Wedding Dress, Aug ’17

So, it’s late. Very late. But I just realised I never did a post about it, and I wanna talk about one of my favourite, and most challenging sewing projects. The Wedding Dress of August ’17.

When my friend Emily approached me towards the beginning of last year to make her wedding dress, I was thrilled, and flattered, and a little terrified. I’d worked on a wedding before, but it was alteration for an existing dress, and it was for the bridesmaid, not the bride. This request was a huge step up in commitment and level of difficulty, from anything I had attempted before. But, I enjoy a challenge and, like any good masochist, evidently love procrastination to the point of panic. So, we began by going shopping for the right fabric.

Now, Emily is not what you would call a traditional bride, and she in no way wanted the traditional marriage. No white dresses and tossing of the garter here! Instead, we went on the hunt for a forest green satin and when we found it, oh, what a perfect fabric it was. Weighty enough for the winter wedding, but not too heavy as to be stiff. So, with the fabric purchased, I set about making a toile for the bust.

The bust was the hardest part. It required many measurements, many adjustments, and about three different attempts at pattern making before I finally got it right. I was living in the city at the time, and my space and time were limited, so it was only when I moved back home that things really got into full swing. To flatter her figure, we opted for princess seams and a sweetheart neckline. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a matching green lining silk, so I lined it with black (which works with the black tulle overlay, don’t worry.) when I was happy with the shape, we had a quick fitting and moved on to the rest.

The next step involved attaching a waistband and adding the overlay to the completed bust pieces. This was also trickier than it should have been. Between the slippery lining fabric, slippery satin and almost weightless tulle, it became a battle to keep everything aligned properly to sew it all together. Boy, what a pain. I managed to get everything pinned together, but then had multiple sewing mishaps as one fabric slid away from the other, or the tulle pulled away from where it was pinned. To be honest, it was a bit of a nightmare. But I persisted, and finally got it all attached.

From there it was relatively simple. The skirt was just a large block of gathered fabric. I cut three large rectangle panels, attached them together at the side seams for three (yes, three) seams around the whole skirt, and then spent a heckin’ long time gathering all that fabric to the right circumference. The same thing with the lining, and again with the tulle. And voila, I had a dress. But of course, then I had trouble again with the waistband. The early measurements (triple checked!) turned out to be too wide, so I had to unpin the bodice from the waistband, adjust and reattach. But, after many more alterations, hemming, and final trimming of the tulle overlay, Emily ended up with a whimsical, beautiful, completely untraditional wedding gown. And, coupled with a flower crown and sparkly ruby slippers, she looked absolutely stunning. Plus, the wedding was like walking into an enchanted forest and without question, the prettiest wedding I’ve ever been to.

So that’s the tale of the August Wedding Dress. And on a quick side note, for those who are interested in all things pretty and magical, Emily happens to be the maker behind Le.ft_made, which is a Melbourne based small business she created to cater to all your witchy, whimsical needs. Pop on over to her Instagram if you wanna check her out.

Photo property of Vanessa De Santis
Photo property of Vanessa De Santis

Sewing Update

Things have been pretty hectic in the life of Amy lately, so it’s been a fair while since I’ve had a proper chance to sit at my sewing machine and create. But a couple of days ago, I finally got some time and decided to start a new project. The last thing I finished was a pair of shorts for the four year old son of a friend of mine. It was the kind of simple project you sew through mindlessly, mechanically. I was ready for something new.

A couple of months ago I ordered some adorable fox patterned fabric from Spoonflower and have been looking for a project to use it for ever since. The other day, it kind of came to me. I had an image in my head of a dress with a Peter Pan collar, and so I immediately began drawing and cutting. I sew the same way I bake; I pretty much just make things up as I go. It’s rare for me to use a proper method, or pattern, so I just kind of winged it.

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As I’ve been sewing, the idea for the dress has developed and changed. I’ve allowed for a waistband in a contrasting colour, and decided on a whim to stitch in some tulip sleeves as well as the collar. I’m still in the construction phase of the dress at the moment, only really getting time to see between work and errands, but it’s slowly coming together. Hopefully I’ll get it finished in time to wear to my brother’s army march out this Friday. We’ll see how I go for time.

In addition to my fox dress, I’ve been commissioned to make an Assassin’s Creed costume for my friend to wear to Oz Comic-Con at the start of June, and I have to somehow find the time to make a steampunk costume for my best friend’s (the other one) 30th birthday at the end of June. But depending on how I go for time, I may just cheat and go the EBay option. And the four year old that I’ve made shorts for was so enamoured with them, that he has made several requests that I will hope to fill…if I ever get time! Suffice to say, my poor neglected machines are about to get one hell of a workout!

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Coming together...slowly!

Making, and Wearing Handmade

There is something so cool about wearing handmade. Today I got out of bed and put on pyjama shorts. As I was pulling them on, it kind of struck me that I had created them. I had taken flat fabric and turned it into a wearable item of clothing. And that is really fucking cool.

I’m still relatively new at the sewing game, having only really started last year. But even since I first brought my sewing machine home, and set myself up with an ironing board in my bedroom for a sewing desk, things have improved. My skills have improved, and developed. The first thing I made properly was an apron. My friend had given me a whole bunch of fabric, and there was this sweet owl patterned material in the mix. Without using a pattern, I drew and cut and stitched and the result was a dodgy, but wearable apron. I was so proud of myself.

I made a few more aprons, to get the hang of my machine, and develop a technique. Then I started with skirts. The first one I ever made was a disaster. It turned out really well, and was lined and everything. Right up until I put it in the wash, and the coloured waistband bled into the mainly white skirt and stained. And then there was the shrinking issue. When the lining shows up a good inch below the fabric, you know you’ve stuffed up somewhere. Well, suffice to say, I’ve pre washed my fabric ever since.

For a long while, I didn’t really do any sewing at all. I didn’t have a place to set up at my dad’s house, and I am pretty bad when it comes to staying motivated. But then earlier this year, I got back into it, and found that I really, really loved making things. I take great joy from challenging myself, and have a kind of smug stubbornness in regards to not using patterns. I tend to just look at things, shrug and say ‘yeah, I could probably make that.’ Plus, patterns often confuse me anyway.

Once I moved out and had a bona fide sewing space, everything intensified. I started The Elegant Fox, started making things for other people as well as myself, and began expanding my repertoire. The beautiful thing about sewing is that there are always new things to learn, and a world of things to create. As of last night, I’ve added making cabochon jewelry to my skill set. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for months, and the pieces I ordered finally arrived this week. And I have so many more ideas in the works, so watch this space! (or this one). Many more cool, creative things are on the way!

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