Wedding Sewing

It’s been six months (six!) since Hamish and I got married, so I figured it was about time I posted about the wedding sewing I did before I forget completely! I started out at the beginning of last year thinking that I would make not only my dress, but also dresses for my three bridesmaids. Once I started working on my Masters research project I dropped the idea of making any dresses pretty quickly, between my project and working I didn’t have masses of free time! I wanted to make something to wear though, and once I picked out my dress (from local bridal designer Sally Eagle), I started to have a think about what I could make to complement it.


I decided I would make a top to wear over my dress, as it was pretty much backless and I thought I would want some coverage for post-dinner dancing at the least. But I has also tried on a lace over-bodice when I tried on the dress, and that looked so pretty…So I ended up making two tops, obviously!


For the first top (what I started to jokingly call my “ceremony look”) I used some beautiful chantilly lace, which I first saw at Silk World when we were in Melbourne last year. Unfortunately, they only sold it in 3m lengths, and I really only wanted a small bit because it turns out lace is pretty expensive! Luckily I found the exact same lace the next day at Tessuti, and they were quite happy to sell me a 1.2m length (though it doesn’t seem to be on their website anymore).


I wanted a princess seamed bodice with a high front neckline and an open back and capped sleeves. I decided to start with the By Hand London Elisalex bodice, because I knew it fit, and I’m much happier hacking a neckline than trying to fluff around with sleeves! I traced on the front neckline from the By Hand London Anna dress, and slashed the back neckline from the shoulder to the waist. After a muslin, I took a bit of extra length off the long edge of the open back, as it was gaping a bit, and I widened the neckline a touch. And then, I took a deep breath and cut into my beautiful lace…


I spent a long time trying to maximize the pattern placement on the bodice. I especially loved this lace for its delicate floral motif, but also because it had two scalloped selvages. One was a small regular scallop, the other was a more ornate, eyelash-y edge. I decided to use the large scallop along the sleeve hems, and I trimmed the small scalloped selvage off completely so that I could hand sew it around the neckline once it was sewn together. That left me with a pretty big amount of fabric to fit my pretty small pattern pieces onto, and I managed to match the floral motifs across the princess seams front and back pretty well! To finish the hem I sewed a strip of bias tape I made from the same silk crepe de chine as my dress, so that I could tie it closed and it would hopefully blend into the waistline of my dress.


Because lace doesn’t fray, I was able to get away with some pretty dodgy sewing techniques when I was sewing this! I used a microtex needle and standard thread, and the sewing was easy enough. The reason I wanted princess seams was so that I didn’t need to have the large triangles of the dart showing through the lace, and to make all the seams as unobtrusive as possible in a sheer fabric. I ended up sewing the seams as usual, then topstitching the seam allowances to one side at 1/8”and trimming the rest of the seam allowance right back to the topstitched line.


In the end you could barely see the pattern matching against the ivory of my dress, but I’m still glad I went to the effort! I really love how delicate and ethereal the lace turned out, it definitely added a bit of romance to my otherwise plain dress (which I love! I wanted something minimalist, and I definitely got it!). As pretty as this top turned out, it didn’t really solve my original problem of having a bare back for dancing and partying later on… Which is where the second top came in!


This simple little shell top was inspired by this two piece Anthropologie wedding dress which kept popping up on Pinterest when I was obsessively looking for ideas. We don’t have Anthropologie here, but I was pretty sure I could make something close enough! I was lucky to be able to buy a length of the same ivory crepe de chine as the rest of my dress from Sally Eagle, so that was a great start. I started with the cropped version of the Grainline Willow tank, and traced on a boat neckline similar to the shape of the first top. Because the silk is so fine and floaty, I ended up lining it completely with self fabric. This took away the problem of finishing the neckline and armscyes with facings or bindings, both of which would show through. Instead I trimmed the seam allowances pretty short with pinking shears to reduce their bulk, and then they were all enclosed in the lining. I finished the bottom with a machine rolled hem, incorporating both layers.


You know I can’t resist a button up back! I found these gorgeous wee vintage glass buttons at Miss Maude, and I had to get them. They’re possibly a bit heavy for this fine silk, but I reinforced the centre backs with strips of organza to help stop the back from buckling. The roleau loops were actually easy to make, the lightweight silk was pretty easy to turn into little loops! One thing I really wish i had thought to do is add strap-holders to the inside shoulders, so that I could hook the shoestring straps of my dress into them and stop them slipping down my arms all evening!


This little top was exactly what I wanted! It’s a much more modern and minimalist look than the lace, and I liked having the chance to change it up for the two halves of the day. I’m still impressed that I didn’t spill anything on either top (or my dress) all day, though the hem of my dress is pretty covered in grass and other farm-adjacent stains… I think I’ll be able to wear my reception top again with a bunch of things in my wardrobe next summer.

So this post has ended up being really long, thanks for reading all the way to the end! I’m definitely not a bridal seamstress, and I’m still not really sure if I approached these two projects in the most traditional way (especially the lace), but I’m really happy with how they both turned out, and I’m glad I was able to make something for my wedding day! I’m equally glad I opted not to make the actual dress, I would have stressed myself right out trying to get that done in time… Instead it was a pretty relaxed lead up to a lovely, easy, fun day with our favourite people, can’t ask for better than that!


The photos in this post of me (and Hamish) were taken by the lovely Billie Brook out at Ohariu Farm, and I would really recommend both if you’re getting married in the Wellington region!




My fancy Elisalex

Yay, its finished!


I’m so pleased with this dress! It was such a pleasure it make, it fitted really well with only minimal adjustments, and it all came together so quickly, I’m pretty much planning my next one already. Look at the awesome shape of it!


I did shorten the skirt, because I’m only 158cm tall (5’2″ in the old money), and the original skirt length would have nearly reached my ankles! I didn’t just want to cut it off at the right length, as that would have lessened the awesomely dramatic shape of the skirt, so I folded the pattern up in a concertina about 2/3 of the way down the skirt, and then graded the curve of the side seam down to the hem, keeping the original width at the bottom. I have no idea if thats a legit way to do it, but it seems to have worked, though the skirt is a slightly rounder shape, rather than the tulip shape of the pattern piece. I did take a little bit of the curve out of the widest part of the hips, to compensate for the shorter length.


The only other adjustment I made was taking in the bodice at the top of the zip, to stop any gaping. Other than that, the fit was perfect! I’ve decided that I love princess seams, I’ve never made anything with them before. They made fitting the bodice so easy! I’ll definitely use the bodice again, though I might add a different skirt shape. I also used an invisible zip, rather than an exposed one, as I’m aiming for a vaguely 1960’s vintage look. I used Lauren from Lladybird’s invisible zip tutorial, and it went in like a dream! I don’t have an invisible zip foot (I don’t think they existed when my machine was made…) but using the normal zipper foot was fine. I still need to sew a hook and eye at the top of the zip, but I seem to have run out.


The dress is made of a lovely dark green silk dupion. I really wanted something quite heavy, and when I pictured it in my head it was made out of slubby, heavy silk, so I was very pleased to find this! The bodice is lined with navy blue silk bermberg, as I couldn’t find any in green, and it felt so nice that I couldn’t bring myself to use anything artificial.




The downside to this fabric is how much it wrinkles! I ironed it it just before I put it on for these photos, and look at the state of it! It also frayed like nothing on earth, my whole living room is covered in slubs of thick green thread. I pinked all of the pieces before i started to sew them, and some edges had frayed right past the pinking by the time I had finished sewing. It looks like Oscar the Grouch has been shaved over my my sewing machine.

After all my planning, I haven’t actually managed to make the belt or the bows for the shoulders, hopefully I’ll have those for next week. I actually won’t be too upset if the bows never make it into existence, as I think it looks pretty good anyway, but we’ll see how I get on!


March Roundup

How is it the end of March already? My mind boggles. I’ve done a reasonable amount of sewing this month, which has been satisfying. Its been a rather eclectic bunch of makes though, from winter accessories to a summer blouse!
This month, I’ve sewed:

A scarf
A blouse (my Deer&Doe Datura)
A pair of baby shoes, AKA the cutest, tiniest little things I’ve ever made, and
A refashioned pair of tights.


I’ve been pretty thrifty with fabric, with both the scarf and the wee shoes being made from scraps from other projects (the scarf from my briar leftovers, and the shoes from the cotton scraps off my Datura), and i think I’ve done some of my neatest sewing this month. So I’m pretty happy with everything, really!

I’ve finally got my long-awaited merino Briar cut out, so next month I’ll be trying to pluck up the courage to try out the overlocker! I think there will be lots of trial runs…

I’ve also finished my Elisalex dress, which I’ll post about this week, but since its technically been a March make, I’ll put a sneak peek here…

20140331-195831.jpg Its a pretty average photo, because its after dark (and theres only ‘mood lighting’ in this house), but it gives a rough idea!

Elisalex inspiration

I am currently in the middle of wedding season, I’ve been invited to four so far this year with one still to go! I’m always surprised when my friends get married, I’m sure we aren’t old enough for that! The last one is coming up next month, and has a vintage-ish theme. I’ve been very restrained, and haven’t bought anything new for any of the other weddings (actually, I don’t think I’ve bought any new clothes at all this year, go me!) so I wanted to make something amazing for this celebration. I found this picture online a while ago, when I was looking for inspiration, and I loved the colour and the shoulder detail…

20140329-180547.jpg…though the skirt is a bit over the top for what I had in mind (and the model is frankly terrifying). The next picture that caught my eye was this one…

20140329-180755.jpg…again, the shoulder bows! I like the slim shape of this one more.

So I was pondering these, and then I came across the Elisalex dress, from By Hand London, and it all fell into place! I found a beautiful deep green silk dupion, I’ll make some bows to attach to the shoulders, and probably a belt in the same fabric to give it more of a 60’s feel. I’ve got most of the dress together, i just need to put the zip in, do the hem and hand stitch the lining down. It’s been a gorgeous pattern to sew, the only reason I’ve stopped for the day is that I’m scared of sewing in zips!