Tag Archives: dressmaking

‘The Dress’

18 Oct

It’s the post you’ve all been waiting for. The tale of my attempt to create my own wedding dress.

When we first started planning the wedding I couldn’t imagine myself in a bridal gown. I was never one of these girls who dreams of  her big day or walks around in her mum’s high heels with a pillowcase veil pretending to be a bride. It’s just not me, so I had to do it my way. I relished the idea of turning my wedding dress into a work of art so I could walk down the aisle with pride. Originally I had planned to make it from scratch but I’m soooooo glad that I abandoned that foolish idea before I started!

To get the ball rolling I went to try on a few off-the-peg dresses. Having never worn anything like a wedding dress, it was impossible to know what I wanted. I had a vague idea of a prom style dress but didn’t want to rule anything out. I nearly fell for this gorgeous little number…

…but after flouncing around like a princess for a good half-hour, I had to relinquish the gown as it would not have mixed well with roller skates and bowling. Instead I had a go with the prom style dress I had imagined, and I was sold.

I did learn from dress number one that I love a bit of bling, and armed with that information I set about finding a base at which to throw as much sparkle as I could muster.

I found what I was looking for at Honeypie Boutique, an online wedding dress supplier with a healthy selection of vintage inspired dresses, all with glamorous names like Audrey, Lauren and Greta. I chose Grace, a simple satin bodice with sweetheart neckline atop layer upon layer of tulle skirts. I was a little worried as there were very few reviews I could find on wedding forums but I took a chance, placed my order, and was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the dress for the price. This was it in its virgin state.

Not bad on its own, but a perfect blank canvas for a crafty bride-to-be. As it turns out, a little too blank. The endless possibilities proved a little daunting and I needed some inspiration. A great excuse to recruit Mummy Monster and pop to London for the day. The dress collection at the V&A and the gorgeous fabric shops of Berwick street left us positively drooling with excitement. On the train home I sketched idea after idea, eventually deciding that sometimes less is more and settled on something like this

With my love of buttons and the wealth of pretty buttony goodness available on the internet, I couldn’t resist taking a little pearly queen turn with the project. Mr Monster began to get a little suspicious as packets of buttons kept dropping into our post box. I wanted to give the skirt a bit of sparkle so set about sewing them onto the skirts. What I hadn’t anticipated though was that they would all have to be sewn on individually to prevent the thread showing through the tulle. I wish I had counted how many I used, but I reckon it was a couple of hundred, all tied on and tied off individually by hand. And so the embellishment began…
As with all projects, naturally I got to that point where I stood back and thought “I don’t like it”. I think the enormity of the importance of the project started to get to me as well as a touch of crafters self-doubt. Thanks to the patience and support of a few friends, and of course my mum, I was able to bounce ideas around and eventually feel a bit happier about what I’d done. It all came together one evening when I was playing around with the idea of using some vintage lace around the waist. I needed my hands free to do something else so hung the length of lace around my neck briefly, caught sight of it in the mirror, and BAM! The lace halter-neck was born! Funny how things work out sometimes. All it needed to top it off was a waistband with a cute feature bow, and of course a few more buttons.

By the time I was finished (less than a week before the wedding, last-minute-Larry indeed), I was in love with my dress and felt like a fairy princess when I tried it on for the first time. What’s more, when Mr Monster saw me coming down the aisle, he loved it too. Mission accomplished.

So without further ado, let’s have a look at my dress in detail, starting with a shot from the day which gives you a glimpse of my handmade felt bouquet.

And a few of the dress in all it’s glory.

Blood, Sweat, But No Tears.

30 Sep

I have just this moment finished ‘The Dress’, and rightly so with only one week to go until the big day! Of course I can’t show you any pictures lest Mr Monster should see, but I see no harm in giving you a little sneak preview.

I am typing with a mangled finger as the last task was to sew the hem on the underskirts, in my haste to finish I managed to trap my finger in the sewing machine, adding blood to the sweat of the last few months of work. Thankfully I have held back the tears, even when the project wasn’t going to plan. I reckon there has been around 30 hours of work in this dress, perhaps more, and I am rightly very proud of what I’ve done. It’s been killing me that I can’t show Mr Monster as usually I consult him at various stages throughout a project for encouragement and to bounce ideas around. It’s been hard not to have him involved and to have that invaluable support which he provides. Hopefully though, he will love it on the day.

All I have left to do now is one last buttonhole. That can wait though as for now I’m looking forward to a hot shower, a glass of red, and a roast cooked by my soon-to-be husband. What could be better on my last ‘single’ Sunday?

Speaking of buttonholes, here’s what I’ve made for Mr Monster to wear on the day, complete with googly monster eye. What do you think?


Seams and Stuff…

1 Feb

Ooooo, what a marvellous day for little Miss Monster. I’ve spent a thoroughly wonderful day at Taunton’s Stitch Academy taking my first baby-steps into learning the ins and outs of technical sewing.

Sewing is my world, but as someone who has very much ‘picked things up along the way’, I’m ashamed to say that in many respects I know very little about the right ways to do things. My lesson started with a brief history of the sewing machine and some real back to basics stuff like needle sizes and machine working positions. I went on to cover a few different types of seams, inside and outside curves, and the right way to create gathers. The hours slipped by unnoticed as the veil of ignorance started to fall and I began to understand both my machine and the art of dressmaking that much more.

The one singular most amazing thing I learnt today was about changing the position of the needle. My new machine has 14 different needle positions to help create the perfect seam allowance. Such a simple thing, but one which has already completely changed the way I work and the quality of the seams I can produce.

I can see huge potential for techniques in terms of monster creation, and am excited about the idea of decking myself out in a new wardrobe of homemade creations thanks to my new-found dressmaking skills.

Now….to get started on my homework.


Dabbling in Dressmaking

28 Jan

I am a little bit proud of myself. Today I completed my first proper dressmaking project in twelve long years.

I wanted to start with the simplest possible pattern to make sure that it wouldn’t be beyond my ability and crush my confidence as I know what I’m like. If I try something and can’t do it then I can become very stubborn and start that whole “I didn’t want to do it anyway” thing. I chose something from the ‘Simplicity’ book, in the ‘sew easy’ section, clearly marked ‘easy’. I hoped it didn’t get much more simple than that!

And so today I have made myself a cute floral apron which admittedly is a tiny bit big, I made it in medium when I probably should have gone for the small, but regardless I am immensely chuffed.

So I started by cutting and pinning the pattern to the fabric. The keen-eyed amongst you will spot that I have made the mistake of folding the fabric in half the wrong way but luckily for this pattern it didn’t matter and I won’t make that mistake again.

I only had one minor hissy fit when I couldn’t work out how to construct the pockets but Mr Monster stepped in with his analytical mind and deciphered the pattern instructions for me.

Once I got to this stage I was feeling pretty pleased with myself

And from there it was only a few short steps to finish the apron off. Here it is in all it’s glory (a little blurry as it’s a dodgy self-take)

I have to say my new sewing machine is an absolute dream. I now have a simple dress pattern to attempt and I have to say, so far I’m really enjoying these first few baby-steps on my journey into dressmaking.

Queenie – The Love Machine

27 Jan

Oh my GOODNESS what a day it’s been. Fabric fans who have been following my little blog will know of my lust for a Brother Innovis-350 sewing machine, and that today was the day that through the help and support of my nearest and dearest, I was finally to get my mitts on one.

So this morning, after a broken nights sleep from excitement (it’s pathetic I know), I set off on the train to Taunton to go to my beloved Stitch Academy who had ordered the machine in for me to come and collect. When I got there, I got the most lovely surprise. I’d been given an upgrade!

The wonderful ladies at the Stitch Academy helm had ordered me in the Innovis-400 at no extra charge. I couldn’t believe their kindness and am completely over the moon with my new machine who shall hence-forth be known as Queenie. Lets take a few moments to admire her womanly curves shall we?

Brother Innovs-400

Brother Innovs-400

Brother Innovs-400She and I have spent the afternoon together, learning each others quirks and foibles. So far we are getting along just great and I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Now the challenge really begins. I’m pleased as punch that I can start monstering again as there has been a huge creative void in my life since I’ve been without a mechanical friend. BUT…I also need to start improving my dressmaking skills in order that I can tackle The Dress in time for my wedding in October. Fear not, I have a plan. I’m going to be having some one-on-one dressmaking tuition at The Stitch Academy alongside plenty of practice at home. I should have a whole new wardrobe in no time!

I have myself a little challenge to kick the learning process off and to test what I can remember having not really done much dressmaking since my teens. I’ve bought myself a really simple pattern to make an apron, and tomorrow, when I get up, I will be straight into the craft room to give it a bash. I shall consider it my second date with Queenie. I should have something to show you this time tomorrow so stay tuned…