At this point, my wedding is five weeks away. I am not a nervous bride-to-be. I’m content, if a little worried that the dreaded COVID-19 will surge again in the fall as predicted and my wedding will consist only of close family and friends and anyone else who is brave enough to show up. So far, half our guests have sent a reply; and among those half again are declining to come due to COVID-19. As for the non-responding half, who knows?
Still, Dan and I proceed as if it will go off as planned, because nothing is going to stop us from getting married. Not even a pandemic.
Cancel our wedding? Never!
I spend much of my free time stitching away and snipping away, in anticipation of September 26th, 2020.
The gown has become a symbol for me of a new future, and hope, and carrying on in the face of what many consider to be a world filled with obstacles and darkness. I don’t take such a dim view, but for me, little has changed. I’m an essential worker. I go to work every day, wearing a mask, sanitiizing everything in sight, and wearing vinyl gloves all day- which I have been doing since March. This year, I’ve moved, sold my house, nearly completed my second degree, and I’m almost ready to walk down the aisle. I don’t have time to worry about a pandemic. There are bigger things going on: the start of the rest of my life.
I’ve heard the stories about people who cancelled their weddings, and brides left wondering if they will ever get to wear their gowns. I’ve heard of weddings held via Zoom call. I have even heard of a bride and groom who held their wedding in church and streamed it to all their guests, who were sitting in the parking lot of the church watching by phone and tablet. When the happy couple left the church, they were greeted by the honking of dozens of cars, wishing them well from a safe distance.
Whatever shape our wedding takes, it will happen. If that means a very small ceremony and a family dinner afterward, with a party to follow a few months later, and a postponed honeymoon, that’s what will happen. Or, if that means everything goes as planned, with cake, flowers and a Belgian honeymoon the next week, we will be married and happily ever after will be the order of the day.
Either way, I’m wearing that gown, and our day is going to be perfect.
The leaves are working their way steadily over the bodice, floating over the tulle and my skin. I’ve been stitching them on my hand onto the skirt, but I kept getting this weird puckering no matter how careful I was. I determined that I must use an embroidery hoop for stabilizing the silk and keeping it taut enough that the leaves lay flat. Before, they just want to curl and bunch, much like actual leaves, and that was far from ideal. I didn’t have this trouble on the bodice, and that might be because the silk has been stabilized with interlining and lays flat. The skirt slips through my fingers while working, and while it feels very nice, it’s not very helpful.
Once I employed the hoop, and some carefully stitched on interfacing in strategic places, I found it was a better method. I ironed the interfaced leaves on, and then I’ve been hand-stitching everything in place. It allows for some freedom, though it also has made for a few mistakes that I hope will look natural and intentional at the end.
I also began to use invisible thread with the tulle, also by hand after a disastrous attempt using the plastic filament with my sewing machine. Don’t worry; I sewed a few leaves over the holes that it made. Just don’t tell anyone, okay? It looks pretty good now. I ended up turning it under twice to encase the raw edges of the tulle on the edges of the skirt, while the shoulder seams and back seam are just stitched together in a regular seam but with very small, tight stitches so they aren’t too obvious. I hope. Hemming it will be…er, interesting, but I’m trying not to think about that yet. There are five skirts on this gown, and I’m very likely hemming it by hand because it looks nicer and it will be more couture.
I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and although my blog maybe indicates otherwise- it’s the truth! I just make a lot of mistakes, because let’s face it, sewing is very hard. Given the option, I will do things the more difficult way, if I think the results will be better, and that’s where my perfectionist streak comes in. If ever a perfectionist streak had a place, it’s in wedding gown sewing, that’s for sure.
As you can see from the photos, we’re not perfect just yet. I have to finish the back closures, and I’m not totally sure what to do with it. I bought buttons, but might not use them. My fiancé advised me that I would hate myself if I added buttons to the back of the dress at this point. I believe he may be right, so currently, I think I will use a ribbon tie at the nape of my neck. We are not finished with the ribbon, as you can see from the photo, it hangs down, untidy, as I have only just finished the silk binding over the raw tulle edges. The leftover piece might become ribbon tie in the near future. I also have this odd wrinkling going on with the bodice tulle, but I believe this may be because the dress is on the dress form, and not on me. If you look closely, you can see the gap where the zipper doesn’t close. The dress form and I have slightly different proportions and things that look perfect on my dress form tend not to fit me. We will do a fitting soon and decide if this means something isn’t right. The gown is meant to sport asymmetrical appliqués, for a more naturalistic effect, much like a real tree which has grown with wind, sun, and storms shaping it.
Earlier, I also hinted that I was making a bolero for warmth. This is a midway stage shown here. I had big issues earlier with my lining and the back of the bolero bagging horribly, and discovered I had botched a seam. I ripped it all out (very, very carefully because we are almost out of silk) and repinned it, stitching carefully and slowly so it would go back in a better place. I also took in the back seam by about an inch and a half. It’s still kind of weird on the right side, and I might need to adjust my dart to fix that. Aside from those issues, it is a very charming jacket. I’m still playing with leaf placement, as you can see, and there are meant to be cuffs at the end of those sleeves that aren’t finished yet. I am toying with the thought of adding the buttons onto the cuffs, though they will not be functional.
I have to say, the gown is lovely. I intended for it to be a wearable work of art, and I’m excited that it’s coming along so well. I hope that when I walk down the aisle, my family and friends will admire my work and say how beautiful it is. I suppose if they want to tell me I’m a beautiful bride, that would be fine, too.
I like to hear about your sewing adventures and see your pictures!!! You are doing an AMAZING job!