A year ago today, he took me to the top of a mountain and gave me a ring. He made one request: that I be his wife. I said yes. And sometime after that I started planning what my wedding dress would look like.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I might have already bought the inside layer of the dress over a month before we got engaged. In my defence, we had already decided to get married long before the official engagement. And I was going away for a month and the dress was on sale!
So I was only a little bit jumping the gun. Oh, and I’d started swatching lace patterns for my dress. Only a little bit crazy, I swear.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I might have designed my wedding dress long before I met my husband. I’ve always wanted to get married. I even designed my school formal dress (two years in advance, when I was 15) to be a poufy ball gown because I knew I wanted a slinky gown for my wedding (but ball gowns also rock). When I was 18 or so, I came to a deeper desire to engage with my Catholic faith, which got me thinking about this thing called vocation; the path of holiness God calls you to. After a time, I became sure once again that yes, marriage is my vocation. It’s for life, not just for a day, like a puppy (but also more spiritual than a puppy). That said, when I started to get ready as a single person for marriage and being a wife one day, that was when I REALLY started to daydream about my wedding day, as a momentous occasion to represent my commitment to another person. It’s more than just a chance to be a princess, which I also enjoy. That’s when I started sketching my wedding dress. For years, I had a drawing of a wedding dress in my bible which I drew when I was about 19. I carried that bible down the aisle on my wedding day and I’ve just flipped through all the pages now and I can’t find that drawing, otherwise I’d have shown it to you.
Okay so maybe I’m a little wedding crazy.
But let’s ignore the fact that I had my wedding dress largely planned a)before I met my husband and b)before we got engaged. Here is the first post about how I designed my wedding dress. I’ll begin with the overall design and choosing lace patterns (I’ll cover yarn and needle choice in another post).
Overall Design of my Gown
My wedding gown is composed of two pieces. The first is a strapless sweetheart fishtail ivory dress (no train). I bought this dress from www.boohoo.com with a promo code. Unfortunately I think the dress (called Mira Bella) has been discontinued, but here is a picture (and Boohoo is a pretty cool website for affordable clothes IMO):
As you can see, it has a peplum on it, which I had to remove, which means I had to use a sewing machine, which I am not that good at. But I did it! Yay! Cheers to my wonderful friend who let me borrow her sewing machine and was the first person after my sister to know I was knitting my wedding dress.
The second piece of my dress is of course the knitted bit: a lace off-the-shoulder gown with full-length sleeves, fishtail skirt and a small train. It has a lace-up back from the gluteus maximus upwards. From the bum down, I included a panel of mesh lace (think [k2tog, yo] with the odd K1 here and there) in the centre all the way down to the floor of the dress. I then continued this mesh pattern round the back half of the dress, using short rows to create the train, which is finished with a thick lace edging. To shape the skirt, I made it quite fitted until just above the knees, and then used pi shaping and variations of it to flare out the skirt.
My dress, minus sleeves. Gives some idea of the construction and shape.
Me in my dress a couple of weeks before the wedding, when one of my stellar bridesmaids helped me try it on.
Choosing Patterns to Use
So, I’ve had my eyes on knitting my own wedding dress since I realised how versatile knitting is and that I’m a pretty capable knitter (pretty much anybody can be – it’s not as hard as it looks). That’s why I already had a collection of nice lace shawl patterns favourited on Ravelry, and also I love lace. The more open-work, the better. I’m not sure when I decided on wanting a leaf design, nor when I favourited the Heliotaxis Lace shawl by Renata Brenner, but when I started looking through my fourites on Ravelry, it stuck out to me as the right pattern for my dress. And it’s a free pattern, too.
I used two of the lace charts from this shawl in order to make my dress. The first one, used for the vast bulk of the dress was called Willow Leaves. It’s a design of two strands of leaves bordered by yos and a knit stitch. Why’d I pick it?
It’s relatively simple.
It’s quite open.
It is a pretty ‘fluid’ looking design – not grid-like. I wanted this for my gown.
I thought leaves would be a cool motif.
Other advantages of this pattern:
As it turns out, the yarn and needles I used meant that the tension for one pattern repeat was exactly 10cm stitch-wise, which is a very handy, easy-to-multiply measurement. It was also 5.5cm row-wise, which isn’t bad.
Because it was quite a short pattern row-wise, it meant I could change the shape of my very fitted dress frequently, which means I never had to cut off the pattern halfway through a row.
As I’ll explain in a later post, I modified the pattern sometimes throughout the knitting, when I needed half a repeat stitch-wise.
Willow Leaves swatch (with funny modified bit on the right)
The other pattern I used from the Heliotaxis shawl was called Willow Leaves Aeolian Border and it is the same edging used in the shawl. Reasons why I chose this pattern:
The nupps add some interest because I didn’t have time to faff around with beads.
It ties in with the leaf motif.
The peaks along the edge are a pretty feature of lace knitting.
Me, on the wedding day, having some alone time with the Willow Leaves Aeolian Border
A shot of both the skirt shaping and the Aeolian Border
Along the front bottom of the dress I used a pattern called Grandmother’s Edging, which was worked sideways. It has a pretty scalloped edge to it and looks kind of leafy. Along the top of the dress (across the shoulders) I chose a Peacock tail pattern (found here). It has some sneaky elastic in it to help hold it up. I had at first wanted some nice crisp scallops but in the end I liked it how it was. That top two inches was the bit of the dress I had the most trouble with, but I will talk about that in a later post.
Top of the dress. PS: Head piece is also hand-knitted by me out of wire.
My next step, after choosing patterns, was to measure myself and make a pattern for the dress. That’s for next time.