While I didn’t make Erin’s wedding dress during National Sewing Month, it seems appropriate to share it now since there was *a lot* of sewing that went into it. All photos are by our photographer extraordinaire Amy Schweizer.
(Warning: this is going to be a long, image-heavy post. Go get a cup of coffee.)
When they first got engaged this spring, Erin showed me a couple pictures of wedding dresses she liked. She decided that she wanted some lace, no rhinestones, not much heavy satin or embroidery if any and a tea-length skirt, ideally. Our mom, my cousin (her maid of honor) and I went to a local wedding dress shop so that she could try on some dresses to make sure of what she liked, but we didn’t find any dresses that could be “the one”. (Side note: what’s up with the hoochy mama white wedding dresses? Why would you design a wedding dress that can’t be worn with a bra and shows side boob? Eww.)
After the hilarious dress shopping trip Erin asked me to make her wedding dress. She had a picture of a dress with a full-length tulle skirt and lace bodice with narrow spaghetti straps that she sketched over to show a tea-length skirt and cap sleeves, so we started there.
I decided pretty quickly to make the skirt separate from the rest of the dress so that she could wear it alone if she ever wanted to. It’s a full circle skirt drafted using these directions and finished with a wide, silver elastic waistband. The lining is silk chiffon and I think we ended up with about 9 or 10 layers of tulle over top. One tip on making a skirt like this: I had to sew a panel onto the side of my tulle pieces to make them big enough to cut out the full circle. On my first pass I used white thread to sew on the panel, and it ended up looking pretty obvious even when I stacked the tulle to alternate where on the skirt the extra pieces ended up. (I.e. the seams weren’t all on top of each other.) I ripped that out and redid it with invisible thread and it was much more subtle even though the invisible thread was fairly obnoxious to sew tulle with. Words to the wise.
While we were at it, we decided not to line the lace overbodice so that it could also be worn separately over a black silk tank top or something for a special date night. The underbodice is sandwashed silk charmeuse (dreamy, dreamy stuff) sewn into a boned tube top with a separating zipper at the side seam to get into and out of it. The lace overbodice snapped up the back, although I ended up putting in a couple of stitches at the top of the center back after Erin got dressed so that she wouldn’t pop the snaps when she was hugging people. The original plan was to have functioning buttons down the back, but it was tricky to get them to line up since the edge of the lace wasn’t a straight line: hence the faux buttons and hidden snaps.
The lace bodice… oh, the lace bodice. It went through some changes as we worked on it. We knew we wanted it to be a little bit asymmetrical and kind of whimsical with the placement of the flowers in the lace. (The hunt for the lace is a whole different post. We finally found some we liked on eBay after looking at lace until our eyes were ready to fall out.)
The bodice was draped on Erin and handsewn while she was wearing it so that the lace could be appliqued together seamlessly. Needless to say we had some lovely quality time together during construction. (And we got quite creative with ways for her to rest her arms on my back, a chair back, a windowsill, a bookcase… to keep them from falling off while I sewed.) The biggest design change came when it was time to put on the sleeves. I was holding a length of lace up to her shoulder to find some good flowers for the cap sleeve when both of us stopped, looked in the mirror and said “It has to be 3/4 sleeves.”
(The stood around a corner from one another to pray together before the ceremony – one of my favorite touches from the wedding.)
(My mom and me with Erin. I came in from setting up for the reception in the shelter house to help Erin get dressed and I was a little “glowy” from running around to say the least.)
It was such a neat experience to get to make my sister’s wedding dress. Aside from some rehearsal night jitters (mine, not hers – I was so tired of looking at it by the time she tried it on for the last time that all I could see were the flaws), I’m so happy with how the dress turned out. She was a radiant bride.
This is turning into a ridiculously long post, but here are just a few more pictures to give you the flavor of their wedding. I decorated for the reception, which we held in a shelter house behind the church, and aside from not counting on quite so strong a breeze (the streamers got a little out of control), it was a fun and sweet space. I also got flowers from a local farm and did all of the wedding party’s flowers except for the groomsmen’s boutionniers (which Amy made), so it was quite a busy weekend, but a good one.