through. But yeah, just looking.

What we did buy was four meters of plain white cotton - which behaves in a fairly similar way to the kind of silk we want - for our practice dress. (Just in case it all goes wrong). But that wasn't all.

Allow me to introduce our new friend, Diana. Isn't she pretty? Diana (we didn't name her, it's just the name of the model, but it is really sticking) is fully adjustable between sizes 10 and 16 and will, hopefully, make the whole thing a lot easier (as well as looking awesome and being a lot of fun. We're thinking of inviting her to the wedding. She could stand in the corner and wear the practice dress).

My mum and I got her out and set her up the next morning. She makes a somewhat frightening creaking noise as you adjust her size - but hey, no lady likes to have her measurements increase, I suppose. She also starts to look kinda alarming as you make her bigger and her mid section starts splitting apart. Especially if, like us, you neglect to notice that there's a back dial as well as a front dial. Oopsie.

Anyway, Diana. A new member of the bridal family and, most likely, a very helpful one.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The One(s)

The Pattern Search continued. Mum kept up a stream of suggestions via phone calls, texts and emails, not to mention internet trawls when we were together.

There were some issues. A nice top half would be joined to a skirt which wasn't quite big enough. A nice big skirt would be pleated in a way which wouldn't sit nicely over a petticoat.

The ones we looked at were almost all in "Vintage" ranges which have often caught my eye over the years. I've three Vintage Vogue patterns already and a few Simplicity as well, in 50s and 60s styles. But none of them were quite right.

In the end we went for a proper compromise. My mum discovered a perfect, perfect circle skirt. The top, though, was all wrong. Fitted bodice, fair enough, but the straps wouldn't be right for me at all.

The Search continued. Then one day, we noticed one which we hadn't seen before or hadn't quite taken note of. It has an open, beautifully shaped v-neck, those most prized shapely princess seams. It sits just on the shoulders.

It's got a lovely, detailed skirt with big panelled pleats slotted in - which, although I'll probably attempt it another time, isn't right for these purposes.

So we're going to Frankenstein it. The wonderful bottom half, circle skirt from pattern number one, and the super-flattering bodice from pattern number two. Then most likely we'll wap a big sash or bow round the middle.

Having had a look at both, we're pretty sure this will work OK. Time will tell, eh?

Oh and if you like them, both patterns are available where we got them - at Jaycotts.