Wednesday, March 30, 2011

How to design your wedding dress.

So begin the wedding dress pages!
Its been a long time coming but I will begin with my wedding dress, just to start at the start. 

Although it is a very personal project, I want to share how I came to decide on the dress that I made for my wedding, as many women seem to be overwhelmed by the sheer scope of "wedding dresses" out there. 

My first Tip is: DON'T LOOK AT WEDDING MAGS. They will clog you mind with white fluffy catastrophes of archaic wedding bad-ness. Look at dresses everywhere. Whatever you think suits you can be made into a "wedding dress". 

I chose to make my dress because I couldn't imagine wearing white, or something off the rack. 
My most significant source of inspiration was Ginger Rogers and the 1930's musicals she starred in, and all the costumes, of course.

The particular scene that I have loved since childhood, is called "Night and Day", a song written by Cole Porter. Check it out; sublime.

Her dress is a goddamn killer; I still don't really understand how it was made; perhaps that can be a life goal. 

So I simplified how I thought it was made, it and chose a colour I loved, that would go with the:
B. season, and 
C. style of the wedding

For me, these were, in order; country/bush, spring and "vintage".
For each of these reasons, I decided that white was inappropriate. And, Boring, with a capital B. 

Consider these major points to make your dress choice appropriate and meaningful; It's great to wear a ball gown in a paddock, but you need to change it somehow to make it fit into your particular wedding setting.  

Design for Wedding Dress  © E.Christian 2009

I came up with a design that felt modern and still classic enough for me (being an old-fashioned kinda gal).

It comprised a dusky pink georgette dress with cream satin under-dress, to lighten the whole look. I wanted it to be luminous, even though it wasn't white.
I chose a t-shirt top because I like  simple lines, and replicated the layered tulle Ginger dress with layered georgette bands around the hem . 

I chose a circular construction to get the fullness, made from super-soft, drape-y fabrics, to achieve the elegant fall of the gown. 
I also factored in that the October evening reception, in the garden, would be cool, and so my mum created a chocolate and pink knitted bolero cardie. It was sublime.

This all became clear over the months of preparation for the wedding, amongst deciding things like menu, venue design, ceremony, drinks, cakes, etc etc. I luckily had the freedom to change my mind because I was making it, and left it until 2 months before the wedding to really get stuck in and make it.

Another learning curve was underwear. My Tip 2, is: Decide on the dress first, then the underwear. Seems obvious, but I had to re-engineer my layers because of the transparency of cream satin against my pink skin. I ended up making a "Franken-bra" which had a soft layer of silk attached to the underside, to act as a primary layer between me and the dress; an unattached lining. Also, if you are wearing white/cream/ivory, you MUST wear flesh-coloured undies; white will show through. Durr.

The cream satin dress went over the top of Franken-bra and all the hosiery. The fabric was bought from Tessuti, and I chose a classic 1930's bias cut to create an ultra-slinky under-dress to support the georgette.


It has a darted "negligee" bodice that cuts right up to under the bust, to take full advantage of the drape of the bias cut skirt.

I cut the sides of the skirt very wide, almost horizontal, so the side seams are almost on the straight grain. It gives amazing fullness to the skirt whilst maintaining the slinkiness.

Dressing with my Mum
 Then we had the pink georgette dress over the top. I bought this fabric from Clegs in Melbourne (a far superior Lincraft, if you're in Victoria).
Silk Faille found in the Tessuit remnant bin.
The colour is called "Chartreuse".
Like the alcohol. 
I found the sash fabric at Tessuti, and thought it was pretty brilliant, and it just went with the dress so well; it gave it the pop it needed to make it modern.

I also added strips of the bias georgette across the shoulders and sleeves to add dimension and interest, as it was actually an incredibly plain dress, all in all. These mirrored the hem strips and pulled it all together.

Pearl reproduction Edwardian buttons, $4 a packet.

Dusky Pink wedding dress with chartreuse silk sash. 

And then we had a really big party.... and afterwards the dress was hand-washed by my mum, and turned out perfectly. 
This is why we use silk, people! 

I hope this has helped somebody out there decide on a bit of a different path to wedding-dress happiness. I had never envisaged my wedding dress before I was engaged, and I am so happy I went for a (slightly) non-traditional dress. 
Tip 3: Choose what you love and what is appropriate to your event context, and you cant go wrong! 

Next week; Summer 2011 Brides, sneak peeks!

All photos by Hanna Hosking of Hang Studio. Thanks Hanna, you were awesome. x