Wedding dress ideas

We visited our venue (and totally geeked-out at the museum!) on Saturday and met with the wedding coordinator there so we now have a date – the rather auspicious 19 September 2009. Or to put it another way, 19.09.09 (09/19/09 for the Americans)!

Good thing we have over a year though, because we’re going to need every single day of that to save up and prepare for it. Oh my, the grand total was an eye opener, and we’re not being frivolous in the slightest with our plans!

Luckily, then, my grandmother has given me her gown from her wedding in 1949. She’s insisted I use it and NOT be afraid to cut it up, saying she’ll cut it herself if I don’t, or donate it to goodwill or sell it on eBay. I think it’s her way of not letting me get too scared about changing it or treating it like a relic or something. In any case, I’ve seen photos of it, but I’m going to make you all wait until it’s shipped over to me, cleaned, and pressed before I document its “before” state properly.

Until then, here’s my rough sketch based on the photos and my mom’s eyewitness account:

It’s got a high neck of mesh fabric, leading down to an off the shoulder collar (affixed with a beautiful brooch in the centre front), very long sleeves with a pointed, mid-hand hem, fitted princess-seamed bodice, back peplum, and full skirt leading to a three foot train. It’s made entirely of silk satin, is unlined, has a tied waist stay, and the only closures are a side zipper and five self-satin covered buttons at the back neck in the mesh area.

Now, for the dealbreakers – the measurements. The waist is 27 inches, which is doable for me to get down to in a year’s time, but the bust is a very scary 30 inches! BZZZZZ! Nope, I’m afraid you’ll have to console yourself with the at-home game, m’am… My ribcage at my absolute leanest was 32 inches, so there’s absolutely no way I could fit into the bust without surgically removing a few ribs. My mom (bless her!) even measured the seam allowances, which are all 1/2 inch, so I’d only gain an inch or so at the most by letting those out a bit.

So with the bust measurement being completely unworkable, I’m now in the fun territory of refashioning the vintage wedding gown to suit my body and my style. Luckily, the fabric in the bodice, arms, and train should be enough to work with, though there will of course be a thousand muslins before I wield the tailor’s shears…

Vogue happened to have a sale a few weeks ago so I put an order through the US site for all the wedding possibilities I’ve had my eye on, and it still turned out cheaper than buying two Vogue patterns here in the UK.

I thought Vogue 8191 might be a good basic dress pattern for mixing and matching and generally checking sizes and fit, but there’s nothing here I’m completely in love with. Vogue 2237 is a gorgeous gown, but a bit vampy for a wedding if you ask me. The bolero, on the other hand, looks fantastic and will more than likely come in handy for a mid-September reception on the patio, so I’m keeping that just in case. The big pattern to run away with my heart, however, is Vogue 2965. Oh, I still sigh when I look at it! The cowl neck top, the deeeeeeeeep V back, the detachable chiffon train. Oh yes!

So right now my plan is to morph the top half of 2965 into the bottom half of the vintage gown. Just eyeballing it, I reckon I can get the back and side panels from the material in the long sleeves, and the cowl (plus a waist piece) from shortening the train. And then I can add on the suggested detachable train if I feel I need it.

I’ll also be making the two bridesmaid dresses (my Man of Honour will be bringing his own suit!), so I bought a few patterns with them in mind, too:

I wasn’t necessarily thinking straight when I bought them, though, and so it wasn’t until afterwards that we hammered out the requirements:

  • length: above the knee or floor-length
  • FBA issues – both are curvy, busty girls, unlike myself!
  • I demands knits only for my pre-wedding sanity
  • They’ll wear the same dress, but with colours of their choice

Vogue 7488 is a men’s waistcoat pattern I bought with my Man of Honour in mind when I thought perhaps he should match the bridesmaids, but I am just so unbelievably sick of people asking me “what are your colours?” that I’m not going with colours at all now. Vogue 2091 got nixed by Bridesmaid #1 for being a really bad style for full busts, resulting in a “shelf effect”, as did Vogue 2879 for the same reason. But I am just as in love with 2879 as I am with 2965 above that I think I might make it for myself in a shorter length for a reception dress. Vogue 1027 got the go-ahead, but in a different hem length, so that’s still an option.

Also proposed was Vogue 8381 and the bodice B of Vogue 8386, but the search continues, and Bridesmaid #2 still needs to get her vote in. Once again, I’m very glad there’s plenty of time!

We still have a big stack of BWOF archives to go through yet, too, but I can think of few evenings more enjoyable than leafing through pictures of pretty dresses with a good friend and a nice bottle of wine!

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