Quest for the Wedding Dress: Part 1
Although I wasn’t certain if I would ever wish to, or actually even find myself getting married, I knew that if I did, it wasn’t going to be much of a big deal. Just a simple little ceremony beneath a tree with a few family and friends. No bells and whistles. No poofy white wedding dress.
I later discovered that a wedding is actually a series of compromises (surprise!). My husband-to-be has a huge family, and my own dear mother isn’t about to let her only daughter off without an opportunity to lavish upon every single person we’ve ever known and loved. So here I am, thirty years old, with a ring on my finger and a large(ish) wedding to plan with a team of family members who are chomping at the bit.
I think it’s actually going to end up being a lot of fun. We have a boatload of wonderful friends to celebrate with, and family coming from all corners of the country. Although I am still mastering the delicate balance of concessions amongst all invested, I established early on that there was one thing I was going to have complete authority over; my wedding dress.
A bride's wedding dress is supposed to be an extravagant, cherished garment, that is worn for that big day and then carefully packaged up in tissue and tucked away in the back of a closet. The wedding dress will only to reappear on the rarest of occasions, such as when reminiscing with your offspring at the prospect of their own weddings, or after downing too many glasses of wine on girls-night-in.
Not so much for me. I’m a bit of a sustainability nut, so the prospect of buying an overpriced pile of gaudy material to wear once was simply out of the question (I think this is fast becoming the norm for many women). I looked at a few second-hand dresses, but was having trouble finding something I would be comfortable in, or that I would be able wear for other non-wedding occasions. I realized then that the best solution for me would be to design a formal, but wearable dress from the ground up.
I learned to crochet for this very reason. I had already been a happy little knitter for nearly six years by the time my then boyfriend proposed to me, but after many long and drawn out misadventures of knitting lace, I knew this skill was simply not going to cut it for the dress I had in mind.
I determined that my "must-haves" were the lighter weight and appearance of crocheted lace, relative speed in technique, and the opportunity for the inclusion of free-handed motifs and forms for my design. After setting down these hard and fast rules, I learned that I was quite fond of the intricate and delicate feel of vintage Irish lace, but I wanted to blend it with a more modern-ish, boho-ish look. I set out in search of inspiration from independent crochet-wedding-dress-masters, and found the great Chi Krneta, who worked on her fabulous Chrysanthemum Gown every morning on her bus ride to work (she is also an architect; I ADORE this woman), and the bright and cheery bloggings of Tania Jeskins, detailing every step of her meticulous and colourful process. I studied endless patterns in vintage crochet catalogues, and even went so far as to rent an Irish Crochet & Clones Lace DVD from the library (yes, you can still do this!) to unearth all the secrets of the quaint and elegant Máire Treanor.
After completing my research on materials, technique, and the daunting prospect of a self-made wedding dress, I armed myself with hook and yarn, and finally got down to business. At the time of writing, I am just under 8 months away from getting married. I have settled on a cream-toned embroidery thread of Egyptian wool for the lace, although I still have a great deal of research to complete on fabric and other materials. I intend to use this blog to photodocument my process, to share in my successes and struggles, and hopefully inspire other brides to go out and make their dresses their own.
Comments, suggestions, stories, and support are all greatly appreciated!