Monday, 18 July 2016

Lady Pickle met Mr Darcy

The cogs in my head have been turning planning the events of this past weekend for around ten years. I am a little bit of a blabber mouth, so it has taken everything I have to keep these plans under wraps as they became reality. It was even more difficult to keep my sh*@t together as it all unfolded on Saturday.

My best pal, my Biotine - we share a love for nature, biology and a general enthusiasm for life. We bonded after a mutual friend bailed on a shopping trip and left the two of us to it. Hours of silliness followed, parading around the streets of Oxford, with pick 'n' mix fangs for teeth and fried eggs for eyes. These bouts of silliness haven't stopped, and we are still best friends 15 years later. I had met a kindred spirit, the kind you want to hold close for a very very very long time. We have shared, laughed and cried together, and I am very grateful for the support she has shown me in all areas of my life.

Roll on a few years and my Biotine has met a lovely chap that is prepared to pick up where Mr Darcy left off. She returned from a holiday in Seville last year with a beautiful stone adorning her finger and I jumped for joy (after I'd stopped wailing that is!).

It only seemed right to give her a send off into married life fit for Elizabeth Bennet herself! So my fellow Maid of honour and I got to work.

We found this knockout of a property nestled in a charming little village in Somerset. The property more than lived up to our expectations and couldn't have been more perfect.

Seriously, there was so much beautiful vintage crockery I was expecting it to burst into song, Disney style, at any moment.

Anyway, it is about time we got to some sewing! The Bride-To-Be needed a gown fit for such a grand house so I got to work with an old curtain a client kindly gave me. I browsed google for some inspiration and settled on a princess seamed empire lined bodice and a skirt with sweet little tucks and gathers to create fullness at the side and back.

I sketched up my design and rather than drafting from scratch I searched through my pattern stash for something to base it on. I settled on the By Hand London Elisalex bodice, a simple princess seamed design - the perfect canvas. Luckily I am currently making dresses for myself and the other bridesmaids including the Bride's sister who happens to be very similar in size. I dived in and traced off a straight size and held it up against myself to give me a rough idea of the bust line. I simply added seam allowance to the bottom of the bust and hacked off the excess of the bodice piece tapering the length towards the back. I drafted a simple gathered sleeve for the bodice, and I was half way there.

For the skirt, I separated the second curtain from its lining (I've kept it in my stash for future toiles). I measured up from the hem edge at my desired length and squared off to the full width of the curtain. The length was a total guess. I have clearly spent long enough in the Bride's arms to know the exact place my face nestles in her bosom to get it right!

I gathered by hand either side of the back seam and added simple tucks aligned with the side seams of the bodice. Then comparing the length of the waist seam on the bodice, I gathered the excess into the back and sewed it on.  Retaining the original hem meant I only needed to finish the neck, sleeve hems and back seam with gold bias binding from my stash. 

For the fastening, I wanted to stay true to the era and decided against a zip. I went for a matching ribbon at the neck and waist. In total contradiction I secured the middle section with era inappropriate velcro, I couldn't face sewing in so many hook and eyes! 

I decided to make a 'Bride-to-be' sash too. I purchased some light pink poly-cotton, a colour that features in the wedding colours and the Bride is particularly fond of. I cut two 30x80cm strips, turned them inside out and sewed around all edges except one of the short sides. I turned them right way out, pressed and pinned the unfinished seam edges together at an angle that sat well on my shoulder. I then placed some pink lace along the front sandwiching it between the seams and finished with a french seam. I cut out and appliqued on some letters cut from scraps from the lining of the bridesmaid's dress, basted the sash closed at the bottom and sewed on a pearl to cover the line of stitches.

With the leftover lace, I made a matching garter.  I sewed on a matching ribbon creating a casing for the elastic and decorated it with a bow tying the initials of the bride and groom together in true sickly sweet fashion!

What outfit is complete without a bonnet?! I had an old sun hat lying around so I played around with the shape I wanted. I simply cut the hat in half, and bound the edges with satin binding enclosing some pink chiffon gathered at the top and bottom edge of the rim. I then used some poly satin from my stash to make back of the bonnet. I cut a rectangle about 40x62cm, folded it in half and sewed up along the long raw edges. I then created a channel using lace and ribbon (similar to making the garters) for elastic at the folded edge. I then sewed together the short ends forming a tube.  I finished the edges on my overlocker and pressed up1.5cm.  I sewed this down creating a casing for some string to gather it together at the back. This was then sewed along the base of the rim of the hat, and I added ribbon about half-way along the rim so the bonnet could be tied under the chin. 

This whole process went so well I decided to make 11 more for each of the hens! On the day I tied these into one of the trees in the garden for decoration before the Hens were told to collect them on arrival. 

Soon it was time for the Bride's arrival....

I dressed her in her outfit as any good lady in waiting would.

Best Pals in matching sandals and me-made clothes.

She finally met Mr. Darcy...

... just in time for tea!

A big thank you to my fellow Maid of (dis)honour, The Mother of the Bride (Mrs Bennet) and Carey for making everything come together, and my plans come true!

Story time with Mrs Bennet

To the other Hens - thank you for wearing your bonnets so diligently.

Right- It is six weeks until the wedding and I've got three Bridesmaid dresses to finish.

Thank you for reading and for your support,

Vic x


  1. This is incredible! The bonnet really topped off the outfit, looks like a fab hen do - seriously good work :)

    Becca x

  2. I loved reading this - your ingenuity and sewing skills are only matched by your deep love and affection for your bestie ✨ May the coming weekend of her wedding be a memorable and very happy occasion - I'm looking forward to reading about it all in a future blog ��