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Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic
My sister’s 1930s wedding was more “Hollywood glamour” than Depression era style. (Here’s Part 1 in case you missed it.) Of all the items I created in such a short time-frame for her special day, I was the most pleased with how her headpiece turned out. But I also had fun with the details of her bridal gown and the flower-girl’s dress.
I subtly embellished her custom wedding dress with beads and feathers. (Once again, I was disappointed that the photographers didn’t take a lot of full-length shots I was hoping to have for my portfolio).
My sister loves and has studied the Japanese language & culture, so she included a few Japanese touches in her wedding (more about those details in a future post). Because of the popularity of Asian influences in the 1930s and ’40s, the Japanese elements blended well with the overall Art Deco style. Thus, we decided to incorporate this into her dress with a custom hand-beaded appliqué of a Japanese crane that wrapped around the side of her dress.
My favorite part of the wedding gown was the train of feathers. When I suggested the feathers to my sister, I didn’t really expect her let me use them on her dress, so I was delighted when she agreed with the idea. I love that the feathers added something wonderful to the back of the dress for the wedding guests to look at during the ceremony. (Very Ginger Rogers.)
After the ceremony, the photographers captured one of the few full-length shots of the gown as the happy couple descended the stairs.
For the reception that followed the marriage vows, I used a few safety pins to bustle her train to keep it up off the ground (so that she could move among the guests more easily).
As you can see in the next photograph, I also pinned together the points of the double train on my copper bridesmaid dress and looped it over my arm for the reception.
The job of the flower-girl was filled by our cousin Lucy, who was four at the time. Her dress was made from the same fabrics as the bridal gown, along with some left-over fabric from my own wedding dress from two years before.
The sash was of the same copper-colored fabric used for the bridesmaids’ dresses and tied in a knot in the front – the perfect way to secure an active little girl’s sash to avoid constant re-tying!
Lucy wore a few bridal feathers in her hair, and the trim at both the skirt hem and edges of the ruffled sleeves had a feather-like look. (I also used a little of the same trim on the edges of the crane appliqué on the bridal gown).
And nothing else captures the vintage 1930s feel quite like a sepia-toned photograph:
More about the vintage location, how some guests dressed for the theme, and overall retro wedding details in a future post…
This past Sunday night, I finally got the text I’ve been waiting to receive since I started this blog…
Just two words – “found em”. The CDs of my little sister’s wedding photos had been found! (They had been missing for nearly eight years! Turns out my parents had them and they had been buried in a bag inside a desk.)
So the last couple of days have been spent sorting through all 1200+ pictures from that day back in 2004. Since there is so much to cover, I have decided to divide the wedding into 3 separate posts: The Bridesmaids, The Bride & Flower-girl, and The Retro Details.
Let me explain the back-story – no, there is too much. Let me sum up.
When my sister got engaged, I had promised to design and build the following items around a 1930s theme:
All this was going to be my wedding gift to my sister – she just had to pay for the materials.
My sister and her fiancé decided to move up their wedding date when they learned that the perfect location for their Art Deco style wedding was available much sooner than expected.
I got the bashful phone call from my sister: “Can you still make all the dresses for my wedding…in 2 months?”
Only for my sister.
Looking back, I honestly have no idea how I managed to do everything in such a short timeframe. We had (luckily) already purchased the fabric for all the dresses before the date changed.
I think the only thing I was truly disappointed with was the fact that the wedding photographers didn’t really take any full-length photographs of the dresses – they were too focused on capturing faces. I was able to crop a few things out of crowd shots and use some pictures that my uncle took (specifically for me) to supplement a few really wonderful shots by the photographers. (Word of advice to future brides: make sure you ask your photographer to zoom out and worry about framing & cropping things later!)
Aside from a few minor details not being completely accurate for the time-period, it all turned out rather well in the end. (Of course, every good wedding has a flaw or two.)
Ester’s dress was the easiest to produce. I used a reprinted 1930s pattern that was available in stores at the time. So I was able to buy the pattern in her size and fit a mock-up a couple days later.
Caroline was the youngest bridesmaid. (I believe she was 10 at the time.) Her dress was a combination of 3 different modern patterns that had the elements I was looking for to create a Thirties style dress that would be age appropriate. The godets at the hem were so pretty when she moved.
Courtney’s dress was the most challenging because she did not live in the same state. Amazingly, it all worked out because she came for a weekend visit prior to the wedding, and I was able to fit a mock-up on her. Her dress was a combination of 2 modern patterns – a blouse and a skirt. I kept the patterns as separates to make it easier and mailed the skirt to her un-hemmed. That way, she was able to have it hemmed to the perfect length after she had purchased her shoes but before she came back for the wedding.
Then there’s my dress. Like Ester’s dress, mine was also a reprinted vintage pattern available in stores at the time. Although it wasn’t my first choice in a design for myself, the double-train attached to the back of the skirt made it unique. It was the last dress I made for the wedding, and it was never completely finished on the inside (but at least you can’t tell!).
More to come about the bridal gown and flower-girl’s dress…
While I wait for my sister to unearth her discs of wedding pictures from almost eight years ago so that I can do a complete post, here’s a bit of a preview – her 1930s style bridal headpiece.
My sister brought me these pictures of vintage headpieces for inspiration:
I created a paper mock-up and we tweaked the curves to be the most flattering shape for her face. Then I made a wired form and covered it with the same fabric used for her wedding gown. Since my build time for the entire wedding was limited by a change of date, I saved some time by using a piece of store-bought lace that had an art deco feel as the background for the beadwork.
Despite the rush, I somehow made time for the hand-sewing with beading (which was echoed on her dress) and I believe I managed to capture the 1930s look pretty well.
And here’s the bride positioning her headpiece & veil on her wedding day:
Stay tuned for the wedding dress & more in a future post! Read more about the bridesmaids’ dresses…