Archive for December, 2017

(Un)crafty Bride on a Budget: Underwear for a Bias Cut, Ghost, Slip Dress

This week’s post is a bit niche: relatively-budget underwear / shapewear for a bias cut, thin, slip (aka cami) dress.  I hope it coincides neatly with any last-minute, NYE pants panic.  I appreciate that if your dress is quite see-through, this post is likely to only be helpful for someone with my skintone.  However, if you’re looking for pants for a dress with a thicker fabric, this post should be more broadly useful. 

If you’ve just got engaged and are here for tips on saving money, easy crafts, sustainable ideas and ways of personalising your wedding, firstly, congratulations! Secondly, I hope some of my earlier posts on finding outfits, making your own flowers and bouquets, venue decorations and table decorations are useful to you. More to come in 2018 for the uncrafty bride on a budget.  

But for now. The Underwear.  Once I had found The Dress, I became obsessed with The Underwear.  It was so hard to find, and there was so little online to point me in the right direction, so I do hope this is useful.  It is the result of my frugal and exhaustive search.  

Ghost slip dresses are extremely lightweight, and cut on the cross, which is what makes them beautiful.  It is also what makes them virtually impossible to wear pants under, because EVERYTHING shows through.  Moreover, mine had a spaghetti strap on one side (requiring a strapless bra), a very deep scoop (making any bra difficult, especially a typically full-cupped strapless bra), and a thigh-high split on one leg (making shorts difficult).  

A quick reminder of the gorgeous, flimsy Ghost dress I thought was going to be my wedding dress

Advice I had been able to glean online suggested tiny, seamless hipsters – however, as I have had four major abdominal operations in the last six years, including c sections, I wanted to wear something that held my tummy.  I am self-conscious about my mother’s apron, aka The Flap.  I was very wary about becoming negative and shameful about my body during what is supposed to be a celebration of love and life, but also wanted to feel, well, held, and comfortable.  

Here is the Ghost dress with the invisible, seam free, belly-button-high shorts I already owned.

HERE ARE MY BIG PANTS!

They were not invisible.

So I saved up Clubcard Vouchers till I had enough for £50 worth of underwear from Figleaves, and bought a plunging strapless Wonderbra and a pair of Spanx Undie-tectable lace shorts (both in my skin tone).  

The Wonderbra was a stroke of luck – it provided support for my ample-enough bosom and wasn’t visible.  

The Bra

The Spanx pants sounded great, as they were not the kind of upholstered, high-waisted, long-legged, need-assistance-to-pee, no-feasting-allowed Spanx, just a pair of big pants with some light smoothing action.  Unfortunately, the band of shame at the top of the Spanx pants showed through the dress.  

The Pants

The mesh of the lace worked, so I did some searches for seamless, high waist, mesh shorts.  For months.  Couldn’t find a pair.  Looked at a lot of pictures of knickers.

Found out about something called a C String.  With wire as a gusset.  Ran away.

AVERT YOUR EYES

Anything which changed texture was out, as different textures showed through the dress, so most high waisted shorts were out, too, as they all seemed to have inbuilt control panels (which I really didn’t want anyway, as I find them constrictive, and I wanted to eat and drink and be jolly).  

Finally, quite close to the wedding, I discovered H&M’s light control shorts.  They came to mid-upper thigh at the bottom, and up above my tummy button at the top, they were blissfully comfortable, and didn’t ride. They were relatively inexpensive, at £17.99 for two pairs.  As I have very pale, caucasian skin, I was lucky that they were a good match for me.  They come in a pack with a very pale pink and a black pair, and are also great for wearing under summer dresses, for anyone who, like me, gets a bit of chub rub.  Ta da!

My Trousseau

 

If I was to do this again and had more of a budget, I would talk to the woman behind www.hotknickers.ie – I think Ali would be able to figure out a good solution.  Choosing a local producer would, of course, also be a more ethical, sustainable option.

This is an area it seems easy to get priced out of if you’re looking for ethical options, however, if you are far craftier than me and would like to have a go at making your own pants, here is a link to a tutorial.

If anyone has found solutions to a similar issue, please do comment – especially if you know of any brands that sell various tones and / or of more environmentally-friendly options.  

Happy New Year!

(Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget: The Wedding Dress

A dozen years, or so, before my wedding.  I ask my mum to make me a white version of this green Jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.   She says Yes.  I am single.  She says she will figure out how to make it when the time comes.  She is trying not to laugh.  She will do it, though.

http://saranesbitt.co.uk/2011/08/22/week-eleven-of-why-so-many-clothes-the-best-of-clothes-the-worst-of-clothes/

Four years before our wedding, when our first daughter is tiny, and my mum has recently died, I watch a lot of Don’t Tell the Bride.  I fantasise about what my wedding dress scene would be (although we are not engaged).  I imagine my husband would find something lovely, and very thoughtful, but I would be in West Cork, in Alice Halliday’s studio, giving her my mum’s and granny’s linens to make something like this wedding dress she made from the bride’s grandma’s tablecloths

When I propose to my husband, a year and a bit before our wedding, we consider a last-minute, seven-weeks-away booking on the (don’t-think-too-much-about-it) cancelledweddings.co.uk .  I decide the dress doesn’t matter, I just dream madly of a simple shift, this amazing cape by Alice Halliday (made for Florence Welch) and these R. Soles boots.

We settle down, decide a real budget, and I realise my £150 dress and shoes budget won’t quite cover one boot.  

A year before the wedding, I find, on ebay, a white version of my green jigsaw dress, with a slit up the leg as well as a ruffle.  It’s £79; it’s an original 1990s Ghost dress, probably one I eyed up as a child, seeing the perfect wedding dress.  It’s an ethereal copy of what I’d dreamed up with my mum.  

 


A few months before the wedding, I realise that a chiffon white dress and a one-of-a-kind, beaded cape and two small, gorgeous, beloved, huggable children, who will be eating a lot of chocolate wedding cake, will not mix well.  I decide to get a back up dress and to find a less delicate cape, veil or shawl.  

I order a dress from ebay, but the corset stops an inch above the waist of the bodice, and it does odd things with my body.  My oldest child suggests I sew fabric flowers onto my waist.  It seems feasible… In the end, I resell the dress for what I paid (£20).  

Can you tell one of my kids took this pic?

I try a dress on in a charity shop near work.  I decide white suits me.  I become emboldened.  I decide I will look good in anything.  This is better than the me who has been worrying about her mother’s apron in her Ghost dress, wanting there to be less of me.

I buy a back up dress on ebay for £30.

In amongst my mum’s old clothes, I think, is the rainbow catsuit she had always wanted to wear as her Mother of the Bride outfit.  It comes with a cape, I vaguely remember.  There is a studio photo of my mum wearing the ensemble, in the Seventies.  Her mum had bought it from a graduate of Central St Martin’s.*  I recall a capelet, which wouldn’t be right.  I check, anyway.  I open up the storage bag to find a flowing, sheer, rainbow cape.  My wedding cape.  

I also get hold of a rainbow mermaid dress, for when the red wine starts to flow and the dancing is in full swing and there may be spills…. and briefly consider wearing it down the aisle instead, with the cape.   


A perfectly tidy craft and study area

 

Of course, my period has to make a feature of itself at my wedding.  My cycle goes doolally, so that I will definitely be on on my wedding day. As anyone who has lived with Endometriosis knows, my paper thin, white, chiffon dress is not going to be comfortable.  My back up dress becomes The Dress.

My period got something right.  I loved The Dress; it went with the Lizzie Bennet hair.  It sat unobtrusively under my mum’s rainbow cape, which cradled me in her rainbow colours as I walked up the aisle, with and without her.  When the cape was off, The Dress held me, showed me, and was utterly comfortable.  

 

Photos by Tracy Morter www.tracymorter.com – an amazing wedding photographer

And, around midnight, I became as shiny as Tamatoa in sequins.  ShiiiiinnnnneeeeeY!

*UPDATE – THE RAINBOW CAPE DESIGNER 

I am exhilarated to have met someone online whose mum has the dress version of the rainbow catsuit and cape. It turns out the designer is Jean Varon, who is credited by some as the true inventor of the miniskirt, and who dressed Diana Rigg in The Avengers. 

I love the threads that connect us all.

Wedding Table Decorations, Favours and Bring and Share Decorations for the (Un)Crafty Bride on a Budget

Months before my wedding, I was playing with my kids in a local woodland when my phone rang.  It was one of my best friends, and bridesmaid.  Noone ever uses phones any more, do they? And I knew she was in her family home country.  I picked up, concerned.  What happened next reminded me of the time my mum, then in the early days of cancer, rang me at work – Mum had an urgent question about a black catsuit (this black catsuit, to match her own…).  My lovely friend had found hundreds upon hundred of doilies, hand crocheted by her great grandmother, along with ribbons and collars of lacework.  

Sharing love-driven, crafted, storied objects was very much something my husband and I wanted to do as part of our wedding.  We marry into a family, into a community, into a history of human love.  My friend and I had a few thoughts about what to make her great grandmother’s doilies into.  One idea was bunting.  Another was to push the bulbs of fairy lights through their centres, so they looked like flowers.  In the end, we decided to dye them the colours of the rainbow, and use them to decorate the large, round tables and picnic tables that we were having our wedding breakfast on, in the gardens.  

We used Dylon polyester dye, seven huge buckets (which we each needed for our gardens afterwards), a bottle of rose and a Sunday afternoon, to make this glorious rainbow…

In the year and a bit between getting engaged and getting married, my family and several kind friends saved jars.  We stored ours in the garden, in crates, which meant that the weather did a lot of the work of removing labels for us.  These went onto tables, with candles, as well as reusable straws, pencils and colouring sheets for younger children, or wood and paper photo props for older children and teens.  The different shapes and qualities of glass caught the sunlight beautifully.  

We put the differently-coloured bouquets of fabric wedding flowers in glass jars when back from the ceremony (here’s how I made the fabric flowers) and made additional pom pom bouquets (here’s a super easy pom pom tutorial).

Favours also served as name cards.  Small children had envelopes with their names on, with stickers and card inside.  Older children and teens had second-hand card games, again in envelopes with their names on.  Friends whose beliefs reject gambling had delicious jam.  For everyone else, we chose Lottery Scratchcards, as they are potentially fun, recyclable and contribute to charity.  It would have been amazing if someone had won their train fare.  The only regret I have is that I bought some brown envelopes with gold, glittery insides, to signify pots of gold (at the end of a rainbow).  I overlooked that this would leave the envelopes unrecyclable.  Moreover, we have since learned about the damage that glitter does to the environment, and are moving away from using conventional glitter and are planning to make our own from salt or sugar (like this) or buy biodegradable for special projects, like this Etsy product I am planning on trying soon (Etsy biodegradable glitter). Any glitter we still have will be for keep-forever crafts, like Christmas ornaments.  We are also a lot more aware about creating the demand for plastic, and perhaps would rethink buying plastic reusable straws, and go for something like stainless steel ones. I would love to hear more ideas for sustainable / zero waste alternatives to what we did, in the comments.

Instead of a guest book, we asked guests to bring photos, pictures, poems, lyrics or anything that showed ‘family’ and ‘love’ to them, and add it to our bunting (twine, with little wooden pegs).  We also printed off photos of us with everyone at the wedding, and pegged this up to get the bunting started.  It was gorgeous, and deeply personal, as well as being a great conversation maker, and we will keep the beautiful things our loved ones shared on it, forever.