What I’ve been up to for 7 months

Today I want to share with you my biggest sewing project of 2015. Probably even my biggest project ever so far. This is the reason for my disappearance of the Internet at the beginning of the year, which gave me bad blogging habits (aka not blogging). A project with a lot of work and a good level of stress, but also one that makes you learn and progress, and hugely satisfying.

No, I didn’t build a car. This year I made a wedding dress. And not a wedding dress for myself (I already did that), no, one for someone else! My sister in law, or rather at the time my future sister in law as she was my brother in law’s fiancee.

Almost 9 months between the first talks (when it hadn’t been decided yet that I would work on it) and the wedding day, 1 Burda Style magazine, lots of sketches, talks, 3 visits to Paris fabric district, lots of fabric (5 different types), a Pinterest board, several muslins, 6 try-ons (not sure it’s how you call it… when the person tries the muslin to test the design and fit), travels between the North of France and Paris, countless hours of sewing, a few hours of head scratching, a good deal of paper, 6 band-aids, a serger, a sewing machine and some hand sewing, embroidery, many pictures taken, some emails, some plant-based relaxing pills, mistakes, corrections, not a lot of sleep in the end. And after all this, a lovely day, a beautiful bride,a sense of accomplishment from completing this project, the satisfaction of the bride and groom and their families, a wonderful ceremony, a marriage that I wish very happy. And two sisters in law that got a little closer. I think you can say it was worth the work, don’t you? ;)

It’s funny because it’s only the week after the wedding that I realized how huge it was that she trusted me with this. Granted, she’s not the worried type, but still, she didn’t have any second choice just in case, and she never showed event the slightest bit of fright or worry that I wouldn’t finish on time or that she might not like the result. I accepted the challenge, I would be up to it, she trusted me, and that’s it. Quite nice, he?

Of course I’d love to go into more details on the making of this dress, and I hope I will. But knowing how I tend to write long texts and the current frequency of my posts, I thought I’d start by sharing pictures with no technical info. So that you can see it, and I start writing here again, you know, one step at a time. And maybe in the future I can share more technical stuff about this project. In the meantime I hope you’ll enjoy the pictures of this special day. ^^

Wedding part 2: inspirations and fabrics for my outfit

A few details about how I designed my outfit, chose the color palette and found my fabrics. The full post is only available in French at the moment (you can go read it), but here are a few pictures.

The picture that inspired my silhouette:

You can see here how it clearly inspired my first draft (on the left). On the right I made a few changes, among wich the length of the “apron” of the overskirt at the front. I realized I liked them better when they are a litlte longer (to be less like an apron and more like an overskirt).

A few keywords to summarize the styles that inspired me: tartan, victorian, Belle Epoque, steampunk.

Another picture that made a strong impression on me, because of the general feeling and the colors, it seemed to match perfectly what I wanted to get (from Urban Threads):

Autumn color palettes:

Fabric samples from the corset maker’s stock and choosing the check fabric. I had to order many tartan/check fabric swatches online because it was impossible to find a nice one in autumn tints in Paris. I hesitated between the green one and the brick colored one in the second picture, but the green one seemed to match the other fabrics better and tie everything together.

PS: today it’s two years since I wore this outfit for the big day. :)

Wedding part 2: my outfit

There are people who are still interested in seeing pictures of my wedding outfit, and that makes me happy, so here they come! It was high time I shared those, almost two years after the event… First I’d like to show you my inspiration mosaic again (with links to the original pages when I have them):

First raw: Heritage of Scotland, my picture, Flickr, my picture (Juliette et Justine skirt), Heritage of Scotland
Second raw: Etsy, Truly Victorian, Heritage of Scotland, Clockwork Couture
Third raw: Tumblr, Tumblr, robotvsbadger.com, Recollections, Walk in wardrobe, Urban Threads
Fourth raw: Uptight Clothing, Recollections, ??, Tumblr (Alexander McQueen F/W 2006-2007), Steampunk Couture
Fifth raw: Recollections, Tumblr, padmitasmakeup.blogspot.com, Atelier Volute, Etsy, Heritage of Scotland

And here are some of the sketches I made during the design part, when I was trying to find out what I wanted. None of them is the exact sketch of my outfit, but they inspired me, allowed me to test ideas and to communicate better with the other people involved. Some details should have made it into the final outfit but didn’t due to a lack of time or a lack of skills (or both, my lack of experience causing me to hesitate for too long).

And finally, here is what I looked like on our wedding day, with all the outfit pieces worn together.

The outfit was composed of:

  • a sleeveless top with a sweetheart neckline made from a plaid cotton (Scottish wedding dresses inspiration), that I made myself from a highly modified 50′s pattern.
  • underbust victorian style corset made of silk by Volute (sadly they’re not in business anymore…). I did the embroidery on the front panels myself.
  • a long skirt made in a very nice olive green heavy satin fabric (it’s a mix of silk and rayon) that I sewed myself. The shape is inspired by the skirts of around 1895.
  • an overskirt of bright green silk made by the people at Volute. The shape is a result of a mix of inspirations from different time periods: gothic skirts I own, bustle skirts from the 19th century, a drawing from 1890… The back can be let out to form a train or arranged in bustles with the help of three ribbons sewn inside.

Those are the main pieces, that we made especially for the wedding. They were accessorized with the following:

  • a petticoat bought on Ebay and modified to get the shape I wanted.
  • a nice dark green cardigan that I’ve had for some time and really like.
  • since it was cold, a cream colored handmade shawl I got on Ebay. What’s fun is that it was originally handmade for a wedding by the seller, and she decided to part with it after it wasn’t of any use to her. It’s a nice cycle.
  • and for the really cold times, I wore my black wool cape on top of all this (yes I know, not the best color to complement my outfit, but I did with what I had on hand). I got that cape for my 18th birthday and it’s quite special to me.

I had planned a second overskirt (to be worn between the bright green one and my skirt) in the same plaid fabric as the top, and a high-collared lace top to wear under the sleeveless one (to remind a little bit of victorian collars). But due to my slowness and my legendary talent for procrastination, they didn’t happen. Plus the lace top was scaring me a little, it wasn’t a project to tackle as the same time as the rest of my outfit and wedding organization, I was anxious enough without trying to figure out how to make it. But in the end I loved my wedding outfit as it was. I felt beautiful and most of all, I felt like myself! And that was the point of all this in the first place. My dear husband reacted the way I was hoping when he first looked at me, he loved my outfit, and I also got very nice comments about my outfit from our guests (and Mr Robot also, but I didn’t have any part in the sewing of his outfit). And maybe one day I’ll find the motivation and an excuse to make the missing pieces (for a belated “trash the dress” photo session that we couldn’t make at the time?).

Bonus point of this modular design: it wasn’t a one time only outfit. Being able to wear it several times was one of my initial goals and I’m happy to say that it has been fulfilled. The top I wear quite often when the weather is nice enough, the corset has been worn regularly (even to work!), and I wore the skirt once for a date with my husband. I’d wear it more often as I love its shape and color, but due to its length and the fibers it isn’t the most practical piece of clothing I own. I’m thinking of making a similar skirt in cotton. The only piece that hasn’t been reused is the overskirt, but I’m sure it will happen some day. In the end the outfit cost me more than what I was planning to spend at the beginning, but at least for that price I got custom made, designed by me, in beautiful fabrics that I liked (no ugly synthetic fibers!), so I guess it’s okay. ^^

Wedding part 2: deciding on a dress

As promised I’m starting to post about my second wedding attire. I’m going to let go of part of the suspense: I did make part of it, but not all. Despite Mr Robots first forbidding me to sew my own wedding dress (or rather, speaking strongly against it). Since I always find myself to be short on time and stressing over my project when they have an imposed deadline (like what happened for the dresses for my friends’ wedding) he didn’t want me to be in such a situation while preparing my own wedding. And I tried to do as he suggested, I promise, even if as a sewing addict making my own wedding dress seemed a very exciting project!

Beautiful vintage wedding dress
(beautiful picture found on Pinterest, I don’t have the original source…)

Mr Robots wanted to have the pleasure of discovering my outfit on the D-day, so he had to know as little as possible about it in advance. Since I still wanted him to like my dress though, I collected and submitted him an assortment of pictures from the Internet, to get his feelings. The dress I was at first dreaming about: a 50′s inspired white tea length beauty, with a lace overlay all over it, a full skirt, a scoop neck and maybe short sleeves. His reactions to the pictures: he liked the feet-long dresses (“it’s more elegant, more princess-like”, can you believe it’s him who said that?!), and he found that too much lace looked like Xxx. -_- You can guess I wasn’t too happy about that… I had to find another style I liked. But one day I’ll make that pretty tea length lace dress and he’ll see that he was wrong!

50's lace dresses
(source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4)

So I went to try wedding dresses. I didn’t want to spend a lot on a second dress I wouldn’t wear often, so I gave myself a small budget. Remember how I said last time that I wanted to keep the big white dress for the french wedding? Here’s the conclusion of those first sessions: the big fluffy white dress wasn’t for me (at least, not at that time in my life). Ironic, isn’t it? I didn’t really feel them, wasn’t especially taken (contrary to my maids of honer/witnesses) and didn’t really picture myself getting married in the dresses I was trying on.

Trying on a white wedding dress

I decided to give the wedding dress shops one last chance with a colored dress I had seen online that had a little bit more personality. All the poeple who saw it loved it: it was beautiful and looked great on me, all that stuff. But while I was looking at me in the mirror suddenly it felt as if I was looking at someone’s picture on Style Me Pretty. It was really nice indeed, but it didn’t feel like me. Add to that that I couldn’t see the exact color I would be ordering (brown x ivory), that the timing would be tight and that it was at the higher end of my budget, and I wasn’t totaly convinced…

Sacha Novia Soyeuse

In the meantime a friend told me about tartan wedding dresses that he saw while on a trip in Scotland. Since I have a long time love for tartan, I really liked the idea. But I wouldn’t order my dress online. And of course while browsing the Internet looking for inspiration on dress styles (to buy), my imagination started going loose: picture after picture, I couldn’t help starting to get a design idea (to make), which seemed far more exciting than the dresses I was trying.

tartan dress
(heritage of Scotland)

Through Zibuzine I heard about Volute, a corsetry and custom dress making shop that had made her wedding corset (sadly they are now closed). I got in touch with them and our first meeting went really well: I liked the shop spirit and the owner was quite excited by my project. We talked about different options and prices.

After all that I sat down to talk with Mr Robots and we agreed that the custom-made outfit was the best option. ^_^ It would be made partly by Volute and partly by me (for the simpler pieces). And I think that even if he was worried he was actually quite pleased that I’d have once again something of my own design. ;p And so to close this up here is a little mosaic of the pictures that most inspired my outfit. You can click on the image to see a larger one. The story is to be continued in a later post…


Wedding dress n°1

Today I’m opening a series of posts about our wedding, that will soon have happened a year ago. Some of you that have been reading this blog for some time or stumbled upon an old post might wonder: “But hasn’t she talked about her husband before March 2012?”. Indeed, I have. This was actually our second wedding. Let me explain something to my non-french readers (or you can skip to dress pictures below ^^ ). In France the only way to be legaly married is to be married at the city hall by the mayor or the mayor’s assistant. Any other ceremony is only for your own satisfaction/beliefs, it won’t be legal. And to be married in a catholic church (for example) your have to arrive that day with an official paper proving that you got legaly married first. It is therefore very common to have two ceremonies, first the legal one (which is rather quick) and then a religious one, usually happening the same day or a few days appart. In our case, the two happened four years and twelve days appart. When we got engaged 6 years ago we were living in Japan, so we planned to wait until we got back to France. But at the beginning of 2008 it appeared that we had to get legaly married to be able to realise our plans. We therefore decided to quicken the legal marriage, which meant preparing it in less than one month, in Japan. You can easily guess that none of our relatives that didn’t live there could attend. So we decided at that time that we would only do a quick official wedding for the papers, and that we would have another “real” wedding with our family and the rest of our friends when we came back.

The French embassy address on the GPS screen

Funny thing is, both of our weddings happened in March (we didn’t plan that). Our legal wedding anniversary was last week, so I thought I’d share pictures of the dress I wore then before talking about the second one. It’s not totally irrelevant to this blog because even though I didn’t make it myself, I did design it and had it made by a professional wedding dress maker.

Even though this wedding was at first motivated by administrative necessities, it was the first and only time we were to be legaly united and recognized as husband and wife by the law, so we felt we had to play the part so that we’d feel like getting married (all the more since many close relatives weren’t there): we went for a real french legal wedding at the embassy (instead of just signing wedding papers at the japanese city hall), nice outfits and have a day that we would remember. I wanted to keep the traditional big white dress for the french wedding (you’ll see the irony in that sentence with my later posts), especially since at first we thought we would have to go there by train, plus I had a very small budget, so I went looking for an elegant but simple long dress that would be suitable (at that time I didn’t imagine making it myself). And guess what? The solution I found within my price range was to have an empire dress made by a designer specialized in wedding dress, that worked two streets appart from my home! She was adorable and very patient, making sure everything was perfect despite her basic English and my poor Japanese. Here is a little glimpse of its creation.


First, my inspiration (in purple and green). Rental dresses that I saw in a shop window in Harajuku and fell in love with, which a dear friend convinced me to try even though they were way out of my budget. Then my first sketch and some color tests.

sketchcolor testscolor test

Choosing the final color combo was really hard… Then the designer suggested some fabrics and to use lace at the neckline and down the front and we got that final design:

designer final sketch

Then she constructed the muslin and we had several fitting sessions before getting to the final dress (the sleeves took some time to get right).

muslinsecond fittingthird fitting

And finally here is the dress all done! With pictures from the D-day taken by our friends. In real like it’s way more green than you can see here. The color is hard to get right on pics and it didn’t help that those are taken with poor lighting.

So here was my first wedding dress! ^_^ I had the pleasure to be able to put it back for a few pictures by our official wedding photographer last year, and to wear it for the brunch we did the following day.

More to come soon about wedding n°2!

Puces de Saint Ouen: wedding dresses

Here comes the second part of my flea market report. Last time I mentioned that we visited a wedding dresses exhibition currently held at the Serpette market. I took pictures of most of the dresses, pictures that I’m sharing today. The exhibition is quite small, but some of the dresses are really nice. I you do happen to be at the flea market, it’s worth going to check them out. The exhibited dresses are actually on sale, so they change all along the exhibition as people buy them and take them home. Here is an overview of those we got to see last saturday.

This black dress facing the exhibition room entrance is of course modern:

According to the exhibition staff, this dress below dates from the 40s. I wouldn’t have guessed!

This one is from the beginning of the 20th century. Look at that lace:

This one as you would have guessed is from the 50s:

And last is this outfit which suprised us a little. I wouldn’t have worn that to my wedding, but to each his own.

The pictures are all available on my Flickr stream, where you can see them bigger if you want. And if you want to see the dresses for real, they’re in the exhibition gallery, alley 6 of the Serpette market (which is on the street named rue des rosiers).

In the last part of this report I’ll show you what I came back home with. ^^ But this will have to wait until next week, as I’m going to visit family this week-end.