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    The seamstress gets married!


    Getting started.

    My dress that will be cream and gold.

    There you go.  The initial fashion plates that will be myself and my girls at the wedding.  I will do some sketches also that show a more accurate idea of what will actually happen.  They will be coming soon, as well as swatches and what-not.

    Updates to follow.



    My dress, finished, and married!

    The OriginalTo start this off, here are the two inspiration pieces for my dress.  The first I found was the sketch which is actually a paper doll from a very talented artist, Brenda Mattox.  I made a few changes to it, and proceeded to make it happen.  After all was said and done, I sent my pictures of the finished piece to her, and she supplied me with photos of the original!  I had no idea about how the details were managed on the original, so I made up my own plan. 

    The original is silk satin, and chiffon, with all the decorative trim and fringe made from pearls.  Simply amazing.  I am glad I didn't drive myself insane trying to recreate that!



    My dressI do not look good in white, so I used cream and gold as my palette.  The Directoire-style bodice and train are a gold and cream cut velvet in a classic damask pattern, with an antique gold silk "vest" at front, and a pleated satin frill around the back hem.  I trimmed the neckline in pleated organza and then gold point lace that ran from hem to hem on the bodice, and around the neck.  The sleeves are trimmed in ruched cream chiffon with the lace edging the chiffon and tacked with-in. I have gold silk cuffs and bows at the elbow, topped with little pearl drops.  The overskirt is cream satin with draped pleats and edged in a woven metallic fabric trim with cream tasseled fringe.  The trained underskirt is ivory moiré with a pleated and ruched frill at the hem.  There are more of the pearl drops at the top of each of the ruched panels.  This was in many ways a challenge to aspects of my skill level, and a serious learning curve, since I had 8 weeks to get it done...along with 6 other dresses!  I know, I am actually insane, and pearls had nothing to do with it.

    So, lets get on to the making of.  I will apologize now that my schedule was so tight there are just not as many fiddly pictures as might be nice.  However, you can see all of them here in My Wedding folder on Flickr.


    Starting with the inner most secrets!

    I would have loved to have had time to make a whole new set of underwear, but it was just not in the time-frame allotted.  Most of my current favorite undies are vintage, the bloomers, and princess chemise.  I believe they are both Edwardian, but they are super comfy, and look great, even though no one sees them.  My corset, is made from Truly Victorian, it is blue and brown teeny tiny stripes.  Again, I would have liked to have a white one, but oh well...-sigh-

    At this point in the proceedings our hair was all done, with an assortment of hair-pieces, all making ready for the wax flower headdresses I had made by Cheryl at A Wedding Tradition.  She made all of the flowers by hand from beeswax and formed all the headdresses and corsages for my attendants, and my tiara.  I LOVE them, and they all came with decorative boxes as heirloom keepsakes.  She's amazing, and so thoughtful.  There were all kinds of extra goodies. 

    The rest of the underwear was a train-supporting bustle based off the Laughing Moon pattern and my petticoat made from the TV pattern.

    The next bits that went on, before actual dress pieces was my jewelry.  My dear friend Allyson Giesen made all of it for me.  The two necklaces are based off of more Edwardian pieces like Queen Mary wore in this picture. All made of crystal beads, sterling, and natural pearls.  I adore them.  They do not adore my neckline on the bodice, so the ball top I make for next year will will be more open so that they do not eat my neck.  I also wore my mourning locket which has some of my mom's hair and her picture in it, as well as her rosary, that my Aunt brought for the occasion.  That is the draped pieces over my heart.


    The dress part one: The Underskirt

    The underskirt I ended up with was actually the second.  I know, at the time I was finally making my dress, I had a week and a half to do it.  So, screwing around with a different underskirt sounds ludicrous, but the first one just didn't work.  It was made of ivory taffeta, which turned out to be too sheer, and I was really trying to match the sketch with its pleated front.  FAIL!  It took forever, and then just wouldn't lay right, and I couldn't carry the treatment around the back, so I scrapped it.  The second attempt which was finished in half the time, is just straight ivory moiré.  It is the TV Fan-tail skirt, with no alterations.  That doesn't happen often, but for the sake of time, mine and all my girls had the same underskirt with slightly different trimming.  My trimming was 11 inches of knife pleats interspersed with 11 inches that got all gathered together into 1 inch.  Over this inch, I placed one of these lovely little beaded pearl drops

    Underneath all this I edged the entire skirt in a tight knife pleated trim that only shows about 1/2 inch. 



    Also, thanks to YWU's article on balayeuse, I and all my girls got one.  I made them to tie in, and they come right out for washing.  They have to be about the coolest things ever!  They added such weight to the skirt, and they looked awesome dancing.  We did have to figure out how to carry the trains while dancing, but we sure looked good!




    The dress part two: The Overskirt

    Oh the overskirt was fiddly!  It also took two tries, because the first time I apparently, needed a learning experience, and laid it out, pleated it...flat, and sewed on it for 7 hours. They looked great flat.  UGHIt has to go on a round person!  So I took it apart. -sigh-

    The front is double layers of the heavy bridal satin because I wanted the pleats in front to look thick and heavy.  The tassel trim really helped, too. It kept all that satin from curling, especially on the open side.

    This time i draped the skirt around the form, and hand tacked all the pleats so they would stay.  This time it worked much better.  I put an adjustable tape at the seam on the closed side so I could adjust the amount of ruching when I had it on.  Inadvertently it looks great down, too. :-)

     I have a huge weak spot for asymmetrical Victorian dresses, and this overskirt definitely let me play with that look. 







    The dress part three: The Bodice

    As I mentioned above, it is in the Directoire-style, that kept popping up through dress history.  I figure it must be because they are so much fun to wear.  You get the fitted look of the basque at the front and the fun and drape of a skirted back. 

    The bodice took less time, and was much easier than either of the skirts!  Trimming it was a little fiddly, because I had some really specific ideas of how I was was going to recreate the fashion plate I was using.

     I really liked the look of the trim on the sketch going up and around the neckline with the pleated frill.  The only issue was my lace wasn't stiff enough, so I stitched all those little points down by hand. 

    Now the sleeves, I am really excited about.  They did exactly what I wanted them to do, and as one of the last things I did, the only part that actually got documented in progress.

    I cut the sleeves to be elbow length on all the dresses, because my intention was to make the girls dinner dresses, and have them actually be able to wear them again.  Which of course they did on Saturday night at the costumed dinner.

    On the wrong side of the fabric, I arbitrarily drew where I thought the design should go,  but it looked like it was going to work out, so I machine-stitched over them so to see my lines on the velvet side.  I then ripped a chiffon strip the length of the fabric, and about 5" wide.  After serging it, I basted up both sides to make my rouch.


    Fitting the rouch was fairly easy.  Once the length was set, I combed the ruching out so it would be more or less even, and turned the edges under, pinned my trim on, and stitched it down!

    The gold trim again had to completely tacked down by hand, but where it got close enough together, I was able to tack them to each other and let the chiffon poke through how.  I got more comments on the sleeves than almost any other part of the dress.  Probably because they looked complicated, even though they were the only part that went off without a hitch.  My mom used to tell me that the most simple thing can take the longest.  That was certainly the truth!

    After they were all stitched together, I added a combination of pleated frills under the cuff of gathered silk.  I then folded some bias strips and whipped out some little flowers and stitched those down with more of the pearl appliques.  I should have stitched the "petals" up against the sleeve, because the kept falling.  I'll fix this soon.  Love how all the extras worked out.


    The dress part four: The Veil

    Over all this went the mantilla-style veil, which was the LAST thing that got made because I kept forgetting about it.  The lace for it had originally been 10 inches wide, because I am a glutton for punishment.  That lasted all of 4 minutes worth of trying to get it to curve, and I cut it apart.  The finished side that I used is 4.5 inches wide, and much more manageable.  The other side will get saved and used on something else...eventually.







    Here are some random shots from the wedding.  If you are interested in ALL of them feel free to view my galleries on Flickr and my Wedding Stuff set(which is the in progress pics), and the Unofficial Wedding Photograph set, which has piles more hilarity.  If you're my friend on Facebook, you've had plenty of that, and a ton more photos.


    That's all there is about me, and my dress, so next up, The Girls!






    My Attendants(and sisters) :-)

    In case you are not an expert in Victorian costuming, I am setting the date for our dresses for 1877, early Naturalform.  There is still some bustle, but the skirts are getting close in front, much less hoop like, and the bodices are elongating and very fitted.

      I will try to document this more fully than my usual projects(-sigh- I tried but...).  One, because I will only get married once, : )  and two, I am thinking about submitting the dresses for the Double Pattern Project on Your Wardrobe Unlock’d.  It will be a fun adventure either way!

    My favorite colors are gray, green, and blue.  I have liked these since I was a kid, and I really wanted them in the wedding, but I did not want to make these girls dresses, that they would hate or just not really be interested in wearing.  So keeping with a traditional Victorian theme, each girl's dress has some similar elements, but is generally different and one of my colors.  MaritaBeth (Matron of Honor) is gray, Ginger is blue, and Delaenya green.  The similarities:  All the dress are designed for evening or dinner, with open necklines and shorter sleeves.  All have a "vested" front.  All of them have the same underskirt with trains and balayeuse.  The veils for bridesmaids were also a tradition in Victorian weddings, and I had little orange blossom pieces made for them as well.

    They are also three different visual textures, matte, patterned, and shiny.  MB's dress is mostly velvet mixed with moiré and taffeta, Ginger's is a patterned silk, with velvet and taffeta, and Delaenya is solid faille, with velvet and taffeta.  It will all make more sense soon.

    Finally finished the journal for my dress, and it is here.  I am going to keep this one all about the girls!


    Matron of Honor: MaritaBeth Caruthers

    I know I mention MB all the time.  She and I do so much together, even when we aren't together. :-)  She is also a costumer, and does really lovely things for Scarborough Fair and elsewhere from her business A Wardrobe in Time.

    This is my sketch and the inspiration fashion plate that led to her dress. Her dress is entirely gray.  This took some convincing, but I knew it would look terrific!  The bodice of her dress is velvet with a "vest" of bias moiré, buttoned with mother-of-pearl buttons.  The real unique design part are the tabs at the side with all their matching MOP buttons.  I will tell you that MaritaBeth put on all those buttons!  :-)  Her overskirt is moiré trimmed in embroidered satin ribbon and beaded fringe. The underskirt a two-tone taffeta with a pleated frill and more beaded fringe.


    I was actually really worried about MaritaBeth's dress, because of the tabs.  I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pattern them, and sewing for another costumer is always a little more pressure.  The patterns that I chose to combine went together well, and I was completely amazed it worked on the first try. 

    This was also her first chance to play with the balayeuse, and she pranced all over, it was very amusing.  We also had the first inkling of, "What do we do with these things while dancing?" So we practiced that, too.  I also surprised her this weekend with her overskirt.  All that beaded fringe makes a great sound when moved.


    The next week I had her bodice done, and she was thrilled.  I knew she was going to need time to get all her buttons, so that is why I had her stuff done first.  Of course, she is a costumer, and got the buttons on the day before the wedding.  -grin-

    There are also more pictures of MB and the dress process here on Flickr.

    I would also like to say here, that the entire wedding was her doing.  She found the venue and made that happen, she orchestrated everything...and I MEAN EVERYTHING!  It would never have been as beautiful without all her hard work.  Thank you MaritaBeth! :-)



    Bridesmaid: Ginger Burkholder

    Here are the inspiration fashion plate and my sketch for my dear friend Ginger.  Ginger is a new convert to the wide world of blue, and I really wanted to put her in it.  She has this pile of luscious blonde hair and light eyes, that I just knew would be ravishing.  Her silhouette is fairly simple, so I wanted hers to be the pattern, and I went looking for a silk brocade.  Blue is just NOT a color people are decorating with or using much right now.  It was really hard to find trim or anything else in the right shade of blue, so we ended up adding some navy in there, just so we could find trim. I finally found a patterned silk, and they called it a brocade(riiight!).  It ended up being unbelievably gorgeous and very charmeuse-like.  Ugh.  I flat lined it in cotton, and just went with it.  It fought me every step of the way, too.  Her fella wants a matching vest, I might need more scotch. Let me tell you though, she glowed!  The color is incredible.  Every time I heard a, "My god, that blue!"  I knew I had found the right fabric. -smug-

    The underskirt is two-tone blue taffeta with an added tail, to match the fashion plate, trimmed with beaded fringe, and chenille braid, and a small ruffle across the front.  The overskirt is TV's Square Overskirt in silk with velvet tabs.  All of this is trimmed in the beaded fringe, bullion and the chenille braid.  The bodice is the silk with a double-breasted "vest" in velvet buttoned with glass buttons.




    Ginger is also a costumer of a completely different variety.  She wrangles stretch fabrics. Eeek!  Her business which makes fabulous tights and dresses is Faire Pair Tights and Such.  Luckily we both like each other's wares. -grin- I LOVE my velvet dresses.

    I felt pretty confident about Ginger's dress, that is until the fabric came.  It completely freaked me out!  Unusually for me, I actually took my time flat lining it and except for having to piece it to fit my pattern, it worked well.  On the bodice pieces I had to hand baste to flat line.  The curves were just too extreme and the silk to slithery.  Beyond the super cool silk, the other detail part of Ginger's dress was the double-breasted front "vest".  I actually faked this by making it seperate and then attaching it with the buttons on one side and working buttonholes and buttons on the other side, but the bodice itself buttons up the front under this vest. 

    If you are curious about other pictures of Ginger's dress you can find them here at Flickr.

    This is Ginger and her fella Scott.  I need to thank Ginger too for providing all the flowers for the wedding as her present.  There were hydrangeas, gardenias, holly, roses, and all kinds of greenery, plus our bouquets, that Ginger made happen.  Can't have a wedding without the flowers! Thanks Ginger!


    Bridesmaid: Delaenya Stapleton

     Here is the sketch and fashion plate that inspired Delaenya's dress.  The fashion plate is later Naturalform, so I adjusted it to be more inline with the silhouettes of the other girls.  My goal for Delaenya's dress was to finally make her one that would be light-weight and comfortable.  It was a good goal.

    My design for her dress was to be plainer, and all the interest was in the different greens and trim.  Unfortunately I chose a lovely green faille.  Faille is heavy.  Oh well, but it sure is beautiful.

    Her bodice is faille with a "vest" of green taffeta.  I used two different glass buttons to hightlight the transition between portions of the bodice.  The back of her bodice has a fun detail with pleated decorations and more buttons.  I used the same pleated motif on the sleeve.  The overskirt is faille and velvet with two paniers in the faille.  The paniers, took a few hours of creative draping.  I finally got them to work, but with two layers they really add weight to the skirt. The velvet is a faked piece in front that is van-dyked, and the entire thing is trimmed with some really lovely beaded fringe that I found, and some green gimp that MB gave up to the cause.  The underskirt is two-tone green taffeta trimmed in a deep pleated frill with just a touch of gimp to hide the stitch line.

    Deleanya's dress gave me some interesting issues to overcome.  I have never had a class in draping, so figuring out how to drape the paniers was a process.  I worked through several pattern ideas, a whole lot of advice, and plenty of trial and error, but I finally got them to work.  Then there was so much fabric, with the velvet and faille together, that sewing it was really fun. 

    Her bodice was a joy as well.  I have never quite figured out diagonals coming together at the front of a buttoned bodice, either.  Luckily I put this together as faked layers on my flat lining, so when it didn't work the first time, I pulled my hand stitches moved the one side over and tacked it back down. Fiddly, but doable.  The back was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed the little pleaty bits.  This actually had inspiration from a vintage piece. 










    Delaenya is a very dear friend, and I am very glad she chose to be in my wedding.  She must have had fun, because she asked me to make her dress, and be in her upcoming wedding.  I hope I can as good of a job as she did! -grin-

    There are plenty more pictures of Delaenya's dress, some even in process on Flickr.

    Here is a very amusing picture of our backsides.

    Thanks for taking this journey with me.  It was a delight being able to make clothing for my best girlfriends.  Only having eight weeks to get them all done was interesting, but obviously we pulled it off.  Glad I don't have to do it again any time soon!