Jess has given her blessing for me to blog about the project. Her family and friends are mostly in the UK and she would love them to be a part of the experience so this is a good way to share the journey with them as well as with my regular readers. So welcome along Jess's friends and family, I hope you like what you see and drop me a line anytime if you have anything you want to share!
First a bit of background. I met Jess a few years ago when she started dating Wade, who my fella and I studied with at WAAPA. Wade is an absolutely top bloke and I am pleased to report that Jess is a perfect match for him. When she rang me to tell me that Wade had proposed I could not have been happier! Then when she asked me to make the dress I didn't hesitate to say yes.
I haven't made any wedding dresses since I stopped working at a bridal design studio about three years ago, mainly because of the stress involved. I have done a couple of private contracts before and my brides have always been lovely, but I did have one very difficult sister-of-the-bride which soured the whole experience for me. That coupled with some of the bride- and maid-zillas I came across at the design studio really put me off, although making wedding dresses generally is still something I very much enjoy. I was happier drafting patterns and making samples for the shop rather than for actual brides. Call me crazy but I am sort-of thinking about going back to it again - the corporate world really doesn't agree with me and I'd love to work from home again!
I know for sure I won't have any problems with Jess. We are able to communicate well and understand each other and Jess is very realistic too. Also it doesn't hurt that she is absolutely gorgeous!
The wedding will be a barefoot affair, on a beach in the beautiful south-west with the reception at Wade's parents' bush block near Dunsborough. It's not until April next year, so I probably won't start the actual dress until November, but we just wanted to get our ideas together to see if we had nailed it yet or need to keep looking.
We have been snoop-shopping a couple of times (with one of Jess's bridesmaids) and Jess has tried on dresses that are both very high-end and off-the-rack. We were conscious of not wasting too much of people's time, and it was never the intention to knock-off someone else's hard work but it was important that Jess be able to see how she looked in a variety of shapes and styles before committing. That's the problem with custom-made, it's hard to know what you like and don't like until you actually put it on. There were some that looked good and some that looked great - lucky Jess has the sort of figure that doesn't look bad in anything - and I was able to get a feel for what she was looking for. The key points were:
• A sheer layer over satin
• A dramatic back
• Not too low cut in the front
• Some kind of draping to give movement
I decided to go with a fitted and lightly boned bodice with chiffon draped free-form over the top. I had a photographic reference of a dress with wide chiffon straps and a tied bow at the back so I incorporated those too.
This is what I mocked up with some poplin and polyester chiffon. You will need to use your powers of visualisation as it's very rough!
Vogue 8494 as a guide for the skirt.
The good news is that Jess loves it! It was a little big so I have fitted the bodice to her which, having many vertical seams, is easy to do. I will also lower the back substantially, it can go a lot lower and still be appropriate and the romantic style of the straps will make sure it doesn't get trashy. Generally though it has turned out a winner, which is great because I am very happy with it too!
I will put up a post on the bodice soon, to show how the under layer works and in the next few weeks we are hoping to go fabric shopping. We are thinking a silk satin with a bit of body, but not stiff, for the under layer, with silk chiffon over the top. We will most likely go for ivory although Jess is open to other colours, but given it's an outdoor event we will probably stay away from the whiter end of things.
I also have two weeks of corset class to catch you up on and I have finally finished the Featherweight Cardigan (although I haven't blocked it yet!).