The lace over skirt was going to be the show-stopper on my wedding gown. That I was sure of. I just needed to find to right lace for the job. It would either make or break the design. Thus, at age 18 or 19, whenever I picked my skirt design, I quickly determined Joann's fabrics had nothing suitable for what I had in mind. So I took to the internet. Yes, it would be years before I needed lace for my wedding dress, but I wanted to be prepared.
I quickly discovered nice lace, like what I wanted, was expensive. Over $50-$60 per yard. Over $100 per yard in a lot of instances. Yikes. Well, this would be for a wedding dress, and those suckers are apparently rather expensive themselves, so maybe, just maybe, in several years when I was actually ready to make my wedding dress, I might be able to justify buying a few yards of nice lace.
I spent the next few years occasionally looking at lace online and dreaming of the day I would buy it for this dream project of mine. I educated myself on the different types of lace. I started a Pinterest board dedicated to lace. I began to figure out exactly what I wanted for my dress - subject to change of course!
Then, in 2017, as we all know, I ran off on the World Race. And I did a considerable amount of fabric shopping in different countries. While I was exploring foreign fabric stores, I kept my eyes open for lace. How cool would it be if my future wedding dress featured lace from a different country I had visited??
In Bar, Montenegro, I ventured into a little fabric shop and I found it. It was an embroidered net lace, and it was perfect.
Supposedly, it was meant for lace curtains. But it was much too pretty for that!! That said, it was rather inexpensive thanks to its intended purpose. So, I could easily afford it on my (very low) World Race budget. I quickly bought 3 meters and sent a picture to my best friends at home, telling them all about it!
Fast forward a few months and I was in Bangkok Thailand. A local dressmaker and I had struck up a friendship. One morning she invited me to come along on a trip to a fabric store. A fancy fabric store, full of lace!
Oh I had fun looking at it all!!
I decided I would get a piece of lace here, intended for the bodice of my dress. But there was so much to choose from!
Finally, I picked this lace. It was very modern and synthetic, not really what I'd had in mind, but I loved the swirly motif it featured! Thus, 1 meter was bought and packed away in my backpack to go home to the U.S. with me.
The following month I was in Malaysia and found myself in a craft store with a nice selection of beautiful embroidered net lace trim.
I left with several different cuts of lace trim, but one of them in particular I knew I would save for my wedding dress.
I brought home all these laces and carefully packed them away in a boot box to wait for the day I would use the.
Every so often I would pull out the box and open it up to admire and dream. Last summer, around the time I began to think I might actually marry this guy I was dating, a couple more things got added to the boot box.
First, it was buttons.
I didn't want plastic buttons or satin-covered buttons. I wanted glass or china buttons. I'm in a few different historical costuming fabric de-stash groups on Facebook, and one day I saw the perfect buttons come along. They were vintage glass pearl buttons. They were just what I'd had in mind. I quickly bought the two dozen the seller
had available, then waited a month for them to arrive from Canada! (Good thing I didn't need them in a hurry!) When they came I was thrilled with them! It had been worth the wait.
Those fabric de-stash groups came in useful again about a month later. I had Covid and was quarantined with my, at the time, boyfriend who was also sick with the virus. I'd long known I wanted the base fabric of my wedding dress to be real silk, not polyester. I was thinking a silk taffeta would be nice. Something with a bit of a sheen to it, but not as shiny as satin. Then a "candle-light white silk twill" came across my Facebook feed. It was described as a sturdy twill, similar in hand to a heavy taffeta. Oh, it was pretty, and I liked the idea of a twill weave - something a little more interesting than a plain taffeta. I glanced across the room at my sick boyfriend (Who had no idea what I was looking at, of course.), thought "Yes, I'm probably going to marry this guy sometime within the next year.", and ordered 8 yards of silk.
When I returned home once quarantine was over, the fabric was waiting for me. I excitedly tore open the package! The fabric turned out to be a bit more ivory in color than what I'd thought I wanted, but once I laid my skirt lace on top of it I fell in love.
The slight off-white shade of the silk made the white lace stand out beautifully! It was going to be perfect.
My husband purposed to me when he came to visit one weekend in January. As soon as he left my parents' to return home that Sunday night, I excitedly pulled out my boot box of silk and lace and notions and delighted over everything with my mom and sister.
In doing this I discovered there was one more fabric I needed. The lace from Thailand was just too heavy and modern for the bodice of my design. I'd use that lace somewhere else on the dress and buy something else to cover the bodice with. After all, it stood to reason that I should probably buy atleast one of my wedding dress fabrics after getting engaged!
I found the perfect lace at a local fabric store about 20 minutes from my, at the time, fiancé's apartment. A beautiful Chantilly lace, just the same shade of white as the net lace I was using for the skirt. (I never knew how many shades of white there were until I started making a wedding dress!) It had a nice swirl motif similar to the one on the lace from Thailand. Similar, but more delicate. It was a nice lace, of the quality, and price tag, of those I'd long admired online. I bought 1 yard. Just enough for the bodice.
With this last piece of lace I had everything I needed! Except, there was one thing bothering me in the back of my mind. My dress would feature lace from Europe, Asia, and North America, but what about the other two continents I'd visited? What about South America and Africa. I didn't have any lace from any country in either of those places!
No lace, but I did have fabric. Fun, colorful prints. Those would need to be included in the design somehow.
After some consideration, I decided the fabric I had left over from this dress
would make an excellent hem facing. I'd purchased 6 yards of this print on my first trip to Uganda
. There was my Africa material.
As for the South American contribution, I'd only bought 1 piece of fabric there. One meter of rayon from the market in Peru. I turned the majority of that into a nice springy top
, and turned the remaining scraps into bias tape for finishing the seams of my wedding dress bodice.
There we go. All 5 continents I have been on would be represented in my dress. All my materials were gathered. The engagement ring was on my hand. It was time to get started!
If you missed part one of making my wedding dress yesterday, that post can be found here
The next instalment in the "Making my Wedding Dress" series should be up next weekend!