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.

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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!

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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).

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

 

 

 

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Fancy Pants

It’s party season! I seem to have more invitations this year than usual (that’s not to say I have hundreds, but as a card-carrying introvert I find having something on most weekends is quite a lot of socialising!), so I’ve been looking to make some separates which can do double duty as party wear and for every day. With excellent timing, Drapers Fabrics in Auckland contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to collaborate with them on a project. I’m usually pretty reluctant to do sponsored content on my blog, but I’ve bought from Drapers in the past and I love the quality and variety of their fabrics, so I felt confident about teaming up with them! The usual disclaimer then: The fabrics used in this post were kindly supplied by Drapers Fabrics, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

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I decided I really wanted a pair of swishy Flint trousers, in a lighter weight fabric than my heavy grey crepe pair, and some cami tops to wear with them. I had been looking for some tencel twill, as I keep reading such glowing reviews of it online, but I’ve been unable to lay my hands on any in stores here. Luckily, Drapers Fabrics stocks a beautiful viscose twill (called Vivi), which sounded perfect. I asked for some advice from Lulu, who was very helpful when communicating with me for the collaboration, and she agreed that it would be the perfect drape and weight for a pair of swishy trousers. It’s so lovely and soft!

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This is actually my 4th time using the Flint Trouser pattern, but it’s only the second pair which has made it to the blog (bad blogger!). I made a pair of chambray shorts to take to the UK, and I’ve also made a pair in cotton sateen which I’ll post about later. This is the first pair I’ve made with the tie at the waistband though, I thought it would be a nice touch with this fluid fabric. I really like the way it looks, especially with a tucked-in top! Even with a cropped top like this, the tie isn’t lumpy or weird underneath it, which is nice. I was worried it would only work with something fitted up top.

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The top is a cropped version of the Grainline Willow Tank, the same as my striped version in this post. I was trying to pick between a few printed woven options on the Drapers Fabrics online store for another Ogden Cami, but when I saw Sheena, a linen/rayon blend, I decided it would make an excellent Willow Tank instead. It’s crisp and fairly stiff, so it holds the flared silhouette of the Willow perfectly, and I love the texture that the blend of fibers gives the fabric. It has a pattern of sheer and opaque lines making up a subtle plaid pattern, but the bubbly texture looks more like giant seersucker. I wondered if I would have to wear a top underneath it, but it isn’t so sheer that I’m worried about it! It makes the pattern more obvious when there is a different colour underneath it too, of course. I’ve made the Willow tank several times now, but this is the first time that I’ve made it with the bindings rather than my ‘self-drafted’ facing pieces. Because of the sheerness of the fabric I thought the bindings would look better! I used bias strips of the viscose twill that I had left over from my trousers, as I thought Sheena was probably a bit crisp to bend around the neckline and arm holes nicely. Vivi behaved beautifully on the bias, and ironed nicely, so it was a good choice!

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I’m so happy with both of these garments, I think they fill my brief of separates which can be worn to parties or casually with other pieces perfectly! I think they look dressy and elegant worn together, especially with heels and fancy jewellery as I’m wearing them here, but I can easily imagine the trousers with a striped tee shirt and some flats, or the top with my high waisted jeans or with shorts. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn an all-black outfit, but I think the mix of textures and the drape of the trousers softens the severity of so much black.  I’m looking forward to wearing this outfit out somewhere fancy.

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(pity me for my terrible sun burn tee shirt lines…)

So! I would definitely recommend either of these fabrics, as well as Drapers Fabrics online store. Drapers Fabrics have been generous enough to give me a discount code for my readers as well, use FIFTYTWOFANCIES at checkout for 15% off all full priced fabrics. They offer an online swatch service, which is awesome for buying fabric online when you’ve never seen it before, and I’ve found them really helpful and responsive to emails and direct messages over Instagram. They’ll also respond to queries through their Facebook page, if that’s your thing! Drapers Fabrics also offer a layby service, where you can spread the cost of your purchase over 6 payments. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of my own discount code and order some more of the viscose twill, as my mum wants a pair of matching Flint Trousers, and I’d love a dress out of it too. I’m also eyeing up some of their striped Japanese knit fabric (probably Wonda, but they also have Nadia. Tough choice…), because you know I can never have too many striped tee shirts…

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I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I first saw the Willow Tank/dress pattern from  Grainline Studios. I thought it was a bit boring, but once it started to warm up a bit I realised that woven tanks would be a really good addition to my wardrobe. I was loving my Ogden Camisoles, but I also really like to be able to wear normal (not strapless) bras, so Willow started to look more appealing!

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I’ve made three so far this summer, its a nice quick little project to sew, and doesn’t use too much fabric so is good for some of the precious lengths I have stashed! All three are cotton (perfect for warm weather), but I’d like to have a go at making one out of a fabric with more drape, maybe rayon or silk. It could also be fun in velvet or sequins…

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The first version I made is a cotton from The Fabric Store, I love the water colour gingham print. I’m always really attracted to gingham, but I always worry that it can look a bit childlike. I think the washed out paint-like quality of this one makes it look more adult! I made a straight size 6 (my standard Grainline size), but I drafted an all in one facing for the neckline and armholes. This marks a fairly abrupt change in my feelings about facings, in the past I would always opt for bias tape to finish my edges over facings! I’ve come to really appreciate the clean look facings can give though, even if they can be a bit more of a fiddle.

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I sewed these facings using the instructions that come with the Deer and Doe Datura blouse for sewing an all in one facing with no CB opening. It’s a bit fiddly, and I remember it totally doing my head in when I sewed up my first Datura blouse, but it works really well. I’ve just tried to describe what I did, but it was utterly incomprehensible, so here is a sew-along post for the Datura which describes it instead! For my next two Willow tanks I made my life a bit easier and added a CB seam…

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Not that you can tell there is a centre back seam in this Liberty tana lawn! This is probably my favourite ever Liberty print (I find a lot of Liberty really pretty, but its not something I often want to wear). This is my favourite version of the pattern so far, the lawn is so soft and light to wear, and I think the deep hem helps it hang nicely. Its definitely had a lot of wear so far! I do wish it wasn’t so wrinkly across my back, I didn’t realise how bad it was until I saw these pictures. I’m not sure if I need a sway back fix, or if I need to widen the hem slightly.

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The final version is a cropped version with a faux button placket up the back, because I can’t help myself sometimes. It’s made out of a lovely Japanese cotton seersucker which I bought at Tessuti when I was over in Australia, and have been hoarding. I only had a metre, and being Japanese it was only about 112cm wide, so it was perfect for a cropped version. I took 4 inches off the bottom of the pattern, following the tutorial on the Grainline blog. I was very careful and cut it out in a single layer so that I could match all the stripes, but of course this meant that I cut out two left backs, instead of a pair. I should never try to do anything that requires thinking after 9pm! I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another back half out, so I had to do some careful patching. Luckily, stripes make invisible piecing reasonably simple, and I think I’ve managed ok.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might be thinking this combination of buttons and stripes looks familiar, and that’s because they’re the same buttons I used up the back of my striped Scout tee a while ago. I’m a bit predictable!

I made this version specifically to go with my Safran Jeans, I’ve been loving the cropped boxy top trend recently, but I’m not keen to be flashing any tummy! This length with my super high waisted jeans is perfect. There is only one problem with it…

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It swings way out in the front! I think this means that I need an FBA, but I’m not sure why it’s doing it here but not on the longer ones. Unless its just because the seersucker is just stiffer than the lightweight cotton of the other two, and that combined with the shorter length is making it look like a cow catcher on the front of a train (thanks to Hamish for that bit of imagery). At least it’ll ensure that there’s plenty of fresh air circulating around my torso when it’s hot! I’ll need to do a bit of experimentation if I want to make another cropped version.

I’m talking about warm weather like it isn’t currently 12 degrees and pissing with rain, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get some more summer before autumn closes in! If not, I’ll need to pack them for our September trip to the UK, in the hope that we’ll get some good weather then…