Australians spend on average, $48,000 on their wedding day, $2200 of this on the wedding dress alone. In my not-so-humble opinion, this is money which would be better spent on wine and cheese. Or cruise ships and cocaine. Did I just say “cruise ships and cocaine”? I meant “romantic overseas honeymoon”.
With a $48K price tag, it’s no wonder brides-to-be are looking for alternatives. Vintage frocks and simple, custom-made wedding dresses are replacing lavish gowns. Ladies are refusing the commercial extravaganza in favour of creating their own hand-made or vintage-themed wedding day.
One of my readers, Miss Charlotte, asked me if I would design and make her wedding dress from a pile of old doilies she salvaged from her grandmother’s estate. Her late grandmother hand-made some of the doilies so they had enormous sentimental value. I nervously agreed. The result is a unique wedding dress with a history and a story to tell. This dress embraces the blissed-out, bohemian rebellion of the 1960’s of which her grandmother was a part.
I can’t wait to see Charlotte and Andrew’s wedding photos later this year. She even plans to tea-dye her dress after the wedding so she can continue wearing it.
I cry at wedding invitations. I am jolted by emotions so strong that that my face doesn’t know what to do and I start leaking fluid from my eyes. I also cry at wedding ceremonies. The last wedding I went to I was on my period and I cried for three days. (Sorry fellas, I’m off the market.)
I want to share with you how I made Charlotte’s wedding dress, so you can knock up your own frock from doilies. No fantsy-pantsery, just some very basic sewing skills required.
You can find vintage doilies at charity stores for around a dollar each, or buy them in bulk from eBay. The vintage slip worn underneath the dress was another charity store find for $5.
You will need:
- at least 20 vintage cotton doilies various sizes, washed and dried
- sewing needles and thread
- flexible tape measure
- vintage slip which fits you well
- 12mm (?”) wide cotton bias binding
- sewing machine
- dressmaking mannequin (optional)
1. Choose a doily for your neckline, approximately as wide as your shoulders. You can use a round, oval or square-shaped doily. Next, measure the circumference of your head. Cut a circle or oval shape in the centre of your doily, 5cm (2″) larger than your head measurement.
2. Cut your bias-binding 8cm (3″) longer than you head measurement. Open out the binding and fold it over at the start. Pin the binding evenly around the centre hole, matching raw edges.
3. Overlap the start and finish ends of the binding.
4. Stitch inside the fold of the binding close to the raw edges.
5. Fold binding over along stitching to encase raw edges. Pin and stitch in place. Iron flat.
6. Pin the remaining doilies to the dressmaking mannequin. If you don’t have a mannequin you can wear a vintage slip and get a friend to help you pin the doilies to the slip. Careful not to pin yourself!
I used a medium-sized circular doily for the back bodice, a large round doily for one side of the dress, and square/rectangle doilies for the flared back hemline.
7. Using your needle and thread and an overcast stitch, hand-sew the doilies together around their edges, both inside and out. Be careful not to stitch the mannequin or the slip underneath. If you prefer, you can stitch the doilies together using a narrow and long zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.
Want a vintage crochet doily wedding dress but panic at the thought of threading a needle? Email me at: email@example.com for a custom-order.
Dear Charlotte and Andrew, may your two souls weave together like a hand-stitched heirloom; steeped with love and passed down through generations. xx Alyssa
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