Monday, 21 August 2017

Upcycling project: wedding accessories

I’m trying to make the most of my wardrobe, re-using or upcycling the things I’m not making the most of, so I thought I’d share the results on my blog over the next few months, starting with some last-minute accessories for my weekend as bridesmaid at my sister’s beautiful wedding! 

Having spent a fair percentage of my free time in the first six months of 2017 making a wedding dress for my sister, I hadn't put a lot of thought into what I was going to wear for her two wedding days (one at a registry office in Lewes, the other at an idyllic-looking farm, complete with wildflower meadows and woodland glade) in East Sussex. I ended up being a proud outfit repeater at both events, wearing a Whistles dress I had originally bought for a friend's wedding in 2011 to the registry office, and walking my sister down the aisle and into the woods in a re-worked dress I had made and worn to another friend's wedding in 2015. Since there was no guest overlap (apart from me!) from the other weddings, and I'd just been a guest so there weren't a whole heap of formal portraits documenting my appearance, I felt justified in wearing both dresses again, particularly as I had worked especially hard on the handmade dress when I first made it. Fortuitously, it also fitted perfectly with the colour scheme of the wedding party, and there was some sentimental significance to one of the fabrics I had used; a piece of eau-de-nil beaded chiffon that I had saved after using most of it to make a dress for my sister for her Sixth Form Leavers Ball, over a decade ago. 

I'm a real hoarder of fabrics and haberdashery, even bits and pieces that don't have sentimental value, and since I'm trying to downsize and lead a slightly less clutter-filled existence, my first port of call had to be the pile of pretty things I'd bought that were just waiting for the right occasion, and the pile of rarely-worn clothes and accessories that aren't looking their best and could do with some creative repair. 

I bought these velvet leaves from Brixton vintage treasure trove Leftovers several years ago, but had never really decided what to do with them. Since no good wedding is complete without a hat, or at least a fancy fascinator, I decided to use the leaves to make a mini version of a 1940s 'calot' hat; a brimless hat that sits on the back of the head. It would sit between my mini undercut and my pinned-up hair, hopefully hiding the messy bits of my 'do! 

I used several layers of cotton bobbinet (offcuts from a layer of my sister's wedding dress skirt) to create the base, tacked together then pasted with a mix of PVA glue and water and pinned to a polystyrene head to dry! I sewed each leaf on individually, then used some felt as a lining. The final touch was to add some small thread loops on the inside so I could pin it securely to my head. Although I was worried that I might have needed a hat pin as well, the bobby pins worked their magic and the hat stayed firmly in place, even on a day so windy that I arrived at the venue in an old-fashioned headscarf arrangement so my hair wouldn't get ruined! 

One of my bridesmaid duties was to look after my sister's possessions so she wouldn't need a bag, so I needed a decent handbag that could hold two lots of make-up, an umbrella, sunglasses, phones and the notebook I'd written my maid of honour speech in! I had a white chainmail handbag that I'd bought in a thrift store in Wellington, New Zealand, but it was looking a little worse for wear as several of the links had come loose. I also happened to have a large collection of beads and broken jewellery, so I started off embellishing the bag with a couple of broken brooches.

 The first brooch I added, a cluster of diamanté and pearls, worked so well that I abandoned the other brooches and used pearls from some broken necklaces to adorn the rest of the bag. The abstract design was informed by the missing chainmail links and the number of beads available, but I was really pleased with the final result; this bag will be coming with me to any fancy functions I attend in the future! 

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