Thursday, 18 August 2016

Silk Wedding Ties

When I originally wrote my list of what I was planning to make for the wedding, ties didn't feature on it at all. It was only when I read a blog where someone had made their wedding dress, their bridesmaids dress, and attempted to make their grooms whole outfit that I thought I wasn't being ambitious enough.
 In all seriousness though, I thought it was a lovely idea to make part of the grooms outfit too, to make it extra special. I didn't fancy making his suit and he can be pretty picky when it comes to things like shirts, so I settled for the tie.
When we had decided on poly silk/satin for the bridesmaids I realised the same fabric would work for ties, and it would mean the colour was a perfect match. So I planned to make one for all the men in the wedding party.
This was really something that was supposed to be 'ONLY if you have time', but once I got the idea in my head I got carried away as usual. I ended up making them when really I should have been concentrating on the bridesmaids dresses!
After a spot of google research, I found this article, which I found overwhelmingly helpful for constructing a tie. The only problem was, they never mention which pattern mentioned they use. I plumped for Burda's Osman tie, as it didn't seem too skinny and was quite an inexpensive download. Annoyingly I found out later Sew Over It also has a tie pattern.
Mr Makes didn't fancy having his face in it...but wanted to show off his beard growth!
I didn't do the tip as instructed in the pattern, instead using the article above to do a more professional finish. For the tie lining fabric I used a similar curtain lining from eBay. When it came to folding up the tie around the lining, I found that this pattern had an extra fold-in. So at the centre seam it would be several layers of fabric on each side, and as the silk I used was already medium-weight, it would just be too thick.
I cut down the pattern so that after folding the edges in there would be just one fold to the centre. In retrospect, the fabric I used was probably a little on the heavy side anyway, as they didn't have as much fluidity as I would have liked. But then it was the perfect choice for the dresses!
The main centre seam has to be sewn by hand in silk thread. This was actually a blessing as it meant I could pin each tie together, and then take them with me when I left to work in London for 3 days each week without my machine. I ended up sewing 5 of them one sunny afternoon sat in a Wandsworth park for several hours!
I also ordered some cute handmade labels from this Etsy shop so I could sew one in each tie, and mine and the bridesmaids dresses.
As well as his tie, I made a little pocket square for my groom just a few days before the wedding. It's just a simple 15" square of silk with double fold edges. For tips on how to fold them try Brit & Co's article.
I made him a little wedding present too... a pair of boxers! Despite the fact they have reindeer on them, the pair I made him for Christmas are worn as often as the washing machine allows, so I thought it was about time he had a new pair...
Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Tips on Baking Your Own Wedding Cake

When I told people I was going to make my own wedding cake, and dessert table, that seemed to be the thing that pushed them over the edge. Make your wedding dress?... sure, bridesmaids dresses even but the CAKE???! Which is kind of ridiculous really. I might be more of a sewer than a baker nowadays, but I wasn't planning anything too difficult. And whilst the cake would have to be done nearer the big day, my dress was finished with weeks to spare, so the two didn't interrupt each other.
As well as my cake, my mum and I made various things for the dessert table. Lemon cheescakes, chocolate mousses, profiteroles, cupcakes, brownies and other treats. Unfortunately they went down rather too well and I haven't found a single photo of the dessert table before it was demolished by the hoardes!
I wrote about my practice cake a few months back and my DIY cake topper, but I thought I would share what I had learnt when it came to the real thing. So here are a few tips...

  • Make it in advance and freeze it. - Even if you're not making a cake that is usually made far in advance like a fruit cake, sponge cakes can easily be made ahead and frozen. Contrary to what you might think, freezing the cake after wrapping it well in Clingfilm actually keeps it moist. I took out the largest layer the night before I iced it and the smaller ones just an hour or so. They are also easier to cut and ice if still slightly frozen. Every dessert we made was also made in advance and frozen, and you would never have guessed.
      My timeline looked like this:
      The weekend before - Make all desserts and wedding cake.
       2 days before wedding - Take biggest layer of cake out of freezer and make icings.
       1 day before wedding - Take all desserts out of freezer. Take cake out, ice and sandwich layers.
       Day of wedding - transport to venue, stack layers and decorate.

  • Think carefully about what you plan to make - Given that we had a very DIY wedding, I wanted a cake and desserts that needed very little to no work on the actual day or day before. The cake just needed sandwiching together, and I chose desserts that could be frozen as is.

  • Let someone else arrange the cake on the day - I was constantly told by our vicar, my mum, mother-in-law, the hairdresser... that I could do all the DIY-ing I liked until the actual day, when I would have to delegate jobs. As difficult as this was for me, its true, you want to enjoy every minute of the day and concentrate on getting married. Mr Makes' mum kindly stacked the layers of the cake on the day and did a beautiful arrangement of fruit and gypsophilia around it.

  • Think about how you will store it and transport it. - Each of my layers was quite tall so I had to get some deep storage tubs. Make sure they are airtight so your cake won't dry out overnight.

  • Practice - Practice and perfect your cake recipe, even its a straightforward sponge. And practice the entire process, from baking and freezing to assembling the cake. Then you know how long it will take, and any issues you might have.


I'd definitely recommend making your own cake if you like a spot of baking, or enlist a family member to do it for you. Cake is one of those things that you can really save on as ingredients cost very little and its just a case of investing time and love into it.
Emily Kate

Sunday, 31 July 2016

A Lovely Liberty Circle Skirt

A bit of a break now from the wedding related posts... (there's just a few more I promise!) and onto a bit of more simple, selfish sewing.
We decided to have a bit of a break between our wedding and honeymoon, just a couple of weeks, but enough that we could relax a bit and take in the wedding day. Although it did mean going back to work too.
 In my mind, a couple of weeks was enough to make a few items of clothing for honeymoon right? I even intended to make a swimsuit. In the end though, it would have been a rushed job, so I stopped, and you'll have that to look forward to by the end of the summer. Not that i'll have anywhere to wear it though! So when it came down to it, after a busy week of work, a birthday and then a day where I just vegged out on the sofa watching Downtown Abbey... I had time to make just one item for the honeymoon.
I'd had my eye on this fabric for months after spotting it in Fabric's Galore a while back, but resisted as I was in full wedding sewing mode. Its a bright Liberty tana lawn cotton, and my first thought was actually, i'd love some curtains made out of that! Given that Mr Makes' first response was 'It's quite... bright, dear.' I think it will just have to be a skirt for now.
After my recent Betty dress obsession, and then my full skirted, full pouffe wedding dress, I am all about the circle skirts right now. They're easy to do, can be made out a variety of fabrics, and are just very flattering since they cinch you in at the waist.
With this skirt, as the tana lawn is very lightweight, and I didn't want a bad case of VPL; I decided to underline the fabric with a simple white cotton lawn, and treat them as one from then on. For the waistband I interfaced one side of the strip of the main fabric, and folded it widthwise. I sewed the ends together and turned it right side out, poking out the corner. I then attached the waistband, and stitched in the ditch to keep it down on the inside. I made the waistband a bit longer than the skirt so I could them overlap the extra bit and finish the closure with a couple of hooks and eyes.
The pattern I used for the skirt is the same one I made for my wedding dress, so it's a little on the tight, I'm-not-eating-anything-it's-my-wedding-day side. I already have plans for at least a few more circle skirts/dresses from my wedding dress pattern so I may just add a little extra room at the side seams, for those days when i'd like to eat.

Emily Kate.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Bridesmaid Dress Saga

I think I might be about ready to talk about THE BRIDESMAID DRESS SAGA.
I had just the two bridesmaids, my sister, and my husband’s sister. If I’d have had anymore than that I think trying to make their dresses as well as my own, plus everything else I DIY-ed in the end, it would have been nigh on impossible in just the 10.5 months we had. But I’m sure I would have gone for it regardless.
I was extremely lucky to have two lovely ladies who were perfectly happy to wear a dress I was going to make them, long before they knew what it would look like, or the amount of prodding and poking it would entail. I decided on navy blue for the colour early on, and I knew I wanted them to have a full 50’s style circle skirt with a petticoat like mine, only shorter. I toyed with the idea of the Betty pattern from Sew Over It, but decided I wanted something a bit more occasion-dress like for the bodice, and they weren’t sure on a boatneck style. The Collette Macaron was also a contender, but in the end we plumped for Salme Patterns Yoke Dress, and that’s really where things started to go a bit wrong.

I used the link I was sent to print out my pattern, but decided to only print out the bits I needed, as I always do. I was aware there was a limit to how many times you could access the pattern link before it expired, but I didnt realise there was also a time period of just 3 months. (mostly because the other side of the pond y’all love to put dates the wrong way round and 4/12/16 to me is the 4th December….) So I had the pattern, but no instructions. I figured I could email them and beg for them to send me the instructions only again. I sent two emails, commented on a blog post, tweeted them. Nothing. So then I figured I’d just have to make do, surely I’ve been sewing long enough now that I can manage without.
The pattern doesn’t include seam allowances, but I found it entirely confusing for there to be some places to not add any, and one place where I had to add an inch. Really I think it would have been better to include them. There were no notches on the pattern. Given that it involves sewing a difficult curved seam I think that’s kinda ridiculous.
Sizing was difficult. Both of my girls are pretty short, but well endowed in certain areas so I had to grade between several pattern sizes in one case. To be honest the choice of pattern, one with waist darts, rather than princess seams like my own, was never going to fit closely as I was trying to make it. I did a bodice toile for each of them, then a full mock up in polycotton, then the actual thing. Even then I ended up redoing the top chiffon section on one 3times, (once I managed to sew the wrong girls upper bodice pattern piece to the dress!) and both ended up having to have the opaque neckline lowered as a couple of centimetres too high made it look frumpy.

The satin fabric I used was from Bridal Fabrics, who have an amazing selection. It was actually a polyester satin called ‘Contessa’ but didn’t feel cheap at all. I spent hours pouring over different fabric colours online and ordering samples and this ended up being the perfect Navy blue, not too dark, or too close to royal blue. It was also non-snag which was a godsend when I was ripping sections out to start again. The chiffon was cationic (not a clue what that means) chiffon from the Remnant House, and matched the satin colour perfectly.
In the end I did managed to get them done with around three weeks to spare, which although pretty good for me is much later than the 2 months beforehand I had originally planned for. Did they fit perfectly? No. But when it came to it I was much happier with them then I thought I would be. They looked pretty close to perfect, they suited both of them, and they seemed to really enjoy swishing about the dancefloor in their full skirts and petticoats (who wouldn’t?!) In hindsight, if I was to rewind the last 6 months and do them again, I’d use Simplicity 4070, the same bodice I used for my own dress, and draft an overlay myself.
And although I hate to be negative about a pattern, especially an indie pattern company, I just wouldn’t recommend the yoke dress. As an idea, its gorgeous, but the actual pattern is lacking a few things to help, and the support just doesn’t seem to be there from the pattern company itself if you get stuck.

I don't have many photos at the moment so will update this post when the professional pics come in!

Emily Kate

Sunday, 17 July 2016

10 Tips on Sewing Your Own Wedding Dress

**Disclaimer.** I have only sewn one wedding dress. It went down pretty well with the wearer though (myself!) so here are some tips for making your own.

First things first though, read. Read any blog you can find where they’ve made their dress. Read sewing books, couture sewing books and bridal couture books. Some links I found helpful… my advice!

  1. Know your limits. – Now I don’t mean limit yourself as such. I learnt so many new things sewing my dress than if I’d just used what I already knew. But if your dream dress is a lace fit and flare, you’ve only been sewing a couple of months and the wedding is in 6 months, you may need to scale it back a bit.
  2. Start early- I actually work much better under pressure, so even if we had ended up with an 18 month or 2 year engagement, I’m not sure I would have got round to starting that much earlier than I did. That being said, I had decided on the dress design  and the pattern 9 months before, although sewing didn’t start until 7 months before. Bear in mind the fitting can take as long, or longer than the sewing of the finished dress.
  3. Ask for help. – I don’t really like asking for help generally, I guess I’m quite a proud person. But a wedding is one time in your life where you are probably going to need help from friends and family. You can’t fit a toile yourself, even if the other person doesn’t really know what they’re doing, you need someone to pin you in at least. If you’re not confident though, definitely ask a seamstress friend, or book a sewing lesson and have someone fit you. Ask google if you’re stuck on a technique. Blog about it, or instagram it, the sewing community is pretty awesome, and there will be someone out there who can help.
  4. Have a back up plan. – The dress I decided to copy had scallop lace edging along the neckline and armholes, like mine did 😄. I wanted to recreate that, but decided early on that if I couldn’t find a suitable edging, or work out how to do it invisibly, or if I just plain ran out of time, I could do just white satin bias binding instead. If I had really struggled with the design I chose, I would have been happy to resort to a white version of a tried and tested pattern I loved, like the Betty dress from Sew Over It.
  5. Know your reasons - This really links in with point 5. I wanted to sew my own dress, for the sense of pride and achievement I would get from walking down the aisle in it. You might want to because it will be cheaper, or because then you will have a totally unique dress. Just know what your main motivation is. As I really just wanted to walk down the aisle in something I had made, I would have been happy in a simple white cotton dress, if that’s all I could manage. But if it was just about saving money, than I might have been pretty disappointed if I had to go to a back up plan, so taking a design to a seamstress, or a preloved dress might be a better idea.
  6. Don't sweat the small stuff - I hemmed the lining on my dress a few months beforehand, but then realised it was hanging below the main silk fabric in places. I left it, and ended up redoing it a couple of weeks before the wedding, long after the rest of the dress was finished. It wasn’t great the first time, as haboatai is so difficult to work with, but the second time was even worse, a bit of a rushed job with a terrible iron. I didn’t really have the time or inclination to do it again so figured it would do, no one would see the lining anyway. But the night before the wedding, all I could think was maybe I should have re-hemmed it?!!! No. People will not notice that your lining is not really neat, or that your spacing is slightly off on the odd button. And when it comes to your actual wedding day, you won’t either.
  7. Practice- if you’ve never done it before, make a toile/muslin. Make lots of toiles. I ended up doing around 4 versions of the bodice, before I was happy enough to do a full toile, and then it had more adjustments after a final fitting. I also practiced the boning, sewing with tulle, the lace edging, and even the handpicked zip. Anything that was new to me, I practiced.
  8. Don't listen to the naysayers.- I had a lot of people tell me 'You've taken on too much, how will you get it all done in time'. The majority of the time these were people who didn't know me really well, extended family, friends of friends. Only you know what your schedule is like, and how much time you are willing to give up. As I don’t have a 9-5 job, I knew I had quite a bit of time to work with, and being self employed I could just take on a bit less work if needed.  
  9. Don't give up too easily. I'm not saying don't give up whatever happens. If it's the day before, you're stressed, not sleeping and you've got a long way to go before you're finished then by all means resort to a back up plan. It's just a dress. At the end of the day you are marrying your best friend/love of your life/insert equally soppy description here and they should marry you in a sack if that's the only option.
  10. Be proud. - Whatever happens, whether you ended up with exactly what you had in mind in the first place, or if you had to resort to a backup plan. You made it. With your own two hands. That's something the vast majority of people couldn't do. So walk down that aisle with your head held high, because you should be damn proud of yourself. And you can bet the man at the end is proud of you too. 

Good luck!

Emily Kate.


Monday, 11 July 2016

My Wedding Dress!

Well, the big day has finally been and gone and my dress had it's first, (and last :-( ) outing. And it was perfect. Everything that should have gone wrong...didn't (well with the exception of one broken down car!) and even the British weather came through for us in the end.

It had been so long since I'd finished my dress by the time the wedding rolled around, almost 3 months, that I had almost forgotten I had made it. It felt like a lifetime ago, when we had different jobs and lived in a different city.
There were times when I tried it on beforehand, when I wondered if it really did look okay and if I'd made the right choice. I thought it might look a bit too twee and make me look young. I worried it would look homemade and people would think I was ridiculous.
But when it came to putting it on, on the day, with my hair and make-up all done, the shoes and the bouquet, and finally taking it outside into the natural daylight, I couldn't be happier with it.

It fit like a glove, all credit to my seamstress friend who helped fit it of course, and was comfortable to wear all day. Not once did I need to hitch it up, loosen anything or adjust it all, except move the poof out the way a bit when I walked about. I felt amazing in it, and it was flattering too, making my waist look smaller.
 I danced all night and ran about all over the place saying hello and goodbye to people and never having to worry about tripping over it.
It was the most fun dress. Ever. There's nothing quite like swishing a full circle skirt and petticoat about on the dance floor to a live band.

Most of all, it was very me, and looking back I can't believe I considered for a moment that it wasn't.
Emily Kate. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Sewing With Chiffon

So it's been a while chaps...I apologise. I'd love to say its because I've been off gallavanting or sewing myself silly... but really I've been stressing. I'll do a post about the Bridesmaid dress saga soon...but I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it just yet. But I am NEARLY DONE!! So today I thought i'd briefly share with you just a couple of tips for sewing with chiffon.
So you're thinking of using chiffon for a project?
Tip Number One.  Don't. Use something that will be less slippery and not give you sleepless nights. Oh fine if you insist.
Tip Number Two. Use tissue paper when cutting out your pattern pieces. Lay tissue paper down, then the fabric, then another sheet on top. You can even cut on the fold and put a third piece between the layers, and it'll be just like cutting paper.
Tip Number Three. Pour yourself a large glass of wine.
Tip Number Four. Gelatine. This tip I found in the depths of the internet saved me.
Soak your pattern pieces in water. Make up a bowl of gelatine mixture with leaves or powder according to the packet instructions. Add your material to the bowl and leave it to soak for ten minutes (while you drink your wine). Squeeze out the gelatine water and leave it to completely dry. Now you can iron your chiffon and it sews just like a crisp cotton! It may look a bit streaky and odd, but after you've sewn all you need to, you can give the garment a handwash in the sink and the gelatine will come right out with a bit of washing powder.
Happy Sewing!
Emily Kate.