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Wedding dress

Now the big day has come and gone I can post about my wedding dress without worrying about spoiling the surprise for Dan.

Making my own wedding dress was something I was set on from the start. I can sew, so why pay stupid amounts of money for a dress you are only going to wear once. Not to mention that all the dresses in the one bridal shop I cruised through were fugly – every one of them in a ruched/gathered style and in the kind of off-white colour I had previously only experienced adorning the walls of student accommodation. Plus they all cost between three and four figures. While I’m not exactly sure, because my awesome Mum insisted on paying for the fabric, I’m pretty confident that pattern, notions, and fabric for my dress cost less than £100.

The dress is very simple. I opted for this partly because it’s my style, and partly to avoid making things difficult for myself in what were soon to become some very stressful months. The wedding was on grass, which could have been mud had the weather been inclement, so no train. The requirement for simplicity and lack of train meant that I pretty much had the pick of prom dress patterns. I went for a princess-seamed, halterneck style. The pattern was simple enough that it would do for both wedding dress and bridesmaid dress, so the plan was hatched to make identical dresses for me and Frances, but in mirrored colours. For me: white with a blue ribbon; for her: blue with a white ribbon. This tactic had the additional advantage of allowing us to effectively have a practice run of cutting out the bridal dress, in cutting out the bridesmaid dress.

Mum came down to help me with the cutting out and getting me started on the sewing by fitting the bodice for me, I had some fun with time lapse creating a video of us doing that. Once that was done I took the white fabric and she the blue and we got sewing. Mum made all of Frances’s dress and hemmed and finished off mine. She pretty much rocks.

The only hitch in the process, apart from the self-inflicted stress and angst, came early in the project – when out of nowhere a greasy black blob (only a mm or two across) appeared on the bodice fabric. Thankfully it was on the inside and not visible through the fabric, but it certainly put the wind up me.



Cravats are a very wedding-specific thing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone wearing one in real life.

When Dan and I first got engaged and were talking about wedding colours, I happened to be in C&H Fabrics browsing the remnants table and saw a shiny bit of lightweight satin in one of the colours that we had talked about. (That same piece of fabric had its debut on this blog in the Blue Roses post – as a synthetic fabric rose).

I had a Google around for free cravat patterns, but had no luck. Though I did find a random forum post, which I am unable to rediscover for the purposes of linking to, that gave some measurements and instructions from which I could fairly easily devise a pattern.

A cravat is basically a long rectangle of fabric, with a point at one end and pleats in the middle. Out came the greaseproof papaer and the metre long metal ruler. 15 minutes later I had a pattern I was pretty chuffed with. My first one from scratch. I whipped up a quick cravat in a sexy lime green remnant of a similar weight of fabric. Job’s a good ‘un.

Four cravats later, and the total cost to me was 73p per cravat. When I think that Tie Rack sells them for £20 a pop, I can’t help but feel a little smug.

Stuffed baby blocks

Stuffed baby blocks

Originally uploaded by Kat Shann

I know I’m supposed to be getting on with sewing my wedding dress, but I’m easily distracted.
A couple of weekends ago we went to a Welcoming party for Dan’s newest nephew. True to our slightly disorganised form we found ourselves in the week beforehand with no present and no ideas for a present.
One lightbulb moment and a visit to the fabric stash later and I was on my way to making these blocks.
While it looks like it would be a lot of fiddly sewing, they were actually fairly easy. Each face is 7 x 7 cm. I cut four long strips of 9cm wide fabric in the gingham and the turquoise. These I sewed together at the long edges in alternating colours. As you can tell from some basic maths I did the stitching with a 1 cm seam allowance, mostly because the squares on the gingham were 1cm along the side and following the lines made the sewing easier and quicker.
So far so easy, now I had a long strip of fabric that I could take a 9 cm wide slice off of for each block. The next bit was slightly longer winded.
I had 18 white cotton squares that needed painting. I used Dylon iron-to-fix fabric paint, pinned the squares over black on white drawings of the letters, and traced the letters with paint. (On the back of each block is a number between 1 and 9).
Constructing the individual blocks was slightly fiddly, but easy to achieve on the sewing machine. On each block I left one side open, in order to turn the block through and stuff it. This side I sealed up with handstitching.

The blocks were well received, and I now have the task of filling in the rest of Alexander’s name in time for his birthday.


You know what they say about people from Yorkshire – they don’t like to part with their money. The thing I love to hate when it comes to weddings is the cost. It’s the happiest day of your life and everyone is out to make you pay through the nose for it. So a big saving that we could make is on garments. I have a sewing machine and I know how to use it. The DIY approach also means that you get closer to the thing that you want than if you try to find it pre-made. And the participants get to keep the waistcoats afterwards.

If I made waistcoats and cravats for the key gentlemen (groom, best man, and father-of-the-bride) and asked them to wear their own suits we could save a packet.

I found a simple waistcoat pattern online: McCalls 4321. Dan and I chose the fabric. Apply the one to the other and you get…

They’ve all turned out really well. I’m pretty happy with the three I’ve made so far. And the best part is that I have enough fabric left to make a fourth waistcoat for our newly promoted usher/musicmonger.


Dan recently bought himself a new gadget: an Acer Aspire. As usual I set about making a cover for it. As his first act was to remove the Windows 7 installation that it came with and install the latest Ubuntu netbook image I thought that a design based around the Ubuntu logo would be most appreciated.

Once I had decided to use the Ubuntu logo the inspiration to use one of the outer circles as a fastening was almost instant. A quick trip to C&H for the necessary fabrics and a big orange button and I was ready to go. The cover is a simple lined envelope, with craft vilene, to give structure, and wadding, to cushion the laptop.

On a roll, I used the same method, and some fabrics I had left over from previous projects, to make a similar case for my own laptop.

In search of blue roses

Blue roses... by {platinum}

Blue roses... by {platinum}

I’m getting married this year, and the colour for the wedding is a deep blue. This poses a problem for bouquets as blue flowers are less common. While cornflowers would be available they would be coming to the end of their season and are not assured to be good quality. A florist suggested blue thistles – I love the look of thistles, but I don’t know what message I would be sending if I turned up at the altar with an armful of spikyness. After looking around online I saw, and fell in love with, blue roses.

According to wikipedia blue roses convey inner feelings of love at first sight, being enchanted by something or someone.

When I say blue roses I don’t mean the bred strains of lavender coloured roses that they call ‘blue’, I mean deep blue dyed roses.  The commercial blue roses are created by cultivating the roses in a blue dye solution.

Local florists

I visited two local florists yesterday for a ballpark quote for flowers. One shop would not do dyed flowers, the other had very recently put together a bouquet of 12 blue roses for another customer. Both place quoted me a base figure of £65 per bouquet (without blue roses, which would increase the materials price). Judging from the size of the basic bouquets, and the size and price of other, non-wedding bouquets I can only judge that the cost of skills, time and raw materials for a small, hand-tied bouquet is about £40 max and the additional cost is ‘wedding tax’.

I’m trying to do this wedding on a low budget and indulging arbitrary markup for a non-essential item isn’t on the cards.


The only place that I can see that does blue roses for delivery on the internet is InterRose. Yes – their website is terrible to look at, but they do lovely roses (check out the happy roses). They’ll do 12 blue roses for £60. From 12 roses and some cheaper additional white flowers I can make the 2 bouquets and 3 buttonholes that I need at less than two thirds the price that the florist would charge for 2 bouquets without blue roses. If I’m going to pay for expensive flowers it will probably be through this mechanism.

Dyeing my own

Everyone knows the old trick of dyeing carnations by feeding them water with food colouring in. This tactic also works for roses. I bought a cheap bunch of white roses at Sainsbury’s and put them in strongly coloured water. After 3 days the results are below:

Disappointing. Only the tips have coloured and the colour is more turquoise than deep blue.

Making fabric flowers

I have a bag of remnant fabric in the blue that I wanted. I followed the instructions at to make a synthetic fabric rose. The only step I didn’t follow was the advice not to have drafts in the room when melting the edges of the fabric, I instead opted to open the window and work in a well ventilated area.

Prototype rose:

I tried a similar method with a white cotton fabric. Because I used a cotton I couldn’t seal the edges with flame, but instead zigzag stitched along the edge. The plan was to use ultramarine Brusho to dye the edges of the petals and get a two tone effect. Unfortunately the Brusho ran a bit too much and the white was lost.

I’m experimenting with other methods of colouring the tips of the petal.

My search for a blue rose continues.

Recent makes

I’ve been fairly busy lately, and quite a bit of the busy-ness has been with things that aren’t pretty or bloggable. However here are a few of the things that have emerged from my lair over the past couple of week

Valentine’s Day Card

I spent a couple of hours making this card for Dan. The decoration on the front is what my C&G tutor calls an ‘ooh-aah print’. The technique for creating them is very simple and produces gorgeous, semi-random effects. Take two perspex sheets, the kind you get with cheap clip together photo frames; put some dabs of paint on one of them in various colours and patterns; smush the two sheets together and rub them back and forth to lightly blend the edges of the areas of colour, don’t mix around too much or the colours will get murky. When you peel the perspex sheets apart the paint will pull away into these random veined patterns. You can then use the perspex for printing on to paper.

The envelope is a simple, brown paper, untwisting pocket, similar to the top compartments on the Folded Secrets booklet.

Dan, however, totally outdid me on the Valentine’s Day effort.


This is a piece of assessed work for my course, a panel inspired by a picture of a deep purple leaf with green veins and multitudes of minuscule water droplets on the surface. The colourway skewed towards the blue in construction, mainly due to the materials I was able to source. As a result I found that I had something very similar in colour and fabric construction method to the Dodecahedron Bag that was my first assessed piece. On the plus side this means that my (looming) final exhibition will have a fairly unified colour scheme. On the minus side I was disenchanted with this piece before I was halfway through. Foolishly I had chosen to make it enormous, that is enormous for me – given that I had to cover every bit of that fabric with machine embroidery.

Mounting and displaying

On the subject of that looming exhibition, the other week it was time to take out all of the work I had done over the past year and a half, and take stock of it. While it was interesting remembering all the things I had done, it was worrying the number of unfinished, or in some cases unstarted, things I have to complete before June. This is on top of regular course work, and doing another two assessed pieces.

In addition a lot of that wonderful stuff that I have completed will need to be mounted or otherwise displayed. I spent quite a bit of time mounting small stitched samples in mount board. There are other pieces that I’m planning different methods of display for. The only one I think worthy of showing here is the canvaswork sampler that I decided to mount in a cushion.

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