Stage 1 - Sourcing the fabric.
So in part 1 I told you all about my search for the right dressmaker, how I went about designing my dress and finding the right fabric. Now it was finally time to make the dress! As we were using my Normandy antique lace bedspread to make this dress, our fabric needed to be supplemented with some more 'tulle' (very fine netting) as the bedspread alone wouldn't be enough. So I sourced some 'point d'esprit' - which is a tulle with tiny dots on. Adrienne, my dressmaker from Bridal path then dyed the tulle to match our lace with ... Nescafe coffee! It worked perfectly (though always do test run first!) We then sourced some lovely shimmery satin to use underneath the lace.
Stage 2 - The Calico fitting.
Before a dressmaker makes the actual dress they'll often make a 'mock-up' of the dress out of any old material, often using calico - which is coarse cotton fabric, as they don't want to practise on the good stuff! So below is the dress made out of Calico with old netting from the charity shop, with a random piece of ribbon round the waist for good measure!
Stage 3 - Making the bodice.
Next Adrienne made the bodice. It was boned for support and structure. Adrienne and team then cover it with our beautiful shimmery satin, and then our dyed 'tulle.' It was then time for a cuppa and lark around ... here's me showing off my garter to the girlie's - though it doesn't really work with the leggings I know :-)
Stage 4 - The dress comes to life ...
An exciting moment. Adrienne has made the sleeves and starts pinning the delicate pieces to the bodice. Though it was at this point I had to break it to them; I felt the sleeves were too long for me - a couple of inches can make a lot of difference, which meant they had to undo and redo a lot of delicate hand sewing. They were very understanding bless them, and I'm glad I told them. You have to tell your dressmaker if something isn't right. If you don't you could potentially spoil the dress for yourself.
A jigsaw of lace - what bit goes where?
The Normandy lace bedspread had some beautiful intricate lacework that worked perfectly on various areas of the dress. I didn't have to decide much for myself; I laid the fabric out, and it pretty much told me what it wanted to be - for instance the wide lace panel was crying out to be a beautiful waistband, and the smaller panels were shouting 'we'll make a lovely neckline dahling!' It can be hard to imagine so you have to trust your instincts a little with this, and trust your dressmaker ... she'll know what will and won't work. But always speak up if you're not keen on something, you have to wear this.
Stage 5 - Creating the skirt and train
Initially I'd wanted a tiered effect with the skirt but we didn't have enough of the antique lace fabric to create that. So instead we had a layered effect that parted down the middle. So it went satin first (that's what Adrienne's pinning in the pic on the left) then a layer of tulle, THEN our antique lace. They all worked beautifully together, and the shimmery satin shone through the delicate lace. The lace was so fragile so Adrienne and her team had to spend a lot of time doing intricate hand sewing. I don't know if they'd agree but I loved that - I loved that this dress was made by hand and not whizzed up on a machine. They even covered all the little buttons on the back with tulle and antique lace. Their attention to detail was impressive, they really went above and beyond.
Next we had to design and shape the train, which was a challenge. We wanted the large motif of cherubs (see below) at the base of the train which worked perfectly. Once Adrienne had shaped the train - she removed the delicate lace edging from around the bedspread and used that to edge both the train, my sleeves, the waistband and the parting frill in the skirt. It finished it all of so beautifully. I didn't get many close up pics from my wedding day so I squeezed into my dress this week, and I mean squeezed! and I had hubby take these photos so I can show you the details ... it was lovely wearing her again : )
When the dress was finished, I not only had a beautiful wedding dress, but I also felt like Rita was right there with me on my wedding day. As I mentioned in part 1, Rita was my late cousin, and the lovely lady who gave me this exquisite fabric a few years ago. That is why this was such a meaningful adventure for me, and is the reason why I named the dress 'Rita.' It was also a lovely experience working with Adrienne and her team. She turned my initial sketches into a working design that would enhance and compliment my figure, the fabric, and the quality of their work really was second to none. The following photos (except the last one) were all taken on Wedding day, by Binky Nixon.
It was a brave decision having my wedding dress made, but it was the right decision and so worth it. I was in great hands, and Adrienne and the girls made the process easy, fun and financially they helped me stick to my budget by sourcing affordable fabrics. This dress cost me approx £1400 in total, which is less than many of the dresses in the shops. HOWEVER, I did supply the lace. Bridal lace can be very expensive so I saved myself some money there. Do shop around, and don't be afraid to use an old antique bedspread / curtain if it's beautiful. I'm so pleased I did it, I now have something very special I can hopefully hand down to my own daughter some day ... and if she doesn't want it I'll just wear it around the house!
To read the first part of this series go to ...
In part 1:
MY SEARCH FOR A ANTIQUE VINTAGE WEDDING DRESS
DECIDING TO HAVE MY WEDDING DRESS MADE
HOW I DESIGNED MY OWN DRESS
FINDING A DRESSMAKER
AND SOURCING FABRIC.
To read more about our wedding day you can go to Our handmade Wedding
Click here to contact Adrienne and see more of her work.
|The lovely team! (From left to right) Adrienne's partner in crime Joanna,|
Jo from Bridal Path. me, and dressmaker Adrienne.