Wednesday 18 June 2014

My handmade antique lace wedding dress - Part 1

Like many brides I tried on quite a few dresses before I found 'the perfect dress' but unlike many brides I found my dress hanging up in my front room ... as it was my curtain. This is the story of how my lovely handmade wedding dress 'Rita' came into existence. In Part 1 I'll show you some of the other dresses I tried, and how I went about having a dress made. In Part 2 I'll show you the step-by-step making of, and how this ....

...was transformed from this .....


The search for a vintage-style wedding dress ...

I LOVED trying on wedding dresses. I didn't think it was such a big deal to begin with. I couldn't understand why my married friends gushed about trying on wedding dresses ... until I tried some on myself. It's just a lovely experience ... physically and emotionally. The first dress I tried was my mum's dress from the sixties! I loved her dress and while we both knew it wasn't me, we still had fun trying it on and pretending! Dum, dum de dum etc etc ....

My mums '60's' two-piece wedding dress ...
flowers courtesy of the vase on the table.

 I tried on lots of lovely vintage dresses and fell in love with one, only to find out it was WAY over my budget. Finally I found one that was very close to what I had in mind ... it was the Gatsby by Maggie Sottero (pictured below). It was just beautiful, but I wasn't too keen on the neckline and something didn't feel quite right. I had a niggling feeling that since everything else in my wedding was being lovingly made by hand, my dress should be too.

The beautiful 'Gatsby' by Maggie Sottero ... lovely, but not 'the one' though
I did take inspiration from this dress.


Having a dress made + finding the fabric

So I decided to have it made by hand, but I didn't know where to start. Could I afford it? Where would I find the fabric? Which dressmaker? and in what style? It was a bit overwhelming so I took it one step at a time. First I focused on fabric - it would be much cheaper if I could find the fabric myself as lovely bridal fabric can be very expensive to buy. I realised the answer was staring me right in the eye. Literally. It was hanging up on the curtain rail - a beautiful antique Normandy lace bedspread, given to me by my lovely cousin Rita, who passed away from Cancer only a few years ago. 
She was a beautiful, joyful soul and she was an amazing crafty seamstress. 


Designing my own wedding dress

  I've never designed anything in my life but I knew what I wanted, so I trusted my instincts. In my sketches I made sure it had a V neck as I know that flatters me the most, I wanted floaty cap sleeves and a layered effect in the skirt. You have to use your imagination at this point. The bedspread had some beautiful embroidered elements and a wonderful lace panel that I knew would make a beautiful waistband. I researched and looked for dresses that had elements of what I wanted. Then armed with my sketches, magazine cut-outs and my fabric (well curtain) off I went to bridal path in Sawbridgeworth, to meet dressmaker Adrienne, of Adrienne brides


Finding the (wedding) dressmaker

I'd seen Adrienne's work online and had a hunch she was the woman for the job.
I had no doubt a regular dress-maker could make a wedding dress. But I wanted to find someone who specialised in wedding dresses and Adrienne did. When I told her I wanted to make a dress out of a curtain she thought I was crazy, but as soon as she saw the fabric she got very excited. Adrienne knew exactly what would, and what wouldn't work when it came to design and I trusted her judgement completely. Seeing this dress come to life was a truly wonderful experience and I'm so pleased I did it. For the same cost as a shop-bought dress I had something truly unique to hopefully hand down to my own daughter one day ... a handmade wedding dress, with lace from 1900's that was given to me by my dear Rita. 

On my wedding day : ) I'll show you the front in part 2!

In part 2: The step-by-step making of the dress.

JM x

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1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to see part two. It's such a beautiful dress x