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Cabochon Keychain Wedding Favors Tutorial

I’ve always liked party favors and since a wedding is just one giant party (at least ours was!), giving out wedding favors was a given. However, I wanted the favors to be something lasting (I love getting candies but I eat them before the wedding is even over!) and I wanted them to be connected to our wedding and to be used again in the future. (It’s super fun getting sunglasses with the couple’s name on them to wear at the wedding reception, but they don’t really get worn after that, right?) So I decided to make a whole bunch of cabochon keychains using art from our wedding invitations. To make your own cabochon keychains, you will need cabochons and cabochon backs (I ordered the cabochon and backs on Etsy), mod podge, a strong craft glue that dries clear (I love Aileen’s original tacky glue), print-outs of your design, scissors, …

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Kanzashi Wedding Bouquet Tutorial

Although I made many things for our wedding, I think the pièce de résistance that made everything feel so me was the handmade silk kanzashi bouquet. I mean it’s just so bright and silly and happy and colorful! A kanzashi bouquet starts with a whole pile of kanzashi flowers – I had previously made a whole bunch from silk that I hand dyed. What makes them sparkle is a whole bunch of vintage earrings (I got these cheap in a lot since they were all missing their partners), cleaned, with their backs removed. You will also need a hot glue gun, floral wire, fabric for the stems, scraps of felt or fleece, and ribbon. On the top of each flower, hot-glue a vintage earring (already cleaned and with the back removed). Create a bunch of rouleau cord using your favorite technique (a quick google will lead you to a bunch of …

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Nanny’s 1940’s Silver Thimble

The night before I got married in Santa Barbara, Nanny Sheila, Adam’s grandmother, gave me a silver thimble to carry as my “something old”. The thimble was given to her in the 1940’s by Nanny Clara, the mother of her sister-in-law, Marjorie. Nanny Sheila and Marjorie were friends from the age of 7 years old. Nanny Clara gave Sheila the thimble because she loved to sew, so she thought it was quite fitting to pass it on to me! I used the thimble to hand sew all of the ties that I made for the groomsmen and fathers at our big wedding in Seattle. Amazingly, the thimble fit perfectly and was such a delight to use for a wedding project as every stitch held a bit of family history. Nanny Sheila taught me that every object that is pure silver (at least every object that is also old and from …

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Wedding Quilt Chuppah

The biggest gift we were given for our wedding was the gift of a handmade quilt that we used as a chuppah from my mom and her Quilty Ladies – from L to R  – Nancy, Judy, Ann, Mom, Miyoko, and Susie. An untold number of stitches done with love over an untold number of hours combined to create a stunning heirloom gift that we are so very honored to have. What is a chuppah, some of you might be asking? In our ceremony we explained: “In the Jewish tradition, marriages take place under a chuppah. A chuppah represents a home. Just as the chuppah is open on all four sides, so was the tent of Abraham open for hospitality. Thus, the chuppah represents hospitality to one’s guests – that’s all of you, our family, friends, and loved ones. This symbolic home lacks furnishings to remind us that a home …

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Mismatched Casual Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Since I didn’t sew my wedding dress, I definitely wanted to sew my bridesmaids’ dresses. Of course, picking a style was a decision I labored over for a long time. I wanted something that would flatter the very different body types my gals have, and I really wanted the dresses to be something that they would wear again and again. I wavered between same-fabric-different-dress, same-fabric-same-dress, and all-different-but-same-color. And nothing quite felt right. Finally, I had an epiphany. What wasn’t feeling right was the formality of the dresses I was considering. As soon as I switched from thinking of silk dresses to picturing them in a nice jersey everything fell into place. I did a fair bit of looking for the exact perfect color of purple in a nice jersey (since I had already bought the fabric for the groomsmen’s ties and it needed to be a decent match) but didn’t find anything in …

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My Puffy Pink Wedding Dress

Here’s the moment I know you’ve all been waiting for – photos of my puffy pink wedding dress! When I bought the dress, I talked about my decision to buy instead of sew and what this dress represented for who I am and where I’m at in my life journey. And I’m delighted to say that this token example of flamboyance and self-expression was the perfect accompaniment for the start of my new life. I’m already happier and healthier than I was when I bought the dress (I was still in graduate school at the time) and I am SO excited about everything that lies ahead! There’s been some big bumps in my life journey getting me to where I am right now and who I am right now and this dress was everything I wanted it to be as a declaration that I’m silly, flamboyant, and unusual, and proud to be …

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Wedding Shawl for my Mother-In-Law

To honor the women that have been mothers to me, I knit each of them a lace shawl to wear to my wedding. I want to thank my mother, stepmother, godmother, and mother-in-law each for their love and guidance and support in my life. I picked a different yarn and different pattern for each woman. I already shared the shawls for my stepmother, godmother, and mom. This final one is for my mother-in-law. Judi is a strong, loving woman with an artist’s soul. I wanted to knit her a shawl that would emphasize her loving embrace, for she takes into her arms, her heart, and her life so many people that are lucky enough to cross her path. I knit Icarus Shawl from Interweave Knits Summer 2006 in Rowan Fine Lace. I chose a silver lace yarn so that it would shine, just like Judi. Other than one stupid mistake on my …

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Wedding Shawl for my Mother

To honor the women that have been mothers to me, I am knitting each of them a lace shawl to wear to my wedding. I want to thank my mother, stepmother, godmother, and mother-in-law each for their love and guidance and support in my life. I picked a different yarn and different pattern for each woman. I already finished shawls for my stepmother and godmother. This one is for my mom. My mom is a petite blonde woman who wears pink. Clearly, I’m not blonde (well, not most of the time), I’m definitely not petite, but I certainly inherited my love of pink from her! I picked a complicated and frilly, intricate pattern not necessarily because I thought it would fit her personality (how I chose the other shawl patterns) but because I knew she would appreciate it. I know it will make her smile. The pattern I picked is #06 Turquoise …

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DIY Wedding Makeup

Before leaving San Francisco, I made friends with the Hannah, the brilliantly creative lady behind the Dress Up Box. She’s a super talented makeup artist and offered to teach me some pointers about how to do my own makeup for my wedding. What follows is the process and some of the tips she shared with me. If you regularly wear makeup, this may be obvious to you, but as someone who considers under-eye concealer and lipstick to be a full face of makeup, I was very grateful to have such a talented lady point me in the right direction for my big day! Hannah pulled out a giant makeup kit of mostly fancy high-end brand-name stuff. But, she promised that I could get the same effect from the random mish-mash of drug store products that I already owned. Hint 1: If you are recommended a brand name product, google the …

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Cotton Lawn Wedding Ties for Groomsmen and Fathers

Since I’m sewing dresses for our female wedding attendants and knitting shawls for our mother figures, I wanted to come up with a wearable gift for the male wedding attendants and father figures and ties seemed the logical choice. Of course, going into sewing the ties, I didn’t realize how handmade they really are – by which I mean every single stitch is sewn by hand! But I’m thrilled with the results – I made a lot of absolutely gorgeous ties! Since our wedding is pretty casual, I bought a gorgeous cotton lawn from Britex with a delicate grey floral print – it’s not a Liberty Lawn (it’s from Italy) like I had in my head to find, but it was filed right next to them and fills the role beautifully. I picked a coordinating color to sew a tie for Adam so that he stood out (he is the …

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Tiny Santa Barbara Courthouse Wedding

I’m terrible at keeping secrets. Actually, I can keep other people’s secrets without a problem. I can’t keep any of my own, so I’m going to have to spill the beans. Adam and I popped down to Santa Barbara last week and got married! We tied the knot in front of the fountain at the Santa Barbara courthouse, the same place that he first told me he loved me and later asked me to marry him! The wedding was a tiny affair – just me and Adam, his parents, his grandmother, and one set of my parents (my mom and step-dad). We are keeping it pretty quiet since we are considering the big wedding we have coming up next month to be our actual wedding and the anniversary that we will celebrate. But Nanny Sheila, Adam’s grandmother, has been a very important part of his life and she is 94 …

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The Wedding Jacket Chronicle Part 5: Jacket Fronts

Soooo much hand sewing. That’s the short and sweet about this installment of the Wedding Jacket Chronicle. Of course I have plenty more to say about the process, but I will admit that I watched a LOT of Murder, She Wrote while working on the jacket fronts, more than I expected, since essentially every single stitch of a whole lot of tailoring work is done by hand (and there are both left and right fronts, so just when you think you’re finishing a task, there’s another side to repeat it on! Kind of like a sock knitter’s dilemma). This picture condenses several steps since much of my sewing in this phase was done at night (ignore the tape on the edge of the lapel at this point!). The dart is cut out of the front hair canvas interfacing and then the interfacing is laid onto the fabric. The dart is catch-stitched …

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Wedding Shawl for my Stepmother

To honor the women that have been mothers to me, I am knitting each of them a lace shawl to wear to my wedding. I want to thank my mother, stepmother, godmother, and mother-in-law each for their love and guidance and support in my life. I picked a different yarn and different pattern for each woman. The first finished shawl was for my godmother. This second shawl is for my Stepmother. Linda, my stepmother, has a simple, classic style. She’s sporty, no-nonsense, but always elegant. Since I planned on knitting lace patterns for all of my mothers, I knew I was going to have to look beyond the frilly for something to suit Linda. I think I found the perfect pattern in the Slanting Plaid Stole from Interweave Knits Fall 2010. It’s a unique lace pattern that looks deceptively simple when knit, with a geometric feel that is still quite elegant. …

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The Wedding Jacket Chronicle Part 4: Prepping, Cutting! and Marking

This phase of my Wedding Jacket Chronicle may not be that technically challenging, but it sure was emotionally challenging. I’ve clearly been dragging my feet on actually getting started on the jacket and I think a big part of it had to do with fear of failure. I’m scared of ruining my precious (expensive) fabric. I’m scared my tailoring attempts will fall short. Once I figured out that I was being stopped by fear, I gave myself a talking-to and (finally) dove in. The first step was to pre-shrink the hair canvas and the fabric. I used a spray bottle to mist the hair canvas and held the iron in place until it dried. Like a total doofus, I managed to burn a small bit of it as I got distracted by my cat trying to jump onto my precious wool brocade and left the iron down while I shooed …

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Wedding Shawl for my Godmother

To honor the women that have been mothers to me, I am knitting each of them a lace shawl to wear to my wedding. I want to thank my mother, stepmother, godmother, and mother-in-law each for their love and guidance and support in my life. I picked a different yarn and different pattern for each woman. Although I’ve had a few setbacks, I’m again on track to have them all finished in time. This first shawl is for my Godmother. The pattern is Rose Lace Stole, published in Interweave Knits Spring 2011. It is cast on as a provisional cast-on in the center and worked outward to each end, ending in an Estonian lace pattern, resembling roses at the end. I knit it from Classic Elite Yarns Silky Alpaca Lace (I do love me some alpaca yarn) in the Gentian Violet colorway. (Nerdy sidenote: gentian violet, although named after the gentian …

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The Wedding Jacket Chronicle Part 3: Fitting Revelation (or Muslin Fitting 2)

I recently spent another afternoon getting Sunnygal Studio‘s help on fitting my jacket muslin and our final product was a revelation. It changed my entire relationship with sleeve caps and my shoulders. The earth moved, the stars aligned, and *BAM* I finally understood how to get a fitted garment well-fitted through my shoulders. I have always struggled to get garments nicely fitted through my shoulders (my fitting challenge is that I have a narrow ribcage but prominent shoulders) – either they dig into my underarm or I can’t lift my arms or I’m drowning in fabric to compensate. I’ve made all sorts of non-standard changes in all sorts of places in the sleeve, sleeve cap, and armscye and all to no avail. And now, I know EXACTLY what to do to EVERY SINGLE fitted garment that I sew with sleeves for the rest of my life. AMEN! The changes that I had …

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More Glasses Fails

I appreciate all the feedback you awesome folks gave on my last round of glasses (in which I desperately search for the perfect glasses to wear to my wedding). Although your votes were pretty dead even between the first and second pairs, I was getting pretty convinced that the second pair (the cat-eyes with gold frames) were the best choice. Until I read one comment that they covered too much of my eyebrows. And I just couldn’t see past that!! Since none of them really truly felt perfect, I decided to order a round of try-at-home glasses from three different companies! The conclusion after all these glasses? I still don’t know what I want to do for glasses for my wedding! I tried a set of purple glasses since Adam will be wearing purple, but they were all too dark since everything else I’ll be wearing is pale. A couple …

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How To String a Pearl Necklace

Making simple necklaces is quite easy. But, like many crafts, you can make simple projects truly special by paying attention to  craftsmanship. I wanted to make a pearl necklace to wear for my wedding so I bought some pearls and set about to learn how to string a pearl necklace in the best possible way. When working with pearls,  you need silk thread. While there are many, many options for beading threads, wires, and cords, you want to use silk because it is very sturdy but will not wear away at the pearls from the inside. I really enjoyed working with Griffin Silk Bead Cord which comes with a beading needle already attached for easing stringing. Other than using silk, there are two characteristics that set a pearl necklace apart from another necklace – pearl necklaces are often threaded on two strands of cord and a knot is tied between each pearl. …

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Frogging. And Then More Frogging.

Oh man. I may be in the middle of working myself into a tissy over trying to make waaay to many things for our wedding oh yeah and trying to finish grad school in the next couple of months and what the heck is wrong with me why can’t I just make simple choices and say no to myself but I want to do ALL THE THINGS and there just aren’t enough hours in the day so I use night hours too but there aren’t enough of those and I really have to sleep sometimes even if I’ve become a complete caffeine addict again because Adam will tell you that I’m really not as pleasant of a person as I could be if I’m not getting enough sleep and I really do try and be pleasant most of the time even if I am more than a bit of a …

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Hand Dyed Silk Kanzashi Flowers

A collection of flowers. A panoply of kanzashi flowers. A range of silk flowers. An array of handmade flowers. A multitude of hand-dyed flowers. An assemblage of pink and purple flowers. A lot of flowers. Aren’t they so very bright and happy! And cheerful and fun! Okay, okay, I’ll lay off the thesaurus, I promise. I handmade and hand-dyed each of these flowers from silk noile from Minerva Crafts for my Minerva Craft Blogger project this month. Kanzashi is a Japanese method of folding fabric into individual petals and then sewing them together into flowers. I followed instructions in the book Kanzashi in Bloom by Diane Gilleland. The instructions in the book are great, but it’s worth noting that the vast majority of the book is ideas for using the flowers in projects. Diane has a how-to video on her website that’s a great resource if you want to make …

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Help Me Pick Glasses?

I need a little help from my friends. That means you guys! Obviously, I wear glasses. And, if you haven’t noticed, I like to match my glasses to my outfit. I have many pairs in different colors. What I don’t have, is the perfect pair of glasses to wear at my wedding. I’ll be wearing a blush colored wedding dress so I wanted to find a pair of glasses to match. I found two pairs of blush colored glasses as well as two slightly cat-eye glasses that seemed subtle and light enough to fit with the slightly retro aesthetic. And now I need your help. Which glasses do you like best? Any of them? None of them? I tried asking Adam, but he doesn’t like change, so he wasn’t much help. Are any of these keepers, or should I keep looking!?!

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The Wedding Jacket Chronicle Part 2: Muslin Fitting 1

Making muslins is always a good idea, but the more complex your pattern is, the more precise the fit required, and the more expensive your material is, the more important it is to make a muslin. Since my wedding jacket will be an enormous investment of time (as I hand tailor it) and money (luscious Britex fabric), and since it’s hard to fit on your own body, I wanted to get some help perfecting the fit of my jacket. I turned to the talented and knowledgeable Beth of Sunnygal Studios for a day in her studio, fitting my jacket muslin. We started by pinning on the main front and back tissue pattern pieces. Interestingly, we found that both the bust apex and waistline were 1″ too low for me (even though I’m 5’10”, although most of my height is below my navel). We pinched out the 1″ at the bust …

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The Wedding Jacket Chronicle Part 1: Pattern and Fabric

Stop what you’re doing and look at this fabric. Off-white wool brocade with delicate gold flowers. Yes, I said wool brocade. Go ahead, stare. But you might want to catch that drool before it hits your lap. Really, you’re not drooling yet? Okay, I’ll chalk it up to the fact that a picture hardly does this beauty justice. Just wait until I get sewing on this project. There. Will. Be. Drool. Since I decided not to sew my own wedding dress (or shall I say the universe and my girlfriends decided for me), I’ve been obsessing about things I could possible sew (and make and do) for my wedding. Concurrently, a part of my brain has been obsessing about finally hand tailoring a jacket for myself. And the two ideas seem to have collided. Because I’ve decided to hand tailor an off-white wool brocade jacket to wear over my wedding dress for …

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Refashioned Wedding Dress turned Cocktail Dress

This saucy little cocktail dress was once Ellen’s wedding dress. Can you believe it? Together we cut and pasted and dipped and dyed and gave her dress a brand new life. While chopping apart your wedding dress isn’t for the faint of heart or the even the heartily sentimental, Ellen was thrilled about the project because it meant that she would get to wear her dress over and over again. Ellen’s wedding dress was a mermaid style dress where the top was fitted until mid-thigh and the full bottom was a separate piece gathered and sewn along the bottom. This made it an ideal dress for turning into a cocktail dress since it required no reshaping and very little reconstruction. We started by ripping off the bottom gathered layer. (You can see that Tig immediately claimed the pile of fabric as her own. I eventually stole some back to be …

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Why I Just Bought a Pink Wedding Dress

and cry every time I listen to Katy Perry’s song “Roar”: I use to be even more bold, even more outrageous, even more flamboyant. I used to delight in always wearing  ridiculous dresses completely unsuited for the occasion – camping in space princess dresses and hiking in ballgowns made from parachutes. I loved being the center of attention, the belle of the ball. I was always silly and flirty and fun. And I don’t feel that that’s me any more, and that has been making me sad. As I prepare for so many big life milestones this coming year – finishing grad school, moving to a different state, getting married, and turning 30 – I’m realizing that I don’t like all of what I’ve grown into. I’ve grown shy, learned to constantly doubt myself, and worry about what others think of me. This is not who I want to be. …

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Silk Floral Print Anna Dress

I sewed the Anna dress from By Hand London out of a lightweight silk to wear to a girlfriend’s wedding this weekend. It consumed my every free moment last week since I didn’t leave nearly enough time to sew it (since I had a stomach bug on the weekend I had planned on doing most of the work.) But I got it done, and I adore the result! To make sure that the dress would work before I cut out my silk, I sewed the same version of the dress out of a cheaper fabric first, but that version is currently only basted together because, as soon as I saw that it fit and I liked it, I switched to the silk dress. (I will finish it soon). I originally had other ideas for what to wear to this wedding, but the more versions of this dress I’ve seen pop …

Dress Re-Make: From Scallops to Greece

I sewed my dress to wear to my step-sister’s wedding last year. The result was tolerable enough that I actually wore the dress, but it just didn’t come together in real life like it did in my head. (Side note: wasn’t my step-sister a beautiful bride!!) The color makes me look washed out. The scallops are uneven if you look too close. The length (just above the knee) seemed not right. And the slight gathers in the waist and the slightly-too-snug hips conspired to make my belly look very, very poochy. So, I cut it apart at the waist. I decided that the bottom of the dress was a lost cause and put it to scrap. I took a length of sage colored fabric from my stash (I believe they were once my mom’s curtains) to remake the skirt. The bodice of the dress ended up rather Grecian in my …