This is the story of the first With Love and Lace . . . wedding dress; my own!
Like many brides to be after my other half popped the big question I immediately began collecting bridal magazines and started to develop an extensive Pinterest collection. I kept mood boards of all of dresses I liked and fantasised endlessly about my dream dress.
I found ‘the one’ on Pinterest. It was everything I could have dreamt of; elegant, vintage, sophisticated and intricately finished. I was in love.
Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be, I couldn’t find out anything else about the dress – not even any other images of it; all I had was a photograph of the back of it but I knew I would love to wear something like this for my big day.
I tried to put it to the back of my mind, as much as I wanted to make my own dress I knew it would be difficult alongside working full time and planning a wedding which was already full to the brim with DIY projects. I tried on some truly beautiful ‘off the peg’ gowns but I just couldn’t find anything I loved as much as this magical image.
So there was only one thing for it . . I would design my own dress using this image as my inspiration. I began by looking at the intricate beadwork and embroidery and enlisted the help of amazing Tambour Bead Embroidery Artist Janet Timms. I had the most wonderful time in her treasure trove of a home studio looking at her samples, past work and collection of beautiful beads.
I went away feeling throughly inspired and excited, knowing that one day I would need to learn the amazing skill of Tambour but for now I needed to leave it to the professional (following my wedding I went back for the most wonderful tuition in tambour – but that is a story for another blog post!). I collected embroidery inspiration from a wide range of sources – knowing that I wanted the embroidery placement to emphasise the shaping of the dress, mirroring what I had seen in the original pinterest dress but to also personalise it by using art nouveau motifs I photographed around our venue and from my invitations.
I set about pattern cutting and fitting toiles (fitting to myself in a mirror was quite challenging, usually my other half is my loyal assistant but as it was THE dress I had to work behind closed doors!) and roughly sketching my embroidery designs onto the pattern. I enjoyed every second and I knew that making my own dress was absolutely the right thing to do. I prepared and sent a design pack to Janet , including the silk tulle to be embroidered and the finalised pattern. She started working her magic to create the embroidered pieces ready for me to cut out and make into my dream dress.
I can’t even begin to describe the excitement I felt when the parcel arrived containing the embroidery. My heart leapt when I saw it, it is the most beautiful thing that I own and I will treasure it forever – it really is a work of art produced by a real artist.
Then began the challenge of putting together almost fifteen metres of the most beautiful silks. The bodice and underskirt came together easily and looked beautiful but adding the ten metres of silk tulle to create the panelled skirt was quite challenging – I had to wait until my fiancé was out on his stag weekend so that I could unfurl the whole dress and work on it in our living room as my studio space was far too small. I found it quite challenging working with so much fabric, I hadn’t produced anything on quite such a large scale since making my graduate collection and since then had been making lingerie and costumes for pole dancers which is something that obviously uses much less fabric!
I felt amazing in my dress, the silk lining felt exquisite and I loved every second of making and wearing my dream dress. It was really comfortable, it is made from a luxurious stretch silk crepe which felt like a second skin and I just loved the full magical skirt which I enjoyed swishing around and dancing in. And the best thing about making my own dress was that I knew that if it got damaged or torn I could fix it, so I didn’t feel precious about walking through mud or people treading on the train or spilling drinks on it. I just really enjoyed it, I went traipsing through fields, climbing on tractors and generally running around like a child without a care in the world just having the best day of my life.
I actually love every mark and damage, I haven’t cleaned it – it has party poppers and confetti and twigs wrapped in the hem and I feel like it is a piece of history, every mark carries a memory for me and I love it. One of my favourite pictures of the day is my dress thrown on the floor at the end of the day covered in confetti and streamers.
I just love the fact that I was able to have a dress that was so personal, so unique, and so me; and I knew that to be able to share this feeling with other brides to be would be a dream come true. And so With Love and Lace . . . was born.