When my husband and I decided to get married, I chose to make my own wedding dress. I wanted a low-key wedding, to do it almost in secret, and tell everyone afterwards. I don’t do centre of attention very well and to be honest, the least fuss the better as far as I was concerned. I didn’t want a big white wedding dress (I am 41 years old) and besides we couldn’t afford to do this. I decided I just wanted a low-key dress, to go with my low-key wedding.
I found my fabric before I decided on the dress pattern; it is a floral print from Ikea – they were selling at £2 per metre in the sale! Bargain! I picked up 5 metres, to be safe. I guess I vaguely knew which pattern I would chose but I was by no means fixed in my decision. I am a big girl and so whatever pattern I decided on I would need to grade up. I hadn’t done any grading previously, although I had taken a course on Burda Style. The pattern I had in mind – Betty Dress by Sew Over It – was a simple pattern really, and I felt it would be straight-forward to grade up.
I work full-time and have a condition known as ME/CFS, which leaves me extremely tired and in pain a lot of the time. Most of the time it is all I can do to get through the working week and get a minimal of sewing done, so while I thought I had plenty of time to make the dress, time was skipping on by and the date was getting closer and closer. About a week before the wedding I thought I should really get on with making the dress, not taking into account grading, fitting, toiles, and final adjustments.
So I began grading up the bodice, which was pretty easy because I understood the concept of grading (I chose the ruler method, not the split and spread) but it was more time consuming than I realised. The skirt pieces were easier – they were full circle skirt pieces and took next to no grading.
Once my pattern pieces were ready I cut a toile out of a duvet cover bought in a charity shop (fun fact: I am wearing it now while I write this!). Disaster struck when I run out of duvet to cut so I got creative and sewed two large scraps together! Job achieved. (as seen on the right)
While cutting the fabric pieces I decided to lower the neckline, which was simple enough with my curved ruler.
I tried on my toile, and I loved it!! I kept twirling – however there were some fit issues in the bodice. I thought perhaps I needed to do a full bust adjustment as the pattern is made up with a B cup in mind and I am… well.. who knows, but I am not a B! However, I checked my measurements and I didnt need a FBA. I did have fabric sticking out from my armhole which was annoying me. I thought perhaps I needed a larger dart but upon researching this is a problem with big busts. I drew a new dart in the right place on the bodice, transferred to the pattern piece, cut through the middle of the old dart and moved the paper up to close up that gap. I then made another bodice and that problem was solved. I love learning a new technique! I also had a bit of a gape on the neckline, so I did much the same there, re-drew the neckline et voila! The back could probably have done with a slight adjustment but it was good enough to leave as it was.
After a full toile, and three further bodices made up, I was happy with the adjustments and the pattern. The problem being it was two days until the wedding!
I decided to make up another toile to ensure I was happy and I was, so it was time to get out the real fabric. I’d changed my mind from the Ikea fabric and found something else. My real fabric was taffeta (£4 a metre from Dunelm) but what I hadn’t taken into consideration was I’d made my toiles in cotton and taffeta behaves differently. I made the dress up in taffeta but when it got to the stage of trying the dress on it became apparent that it was way too tight and didn’t look very pretty. I abandoned this dress and started again from scratch in the Ikea floral fabric – with one night to go!
As it happened, the Ikea fabric sewed up like a dream. I did french seams which took longer, but the result was so much better. And it fitted lovely. I inserted an invisable zip by tacking first and it worked wonderfully. I was just left to hem the circle. It seemed to take forever, and probably wasnt the best hemming in the world, but it worked and in the time left it was fine. I finished the dress at 2am the night before the wedding. I had to be up at 7.30 for a 10.30am ceremony!
In the morning I thought the invisable zip was a little loose, so I thought I would sew another line of stitching down it – what harm could happen?! I sewed too close to the zip and had to get the seam ripper out, only I ripped the actual zip tape and rendetred the zip unusable! I didn’t have time to put a whole new zip in, so I ended up sewing the seam together just inside of the zip and cutting the zip off!!! Luckily I was able to get the dress on and off without a zip anyway so that worked fine but it was a hairy moment!
In the style we set out in, we got the bus to the registry office; I quite liked we were sat on the bus and no one else knew we were about to be married! This is at the point I became quite nervous and went very quiet. If I could have the marriage without the ceremony I would have chosen this option but I had to do the next part.
We arrived at the registry office and met my son and brother-in-law who had come over from the mainland especially to witness our nuptials. We walked in and the registrar asked if we were here for the wedding of me and him. I said we are thee and I think she was taken aback because I was quite dressed down. We sat in the room while she wrote out the certificate and at this point it started to dawn on me, I am getting married! I still don’t think its fully settled in my brain.
The ceremony itself was quick and easy (thankfully) and no one burst in saying we should not be married! So, it went ahead. My husband said his vows very eloquently and looked very happy and dapper. I was a mixture of nerves and laughter, in all the wrong places. I kept missing out words and laughed when I agreed to honour and respect him! LOL It would have made a good sitcom! Then we put on the rings; he took my right hand and I had to correct him, and his ring didn’t fit properly (I’d rushed out the day before to buy them without him) so I had to push it down the finger. But we made it through and were declared husband and wife!
Afterwards we went to Prezzo for a meal, partly on them because I had a goodwill voucher after complaining about a previous visit, then we went to the pub. After we said goodbye to our witnesses, the husband and I popped to the supermarket to pick up some bargains, went and laid in the park for a while and then caught the bus home!
As I said at the beginning we didn’t tell anyone prior to getting married, and announced it on Facebook after the event. I can wholly recommend doing this. Not only do you give everyone a pleasant surprise but you also get to keep the wedding about the two of you.
I had been looking for a get away for after the wedding but we only had limited funds so opted for a city break to Cardiff. It wasnt anywhere either of us had been before, although my maternal grandmother was born there. We booked two nights, which was a nice amount of time to hunt down all of the fabric shops in the area have some us time away from home. It is a big city with lots of shops and I’d go back for that reason (although there are lots of other cities with the same so maybe not). Thanks to some input from some people on Instagram, I was able to find some great fabric shops including the city road shops (three fabric shops almost next to one another). I wont talk about the fabrics I bought here as I will do a separate fabric haul post but suffice it to say I did not come away empty handed!!
Here are a couple more photos:
The hubby feeling a bit lost in a fabric shop!
Lovely fabric shop in Cardiff
Obligatory arty cafe shot