Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bringing It All Back Home

Here's a post about a wedding dress I made a little over a year ago for my cousin Scott's then-fiancee (now wife) Emily (they were wedded in August 2008).

Scott and Emily live in Oregon and I live in Massachusetts, so the fittings were conducted by mail. First Emily emailed me some photos of dresses she liked. Based on these, I sent some sketches of dress ideas to Emily and she told me which ones she liked the best, or which parts of which dresses she liked best. Here are a couple of the preliminary sketches (sorry these are so faint):

From this collaboration we came up with the final idea for the dress, which would be a halter-style dress with an empire waist, asymmetrical floral embroidery on the bodice, piping under the bust, and lacing up the back (see sketches below).

Once the design had been decided upon, it was off to try to find a pattern to adapt, get fabric swatches for Emily to choose from, and make a mock-up from muslin for fitting purposes. Emily wanted the dress to have orange accents, as orange is one of her favorite colors. Orange is a vivid, vibrant color, but I was afraid that the contrast of orange with white or ivory might be too stark or harsh against Emily's soft, pale complexion. Here are the fabric swatches I was able to gather to send to Emily to pick from, gathered from the fabric shops in Chinatown:

I was searching for inspiration on how to incorporate orange into the embroidery on the dress in an elegant and subtle way when one day I was on one of my favorite shopping sites, Buy Olympia, and just by chance, I found this book: "Plants and Their Application to Ornament: A Design Primer", a reprint of an antique book featuring floral illustrations by Art Nouveau illustrator Eugene Grasset.

I thought the illustration of nasturtiums from the cover was perfect--Art Nouveau meets botanical illustration! Since Emily is a biologist, I thought this was very fitting and hoped that she would like the idea for the embroidery piece. She did, so I bought the book posthaste and used it to create the pattern for the embroidery on the empire bodice. I'd never done a big hand-embroidered piece before, so I was a bit intimidated. But I really enjoyed doing it, and was pleased with how it came out. Here is the embroidery in stages:

And here is the finished dress:

Below are some beautiful wedding photos that were taken by Emily's brother. These nicely capture Emily in the dress. Here's the happy bride and groom:

Here's Emily with Scott's dad, my uncle Gary:

And here's a great photo of Emily with her bridesmaids. This was taken near the wedding site:

Here are some great views of the back of the dress. Doing that long lacing gave me the devil's own time, but I think the results were well worth the effort:

Nasturtiums are an edible flower, so the wedding cake had nasturtiums on it, too.

And Fimo cake toppers of the bride, the groom, and their pets (dog, cat, and rat):

And here are some gorgeous potted nasturtiums that decorated the bride's parents' house at the rehearsal dinner, so you can see the genuine article:

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Little Sewing/Beading Project

So this is just gonna be a short post about this small project I did about a month ago. I should have included "before" and "after" pics, but I'm not terribly bright sometimes, so there are only "after" pics.

Awhile back I asked my sister Grace to give me some sweaters that she wasn't wearing anymore because of the color or cut or whatever. I told her I would dye them and embellish them so she would want to wear them again, then I would give them back to her. One of the items she gave me was a butter-yellow cotton/rayon blend surplice-front sweater. I took it and dyed it a spring green shade ("like new leaves", as my other sister Jamie described it) and hand-beaded a cluster of blue porcelain flower beads and milk-glass minty green leaves, with some pale blue seed beads scattering like stars. I hoped she would like it (Grace has recently gone toward more of a Russian metal-punk-goth look rather than more Victorian and girly as before). Fortunately, she did. So here are some pics of the beading I did. Hope you like!