Posted in Life

Belated Answer to Wedding Dress Question

I see now it’s been nearly a month since I last posted. I’ve not been sewing. I’ve worked a little on Jordan’s jacket and gotten some good feedback from Robin on it too. I’m going to see my Dad and help him arrange some things the first weekend of May and have spent an inordinate amount of time on the Tampa Bay craigslist looking for used Berninas. The prices are easily hundreds less than they are in the Baltimore area. Feel free to give me your thoughts on the old Bernina 830, 930 and 1130 if you have or had one of those machines. There’s a 1130 in Brooksville (where my dad is) that I’m partial to (automatic buttonholes). But, I won’t be there for another month.


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We had our 180 person wedding reception a couple weeks ago and I did not wear my wedding dress. I wanted to. But, umm, well. It just didn’t fit. Here’s the thing, pre-wedding I was traveling to China, stressed out and purposefully dieting to lose a few creeper pounds. And the end of last year and the beginning of this, I was engaged in a grief spiral that was best soothed with wine, french fries and Otterbein cookies. I tried on the wedding dress and Jordan said, ‘You’re not going to be happy with this this.’ And he was right. I wasn’t.

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So, I wore the cream dress from the rehearsal dinner that I had made in China.

It’s a beautiful guipure lace and a copy of a Valentino dress. That weekend of trying on dresses and finding that most didn’t fit was a good wake up call for me. I’ve cut out weeknight wine, processed food, refined sugar, treats, snacks etc. I’ve also started exercising again (I’d gotten off track due to a sprained ankle, pulled back muscle, a bout with the flu, two infections — honestly, my body kind of shut down mid December and has only started to cooperate the last two weeks). I’m pretty good now. It was just a bad few months. The party was a lovely start to this next phase.

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My dad  (above left) came in to town. He was kind of the life of the party. He’s talking about getting on to Facebook. Which means I will likely need to get off.

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My inlaws who threw the party (Ugh. I look a little like a stuffed sausage)

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This dress has a side zipper. I asked for that so the lace motif in the back was maintained. But, it is a beyotch to get in an out of.

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And you all know my bestie Trena. Plus Lisette, Robin and two other ‘internet sewing friends’ who don’t have blogs (Shirley and Elizabeth — who is also a neighbor!) were able to come. That’s the nice thing about having ‘just’ a reception. We were able to invite WAY more people than say to ‘just’ a wedding.

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All in all a wonderful wonderful time. We had friends and family from all over (New York, Chicago, DC) come in to town. That’s my oldest brother and my neice with me above.  It was a little overwhelming and a whirlwind. But, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Oh! In honor of going old school and ordering an actual wedding album last week, I made a gif (below). I cannot express to you how proud I am of accomplishing this. The gif I mean.

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Even though I ‘own’ all my photos I still got a photographer’s album.  One of my fondest memories as a kid was going through my parent’s wedding album and asking them questions about people and what was going on. Plus, this way I can force everyone who comes over to look at my photos.


We’re visiting Jordan’s brother in NY soon. I need fabric for a black tie dress event at the end of the April, tuxedo vest fabric for Jordan for the same event (buying a tux was expensive enough) and a second black tie dress for middle of May. Pray for sewing inspiration and good fabric finds. I am terrible fabric shopping under time constraints. Or, when people are watching / waiting on me. Never mind two dudes in the garment district.

OK. Back to the 30 thank you cards I still owe!

Posted in Life

The Last Wedding Post (I promise)

We got our wedding professional proofs yesterday. And, I am so thrilled I can’t sit still. I hope you can stand one last wedding related post.  And, if you can’t, I don’t blame you. I have been there. Bored off my rocker. I did poll two sewing/ internet friends and they said it was acceptable for me to do one last wedding post.

Here’s the slideshow the photographer made. And, below, one I’m working on for our post-wedding party next month. I needed to do a separate slideshow with more family photos included. It is obviously not as good as our photographer’s. Because, she’s amazing. If you need a photographer in the Tampa Bay area, I can’t recommend her enough.

I’ve been asked how we pulled off a wedding in six weeks. The answer is internet shopping and friends. We could not have done it without our friends and family.  A very talented photographer friend of mine told me years ago that expensive weddings are great to photograph because they have lots of details and are pretty. So, I was determined to (not spend a ton of money) make sure there were plenty of details to photograph.

I also got over the idea of having a timeless wedding per se. It doesn’t exist. Your wedding is of the moment because it’s what is happening to you at that moment and captured on memory card forever. I fully expect these to look dated in a few years. I chuckle now when I look at my parent’s album from the 70s or photos from the 80s. There are totally trends in wedding photography.

Finally, when you have 20 people, you can kind of do whatever you want. We used a pop-up wedding company that set up the wedding site. We went to a nice restaurant for dinner. Easy peasy and really really perfect. I was low stress and high happiness.

I just wanted to share some quick details from the wedding that made it really special.

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It’s Veteran’s Day here in the US so I’ll start with a photo of my mom.  I am wearing the pearl necklace she gave me for my 30th birthday. The headband is an eBay find. My earrings match my ring and were a gift from our officiant and my dear dear friend. My ring is a vintage piece that he picked out with the help of my friend Liz. I had nothing to do with it other than saying, ‘I don’t want a diamond’.

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These shoes were the devil.  Pretty, right? Evil. I wore them about five minutes (no, seriously. Five minutes) before I switched to a more comfortable pair. Who knew flats could make your feet burn like fire? Thank you Zappos for taking them back!

We chose to have an interfaith wedding since neither of us are converting and our religions are mutually important to both of us. My father walked me down the aisle instead of both my parents. We recited both Christian vows and Jewish vows and had readings from both the new and old testament. There were prayers in English and Hebrew. And, our Jewish officiant, who is an internet ordained minister, spoke about the role of marriage and the church. We also had a chuppa, Jordan wore a talit, broke glass, we signed a ketubbah (designed by an artist friend of Jordan’s) and the men in his family wore kippahs. I love that our service reflected both our religions and cultures. I’m Caribbean and he’s a nice German Jewish boy 🙂

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Jordan wore his father’s prayer shawl. We talked about using his late grandfather’s, but it was already framed. And I got him the Baltimore Raven’s yarmulke as a gift. The buttonaires are from Etsy.

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As are these menus and program fans. Both are from Etsy.

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The fans were a total wash. It wasn’t warm, it was super breezy. No one needed a program. But, they look really good in photos.

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Kind of the same for our invitations. By the time I mailed these, everyone coming already knew about the wedding. But, I wanted an invitation for framing. And, again, they look good in photos. You’d be horrified to know how much 10 nice invitations cost. I can’t fathom sending 100 of these!

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We hired a steel drummer who played Caribbean music for the ceremony as a nod to my West Indian roots. TOTALLY WORTH IT.  Before we walked down the aisle, my dad was singing to me and we were dancing to the calypso. It was g-r-e-a-t.

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My flowers were just ok. I wanted to upgrade from the included package, but couldn’t stomach $210 for flowers. Isn’t that bananas?? I added pins to personalize them.

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The US flag for my parents who are immigrants. The Baltimore city flag because that’s where we met. And, my sorority pin since none of my sorors could be there that day.

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Here are the plaques Liz made in action.

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And, here is the ‘Besheret’ banner she made too. Besheret is a running joke between he and I. It’s the name of the blessings column in the Baltimore Jewish Times. It was my faux dream to get featured in Besheret when I worked for a Jewish organization. Don’t think I won’t still submit it now!

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Our cake topper is really fun. Also from Etsy. Liz sent me the link while in China and I just plugged in the information to customize. She even added the headband!  The cake was a gift from my friend Julia. I was so exhausted by the fast planning that I emailed her from China. I was hysterical. I just wanted a cake and everything was crazy expensive (like $200+ for a GROCERY STORE CAKE) and they were asking me questions that I just didn’t care about (colors, flavor, fondant, etc.) She swooped in, ordered the cake and had it ready for us day of. Truly, a lifesaver.

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This figurines were the cake topper for Jordan’s German great-grandparent’s wedding. His grandmother brought it down from Maryland for us. Sadly, we won’t be eating cake for our one-year anniversary. We managed to leave it all in the freezer of the hotel 😦 Sigh.

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I also brought these vintage cameras to Florida from home. You know what? I bought these in Australia with my mom! Heh. Again, more props to work with.

I also hired someone to do my makeup in Florida. Obviously, since I have never looked so good in my life, it was worth it. I found her through wedding vendor reviews. And, Google found us our amazing photographer.

So, that’s it. I promise. Last wedding post 🙂

Posted in sewing

Wedding Crafts

Just because I sew, doesn’t mean I ‘craft’. I’m not sure when it became a ‘thing’ to have a crafty DIY wedding, but after reading wedding blogs and message boards, it’s clear to me that it’s the current trend. Maybe it’s always been a thing? After having spent many family weddings bagging candy or rice or bubble blowing kits (or serving food), I SWORE I wasn’t going to get sucked into the vortex of making ‘stuff’ for my 15 person wedding planned in six weeks. I just wanted to walk in and everything be ‘done’. But, Pinterest and the proliferation of wedding blogging sucked me in. I spent several nights at A.C. Moore and Michael’s getting craft supplies and even more nights crafting.

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While our wedding was moved up, I wanted to make sure it felt like a thoughtful/ not rushed service. Also, I’m a photo nut and wanted to make sure there were lots of details for our photographer to capture.

We used Scrabble as the motif in three of our projects. My parents and I used to play Scrabble weekly after church. My parents love that game. I gave them the nice anniversary edition a few years ago. And, the first time Jordan met my dad (you know, back when I didn’t give him a title. Just, ‘Dad, this is Jordan’), we played Scrabble together. Jordan, to be polite, kicked our collective butts. He told me he wasn’t very good at it because his Mom and brother used to play and beat him regularly. Turns out his brother and mom are Scrabble fiends.

I also liked the idea of using ‘words’ since I was a journalism major and he was a creative writing major. Yo, I found a hetero, alpha, male who likes the theater and considers Le Mis his favorite musical. #MarryHim #AlreadyDid

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The first big craft was this banner we had our guests hold up for our ‘announcement’ photo. I totally got the idea off of Pinterest. I used thin plywood tiles at $1.99 from A.C. Moore , varnished them for color accuracy (I don’t know why. Varnish is so not needed. I did it because I am a glutton for punishment) . I also modgepodged them in my living room. I had to crate Linus because he wanted to be in everything I was working on. The letter templates and directions are from here.

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We also made these seat names for folks using scrabble tiles. Mine was ‘bride’ and his was ‘groom’. Just a glue gun and tiles from ebay and etsy. There were some glue gun injuries. That stuff BURNS. Most of our guests left theirs behind. That’s okay. I’m going to make them take them at our post-wedding party. I’m using mine for a paperweight in my office.

Our final Scrabble themed item were our favors. I found the idea at Project Wedding. I like how I think favors are a total waste of time and money. Yet, I still spent two days making them!

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The only thing different I did was mod podging the tops and just printing our tags rather than letter pressing them.

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Crazy Saturday night plans.

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I recruited Liz to do most of the work with me while my then fiance was in Philadelphia for his bachelor weekend. As you can see, tulle for my veil and vodka for sustenance.

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Non Scrabble related, we did a L-O-V-E sign by painting these wood letters in our wedding colors. I can’t even tell you how hard I resisted having ‘colors’. But, I kept getting asked by the florist, guests, the planner, etc. Finally, I just settled on pastel versions of the wedding invitation (which mirrored the website).

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This photo is super backlit. But, you get the gist.

Liz, because she’s crazy and actually crafty, continued crafting after I left for Florida. She made these incredibly cute signs for the wedding that we used in our pro photos. The wait for pro photos is TERRIBLE. I mean, we were lucky to get a little teaser within 48 hours. But, the next four weeks will try my patience!

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The other nice thing we did was ship all this stuff to Florida. Along with my shoes, other props (vintage cameras), the programs, gifts for my parents — all of it went via Fed Ex. I just schlepped my dress. Which, I would have mailed but didn’t get it back in enough time to make the shipment.

Posted in sewing, Travel

China Lace Dresses

I had a stack of China related posts ready to write while I was there. But, then things got c-r-a-z-y.  One thing I wanted to talk about were the custom clothes I had made in China. I had two suits, four shirts made, but I was really excited about these lace dresses.

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As you may recall, I spotted these laces while in China at the Silk Bund Spinning Market. I paid about$15 usd a yard for them and was feeling a little taken to the cleaners. But, I felt better after spotting the same lace in white in Xiamen and they were asking double the price before negotiating. I felt especially good after coming back from China and finding these laces at A Fabric Place for $85 to $110 a yard.

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Anywhoo, I decided I wanted to have dresses made rather than sew them myself when I got home. I went online and picked these two styles for inspiration.

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Dolce and Gabbana ($3,500)

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Second view of DG dress

I’ve never really sewn with lace before and wasn’t all that amped to try anytime soon. So, going to a tailor to have them made in China would also be part of the experience. I also decided to wait until Xiamen instead of Shanghai because of the prices. I knew the labor costs would be half since Xiamen isn’t saturated with Westerners having clothes made.

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In Xiamen one of our guides, found a brother, sister and mom  who worked out of their home. I showed them the dresses on my iPad and from the September editions of Vogue magazine. They took my measurements and got to work.

Essentially, there is no pattern. They marked my hip, waist and bust measurements right on the fabric.

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From there, they draft, again, on the fabric.

If you can imagine, they had appliqued the neckline lace. Something, I just would not have the patience to do.

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I went in for about two fittings on the three dresses and here are the results. I had the cream and purple made into the Valentino cap sleeve style. I asked for a side zipper because I didn’t want to ruin the lines of the lace.

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I always knew I wanted to wear the cream dress for our rehearsal / welcome dinner. And, Liz looked so cute in the purple version, that she wore it that night too.

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Now, on me the cream lace dress is about four inches too long. It would be better just above my knee. The purple proportions are fine.

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I’m not tall (or thin) enough to get away with this middy look.

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I thought about hacking some off the bottom and reapplying the lace. But, I’m not going to do that.

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And, I think it looks prettier with the lace detail (unlike above where it’s turned under). I’m also not going to cut it at the waist, shorten from there, and sew it back. It’s just not in me.

Anywho, Liz wore the purple version that night and looked smashing.

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I haven’t gotten to wear the red one yet. Man, red takes terrible pictures.  We just finalized details for a post-wedding party his parents are hosting. I thought about wearing it then, but it seems a little fancy for a Sunday afternoon gig.

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Overall, I am thrilled with the dresses. They are really beautifully made and I wouldn’t have gotten around to sewing them any time soon. Plus, it was an experience having someone else interpret your idea of a dress. I think being a sewist myself made me super patient with the process. I also knew I needed to give them photos of what I wanted and NOT deviate. Between the language barrier and time, not having a photo is the way to get what you don’t want.

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My interpreter this year, Ashley (below)  was fascinated by the whole process. But, she too could not understand why I would want to get dresses made when there are H&M and other stores all over China. I also got to bore her pants of with wedding details. Weddings are BIG business in China. Since I was always online ordering stuff for the wedding, she was my one woman focus group.

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What is different this year, is she didn’t think I paid too much. Three years ago, my interpreters thought my custom clothes were expensive. But, the economy in China has changed since then and this didn’t seem too high to her.

I’ll post about the suits and shirts another time, I think this post is long enough!

Posted in sewing

Altering A Bra

Everyone, thank you for the support, prayers and congratulations. My heart is full. I haven’t been sewing (except for my veil). In fact, I’ve loaned my Babylock serger to Trena while hers is being serviced. I currently have no place to sew as my sewing room is in the process of relocating from the basement to the former guest bedroom. And, this new husband is still moving in. My kingdom for a clear space in my house!!

I don’t want to bore your pants off with wedding stuff.  I realize  wedding planning is  kind of only interesting to the person who got married and their mother. So, here’s a sort of sewing related but wedding related post 🙂  I thought I’d show a quick post on the alterations I needed for my corset

My dress had a crazy low back.  I was partly sold on this dress because I thought it made my butt look pretty good and me skinny. Well, slimmer. If you order in the store it can take 8 – 12 weeks. Online, two days.

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It was also also super low in the front. You can see the store bra peeking on the right. And serious (for me) cleavage! Also, the DB bra was a band size too big and the cups one size too small. I look like I have flapjacks in there. Imagine the clerk trying to tell me I could just sew in some cups and skip a bra. Umm, no.


I decided to go to Bare Necessities in Baltimore County to buy a low back bridal bra ($70). But, it still wasn’t low enough at the front OR the back. Color me surprised when the consultant told me they could alter my bra.

So, I took this dress with me to my friend Liliya (who gifted my dress alterations and had it ready in a seriously fast ONE WEEK). She marked up my new bra with pins. The store needed to remove five (!!) rows of hook and eye! I dropped off the bra and came back a week before the wedding.

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In addition, the front cups needed to be shortened another 3/4 of an inch.

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And, since the support from the back band would be reduced, I needed darts at the side to make the corset snug up against me.

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When I got back to Bare Essentials to try on the bra, I was thrilled to find that Kelly in alterations was a blog reader! She reminded me about her comment on an old post and I totally remembered. Who knew good lingerie stores do alterations!?!

She did a ROCK STAR job on this bra!!!  You can’t even tell it’s been sliced and diced. Here’s me trying on the altered version in the store. I was feeling supa cute after three weeks of strict Dukan Dieting. Yes, I became a bridal dieter and it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. My breath was terrible, I was irritable and I had dreams of cold glasses of reisling. I was so very sick of tofu and fish. Like, I can’t even look at fish right now without shuddering. But, I dropped the weight and felt GREAT on my wedding day.  I have since resumed my life of fried food, cheese, wine and carbohydrates.

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I can’t recommend to you enough the power of a good bra. The right fit enhanced my curves and is super comfortable even with all the boning from top to bottom. Plus, I can wear this bra with other dresses I’ve avoided in the past because I didn’t have a law back bra! Oh, I also have lots of lingerie inspiration from my two visits to Bare Necessities.

Oh, I am mad at myself for buying this $28 nonsense, because I am a #sucker.  I didn’t even wear it. But, I was in the bridal daze and somehow, it seemed a reasonable amount of money for a 1/4 yard of stretch lace.

Final thought, complaints on wedding dress sizing. <rant> I wish people would get over the number. I bought a size 14 dress. Which, conveniently coordinates with my sewing pattern size. I didn’t bat an eye. Yet, all over wedding message boards people complain about Bridal Sizing and how everything is smaller. No, it’s not. It’s just a number people! Get the size that fits instead of complaining about the number. The number is just a guideline to get you into something that might be close to fitting. It’s NOT “bridal sizing”.  It’s the pattern size. And, it’s the pattern size because most of the dresses are made-to-order. And, it’s just a number. What size is it? It’s YOUR size. Also, amazing how everyone is willing and expects to get alteration on a wedding dress to fit. But, complain about how other clothes fit in the store and how they are ‘cut funny’ when they don’t fit one individual’s body. They fit somebody correctly (the fit model). I wish more people realized clothes weren’t made for YOU. And, alterations became an expected expense to have clothes that fit well. </rant>