Monday, December 20, 2010

East Midlands Bobbin Lace

The next post about le frock takes a little bit of history to explain. My beau was born and raised in Nottingham. For my American audience: Yes - Nottingham is a REAL place that REALLY exists! And yes there REALLY is a Sherwood Forest! And yes there REALLY was Robin Hood and Maid Marion and even Frier Tuck. The American that I was B.B. ("Before Beau") considered London, Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool and among the 10 or so real places in England and chalked the rest up to places of fables and fairy tales - it's true! Thank you Beau for enlightening me about the Greatness of Great Briton and the Kingdomness of the United Kingdom. Moving on...

The city of Nottingham (yes it's a CITY!) in in the county of Nottinghamshire (I couldn't make that up either!) in the region of the East Midlands (because it's in the MIDDLE of England on the EAST side - seriously!). They used to make lace in the East Midlands during the ye olde days of the lacemaking and more specifically, the county of Nottinghamshire is famous in the history of lacemaking. There are many technics to make lace by hand (back then of course lace had to be made by hand) and the method that was used in the East Midlands was bobbin lace making. This made Nottinghamshire famous! (& Robin Hood too of course...)

Handmade bobbin lace isn't a big industry anymore in the East Midlands anymore, although there are people keeping this craft alive as a hobby. These days most lace is made on machines in factories, and much of the high end luxury lace still comes out of France, actually the NORTH of FRANCE (You can be proud Maman!) as well as Italy and a little bit in Japan.

The reason I am giving a history lesson is that I got my hands on some vintage East Midlands bobbin lace from, that's right, Nottingham, and used it on my wedding dress as a little "wink" to Beau. Before posting the photos of the lace I used on my dress, I want to post some photos of the making of bobbin lace so that we can truly appreciate how wonderful it is to encounter even 1 meter of vintage hand made bobbin lace. Seriously guys, this stuff is precious, people spend hours to advance just a few centimeters. I am so grateful that there are still people today practicing this method so that we have digital photos to help us appreciate what it used to be like to make fine clothing. I am so passionate about keeping these artisan crafts alive!

Isn't that incredible?!?! And now for the photos pertaining to crafting my wedding dress:

Above is a scan of a little piece of the lace that I used. This is the original lace which is as you can see quite discolored so I decided to dye in a shade of taupe to give it a more uniform color.
Here is a photo of when I was working on the bodice of the dress. You can see that I've applied the now taupe lace on the waistband on the left side already and then dressed it up a littlebit with some silver beads. I embroidered the borders of the waistband with just a simple chainstich in silver thread because it mimics nicely the oval shapes in the lace and makes it stand out more.

And NOW for the photos of this waistband from our wedding day by Studio Mathewes:
I hesitated about asking Jocelyn, photographer extraordinaire, to pretty please take photos of the details of my dress and I'm so happy that ultimately I did! The photos are so nice and really give value all of the little sentimental things on this dress that became my labor of love for the year that I worked on it. I hope that these photos, the dress, the story of it outlive Beau and Me.
Isn't this image great? The last few hours B.W.B (Before Wedding Band)! By the way I have a quite a fetish about this wallpaper in the background. It's metallic gold and silver stripes with sort of a white gauche finish that form the damask shapes on top so that the metallic shine shows through a bit...I just can't get enough of it! I think the next time I go back to the house I'm going to photograph just the wallpaper and use it for arts and crafts (JD&J - you've been warned!)

Stay tuned for next week's installment of more wedding dress details - bear with me for a few more posts and then I'll put some photos of MOI in the thing!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Toile de Joy

When I admit that I made my wedding dress from the curtains of my bachelorette apartment, people usually wrinkle their nose and furrow their brow in an effort to comprehend, why on earth, out of all of the fabrics available to me in Paris, especially that I live down the street from the world's best fabric district, would I make my wedding dress out of old curtains?!?!

I made those curtains for that little apartment in the first place because I loved the fabric, and so when I moved in with Beau into his modern man style apartment, I was sad that this fabric no longer had a place in my life! Truth be told, I've made many day dresses out of old curtains and tablecloths, so I was happy to revisit this particular curtain fabric for my wedding dress - and what a fabulous destiny for bachelorette curtains! In French, this kind of fabric is called "Toile de Jouy", and traditionally features scenes of country life from fishing to frolicking to little courtship scenarios. I call the fabric that I used for my wedding dress "Toile de Joy" because of all of the fuzzy memories that it recalls for me!

I figure the best proof that this fabric used to actually be curtains is to feature some photos of the infamous bachelorette apartment! While pulling these out of the archives, I realized that I used to do SO MUCH Crafting and recuperating! Just in these photos, the "chandelier" I made out of yogurt jars and christmas lights, the "wall art" is old family photos taped behind a window pane that I found in the street, the slip cover for the couch is fabric that I dyed beige to cover the cheapest available ikea sofa, the side table and lamp I found in the street, along with that chartreuse coffee table and those chairs that my sweet brother is sitting on... I think I furnished and decorated that entire apartment for less than 300 euros. I had just got my very first fashion job, I was earning the minimum wage and I was SOOOO HAPPY to be moving out of the various crummy accommodations that I had been in for so long and into my very own apartment... The nostalgia!

My sweet brother was studying for a semester at La Sorbonne and slept in a sleeping bag on my hardwood floor every night! He is such a trooper! Between the both of us we had some of the most hysterical moments on a super tight budget. Like the time we took a trip to Sweden in the Winter because the flights were cheap (go figure!), stayed in a youth hostel that used to be a prison (our room was an old cell with bunk-beds!) and had no money to actually do anything (like have a warm cup of tea) or go anywhere (like to a museum!), so we spent the entire time outside!!! Those were the days, but I'm also happy that these are the days now too!
And now for a few stunning photos from Studio Mathewes:
I re-embroidered over the leaves and trees printed on the fabric in silver thread to make it more special.

& here's one of me and my Matron of Honor next to each other in our fancy dresses with our fancy purses.