My best friend’s wedding

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Not just the title of a movie, this Christmas break I also went to the wedding of my best friend and her lovely partner. It was a slightly unusual day in that we started with a 10am ceremony, then went for pie and a pint at a local pub, dashed off to the woods for a game of laser quest and then went to a swanky hotel for the wedding breakfast and evening do.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Yes you heard me right, we did all of this on the 28th of December! It was busy, brisk and lots of fun. And I had the joy of seeing months of work come to life in a different way from my wedding. I not only worked on Becky’s dress, but made my bridesmaid dress and made ties and pocket squares!

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

First things first, Becky wore an off the shoulder fishtail lace gown. It had an illusion back, fitted silhouette and reasonable size train. It was made half way between Oxford and Leeds as Charly and I joined forces to get the dress made in time. Charly as you may remember is an accomplished bridal seamstress so she took the lead, drafting the pattern, fitting the toile and ordering the supplies.

We had a major cutting out session as a group to get the satin, tulle and lining layers all ready and then constructed the majority of the dress ready to get the lace attached. Charly designed the pattern for the lace placement and over several long sewing sessions we hand appliqued lace into place. Charly added the motifs to the bodice and created the illusion while it was on the mannequin and I made 7 skirt panels that would be added to the skirt later so I could keep the work at home with me.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

After a slight mishap breaking with her ankle, Charly wasn’t able to finish the dress so she came home to live me for the last few weeks. I added an elastic waist stay, sewed a bra into the dress, attached the lining and hemmed the layers. Because of the beading, none of the lace could be machine sewed so I did have a slight claw hand by the end of things but it’s an absolutely gorgeous dress, so Charly and I were really proud on the day.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Our bridesmaids dresses were made from different patterns but designed to have a similar feel. I used Threadcount 1610 which you saw on the blog recently and added a three quarter circle skirt using the pattern from my wedding dress! The wine duchess satin was lovely to work with and though I had to cut everything out on the crosswise grain it didn’t reduce the shine that much which I was very pleased with. Becky asked us to channel our inner 50s housewife with pearls and vintage stoles (made by Charly) which I happily embraced.

almond rock couture handmade lace wedding dress vintage winter wedding

Ties and pocket squares I’ve made before for Mark and Nickki’s wedding but I forgot how much I HATE POCKET SQUARES. They should be called “little squares of evil”. Never again I say, do you hear me universe?! Luckily I only had to make two pocket squares, plus two grown up ties and two tween-age ties. I adapted my tie pattern to make them roughly 13″ long when tied then made a neckband that finishes with velcro for ease. I mean I learnt how to knot a tie at 12 but only because it was part of my uniform; most young ones don’t learn until much later. Ties are very therapeutic to hand sew closed. You machine sew the short facing pieces to the ends, trim and turn through then press over the edges and hand sew close to the fold. It’s definitely a personal choice on whether to interline the whole tie for more bulk. Last time I did but with the trend for skinny ties these days I decided not to this time.

I’ll leave you with some photos from laser quest. It was certainly different running around the woods in a boiler suit then having to race back to the hotel and get re-ready for a wedding! It all turned out perfectly though.

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My wedding dress – inspiration

So as I alluded to in past posts I intend to sew myself a wedding dress! Some of you may think “she’s mad!?” And some might be giving me a double thumbs up. And basically I’m in the middle, thinking “bwahahah this is so surreal”.
I wanted to share the process on the blog so I always had it to look back on but was relieved to hear that many of you wanted to read about it too.

So I’m going to throw my hands up and confess I’m a terrible decision maker when it comes to big dressmaking projects. It often takes me a long time to settle on fabric and pattern pairings, often changing my mind right up to the last minute. This is amplified when I’m emotionally invested. Not very good for a project where you need a clear plan and a strict time frame!

We’re currently struggling to find a venue for next summer. Apparently we’ve missed the boat for a lot of places which majorly sucks. There is a slim chance we’ll get Sept but it’s touch and go. This means my wedding may be 2018 and I’ll have double the amount of time to pick a dress design! 

UPDATE:

I clearly jinxed myself and today we’ve lost our chance at getting married in 2017. Sadly now I doubt I’ll do anything towards my wedding dress until this time next year… sorry about that. I won’t delete this post though as it might still be nice reading!

First up let’s get something out of the way… I’m having a short dress. Below knee or tea length. And a big bad ass petticoat floofy skirt. Bodice is still tbc… I have to mull that over. So in the mean time I’ve been examining fabrics. Here are my thoughts:

SEQUINS

I’ve seen some beautiful sequin dresses. Light frothy cleverly pieced frocks and embellished designs. Recently I’ve been obsessing over the Jenny Packham Jolene dress which features sequinned (and beaded) star appliques on it. The completely wrong silhouette for me but wow at all the bling. Searching for star shaped appliques stole a day of my life.

LACE

I favour dense lace designs (Nottingham, guipure etc), but at the same time I love 3d constructions and beading. Where lace steps into embroidery really gets me excited. Blooms built up with subtle textiles and colours like this dress makes me stop and stare. I also ordered a swatch of some beautiful beaded lace from Bridal Fabrics but I need to go see it in person. I also need to level up my lace handling skills if I go down this route.

TULLE

There’s always something that pulls me back to tulle dresses. Probably because I know of several suppliers of stunning coloured or polka dot tulle. There’s so much drama you can achieve with tulle and mesh at the same time as looking light as a feather. It takes a lot of effort to look that light though but with stunning results. I want to test this vintage Butterick tulle pattern with tippet style shawl (thanks go to bridesmaid, talented seamstress and wedding dress designer extraordinaire Charlotte for explaining tippets to me).

Next steps

I have a few appointments to try on dresses to help me pin down the design. That seems crucial to me but not being able to take photos will surely prove problematic. I am working out a rough time line in my head for the construction but think starting the bridesmaid dress toiles may give me a little breathing room for my own decisions!

If you know any short wedding dress companies or vintage dress sources please do drop them in the comments so I can continue pinning my heart out. Thanks for reading and please cross your fingers for me on getting a date!!

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Birmingham Rag Market (aka how to spend your pay packet in one day)

I’ve already told a fib. My pay packet didn’t just disappear at the famous rag market in Birmingham but also at the Bull Ring shopping centre across the road.
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Now I wouldn’t say I live particularly close to Birmingham. The first time I ever went was for Marie and Kat‘s wonderful blogger meet up at the end of last year. Another meet up is organised for June 15th!

Last time I caught the megabus and arrived in three hours. This time I had the pleasure of being chauffeur driven by Mr AR and it took half the time!

The bull ring lured me into buying new shoes, make up and jewelry. I’m not doing the seamless pledge officially but it makes me happy to only buy things I cannot make myself.

I then tottered over the road to the outdoor market. The outdoor fabric stalls weren’t as good as I remembered but I think I was rushing. The sun was out and markets were extremely busy so I decided to pop inside and return later.

My favourite stall inside is the one run by two women; one is older the other a lot younger. They’re in roughly the centre of the indoor market and their stand is a treasure trove. One downside is everything is stacked on top of each other and I always fall in love with the bottom rolls. (That is an amazing way to finish a sentence I have to say!)

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Success!! A houndstooth georgette, a rust coloured lace and a lilac crepe with purple Morse code spots.

Then to top it off when I ventured back outside I found some lovely multicoloured spot “German viscose” (not sure what difference German manufacturing makes) plus some black corduroy and navy crepe (not pictured).

I definitely recommend the rag market for sewists on the hunt for a bargain. And if you’d like some company exploring get yourself along to the June 15th Rag Market meet up mentioned above!

I’ll be there for sure. Just don’t let me buy anything!

PS. Check out the Rag Market’s awesome new website! It’s still in development but much more friendly than the previous version.

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MMM12: Days 4 and 5. WASABI!!!

Long weekend woooo!

I wore my polka dot top to work Friday made from Butterick 5644 with a self drafted peter pan collar. I had a very productive day. No one was really in the office so no one really noticed/cared I was wearing my top. I was pleased with myself at least. Straight after work I met up with old work friends for a drink. Always dangerous on an empty stomach but awesome fun to catch up with everyone.

Yesterday I didn’t really do as much sewing as I’d have liked. I bought bucket loads of fabric though! I have FINALLY found nice lace. All of Yorkshire seemed to have a nice lace  shortage, apart from Sam Taylors who have gorgeous but COSTLY lace. Last week I bought some online from Hertfordshire and was rather impressed with it when it arrived. But then, wandering round the market yesterday I found gorgeous red and mint coloured lace at a bargainous price of £2.85 a metre! God bless you Jack’s Fabrics.

And then I bought lots of lining fabric from Jack’s from their clearance shed. It’s not really a shed but a walk in cupboard area which is definitely hit and miss but when you find a hit, it’s usually amazing. The best thing about the shed is that everything is about £1 or £1.50 a metre. Jersey, cottons, georgette/chiffon, and occasionally some awesome printed polyester turns up in there! I usually have to tear myself away. It’s great for making a wearable muslin and real projects. And if you’ve read Tilly’s post on the cost of making clothing, Jack’s helps me keep costs down.

So if that wasn’t enough I then opened my exciting new package. My baby overlocker!! Isn’t it sweet!? A Singer too. It was a little fiddly to thread but not half as bad as I thought it would be. I made my chain thread but have yet to practice on any fabric and set the tension. That’s my main plan for this afternoon.

Finally I should mention my MMM item for yesterday. I wore this star print top made from New Look 6962. Jimi and I have been dating for 23 months and 3 weeks so we celebrated our almost anniversary by going out for Teppanyaki!

Wasabi Teppanyaki at Granary Wharf is so much fun. I recommend it to everyone. They cook everything in front of you on a giant hot plate and the set menus give you a great variety of things to try. Japanese salad is delicious, hot miso soup, vegetable tempura, then I had aubergine, courgette, mange tout, tomatoes and onions in garlic and teriyaki sauce with egg fried rice. Yum. And there is obligatory shouting of “WASABI!!!”  throughout dinner.

Now you may ask why not wait an  extra week to celebrate?! Well it is because Jimi is doing a half marathon next weekend. This means he can’t have a deliciously indulgent and giant dinner the night before the race and he may be too physically ruined to get off the sofa the day after. If it turns out he’s bouncing all over and fit as a fiddle  the day after I’ll drag him out again.

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