DIY Wedding Gown #2 – Winter

We’re already getting some spring sunshine and the cherry blossoms are peeking from it’s bud but I’ve yet to post up the winter gown!

So here we go!  My inspiration initially was the Oscar de le Renta gown with relatively sturdy lace and flowy back.  I attempted to recreate and rather than drafting it from scratch, I bought a pattern with a similar shape and thought to alter it later.

After doing some shopping, I realize that the lace to make that dress cost minimally $80/meter and the amount of fabric to create the flow would be just as extravagant.  That being said, all Oscar de la Renta gowns start at $5500 so either way it’ll be a steal.

Searching for more inspiration, I just went gown shopping and found the red dress by BCBG (somehow not on their website) which retails just under $400.  I liked the fulllness from the layering so I thought I could still incorporate the blue (winter theme colour) into those layers.

One thing I hate about patterns – the sizes always fit way bigger than it says.  So according to my measurements, and throwing together a quick muslin, I ended up being able to wear the dress with room to spare with all my clothes underneath.  So I pinned it to a professional dressform with similar measurements to mine.

Then altered the patterns based on the amount I pinned away.

And then made two versions – dress and lining – and the foundation with boning to keep the dress from slipping down.  Finally, hand-stitching the lining to the zipper so it’ll be invisible and perfect!

And FAIL!!!!  Not to intentionally flash boobs, but look at the horrendous shape it gives the bust.  I could barely look at it without almost crying.

I couldn’t continue with making the dress knowing how it’ll look.  But at the same time, didn’t want to start from scratch after hours (every evening for a week) of work I put into it.  At the end of the day, sucking up and learning from my mistakes was the only option.

So I put a bra on the dressform and stuffed it, ran several muslins through until it fit properly, and then made the foundation first to make sure it looks good on.  Instead of doing a regular lining, I made it with white flannel to add an extra layer of warmth and softness since I knew that the location of the shoot would be somewhere freezing cold.  Jason really pulled through here and helped me through a few hours of cutting and marking each new piece.

And finally…

See the difference?  The angels are singing and beams of lights everywhere!
Now we can continue with the bottom of the dress.  Measure carefully for a accuracy and write it down so you don’t forget (keep in mind seam allowances).  There are 3 layers to give the look on the BCBG dress (the actual dress had 4 layers but way too much fabric to cut…)

Then, sew each piece together individually.  Make 6 of them.  Attach them all together with panels of the dominant fabric (crepe in this case) in between.  Attach to the bottom of the dress and we’re almost done.

Since it’s a winter shoot, it wouldn’t be complete without some sort of cover-up.  I have a pattern for a cape but the original design is way too heavy for the look of the gown so I made a few changes with muslin first to make sure it falls nicely at the shoulders.

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I personally have never worked with wool or any fabric I couldn’t mark with chalk, so I ended up learning something new too – tailor tacks.

The final process wasn’t too difficult except trying to sew through 4-5 layers of the wool.  To close the top, hand-sew a hook and eye to make it easier.  You can attempt to make a buttonhole and use a nice button but the machine I was using was just not reliable enough for me to take that chance.  Instead, I made a simple flower using the leftover chiffon from the dress.

I didn’t get pictures of this part but I added little circles of chiffon (cut by Jason ) along the gown to give it the ‘snowflakes falling on snow drifts’ kind of feeling.

I’m happy with the outcome not because it’s the most amazing design ever.  I’m just so happy it’s done and fits well.  To borrow a movie quote:

From failing you learn. From success…not so much!

AUNT BILLIE, Meet the Robinsons (2007)

Photographer – Jun Ying of Kunioo  assisted by the talented Miya Gu
Bouquet/boutonniere – Lisa Wong of Blush Floral Designs
Makeup/hair/styling – Elena Tsang (me!)
Special thanks to –  Tiana Lam for the scarf; Dom Voo and Aaron Yip for lending us winter coats; Ursula Tsang for being our photo shoot assistant in the snow 🙂

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DIY Crystal Hair Pins

A couple of my brides this year introduced me to BHLDN – the wedding line under the same company as Anthropologie.  I am in love with both lines because all their items are gorgeous, classic and unique.  Vintage-classic brought back to life 🙂

I was scanning for hours, pinning practically every item to my Pinterest boards, when I came across this:

Wow…pretty…
I love the whimsical look of the pins and the fancy name (Dewed Vines Hairpin) also helps set the mood.  However, with all the expenses of wedding planning, I could never justify spending $140 on two hair pins.

So I did some research here and there.  There are hairpins that are similar on Etsy and other websites but they are all fairly pricey.

One day in the summer, by total fluke, I was driving by Beazu – a wholesale bead store – about a week after it opened and I whipped around the block so I can go in and take a better look.  I was in DIY HEAVEN!  Spent hours in there trying to plan out what I wanted to make.  I found some great items to recreate these beautiful pins.

A box of tiny spools of gold wire (I think it was about $12-15), a bag of clear 4mm bicone Swarovski crystal beads ($11.62), and a bag of crystal golden shadow 3mm bicone Swarovski crystal beads ($14.81).

Depending on how long you want each vine of crystal to be, you can play around with it.  Slide the first bead into the center of the wire and start twisting for about 1 cm.  Take slide another bead into one piece of the wire and twist again.  Do the same with the other wire and keep alternating – just approximately it and do it randomly to keep the look natural.

I made 10 vines, using the two different coloured crystals but you can use pearls or different sizes and shapes of crystals to change up the look.

I grabbed a hairpin (one similar to your own hair colour) and twisted the ends of each vine individually around the hairpin.

Make the stamen of the ‘flower’ shown above and twist between the vines.  Push all the vines together and wrap a separate wire all around the hairpin to secure all the vines in place.  Re-shape the vines into anything you find attractive!  I like the pinwheel shape.

And here we go!  For about $44 (with a lot of extra materials left to make more!) you can get your own customized crystal hairpins for your big day.  They’re so classic and pretty that they can also be worn for any special occasion, like prom or Christmas parties or weddings (as a guest) or maybe even a casual summer dress for a nice night out.

Above is a shot of me wearing it during my autumn photoshoot (this was taken at the end so the hair is a bit ruffled – excuse that 🙂 ).

Since I didn’t have a dress made for this season (I wore my sister’s wedding dress instead, which is another way to get some variety in your pre-wedding photos) the hairpins tutorial shall suffice!

I chose to do a semi-vintage updo with gentle fingerwaves at the fringe and a curly full bun.  My adorable fiance attempted to help me with the bun based on a picture I showed him – you know you’re marrying the right man when he actually attempts to do your hair for you 😉  Needless to say, he became a very helpful mirror-holder for me