Sunday, 28 June 2015

Flame Lace for a Wedding

I thought you weren't supposed to wear lace at someone else's wedding? This was a thought expressed by a friend of mine after I mentioned making a lace dress for my cousin's wedding in May this year. Oh dear, was this going to be one of those all too familiar 'not appropriate' sartorial decisions? Like the time I 'just popped to the allotment' on the way home from the office one day, wearing Vivienne Westwood. I had only intended a very quick visit to water the tomatoes in my greenhouse as it was a warm evening, but you know it was a beautiful evening and I got into the moment, started clearing a patch of brambles, and ...well I'm never one to let clothing get in the way of life needing to be lived.  Designer threads or not.

So anyway, the thought of wearing lace at a wedding hadn't crossed my mind as being not the thing to do, especially as there are so many beautiful lace creations around in the shops and lace having something of a renaissance in modern clothing design. I wanted to make something special to wear as it was to be a big family occaision and there's nothing like a bit of a do to set my needle a'quiver. I'd already bought a pattern, Simplicity 1606, which is a layered, lace overlay dress based on a vintage 1950s style. Taking my friend's comment on board, the challenge was to find a fabric combination to give enough twist to the traditional style as to be unmistakably not bridal.  

And here it is. Deep coral lace with a burnt orange satin as the underlayer, shot through with an astonishing acid yellow grain. When the light hits the two together they absolutely flame! Impossible to photograph but a wonderful combination that makes every movement send sparks while you're wearing it.  

The pattern is probably one of the most ambitious I've attempted yet. After giving myself a three week window to make it, plenty of time to knock up a dress in the light spring evenings (ha!), it soon became apparent that it was actually two dresses. Three including the lining. It  has a strapless fitted bodice, boning front and back and boy those full circle skirt hems were a looooooong way to sew around!

The bodice actually came together like magic and the boning was more straightforward than I'd feared, especially with the help of some really good online tutorials from fellow sewists.
I ended up freestling the skirt section a bit as I hand sewed the lace layer over the satin along the zip at the back. I finished the back neckline with a gold button and ribbon loop.

In my head I'd seen the finished dress with either teal, blue or gold shoes, however my beloved tangerine suede heels were too perfect and the temptation to go matchy matchy was too great to resist! Even at the risk of looking like I'd been dip dyed bodily in a vat of orange.  

I cooled the whole thing down with this cornflower blue, Louis Ferraud vintage jacket.  This pure wool jacket has really good strong lines and good structure, a perfect foil for the sweetness of the lace.  Also a welcome extra layer for an early May wedding in the chilly north of England. The jacket is actually one part of a fabulous skirt suit that I found in a charity shop a couple of years ago. A gold belt and bag were also vintage, both thrift finds, that finished the look.  This Ear cuff felt like a more contemporary alternative to a fascinator or hair piece, the gold and blue feather cuff was from H&M.

I absolutely loved wearing this outfit and it worked perfectly for the whole day, from chilly church to chilled cocktails, dinner in the beautifully decorated village hall and mostly for dancing with that full, double skirt to swish around in.  

I can see the dress being restyled down for warm summer days, with flat, strappy sandals and a faded denim jacket.  Flaming gorgeous!


  1. Edited to include outfit shot

  2. Great colours, and inspired choice of blue jacket to set off the orange dress - would have been all too easy - and boring - to accessorise with neutrals.

  3. Yes I love this blue and orange combination. Glad you like it too! Sarah x