23 Feb 2011

The story of a gown

We had a lovely anniversary on sunday... thank you for the well-wishes and kind words. We went out for a special dinner of tapas followed by a concert by M Ward, who played as a one-man show (tuning his guitars and all) and was just magical with that haunting voice of his. I think he played "I aint never met nobody like you" on the piano just for us.

I had a few wedding related posts I wanted to share last year but somehow forget about them. What better time than now - so in the next couple of days I will be sharing around the theme, starting with the story of my wedding frock.

When I was a child I didn't dream up my perfect wedding gown, but I did think from time to time, and especially as I got older, that if I did get married one day I would want to wear something that suited who I was, that was comfortable, old-fashioned, and then that I'd like to make it myself or be part of the process. So when Alex and I decided to get married I thought about my favourite dresses... I certainly wasn't convinced it had to be white! And am actually still very fond of traditional Spanish wedding gown colours which are red and black.
I didn't go into any bridal shops... mainly because I gave myself a pretty modest budget. I visited one vintage specialty shop (where I found my 1940s honeymoon dress) but found nothing suitable on the bridal front. Then on one very very hot November day walking to university I visited a little second-hand clothes shop that had popped up across the road; I had no real hope of finding much at all but went in anyway.... and then in the back corner of the room was a little cream 50s prom dress:

It look tiny and I doubted I would fit into it, but tried it on anyway - and it fit like a glove. It was polyester taffeta with bridal net over the top, a satin waist band, a lovely round neck and a V-back.
I thought about wearing it as it was but it had a number of stains and discolored spots - and we could tell it was polyester which is really not great for wearing in summer (or anytime if left to me!) Mum and I made the decision to very carefully unpick each piece and re-make it using new materials - a lovely silk taffeta, bridal net with a silk and cotton eyelet lace around the middle. All up I think our materials (and the vintage dress) cost $330. Of course that doesn't include the time and energy spent creating it and the fact that I have one loving, incredible, thrifty mother :)
We modified the design a little with the lace around the middle of the dress instead of satin and by attaching a little line of taffeta yo yos on the back of the dress to cover up the zipper. Yes, the yo yos were sweet and uncanny but we never anticipated them exploding on the day! After the ceremony as lots of people hugged us a couple of them began to unravel - luckily mum kept a pair of little scissors in her bag to cut them off as the night wore on!

Soft and comfortable and swishy - it was a perfectly lovely thing to wear.

So much so that I'd like to keep wearing it. I'm ruminating on whether I should dye it - and if so, what colour? There is a place in the city that professionally dyes wedding and other dresses for not very much money.

I'm thinking midnight blue.
emerald
or mulberry

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