Don't panic, I don't think I'll be giving any secrets away...James has seen the fabric and the pattern (I felt this was necessary to prevent any nasty shocks as I enter the room!), but he swears that being a bloke means he has no capability to visualise the finished article :)
You may breathe a sigh of relief when I tell you we're not talking about a traditional wedding gown here. I have an aspiration to get married in a brightly coloured 1950's style big skirted frock. In pursuit of this aim I found a wonderful designer/dressmaker by the name of Anna who lives locally (you can check out her gorgeous studio here and her blog here). She has kindly agreed to help me achieve my aim, and, by gum, I'm glad she did.
Anna runs vintage dressmaking classes and has a huge array of patterns to choose from. After an hour of browsing, we settled on a hybrid of the dresses below, teaming the voluminous skirt from the pattern on the left (using 6m of fabric!) with the boat neck bodice from the pattern on the right, but minus the sleeves and the pointy bit at the bottom of the bodice.
Next, I went in search of a fabric that would be in keeping with the style of the dress, but would be wowzers enough for a wedding. I headed off to London, armed with a fantastic list of shops to visit, thanks to bloggy friends who did a great job of providing me with recommendations. Soho, Edgeware Road, South Kensington - we did the lot. On the second trip, Mum and I ended up at the fabulous Goldhawk Road, where we purchased THE perfect fabric.
I LOVE IT!
...and, there's so much potential in the colours (the background is actually a dark jade green, I just couldn't get it to photograph!) for coordinating bridesmaids and flowers etc
Back in the studio, and with much help from Anna over the last few weeks, I have learnt to trace a pattern and adjust it for my measurements. I have learnt to properly mark and cut out pattern pieces for the toile (practice version, in my case, made from an old king size bedsheet) and to stitch the skirt together. I have also learnt to gather, tailors-tack and insert darts. And then, last Friday, I stitched the gathered skirt to the bodice pieces and tried on my toile.
The dress was a good fit, but at first we were both a bit "MEH" about the look. The skirt didn't appear to be that special, and the bodice looked boxy with a lack of waist definition.
(NB. this next bit is where the professional works magic!)
Anna got a spare voluminous petticoat out (which transformed the skirt) and jumped into action with her pins. We lifted the waistline an inch and a half (I think I must be high-waisted), dropped the bust darts an inch (there was a hint of comedy Madonna pointy bra going on!)...and no, Helen, this does not mean I'm tucking my boobs into my waistband (I had to giggle at that comment!)
We also took the waist darts in an inch at the front and back...and hey presto, a dress with some serious potential emerges! I was too pinned up to think to get my camera out so no pictures I'm afraid, but here is the bodice with all the alterations marked on.
(check out my newly acquired gathering skills!)
The next step is to unpick this, make the pencil adjustments, and then use these pieces to cut from the final fabric.....eek! In the real thing, I am going to need to master facings, linings and a hidden zip plus other techniques I'm sure I don't know about yet - so it's by no means plain sailing!