Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Handmade Wedding Dress

Can we talk about wedding planning real quick here? That nonsense is a LOT of work. Especially if you happen to be the kind of person who likes to make things. Or the kind of person who procrastinates. Or, you know, both of those things.

This has been a long time coming: I'm making my wedding dress. Scratch that. I MADE my wedding dress. I never was the little girl who dreamt about her wedding and planned it all out in advance, but I had always kind of figured I would make my dress. That was cemented when Mike and I got engaged and I actually started looking at dresses. How much? For polyester?! Criminy! 

So it was decided: I would make my dress. I knew I loved lace, didn't want anything princess-y (more of a boho girl at heart), and that I wanted to be comfortable and able to dance. (And dance and dance and dance.) I even toyed with knitting it before abandoning that half-baked idea: our wedding is in June, and I hate knitting anything that's not wool. Early on, I decided that I would make separates, because it's much easier to convince yourself to make a skirt and a top than it is to make a *gown*. I've made outfits in a weekend, what's the big deal with one more skirt and top?

It's a Big. Deal.

When it's gonna be probably the most photographed outfit of your life, it's hard not to feel the pressure. When you buy the most perfect fabric for an unjustifiable amount (justification: IT WAS 20% OFF), the idea of cutting into it kind of makes ya sweat a little. When you have to make something absolutely perfectly fitted and you can't even pretzel your arms around to your back to button the darn thing up by yourself -- (Do you ask for help from a neighbor you've only seen in the hall? Do you bring it to work to fit in a bathroom stall with a friend? These are the questions.) -- well, in these cases, one might find themselves in just a mild sort of panic.

Obviously, those are the kind of moments that call for a superhero. 


The kind of superhero, or should I say superHUMAN, who has been teaching you how to deal for all of your life. MOM!

I'm not sure I can even quantify everything we got done the weekend she visited. We finished fitting so I could finalize the pattern. We built an arch for the ceremony. We bought trees. We planned decorations. We picked up supplies for the guestbook. We practiced embroidery techniques for the dress. She made me silk crepe bias tape (she's a saint, I tell ya). And probably biggest of all? We moved the furniture, washed the wood flooring, laid out the fabric, and cut everything out. And then I sewed 4.87 miles of french seams and told my mom she could never ever ever leave.

So that was beginning of April. Over the following month and a half, I stitched away, sewing the bodice almost entirely by hand, because it's lace, and that's what you do with lace. 

I learned that this isn't actually how you sew loops in for a button placket. I learned this after I sewed the loops in for a button placket. My loops are not all the same size and I did not for half a second even consider redoing this nonsense.

One evening I sat down to sew the buttons onto my dress. I counted and realized that I had inexplicably made 33 loops down the back - what a strange, uneven number. I had planned to use the buttons from my mom's dress, which had also been worn by her sister, and was originally her mother's gown from the 1950's. 33 is a lot of button loops, and I was struck with the thought that I probably should have counted the buttons on my mom's dress before making such an odd number of loops.

So I pulled out the dress and began to count the buttons. 25 down the back. 4 on each sleeve. No more, no less. I hadn't gotten emotional about the dress until this very moment, but I texted my mom as I started to tear up, and then went about the business of sewing 33 buttons onto my bodice, thinking of the happy days they had been buttoned up in years past.

And I also hemmed the thing by hand.

Because wedding planning, and sewing your own dress, my friends?

It is not for the faint of heart.

Realistically, I won't post again til sometime in July when we are back from our honeymoon. Stay tuned for the big reveal - our wedding is in just a few weeks!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Matching (AKA Lake Superior Ate My Hat)

Well. I started to write this post almost two months ago because I had made matching hats for me and my brother Paul last year for Christmas. I had some nice anecdotes about doing a Handmade Christmas (I think this is the year for our family ! ) and how it reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder and how they would make their Christmas gifts from bits and bobs of yarn, and I was all prepared to tell you the adventures my brother and I have taken these hats on.

And then I lost my hat (and mourned). But we're not at that part of the story yet!

Let's start with the process: terribly scientific, I just kind of made them up as I went. I might have ripped out and started over once or twice, but it was a year ago, so the disappointment of starting over has faded (or been blocked out). It's out of extra yarn from my senior collection, Knitpicks Wool of the Andes worsted weight, 2 ends for a heavier gauge, size... 11? needles. Forever obsessed with this deep teal. I made my pom poms with cardboard circles because no pom pom maker in existence will ever be big enough for me. (The pom pom was maybe too big, because my hat sometimes fell off my head from the weight of it. Little did I know this would be the end of the hat!)

The only photos of our matchingness! This was shortly after Christmas, 2015.

Not long after I made it, I took it for a blizzard trial run in Baltimore in January. A girlfriend and I went out to visit another dear friend from college, and got caught in that big ol' east coast blizzard. Our flight was cancelled and we got stranded for an extra couple days... not the worst to be stuck on vacation! I was super toasty warm in my cowl, hat, and big wool men's overcoat when we ventured out to a bar to play boardgames and enjoy some Natty Bo (National Bohemian) which I understood to be to Maryland what PBR is to Milwaukee.

Here's one more shot from Baltimore, after the sun came out.
So I think I probably took it to Alaska when I visited family in April, and maybe Paul brought his but we don't have photographic evidence.

Then we went to Seattle as a family and took a ferry, and my hat definitely didn't fall into THIS body of water.

Paul wore his hat while enjoying some news on a street corner in Seattle.

He also went on a side adventure to Idaho and climbed something (if you know Paul at all, you know he climbs things, sorry Mom) and his hat did NOT fall off while climbing to outrageous heights. Also, how gorgeous is this photo?!

The hat, plus me and my future husband, cutting down a Christmas tree while visiting my parents. (Ooo meet Mike! I don't know if you've seen him on the blog yet!) 

Okay so, we know this story has an ending (though amidst this rambling post, you might have been wondering if that was still the case!). On Christmas day, we decided to travel due to a major snow/ice storm in the forecast. There were some huge swells on Lake Superior, and I had my camera at the ready, so we stopped so I could get some shots. I climbed down to a stone covered beach, and started snapping away.

The photos were turning out great. I could hardly tear myself away, thinking that each wave was going to be bigger than the last! But finally, I started walking back along the beach, and paused to get one last photo.

As the wave rolled in, I realized the water was coming much higher up on shore than before. I stepped backward, trying to keep my feet dry. As I stepped, my hat flopped forward and fell off my head, right into the big water. 

And it was quickly swept further in by the waves. I tried to fish it out with a stick while ankle deep in the frigid water, but it was slippery and I didn't want to sacrifice my hat AND my dignity (also my camera) so I sadly watched it slip away.

Boots soaking wet and head slightly cold, I climbed back up the bank and trudged away. And that's the overly dramatic, terribly drawn-out tale of how I lost my hat in Lake Superior. (Paul still has his.) I guess I should make another?