Tuesday, 7 June 2016

A Beautiful Wedding

We had a lovely weekend. Not just lovely. Fabulous.


Helen married Anthony on Saturday 4 June in a local church. Helen’s two sisters were her bridesmaids.  Anthony had a best man and 4 ushers including his brother. My two grandsons, Helen's nephews, presented her with a lucky horseshoe - a real one,  painted by Alison and trimmed with ribbon from her wedding (no photos of that yet - will have to wait for those from the official photographer)

Helen and Anthony. Alison and Joanne. Best man Alex and 4 ushers. Taken in the garden at Capheaton Hall


Then we travelled out into the country for the reception which Helen and Anthony had organised and the two families help set up in the few days leading up to it. It was great. Photographs,  garden games, wedding breakfast in a large marquee, ceilidh followed by cake cutting (the cake was made by Anthony's mother), hog roast. A free bar with plenty to drink including a bride's cocktail and a groom's cocktail.


Then on Sunday we had a post wedding BBQ in our garden for their friends who were travelling back - mainly to London but some friends had travelled much further, one from Australia who had travelled just for the wedding and was then going back. The weather was glorious.


You want to know about the dress, though.
Yes, I finished it. Very much at the last minute. All that hand sewing took so much longer than I thought, not helped by incorrectly sewing in the weights and having to redo. Helen made the belt to go with the dress (well done,  Helen, you did a brilliant job and I'm not going to say any more so you can put it in the sewing blog you’re going to start) and I finished the cathedral length veil at 11pm on Friday after Joanne and Alison researched how to do it for me.


I realise I am not going to post a lot about the design or construction of the dress as I've had to put all of that in my course portfolio.


Helen wanted an unstructured very soft dress in double crepe sandwashed silk. My portfolio shows some of the evolution of the idea. We had to compromise as the design needed to be something I could make but that still had the vibe that Helen wanted. Her first ideas were much too complex for me (I tried but couldn't make them work). Gradually we evolved something that worked.


The earlier ideas were very revealing dresses e g. illusion tulle topped with fine Chantilly lace and appliqués added strategically.
Originally she didn't want a waistline but this affected fit so we changed.
The very low front was raised as I couldn't stabilise the front properly.


Helen decided against princess seams at the front. She wanted completely smooth. As I had to wedge out neck and armscyes and have waist shaping there, this led to a very large side dart - I decided to split this dart into 3. We like it.


The back consists of small side wings. It is supported by 3 spaghetti straps on each side. Each bias strap has a core of cord. The wings have an additional layer of silk organza interlining. The sides are low and cut away as requested.
Getting ready


The back skirt does have princess seams and is tightly fitted with the centre backs extending into a short train. We discussed how she'd dance etc but H just wanted to let the dress do its own thing. It did.


The neckline and armscye are supported by tape and understitching.
The whole dress is underlined in habotai silk. We tested samples and this soft silk kept the look and feel Helen was after. The dress is lined in a soft fine charmeuse silk. The lining has a fine rolled hem (done very much at the last minute as I had to shorten it the night before - I had to do this quickly on my overlocker). The dress has a horsehair braid hem and the back to the sides have string weights inserted into the hem. I ended up stitching and pinking the main skirt seams though I hand overcast the bodice seams. I just realised today that I forgot to put a chain stitch between lining and dress - perhaps that contributed to the train’s early demise!


I didn't like working with the charmeuse or the habotai silk.  Too squiggly and difficult to control. I did enjoy working with the sandwashed silk, which didn't fray much at all.


Proud mother, beautiful daughter
There had to be a few very last minute changes as the silk was spongier (not sure of what word to use to describe) and I had to give up on the planned side zip because of bulk that I couldn't remove with three darts there. I used a back zip instead and on my tutor's advice stopped this at waist level (mistake - it would have been much better going all the way up as the suggested hooks and eyes didn't hold it sufficiently firmly and came out a few times anyway - I was going to sew her in at the reception but we didn't do that)


Helen found the dress supremely comfortable. She had wanted very soft very unstructured, very her,  as she had heard of brides being so uncomfortable in their dresses. Helen could sit, dance, go to the toilet etc. The dress is supremely lightweight and soft, just as she requested.

Photo from Patrick Lourie


The dress hasn't survived. I don't know if it's possible to revamp so that Helen can keep it as planned. I dry cleaned the fabric before construction. The train is filthy,  both outer and lining and her foot caught in the braid tearing it back. The hooks at the back didn't survive intact - this meant that for much of the time the bodice was too loose. Helen didn't seem to mind.


I received a lot of compliments for the dress. Helen looked beautiful and happy. 

I spent a long time on the dress and on toiles because fitting at a distance isn't easy. Helen helped by visiting a number of times and I visited her. I’d do it differently on another occasion. I'm pretty pleased with the result and I hope Helen is too (she certainly seems to be). I learned a lot of new techniques and now feel I could tackle anything - the support structures I have are great,  too. Helen says I can't call myself a beginner anymore!  Obviously there are loads of things I've never tried and my attempts at what I did aren't perfect - but the more I practice,  the better I'll get!  When I get around to putting my reviews of the waistcoat on PR,  I may celebrate by upgrading my status to ‘Intermediate’. What do you think?

Back - our family tartan printed on silk


Pre wedding try on
I also made Anthony's waistcoat. More on that later.












I had made the pattern and the final toile for the bridesmaids dresses but in the end ran out of time and arranged with Rory and Dan to sew them; Dan was ill leaving Rory to do them both. I was sick with panic as Rory didn't finish until the evening before the wedding and for the last few days I was running around like a mad thing because of all the activities we had,  including hosting a meal for the two families, meaning that my sewing room was out of commission. Yes,  I know it should have been finished by then…





I took my mother home yesterday (Monday) and rather belatedly helped her sort or some of her stuff in her new sheltered accommodation. Sorted out some by bringing it back with me. We have so much to do! We still plan to downsize…

Tomorrow our course work is moderated and on Thursday we have a display of our work at the college. I handed in my final board with some wedding pictures tonight - some photos from my camera (which I unfortunately broke irreparably by dropping it during the reception). We've had a teaser photo from the official photographer which is fabulous. I've given my tutor the dresses and the waistcoat  but I'm not sure what will be used - do they cover the muddy train? Let it show? The waistcoat and the bridesmaids dresses probably will go in.

Help question, though - a lot of Helen and Anthony's friends have posted terrific photos on Facebook and Instagram. I can't work out how to save and print them, unfortunately. Any ideas?


More later

24 comments:

  1. O Anne, you did a superb job! I love absolutely everything about Helen's dress. The design, the fit, the fabric. So it didn't survive? That's just showing the bride was having the time of her life! Anthony's waistcoat is looking great as do the bridesmaids dresses. And you look so stylish in your MOB outfit! I'm so happy for you everything worked out fine. You have every reason to be proud of yourself and this true labour of love. Congratulations!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marianne. Yes, the bride did have a great time as did we all.

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  2. What a magnificent job! Not too many gowns survive intact but she obviously had a wonderful time. You had us worried for a time but everything looks so well done. You definitely can't call yourself a beginning sewer any longer. Congratulations to you and your beautiful family.

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary. I was very worried myself! We all had a great time. I'll get the dresses and the waistcoat back tomorrow hopefully after the course display and can see what I can do with the wedding dress - maybe cut off the bottom? I don't think the mud will come out. The rest if the dress is certainly salvageable. The waistcoat and the bridesmaids dresses are fine.

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  3. Wonderful work....just amazing after all you've been through to get it right...and you did! Well done you!
    I was thinking of you all weekend and wondering how things were going. I hope the weather on the East coast was as good as here.
    Now, you need to think of having a rest yourself.....

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    1. Thank you, Joyce. We had great weather, better than forecast which was good after an iffy start to the day. A. hired bridal umbrellas which went back unopened. Today I got back to golf after a feeling of anticlimax I suppose. A short holiday in a couple of weeks too. Best wishes

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  4. Anne!
    Helen is beautiful. Her dress is elegant, andfits her so well.
    What a memory you have created for her.
    You look beautiful as well.
    My sister wore my mother's wedding gown, velvet with a huge train. It got caught under her chair. She stood up to dance and irreparably tore it.
    The train was shortened for my niece. Things like that happen.
    But you have accomplished a wonderful feat. I have followed your efforts all this time and am so happy to admire the finished product.
    And no, you are no longer a beginner. You better start planning the next two!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I think shortening may well be the way forward. I'll discuss with Helen when she gets back from her honeymoon.
      Only one daughter left - Joanne, the darker haired bridesmaid on the left of the photos. The lighter haired girl on the right is Alison who is married and has two sons. I wasn't yet sewing when Alison got married 6 years ago. I'd sew for Joanne, for sure.

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  5. Wow well done. We were all panicking with you but you pulled it off. You ALL look amazing. I can't imagine the stress you were under and with mum to worry about as well. You won't know what to do with yourself now. A break is definitely in the cards K xXx

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Panic over but rather anticlimaxed now. It went well in the end. Hopefully my mother is settling though not just yet. Back to golf and a break planned in a couple of weeks (won't have time to make a nice skirt like yours - it's lovely). Not feeling like sewing just yet though have started an alteration. Best A

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  6. I've been wondering "what happened". The dress is perfect in every way (even if it has imperfections - they all do, I am sure!). I won't repeat what everyone else has said - except to say I am glad all went well with Helen, yourself (albeit rather stressed) and your mother's move.

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    1. Thank you, Sarah Liz. Yes, it has been a stressful time but the four major things coming together are all over and we're now taking time to restore and recover; well 3 major events are over - I can't yet say my mother's move is completely over as she hasn't yet settled so additional visits etc will be ongoing. I've only been following blogs etc in brief and very intermittent patches (no chance of catching up on all those I've missed off course!) and know you've been having a difficult time too; I hope that also is improving now. I'd like to get back to MAGAM, probably from next month not this.

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  7. Sorry I have been so slow to salute this amazing achievement Anne. I have been preoccupied here recently. I have of course met Helen and I adore what you have created. It is indeed so very appropriate to her relaxed, happy personality, aided of course by the most enviable, model girl figure. You have done her proud. I am sure there is a second outing for this dress, but you don't want to think about that now. You deserve a bit of a rest! Your own outfit looks great too - please include some more pictures soon.
    In terms of Facebook, just click on the pictures, save and then print. Nothing to it. Not all of them will be large enough to print well though.

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    1. Thank you, Kate. I'm delighted to receive comments. I haven't been reading many blogs but did read your lovely tribute to your late first husband (I commented at the time) so I am aware of some of your recent preoccupations.
      I'm pleased with the dress - I agree it suits Helen's personality and figure. Currently it is on display at the college end of year exhibition, alongside my mood boards, final board, sketchbook, bridesmaid dresses and waistcoat, though I retrieved the waistcoat last night at the end of the main exhibition as Anthony needs it for a wedding just after they return from honeymoon. I got so many positive comments. The rest are there for another 2 weeks.
      Thank you about Facebook - I've managed now - there seemed to be a hiccup with what I was trying originally. So possibly more photos later. As yet I don't have any of David!

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  8. Congratulations Anne you and your daughter looked beautiful. You did an amazing job with your daughters dress and all the effort you put in paid off.

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    1. Thank you, Manju. Lots of effort but a great sense of satisfaction! I haven't been reading blog posts much but have seen a couple of good articles about you - congratulations. Back to reading now!

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  9. Wow Anne!!!! You can skip intermediate straight to advanced for me! The dress is amazing, and all that time, effort and sleeplessnights has paid off.
    Did you manage to get the pics from FB? If not there is an option to save them when viewing on a pc, or hold your finger down on the pic if viewing on an iPhone or iPad until the option to save come up.
    Well done again����������������������������

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    1. Thank you, Ali. You're overstating it a bit! Maybe intermediate after I've actually completed a few more items, though I am pleased, for sure. Yes, thanks, FB pics sorted. I hope you're having a great holiday.

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  10. Wow! Anne, you did an amazing job! Can't believe I've only just spotted your posts, I've been looking out for the wedding dress! The dresses look fantastic, Helen looks stunning, well done!!

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. I'm in the process of doing a couple of other posts. A bit about skills gained and the bridesmaid dresses.

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  11. This wedding ceremony looks amazing. I enjoyed watching these photos a lot! I have made decision to reserve one of best Seattle Wedding venues. The venue is offering amazing deals on weddings and their all-inclusive package is quite affordable.

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    1. Thank you. My daughter went for the opposite of an all-inclusive package! We had to do absolutely everything ourselves (I mean arrange caterers etc rather than cooking the food!) but everyone has different ideas. I hope your plans work out well.

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  12. I can't believe its taken me so long to comment - blame a wonderful honeymoon and a bump back to real life! - but THANK YOU MUM! I wish everyone who is leaving lovely comments for you could see my wedding dress in real life, because its the most beautiful and well made dress I could ever have imagined and the quality and care and skill that its been made with just shines shines shines through! Rory was so impressed she said it looked couture (which my response - well it IS!) and I really couldn't have been happier. It was so comfortable, I felt so confident and happy, it fit beautifully despite my unhelpfully changing shape and living far away and it was a real talking point of the wedding! Of course everyone I know knew that you were making my dress, because I had been proudly boasting to everyone and anyone for months. But I hadn't breathed a word about what it looked like or what the style was to anyone at all (apart from Anthony's mum, who needed to know the style to buy me a headpiece) so I was so pleased and proud on the day when every single person got to see it for the first time and commented how amazing you are and how beautiful the dress is and how impressed they are, and then the odd person who didn't already know got to learn that you made the bridesmaid dresses and Anthony's waistcoat as well!

    You have said that I asked you to make the dress (which I did), but here's the full story. Back when you started sewing, before I was engaged, you mentioned in passing whilst we were talking about some of your sewing projects that maybe you could make my wedding dress one day. You were a real beginner then, so maybe it was just a joke, but I gleefully agreed, and stubbornly remembered! I don't think either of us knew that the day when I'd ask you to make it would come so soon though! You're right, I didn't know AT ALL just how much work it would be when I asked you to do it. I don't think I would have dared to ask if I had. The amount of work that you've put into all three dresses and the waistcoat has really blown me away, as well as your willingness to design exactly what I wanted and put up with changing designs... So actually I'm glad I didn't know how much work it would be, because there's nothing else in the world I could imagine having worn on my wedding day. It was just perfect. xxxxxxxxx

    PS I agree I think you should change your status to intermediate now otherwise you'll intimidate the actual beginners!

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    1. Thank you, Helen (said with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye). I'm so glad you loved the dress. Seeing the wedding photos now it shows the dress survived a lot even if it didn't survive intact! It was great that you could be yourself and move freely.
      Although I was certainly stressed at times, I'm very glad you asked me and that I accepted. You are worth it. You looked beautiful and so happy. Love you Mum x

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