Winter wedding dress

Fabric for wedding dress
Ivory wool fabric and pale green pin dot lyocel for winter wedding dress

Planning for a winter wedding, I wanted a dress I wouldn’t be cold in. I also had so many ideas I loved – From medieval and woodland fairy to a fifties style in red lace – and only one wedding!

I decided on a fabric, the most expensive I have ever bought (on a budget). I did get several samples sent so I could check the thickness and stretch, how it felt and folded.

I chose a natural white/cream coloured wool fabric and a pale green lyocel lining.

My inspiration for the dress shape was from the film Gigi, set in turn of the century Paris. I used a vintage Seventies maxi dress I have as the template for the skirt as I always get compliments and it fits so well.

Gigi Leslie Caron evening dress wedding feathers birds train wrapover edwardian parisienne

White or ivory silk or satin dress with bodice and train, decorated with black birds

The bodice needed to be planned and drawn out, so I learnt about folds and how to cut a pattern with folds on YouTube! There was lots of pinning and fitting to get the folds to sit right before using the pattern to cut the wool.

I chose to join the two halves instead of creating a corset or bodice separately. Making it into a dress meant I could have lots of buttons!

Amazingly, in my search for feathers for the shoulder decoration I chanced upon hair clips reduced in Claire’s Accessories. I dismantled the clips from the feathers so I could tack them on. I chose this method so I can easily remove and re-attach them if it needs cleaning.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As the dress did not have sleeves and I didn’t want to spoil it with a cardigan or coat, I decided to make a matching jacket, using a Victorian/ steampunk pattern as a template. This idea came from a page I had kept from a Vogue magazine. I also wanted to add some wool frills.

My mum and I knitted yards of lace in Rowan Kidsilk to decorate the edge of the skirt and the front of the jacket.

I am so happy with the outcome of incorporating two of my dream outfits for my wedding dress, using styles that suited my shape.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I hope I get to wear it again for a party sometime!

For more inspiration look at my post on vintage wedding dresses.

Wedding photo credit: www.jamesmarcelle.co.uk

Fifties sari dress

This slightly irridescent silk sari fabric was a remnant given to me as a gift. I don’t feel like orange is a colour I naturally choose to wear, but I thought this was beautiful with the gold embroidery, so I’ve spent years just admiring it draped over a mannequin. My first idea had been a Regency  dress. However, as I never got around that, I eventually looked for some vintage ideas of how to style it into a Fifties dress. My impetus was finding an outfit for a friend’s wedding.

As the fabric is patterned and beautiful standing  alone, I kept to a pattern without making alterations to it. The simple fitted shift dress is accessorised with a detachable sash. This is a nod to the sari. The dress needs little added, so I kept my jewellery classic with a vintage pearl necklace, gold hoops and my gold heels (bought because I love Marilyn’s shoes in Bus Stop).

Indian fabric was used in the Fifties for Western style dresses. The pictures I found made good use of the gold panel of embroidery often found on saris. My first choice was to copy the one shouldered Dior dress with a stitched wrap of gold edging used for the bodice, and a full skirt. The sari I had was only a remnant, and I didn’t have enough. Less fabric meant a pencil skirt and and no gathers. I did get my sash though.

img-20160925-wa0002
At the wedding

On the day, I did require some dress first aid when I ripped the back seam of the skirt getting in the car. The trouble was climbing in instead of sitting and swivelling like a lady. I think that’s something you learnt at finishing school. Thanks to my mum’s first aid kit ( for clothes, naturally) I was able to enjoy the rest of the evening without embarrassment!

I think if I get the opportunity to buy a whole sari, I’ll make the Dior dress. Then I’ll just need something to wear it to.

Vintage wedding dresses

In England, Queen Victoria wore the first white wedding dress, and due to her celebrity status, they became popular. Before that, brides would wear their Sunday best. White has remained popular ever since.

1858
Queen Victoria’s wedding dress

Here are two true vintage wedding dresses I have on loan from a friend. They are roughly from the Thirties. The What Katie Did CC09 bra is perfect for creating the right shape for the cut of the dresses. Both dresses look home-made from the finishing on the inside.

The lace dress has a square, slightly sweetheart neckline and fits close to the body, with a sweeping train. There is piping on the bodice to add shape. The mutton sleeves have ruching and piping with stuffed shoulder pads stitched into the shoulder seams to hold the lace up and out. The lower part of the sleeves have a row of buttons and a point over the back of the hand. The fastening is under the arm, so the waist is fitted. There is a row of metal poppers (snap fastening) and a hook and eye under the sash.

There is no lining, so I assume, like many dresses of the era, it was made to wear over a slip already owned by the wearer. I am wearing a vintage, probably Fifties midi- length slip. The lace bodice and wide pleated border of lace blend well with the lace of the dress.

The back has a row of decorative covered buttons down the spine, to where the satin sash ties. The lace has only a few holes that need mending, mostly on the fitted part of the sleeves. The hem has suffered some wear and tear and the buttons have discoloured in places. I think this adds to the charm of finding vintage clothes that others have loved and treasured.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The satin wedding dress has the same fluid shaped skirt and mutton sleeves with pointed cuffs. The V-neck and gathers from the shoulders to under the bust. The seamstress has inserted a modesty panel in the deep V. This dress has no fastening on the body except the sash and poppers in the front panel. The cuffs also have a popper each, with slight wear around one of them.

The front seam was unpicked when I was given this dress. It was only tacked and looked like there were some threads through the front. This makes me think there were buttons that were used again on another dress. I used some satin covered buttons to finish the dress.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wallis Simpson sports the high neck, buttons and gathers, with the body skimming skirt. The neckline, shoulders and gathers on the dress worn by Ginger Rogers are heading into the Forties, but are echoed in the vintage dresses I have shared with you.

For Fifties and Sixties inspiration, search Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. White wasn’t always the choice, and the styles vary dramatically. Some have stood the test of time, while others are of their time.