Epic wedding post – we’re married!

Full warning – this is massively long and crammed with about a million pictures. I’ve put it all in one post so it’s easy to skip if weddings bore you senseless.

We did it! We got married! After 9 years together we finally took the plunge. And it was the best party ever.

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The Dress

Okay, so your marriage is the most important thing about your wedding, but the dress comes pretty close, don’t you think? I really didn’t want your typical white strapless number and initially thought I’d buy vintage or make one myself. But, as you can see, that didn’t exactly happen.

I ended up with this:

flowers wedding

Although part of me is sad I didn’t make my own dress, as soon as I put this one on I felt like Ginger Rogers or Carole Lombard. It’s so glamorous, in an old-school Hollywood way. It was perfect.

So how did it happen?

During the planning process, I tried on this fabulous Alice Temperley gold lace dress. It was love at first sight except for one thing – the price. I started feverishly researching ways to recreate it, even buying a hideous 80s fishtail prom dress pattern on Etsy.

Then one happy day I was browsing the Issa website, and saw this very similar dress, reduced from over a grand to just £500. After dithering for weeks until there was only one size 12 left, I bit the bullet and ordered it, sight unseen. I figured I could always return it.

But as soon as I tried it on, the decision was made. Surprisingly fast for me. It’s the most expensive dress I’ve ever owned, but at least I can wear it again. Not sure where – possibly just to Tescos?

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It’s a very simple shape. There are two bust darts, two hip darts, a midriff band, and a skirt in two pieces. The armholes and neckline are finished with a flesh coloured silk binding, and there are tiny buttons on the sleeves so you can get your hands through.

The top layer is gold lace, and it’s lined with two layers of silk – a beige chiffon and a buttercup yellow charmeuse. The lining forms a strapless bodice, which is tacked to the overlayer of gold lace. It’s very well made. The only damage after three hours of strenuous ceilidh dancing was the tacking which came away slightly on one side.

The front may be demure and long sleeved, but the back has a surprise:

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It fit nearly perfectly, but I took it to a London tailors to have about 2 cm taken out of the waistline, and the bust darts curved in.  I could have done it myself, but I was nervous about all that lace unravelling, so for £50 I thought it was worth the peace of mind.

It was ridiculously comfortable to wear and took me about 10 seconds to get into. I just needed some help with the hook and eye at the back.

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Hair, shoes, etc

One of the best decisions I made was getting the lovely Alexis Miller to come and do my hair and make-up, as well as make-up for my bridesmaids, sisters, and mum. I really don’t have that much hair, but somehow she magically coaxed it into a Swedish style plait with a side bun, and gave me beautiful smokey eyes.

wedding makeup

A few people advised me not to hire a make-up artist as I wouldn’t end up looking like myself, but I think that really depends on whether you usually wear make-up, and also who you get. I was worried about hiring someone who would slap on a trowelful of foundation and give me 80s bridal ringlets, but Alexis was the total opposite of that.

I wish I could get her to do my hair and face for every special occasion. If I was rich I would definitely have her on retainer.

Shoes-wise, at the last minute I bought these gold leather numbers by Rachel Simpson after eyeing them up for months. They only arrived two days before the wedding. Again, they are more expensive than any shoes I have ever bought, so I plan on wearing them for housework, food shopping, yoga classes, etc etc.

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shoes times two

I do love this picture of me showing them off to Alex though.

shoes

The Flowers and Decoration

Another amazing decision I made (so modest) was hiring Pyrus as our florists. I love flowers but I’m not that keen on typical wedding arrangements. But Pyrus are local, seasonal florists who grow all their own flowers and plants.

They created the most colourful, stunning bouquet I have ever seen. You may notice I am clutching it in every photo – I really didn’t want to let go. It smelt INCREDIBLE. I got yellow pollen all over my nose because I kept sticking it in there.

wedding flowers

They also did gorgeous, wild table arrangements in recycled glass bottles. We had a branch from a fig tree on our table which smelt like heaven.

flowers 1

Alex designed all the table plans, which were named after our favourite places in Edinburgh and London, with corresponding photos.

the river

clissold

I generally think favours are a waste of time at weddings. The only good ones are edible, and who really wants more to eat after a three-course dinner? Having said that, we did them anyway. Weddings make you crazy like that.

They were sweetie bags filled with sherbert dib dabs, love hearts, trivia cards, and party poppers. We designed stickers with our faces on to close them, as a joke, rather than because of our massive narcissism (I hope). There were only a few Dib Dabs left at the end of the night so hopefully people enjoyed them.

favours

The Venue

Teviot Row House, where we got married, is actually part of Edinburgh Student Union. It was built in 1899 and is about a million times nicer than any other student union I have ever been to, and the main hall is beautiful, with wooden panelling and balconies. It was also ridiculously cheap compared to most other venues we looked at – they only charged us for catering.

Even so, the terrace bar still has a slight student-y ambience, so we covered it with streamers and paper pompoms. Cheap, cheerful and colourful. Our friends Solii, Bob and Tom helped us out massively, spending hours up ladders the day before the wedding putting them all up.

streamers

pom poms

I know you can make these paper pompoms yourself, but again I took the lazy option and ordered them from here. One tip though – fluff them up before the wedding day. It takes bloody ages.

The Day

We wanted it to be a big, fun, happy family party, and it was really was. I have never smiled so much.

laughing 2

I found planning was easy until about a month before, when the logistics start to get pressing and I started to get stressed (who’s going to drop off the wine? Where do people sit? How will they get from church to venue? etc etc).

As I’ve already confessed, I did no DIY at all for our wedding, but we were incredibly lucky to have a huge amount of help from friends and family. The social committee at the church made and served ALL the canapes in the garden after the service – more than 1000 (!).

canapes

The Christ Church flower ladies did some beautiful arrangements in church.

church flowers

Alex’s mum Jean made the delicious wedding cake, which was soaked in brandy, and decorated with shimmering white icing feathers.

cake

My beautiful friends (including the lovely Lizzy) acted as bridesmaids and helped me get ready in the morning, bringing champagne and nibbles. Alex, on the other hand, had to go to Greggs for his nuptial breakfast. I think I win.

These ladies are the best, I really can’t thank them enough for being awesome.

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My favourite parts

We walked down the aisle together, alone. We wanted to enter married life as a couple, and I’m really glad we did it like this.

I met Alex outside the church in the garden and then we headed in together. I was a bit nervous, and it was lovely to have a quiet moment together before we saw everyone else.

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garden

Walking down the aisle is a blur. I was so jumpy I couldn’t smile properly without my mouth starting to shake.

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But walking back down the aisle, and out into the church garden with my husband (still keep forgetting to call him that), was brilliant.

Coming out of church

The whole morning I was convinced I was going to catch my dress in my heels and fall over and break my ankle in the middle of the church, but luckily this didn’t happen. I even managed walking up and down steps with no problems. What a pro.

out of church

Another great part was making a speech at the reception. I woke up at 4am worrying about it, but it turned out to be one of my highlights of the day. Why should the men have all the fun?

wedding speech

After that, my friend Bea read out a poem she’d written especially for us, which made me totally lose it and start crying (happy tears).

Another highlight was the ceilidh. The band were called Carrie On Dancing and they were really, really good. I switched to flat shoes for this part of the evening. Ceilidh-dancing in thin heels is a recipe for a broken ankle.

ceilidh

For our first dance we decided to do the Gay Gordons, which is the traditional start to a ceilidh. We began it on our own, then people joined in as the music went on. I just couldn’t see us swaying around the floor for 5 minutes on our own to some cheesy love song, so this was a good compromise, although we did have fun suggesting more and more ridiculous first dance ideas to each other (The Final Countdown! Respectable by Mel and Kim! Vibe by R Kelly!)

ceilidh dancing

Actually, I think my favourite thing about our wedding was looking around and seeing so many of our friends and family together in one room. I have never hugged so many people in one day. It was the best.

ceilidh 3

ceilidh 2

ceilidh 1

Our photos

The absolutely definite BEST decision we made was having Caro Weiss as our photographer.

I was a bit daunted by finding a photographer. There are so many out there. Plus, we got married in Edinburgh but organised everything from London, so we didn’t get a chance to meet with most of the suppliers before the day. But we completely lucked out with Caroline.

I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the bride and groom disappear for 3 hours for a mammoth photo sesssion, while you stand around aimlessly, waiting for them to reappear so you can get your dinner. That was something we definitely wanted to avoid.

Caroline only took us away for 20 minutes, so guests got to stand around aimlessly with us instead. And she still got pictures like these:

walking

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To be honest, I hardly noticed her on the day. She’s like a photography ninja. She captured so many lovely moments, and got the nicest pictures of us and our friends and family that I’ve ever seen.

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The photos in this post are all from her. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can see even more pictures of our wedding on her blog here.

If you’re getting married in Scotland, hire this woman! She’s a genius.

The end

Did you make it this far? I hope it wasn’t too boring. As a bonus, here’s my one piece of wedding advice:

It will be over in a FLASH, so don’t stress about it too much. It’s just one day of your life. As long as you end up married, it’s all good.

(Just try not to set the legal paperwork on fire, as we nearly did while signing it next to a lit candle. That could really have put a dampener on the day).

caro 4

Thanks for reading!

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Psychedelic jungle By Hand London Anna dress in Liberty print

Hey guys! I’m back! I’m massively sunburnt, have 8 loads of washing to do, and I’ve eaten a lifetime’s supply of pizza and gelato in the last 10 days.

We had a awesome honeymoon, right up until the ridiculously turbulent Easyjet flight through stormy London skies last night. I’m still prising my fingernails out of my palms. Once I’m fully recovered, I’ll be boring you with loads of holiday photos.

I’ve also SO NEARLY got some wedding pics, but I’m just waiting for the final files from the photographer. So in the meantime I thought I’d jump on the Anna dress bandwagon and blog about the version I made while testing the pattern for the girls at By Hand London.

anna dress three

Photos are all from our holiday, you have to admit they are rather nicer than my usual backdrops of ‘Rainy London Street’ and ‘Untidy Flat’.

The fabric is Liberty Tana lawn. Extravagant I know, but I went on a shopping trip to Shaukut with Rachel and Shivani, and I just couldn’t resist. If you’re going to buy Liberty print, that’s the place to do it. They have the biggest choice and the best prices. Also, if you’re buying Liberty print, I recommend taking the lovely Shivani with you. She knows EVERYTHING on the subject,  I think they should hire her as an official fabric tour guide.

I’m not sure what this print is called or which collection it’s from, but it’s a semi-photographic neon pink jungle, with palm trees and tropical flowers all over. It’s gorgeous. And it’s a dream to sew with.

anna dress bodice

Here’s a better close-up of the print. Oh man, I am in love with it. I have enough left over to make a Scout tee too.

This pattern is my favourite BHL design yet. I went for the shorter length with the V-neck. Everything is beautifully well-drafted, with unusual details you don’t see that often in commercial sewing patterns, like the tucks in the bodice, the panelled A-line skirt, and the little kimono sleeves. Not that you can see any of that in this print, so I think another plain version is called for.

anna dress 1

I used french seams on everything except the waistline, which I finished with some of this seam tape.  I also interfaced the neck facing and the area around the invisible zip, as this fabric is quite thin.

I had to make some of my usual fitting changes, including bringing the shoulders forward and narrowing the back neck. I recommend making a muslin if you sometimes need to make a FBA.  I had to do one for this dress, as the bodice and waist are very fitted (I sewed the 12). There’s a brilliant tutorial here from Lazy Stitching on how you can do a full bust adjustment on a pleated bodice, which works very well for this pattern.

anna dress 4

Here’s the envelope with the line-drawing and measurements. The short version really doesn’t need much fabric.

anna dress back

It’s such a versatile pattern, I really recommend tracing it as you’ll be making lots. It would work for a slash neck 60s mini number in a retro print, or a long slinky maxi with the thigh-high slit like Karen’s version.

Basically, it’s yet another belter from By Hand London! Go and buy it now!

Giveaway winner – Victoria Blazer

Hello! Just popping in to say thanks to everyone who entered the Victoria Blazer giveaway.

I counted 52 comments who wanted to win the pattern. I put that number in the handy Random Number Generator, and here’s what I came up with:

random number

The third comment was from Giddy Aunt Lola of A Saucy Stitch – congrats! I couldn’t find your email address on your blog, if you drop me a line with your address I will post the pattern to you.

If you haven’t read the comments, have a squiz – there are some great tales of fabric/pattern mismatching which certainly made me feel better about all my failures.

In other news – I am married!!!!! It feels quite surreal.

The wedding was completely amazing, we had such a fun day. We won’t get the official photos back for a few weeks, but the lovely photographer has sent me a sneak peek, look:

wedding

I can’t wait to get the rest of the pictures! Warning – I will bore you all to tears with them when we get back from honeymoon. Thanks so much for all your congratulations and kind messages, I’ll see you in a week or so.

McCalls 6355 – white broderie top

I am currently on the train to Edinburgh, on the way to GET MARRIED, OMG. It seems like a good moment to blog about a top I recently made, while I enjoy my free wine, free food (brownies!!) and free wi-fi. First class rail travel is amazing.

mccalls white top

Hot sunshine-y weather has finally arrived in Britain. It’s no big deal or anything, we’ve only been waiting eight bloody years. Everyone in London is looking very over-coordinated, they’re all wearing carefully hoarded holiday outfits to work and it shows. Maxi-skirts a go go.

I have responded by making an all-white top, because if anything says summery it’s a chocolate ice-cream spillage just waiting to happen.

The pattern is trusty McCalls 6355. It’s worth having a simple top template like this in your stash –  you can make so many variations. For this one I just drew a line in the front and back pieces to create a yoke. Couldn’t be easier.

mcalls white top 4

This was a super thrifty little make. The main fabric is left over from another McCalls blouse I made last summer. The yoke is a very small old tablecloth I found in a charity shop about 6 years ago and have been hoarding ever since.

The trim down the front was a gift from the lovely Amy in our recent swap, and the trim on the sleeves was a present from the equally lovely Rehanon. The bias binding finishing the neck was made from the lining of this dress.

Basically, it was all free! Hooray!

mccalls white top 2

I did a faux-buttoned back (apart from the top one which is real), as you can pull this over your head with no zips or fastenings. The buttons are left over from the Peter Jensen sample sale.

I was heavily inspired by this Whistles broderie top, so basically I have saved myself £65.

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Plus I look slightly more cheerful than the Whistles model.

mccalls white top 3

Yay for summer! Of course I am going to Italy now so will probably miss all the nice British weather, there’s a cloud to every silver lining, as we pessimists like to say.

I hope you are all enjoying summer, or having a nice winter if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. I probably won’t be able to blog again for a while so I’m sending you lots of happy summertime vibes in the meantime! See you soon dudes!

p.s. it turns out that swap shop thing I did was actually a styling competition. Obviously am not expecting to win but I currently am right at the bottom with 2 votes, so if you can be bothered to vote for me by tomorrow, it will save me some public humiliation. Thanking you in advance.

By Hand London Victoria blazer review and giveaway

Firstly – this is a great pattern.

Secondly – I haven’t totally done it justice here.

victoria blazer 7

I was one of the original pattern testers, but I’ve held off from posting my version for a few reasons. I’ll share them with you now so you can learn from my mistakes.

– Don’t use a thick denim-weight fabric for this pattern. It’s a casual blazer, it needs drape, and those sleeves will be impossible to ease in if your fabric is too heavy.

– Don’t pre-wash your fabric and lining together if one is pale blue and the other is burnt orange (you probably already know this).

– Don’t buy fabric from Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington. It always ends in tears.

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I’m happy with the finished result even though the fabric is a bit heavy. The strange mottling that occurred in the first run through the washing machine has almost gone, so it has more of a pleasing faded look.

jacket back

The pattern itself is brilliant. It’s very quick to sew, and the By Hand London girls have put together really comprehensive instructions. I’ve never made a jacket before so I was a bit intimidated, but it’s easy-peasy. I finished it in two evenings!

The way the neck dart turns into the collar is particularly fun to put together, and the lining neatly finishes all your seams. The side seam pockets come together beautifully, but next time I want to add patch pockets to the front, which would make it even quicker.

blazer close up

I know a few people wanted to see a line drawing of this pattern, so here’s the back of the (beautifully packaged) envelope. You can see they recommend ‘light to medium weight’ fabrics, so don’t be like me, do what they tell you. I am dying to see a version of this in a chambray.

victoria blazer line drawing

I’m actually planning another Victoria in my Tesco-duvet-space-galaxy fabric but I think it’ll have to wait until after marriage/honeymoon/wedded bliss etc etc.

But you should check out Marie’s beautiful pastel cropped version here, and Clare’s gorgeous neon palm-tree version here. I saw the latter in person at the By Hand London first birthday celebrations last weekend, and it’s a beaut.

You can buy the pattern from the By Hand London website and it’s perfect timing, as they’re about to start a sew-along.

I’m very proud to support these ladies! Their patterns are ace, they are lovely people, and they know how to throw an EPIC party (they also mix some extremely strong punch).

sidevictoria blazer 4

Giveaway – own your own Victoria blazer!

I have a copy of this pattern to give away to one lucky person! I worked out that I’ve been blogging for exactly two years now, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

victoria blazer pattern front

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below.

To make it interesting, will you tell me about your best or worst matches of fabric and pattern? I’m fascinated by how some fabrics suit a pattern perfectly, and some are an instant failure. If I had this mastered I reckon I’d be a sewing wizard, so I’d love to hear about your successes and disasters!

You can enter the giveaway from anywhere in the world, and you have until 12 noon (UK time) on Tuesday 16th July.

If you want to comment but not enter the giveaway, (perhaps to tell me that I look like Phil Collins in this jacket, or that I should have ironed my skirt before taking these photos), that’s cool too, just mention it in your comment.

p.s. check me out being interviewed in the Guardian today about making my own jeans! Fame at last, courtesy of the lovely Karen.

Summer shorts and clothes swapping

I am not a natural shorts-wearer. I feel a bit self-conscious in them unless the temperature is over 28 degrees, so basically they never see the light of day in the UK.

But I have a trip to Italy coming up and it’s going to be HOT (hooray), so I wanted a pair to take along.

shorts 2

As they’ll only get an outing once a year, I needed a quick and easy pattern. I went for this Burda one from the Februrary 2013 magazine, because there’s no welt pockets, no fly front, an invisible zip, and only two darts to sew.

They were definitely a speedy sewing project. This pair took me less than 2 and a half hours to sew, including cutting out, fiddling around changing the thread in my overlocker for 20 minutes, and unpicking an entire waistband.

This outfit also features a new top that I got at a clothes swapping party a couple of weeks ago, which was organised by VoucherCodes.co.uk.

I took Lizzy with me and we had a brilliant time, and I managed to break only one entire glass of wine all over the floor. The swap was very well organised and I came away with two really nice tops.

Here is an embarrassing visual record of our evening (sorry Lizzy)

crazy photobooth picture

Anyway the lovely Fleur who ran the event asked if I’d do a post showing how I styled the things I got, and I’d just finished making two pairs of shorts, so it seemed like a perfect pairing.

I am pretty rubbish at ‘styling’ things anyway, so hopefully my sewing skillz will distract you.

shorts 5

The top above is a green oversized t-shirt from Topshop – the front is viscose and the back and sleeves are jersey, which I think would be an awesome idea for a Scout tee. It’s the perfect summer t-shirt.

Voucher Codes also very nicely gave me 35 pounds to spend on accessories, so I bought these pleasingly massive 70s-style sunglasses and triangle necklace from Urban Oufitters.

The second top I swapped was this chiffon tunic thing from Dorothy Perkins, which caught my eye because of the lovely crochet embellishment on the front.

shorts1

I’m wearing it with some pink shorts which were my first version of the Burda pattern, made from a fabric remnant I got from the big swap in May. It’s a lovely brushed cotton, but it does wrinkle a lot.

Here’s a better view of the two pairs. The blue ones are some kind of strange imitation linen/wool fabric in polyester from Dalston Mill Fabrics, which drapes really nicely.

shorts 4

I added little covered buttons to the blue one and actually did a blind hem (on the machine, I’m not insane), which seems a tad over the top for shorts but topstitching didn’t look right.

Here’s my notes on this pattern in case anyone who wants to make it:

  • It runs true to size. For my second pair I actually sewed a size 14 as I wanted them to sit further down.
  • They are very high waisted, and really nicely drafted so the back waist sits higher than the front.
  • They’re forgiving to fit. The waistband is just a rectangle you cut yourself, and they taper out from there, so as long as you get your waist circumference right, you’ll be laughing.
  • They only take 0.8 metres of fabric. You can make them from the smallest scrap of material ever. Cheap project!

So now I have at least two of my holiday outfits sorted. Huge thanks to Voucher Codes for organising the party!