This is the last instalment of my wedding-related blog posts. After this one, it'll be taken as red that, A) I got married, B) we all looked ace, and C) fun was had. Enough said. But in many ways I have saved the best post 'til last! This post is about the dress my mum made herself for her day as Mother-of-the-Bride.
Long term readers of my blog may already have read this post in which I interviewed my mum about sewing in the 1960's. In that interview she relays the story of making her own wedding dress, forty-odd years ago. So I guess it was in keeping with tradition that I should make my own wedding dress, and that she should make her own Mother-of-the-Bride's dress. Mumma E has seriously good sewing skills, but like many people who have used their skills as a form of income over the years, her passion for sewing clothes has waned. I'm so glad she dug deep and mustered the motivation to battle through this project, which I know was a toughie. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
Mum and I had a discussion about the kind of style of the dress she was thinking about, which reminded me of having seen something that sounded similar. Some internet digging around later and I discovered the pattern I'd been thinking about was Vogue 8280 (pictured above) with it's Roland Mouret 'Galaxy dress'-esque elements. I sent the link to Mum and she was in agreement that it was definitely similar to what she had in mind and an excellent place to start.
She found the pattern at her local fabric and haberdashery shop in Essex, and picked up some beautiful purpley crepe and matching lining in London. So far, so good. But, poor mum, getting a good fit with this pattern took her an age and countless toiles (I didn't want to ask her exactly as I didn't want to drag up old wounds!). Part of the difficulty was born from the fact that Mum is very petite so a lot of work had to be done on changing the proportions of the pattern. Plus the lovely shoulder yoke section was a nightmare to get to sit correctly. It's formed from just one pattern piece which has to lay again the curved of the body from shoulder to underarm side seam: a challenge in 2D to 3D that would take the greatest of architects to get to sit perfectly. Scratch that, it would take the greatest architects or MY MUM!!! After all her changes and tweaks, she got that damn yoke detail to fit beautifully!
When it came to the fitting, not only must she be praised for her tenacity, but also the trickiness of not having anyone to help her most of the time. I was able to help a couple of times when we saw each other, but otherwise she had to make do with the (now much improved) pinning skills of my dad and her own self-fitting ability.
At some point, fairly far into the cutting out and construction of the final garment, my mum had a brain wave. The plan had been to make the sleeves from the same fabric as the rest of the dress and make tiny self-covered buttons to apply to the cuffs and along the top of the centre back. But although the dress was now fitting beautifully, and would doubtlessly be very classic and sleek when finished, Mum was feeling it was a bit plain and not special enough for a very special occasion such as this. From somewhere or other, she had an idea of adding lace sleeves. So off Mum went to an amazing fabric shop on Edgeware Road in London. There she found a fantastic lace in the same colour purple, but at £90 a pop (metre), and requiring over a metre in case of mistakes, it was somewhat outside of her budget, special occasion or no!
Further Inspiration Strikes
All along Mum had planned to wear black shoes and accessories with her dress. From that she drew inspiration that perhaps black lace would work. When she was down in Brighton for my hen weekend, we visited a fabric shop here and came across a beautiful (and reasonable) black lace that fit the bill perfectly. Then she got the idea of covering the shoulder yoke detail and adding lace to the top of the back piece to make a bolero/shrug effect. Genius, no?! Look how perfectly she matched up the lace, and then PUT A DAMN CONCEALED ZIP THROUGH IT! Awe-inspiring.
But inspiration still hadn't finished striking! She then decided to harvest the remaining scalloped edging and apply it round the curve of the yoke detail to match the scalloped edges of the cuffs and the back pieces. Oh, and she had inserted the centre back concealed zip so well that apparently she had to point it out to my dad when he couldn't figure out how she was going to get in and out of the dress!
To say that I am proud of my mum doesn't even begin to cover it. Not just for making this dress, of course. For also being the sweetest and loveliest lady I ever did meet. And also for hitting the dance floor hard at the wedding reception and showing everyone how to bust some serious moves! I'm also hugely proud of my dad for looking equally dapper at the wedding and throwing some shapes of his own on the night! Massive love to Mumma and Papa E xxx