Wedding Dress
January 14, 2015
October 24, 2015

Wedding Dress

Project info
Hooks & yarn
3.25 mm (D)
3.5 mm (E)
Reywa Fibers Bloom
16 skeins = 6560.0 yards (5998.5 meters)
The Village Knitter in Babylon, New York

On January 2, 2010 I went to a book talk and signing with Mary Taylor and Nicky Epstein on the book Knitting on Top of the World and Mary’s intent to knit her way through the entire book. While there, I picked up a copy of Nicky’s Knitting in Tuscany and fell in love with the pattern Bella Bride. I knew then that this was my wedding dress. Granted, I’d only been dating Kyle not even 3 months at that point, but I guess it was meant to be :o)

Every time I flipped through that book, I pined over that dress. And when we finally got engaged in October 2014, I had that dress in my mind. I had it in mind every time I tried a wedding dress on and every time those dresses weren’t exactly right.

On a whim, my mother and I went shopping at a local dress store and I scoured the clearance rack in the formal section for something that would work as a base dress. I tried on a couple actual wedding dresses. No success. Until I found the clearance rack in the Women’s section. There I found a terrible dress with a terrible bow. And then I tried it on. And then I had “the dress moment.” And then I bought it. Hideous bow and all. (Sidenote- this is not abnormal for me. I found my prom dress at this same store. On the clearance rack. Which I then took 2 weeks of hand sewing to make it my perfect prom dress.)

Next step was finding the right yarn, which I already had in mind. I’d knit a shawl with Reywa’s laceweight Bloom already and loved the feel of it. I bought 20 skeins, thinking that was way more yardage than the original pattern called for (written for an aran weight). I got pretty close to using all of it! Besides being an amazing yarn, I loved that Reywa gives back to the local Tibetan community. (The first venue I had in mind also is a non-profit educational organization so this was all important to me. Unfortunately, finances determined that we could not use this location. But you should check it out anyway!)

I discovered that I wasn’t crazy about how some of the doilies in the original pattern worked up in the laceweight so I expanded my doily collection to some I found searching on Ravelry.

The original pattern was only 1 size and doesn’t give specific instructions as to how to sew the pieces together. I decided that I wanted a gradual transition from solid doilies at the bodice to spaced apart doilies at the bottom. I used an Irish lace technique to piece the doilies that were spaced apart and sewed/crocheted them together when they were close enough to each other.

Putting the doilies together was a lot of trial and error. First, we went to Erica’s house to play “pin the doily on the bride”- I’d wear the underdress and the girls would pin the doilies on. Definitely not a good plan. So we pinned some on that night but ran out of pins. The method for Irish lace I was following involved pinning the pieces to paper WS facing up so after pinning to the dress, I transferred the doilies to kraft paper. This worked fine enough for the middle of the dress which was form fitting.

But once I reached the flared bottom, the pieces of paper weren’t matching up anymore. I stared using a mannequin as a dressform at The Village Knitter to pin the pieces on. I put the petticoat, underdress and crocheted lace all on the mannequin. I would pin the doilies to the dress and crochet lace sections with it all on the mannequin.

The bottom edging (Birch Scallops from The Finer Edge by Kristin Omdahl) was created separately. I used a foundationless chain and started with 811 sts around. Working in the round, I started with 1 round of hdc before starting the scallop edging. I joined the doilies and crochet lace to this as the body of the dress reached the bottom.

The final touch was the belt. My original plan was to do no beading in the dress and have an eye-catching beaded belt. I scrapped that idea when I started using beads and went for something simpler as a belt. This piece of fabric was the belt sash off my mother’s wedding dress from when she married my father in 1983. Something old: check. I wanted to use more off her dress, but time as usual played into that.

Lessons Learned/Things I’d do different (other than take so darn long to make it)

  1. Wet block and pin everything. I steamed the doilies with Ann and steamed the dress as I was working on it, but I think if I were to do it over, I’d wet block and stretch everything. The dress grew significantly from the steaming, but it stretched even more as I wore it the day of the wedding. I stepped on it a lot (and my heel even got caught more than once in the edging). The scallop edging definitely ripped in one spot.
  2. Forget pinning to paper and work directly on the dress. Pinning to the paper worked for the middle of the dress, but not anywhere else. All the time spent pinning could have been better used making actual progress. This was my first time trying the Irish lace technique (the style I used is pretty similar to a basic crochet market bag though. It’s pretty fast that way).
  3. Time time time! I’m a procrastinator. I should have started piecing the dress together much sooner. Some of the problems I encountered and final details that I don’t care for wouldn’t have been there if there’d have been more time. But, if I had 3 years to work on it, I’d wind up finishing the same way in all likelihood anyway.

Some of the doilies were modified. These notes to come.

All doilies were made using the magic circle technique to start them instead of whatever was written in each pattern.

Made with help from:

Mom/Mary aries329m
Jacque jacquerae
Aunt Betty (not on Ravelry)
Erica pookiepie13
Ann purlingswine
Kathleen katyknits
Amy bloodthreadshears
Susie eastenddesignco
Norma passionfruit
Penny seasaw432
Karen (not on Ravelry)
Anjanette finasc
Angela march27aries
Karen newicks
Rachel rachmouse

Everyone here helped in some way, be it making doilies, providing me a place to work, placing doilies, giving me beads, loaning me your bead spinner (a lifesaver!), telling me where to buy decent beads, weaving in ends or loaning me stitch dictionaries. There’s a little bit of each of you in this dress!

Yardage is an estimate, for now. I purchased 20 skeins and wound 16 of them. But there’s significant amounts remaining of at least 3 skeins. Leftovers will be weighed once all the wedding supplies are cleared out of my apartment and I can find my yarn again.

Most seed beads were purchased at Toho Shoji in NYC. Some seed beads were purchased at Bead Center NY. Seed beads were sized 8/o and 10/o. Other seed beads were given to me by friends. Anjanette loaned me her bead spinner which saved so much time!

Swarovski beads were used on the bodice (also purchased from Toho Shoji). Beads used were 3mm bicones. Colors were Light Azore and Crystal AB. I purchased a package of each (1440 beads per package) and have a good amount remaining.

viewed 7485 times | helped 8 people
January 14, 2015
October 24, 2015
About this pattern
Personal pattern (not in Ravelry)
About this yarn
by Reywa Fibers
50% Yak, 50% Silk
410 yards / 45 grams

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stashed 868 times

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  • Project created: February 13, 2015
  • Finished: November 3, 2015
  • Updated: August 30, 2016