Posts Tagged ‘flowers



Early on in our custom design process, I let Rachel know that if she was interested I could custom make her veil to coordinate with her gown. She was delighted with the possibility but had no ideas about what specifically she would want. I think our mutual friend Ann-Michelle was the first to suggest she consider a fascinator instead of the traditional veil. As soon as we began thinking on that track it was clearly the right call for Rachel and her wedding day.

Again we perused the internet for inspiration. Rachel liked the look of a couple of photos with flower fascinators that had wispy feathers sort of sweeping out around them. On a shopping trip together to find flowers for the gown, we found some feathers dyed a deep purpley magenta that were just perfect! These, together with flowers Rachel selected to match the bouquet she would carry, and some stunning iridescent beads that matched the Dupioni exactly, came together to make a beautiful accessory for her hair, that coordinated wonderfully with her gown.


Change of plans

After Rachel’s fabric fitting, I worked on embellishing the skirt. Our original design plan had been to dot the skirt with small purple fabric flowers, and adding a sprinkling of beads and sequins around them for some extra sparkle. It sounded good, it worked in the sketch, it had been gorgeous in a couple of inspiration photos we drew from. In real life, on her gown, it was all wrong. The contrast between the deep purple and pale ivory was too stark, and the small flowers made the skirt looked almost polka dotted. Adding that to the mixed textures and silk pick ups that we were already using, and the skirt was far too busy. I sent Rachel pictures of the gown with the flowers pinned in place, and she replied first asking me to thin them out, and then asking if we could rethink them altogether. Rachel apologized but I let her know – this is part of the custom process, and it’s precisely the reason why I send progress photos! Sometimes what sounds good in theory turns out a bit different in practice. It was time to rethink things.

Over the course of a couple of days we emailed back and forth. I sent photos of a number of possible alternatives, adding flowers at the hem instead of dotting throughout, beading small sections of the skirt with purple beads, clear beads, small ones and large ones, sections matching the beading on the bodice, random scatterings and little flower shaped bead clusters, long trailing “vines” of ivory thread and clear sequins. I tried to do just enough of each sample to let her see, without devoting too much time to any of them and without overhandling the fabrics.

Ultimately, Rachel decided she didn’t want purple beads or purple thread in the skirt; the contrast was just too much. She liked the look of the ivory “vines” with sequins, and asked if I could do this but also scatter in a few of the beaded flowers (in clear beads) for a bit of texture. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that she wanted to change plans; the end result is so much better than what we’d designed at first, such a better fit for Rachel and for her wedding.


Designing the Gown

Yesterday I had the great privilege of attending Rachel’s wedding, helping her get dressed in her custom gown, and celebrating the beautiful day she and her loved ones shared.  Now that the wedding day is past (and she succeeded in surprising her fiancée with the design) I can share photos with you all! But you’ll have to wait a bit  for pics of the completed gown – I’m going to take you through the custom creation process with me first.

During our initial conversations, Rachel had imagined an A-lined, mid-calf length, strapless gown for a beach side wedding. But following her friend Maria’s wedding (where Rachel was maid-of-honor), Rachel discovered a newfound fondness for ballroom style gowns – Maria’s had been stunning, she told me. Meanwhile, Rachel had felt out her fiancée Dan to see his thoughts on a shorter gown, and he expressed a strong preference for something full length. The final factor that made her rethink her original designs – and this was not a small shift – was that after viewing a number of locations they decided against the beach and picked a completely different venue. Instead, they were married under the spreading branches of a majestic oak tree at Cross Creek Ranch in Dover, Florida, with the reception in a refurbished open-air stable on the site. The site had a Southern, country, old Florida feel to it, and it meant a different theme for the wedding day than their initial ideas.

So Rachel wanted a fuller, longer skirt and a more formal feel for her gown. She also had begun to rethink having a strapless gown and expressed that she was open to other suggestions if I had any recommendations. Finally, Rachel had mentioned from the start that she wanted her gown to have purple accents. Each time we spoke, she brought the color purple up again – it’s her favorite color, and it was clear that she really wanted to include it. But she mentioned, almost offhandedly, that she didn’t want there to be “too much” purple, and I couldn’t tell whether she had a preconceived preference for how much was too much, or if she just had a vague sense that wedding gowns were supposed to be primarily white.

So, for our design consultation, I tried to gather a variety of images to discuss different design elements. Among them, I looked for multiple examples of colored gowns – from the all-white dress with a few purple beads or floral accents, to gowns that had colored trains, colored sashes, colored bands of fabric along the neckline, to those entirely in color without a bit of white on them. As we sat and reviewed the options, Rachel was very surprised to see bridal gowns in full color that still somehow looked bridal, and she was clearly excited to consider a colorful break from the all-white tradition. She particularly loved a photo I showed her of a quincinera dress which had a fitted lavender bodice leading into a lavender overskirt gathered into pick ups over a white satin ballgown skirt. Her gown would, of course, be purple rather than lavender, and she didn’t particularly care for the enormous bow spilling down from the hip or for the embroidery through the skirt, but the amount of color and the pick ups were really exciting to her.

I’d also gathered multiple photos of different necklines and closures to show her some of the possibilities, and I was delighted when she expressed fondness for the neckline I’d hoped to recommend as my favorite for her – an off the shoulder strap and a laced up corset back. Rachel has a full bust and it was important to her that this not be the focal point of her gown. I let her know I thought a well positioned off the shoulder strap could really help to balance out her bust and to lift the eye up towards her face. (On the other hand, I suspect a strapless gown, especially if it were cut straight across the top, could easily have made her bust look wider).

Rachel also still really loved the floral accents on one of the photos she had first shown me – purple fabric flowers dotting the gown. And so we decided to use some small flowers through the ivory underskirt on her gown.

Once we had the main elements decided upon, we went over the color in more detail. There are so many shades of purple – from a bluish violet color to burgandy that is as red as it is purple. The right shade was going to really matter – their shift to the ranch venue had been accompanied by a stronger autumn influence for the theme and decor at their wedding. And this meant that whichever shade of purple we chose was going to be accompanied by orange accents: pumpkins on haystacks outside the stable, orange and purple floral arrangements. Rachel was excited but also nervous, not wanting the colors to clash. I pulled every length of purple fabric in my stash, regardless of the type or fiber content, and we compared the colors to an orange swatch to find a shade that seemed to work well. We held the color up to her face, her hair, to make sure it was flattering to Rachel herself. And then I cut a swatch of it for each of us to have when searching for just the right fabric for her gown. We also compared our preferred purple to swatches of white, ivory, and cream colored fabrics from my stash, since Rachel wasn’t entirely sure what shade she wanted. Ivory was the best color with the purple, hands down, and since she’d been leaning slightly towards ivory to begin with it was decided easily.

After all of these considerations, the result was a design that was very different from her original thoughts, but really ideal for Rachel’s figure, personality, and wedding plans. I put together a new sketch for Rachel that evening to be sure we were understanding each other well on all the details. We were both simply giddy and I could scarcely wait to begin working on the dress!


A walk in the garden

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days.  I’ve been continuing to work on Bonnie’s black and blue dress, and we’re making some good progress.  The foundation is almost finished (I just have to sew in the hook and eye closures in the back, and my hook and eye tape arrived in today’s mail!) and waiting to be sewn into the dress.  Very, very soon I’ll be ready to invite her over for a final fitting to mark the hemline.

Meanwhile, the sun is shining and summer is in full swing.  Never mind that it’s too hot and I’m sweating like crazy, my garden looks beautiful!  I thought I’d share a few photos of the flowers we’ve planted, just for fun.

Our home backs to an undeveloped area of nature preserve, with a wooded area and a small lake past that (which we could, in theory, access, but so far, haven’t).

The edge of that nature preserve is full of blackberry bramble and small wildflowers like the purple one below (only thing I’m going to post for which I don’t know the name).  There are small oak trees and wax myrtles in the foreground and behind that, in the water, are tall bald cypresses.

The blackberries are nearly finished blooming, but the cluster of white flowers above are still fresh and quite lovely!  Most of the bramble is covered now in small green and red unripe berries.  I’ve spotted just one ripe berry so far, tucked down at the base of a vine.

In the front yard, our gardening efforts are more intentional.  In other words, we planted a garden in the front yard, while in the back we just sit back and enjoy the wonderful garden God planted here for us.  We agreed early on that we prefered COLOR and wanted to work mostly with plants that bloom.  Green shrubs are very nice of course, but why not have a green shrub covered in blue flowers, like the Blue Daze here?

Most of what we have planted are brightly blooming perrenials that are fairly drought tolerant and can survive long periods without fertilizer.  I don’t want to spend much time bent over the flower beds working, but I want something pretty to look at nonetheless!

The sidewalk from our driveway up to the front porch is lined with bright yellow lantana, soft blue plumbago, and one gorgeous rose bush we bought on a whim.  (I’ve NEVER done well with roses in the past, but this particular variety is well suited and it’s been a real delight to come home to more blooms with each passing month!)

Eva regularly delights in pulling the clusters of small yellow flowers off the lantana and dropping them haphazardly on the sidewalk.  We try to keep this to a minimum, but for all that it can be really precious when she takes more care in picking a single bloom to give to Mommy or Daddy.

Around and underneath our rose bush, we have a few clusters of phlox that have sprouted up somewhat spontaneously.  We had planted just a couple of these annuals last year, when our garden was dinky and unestablished, to give a bit of instant gratification.  They self seeded and this year we have a hodge podge of colors mixed in and around our other plantings.


A close up of the phlox.

The plumbago is doing very nicely this year.  Our lantana fared very poorly in the lone frost we had back in January, and we had to cut back a lot of damaged growth, but the plumbago didn’t miss a beat.  So, while the lantana is playing catch up, we’re enjoying huge clusters of blue flowers from the plumbago.

This is one of my Florida favorites.  It’s remarkably drought and heat tolerant and once it’s established it can survive just about any abuse you throw at it.  Left unchecked, they’ll grow a good 8 feet tall, but they respond well to pruning and can fill in a flower bed or even serve as a hedge.

Eva thinks the plumbago is pretty.

“Look, my blue flower!”

April 2019
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