Today, I do (of course) have projects to show you, but also a thing to talk about; although a fair few of us have made our own wedding dresses in this community, I haven’t seen much mentioned of the period of time when one realizes one is no longer making a wedding dress.
I suppose it happens with any big project: You’ve been working on something for so long that you forget there was a world where you weren’t working on it. This is stressful - at least it was for me.
Let me start at the beginning, though.
I started planning for Project Wedding Dress over a year before the wedding - probably closer to a year and a half. That said, I didn’t take the step of eliminating all other projects from my life until the end of August. (our wedding was in February) - so we’ll call it five solid months of absolutely nothing except working, eating, sleeping, wedding planning, and wedding dress. I called it the Wedding Dress Embargo, and I tried to quit everything else cold turkey. This wasn’t completely successful - I did some mending, I made a commission for a friend, and I taught myself macrame and made some plant hangers for the yard.
I went through all of the stages of ‘grief’, you could call it, (although I feel like using that word exaggerates things slightly) - losing my freedom to make whatever I wanted as the mood struck, but after about three weeks I was well dedicated, and another month after that saw me (surprisingly, at least to me) not even thinking about other projects. I was focused - I came straight home after work, walked right past my stash, and worked on that dress until I either needed to stop for food or until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, at which point I just crawled into bed. It’s funny how that happens, but I guess it was like forming (or breaking) any other habit. It got easier over time to adjust to the new reality.
I realized about halfway through the process that this new reality was going to cause some problems for me, as it had an obvious and immovable end date. I can remember looking at a bottle of milk in the weeks before I graduated from University - realizing that its expiration date was after my graduation date, and having this feeling of nothingness about the ‘after’ in that ( I am nothing if not a drama queen!). I felt a similar feeling with this dress (weirder still, combined with my excitement for everything else about getting married!)
I finished the dress before the wedding, but not long enough before to make a difference - we were caught up with the planning and with my family’s imminent arrival. After the wedding, I found myself not only coming down from the emotional high of the wedding, but also suddenly not having the giant monster of a planning project, and also - the dress. We spent two days at a retreat after the wedding (I took a half finished knitting project I’d started last winter, this scarf- this was perfect, simple enough that I knew right where I’d left off, but interesting enough to keep my hands occupied.) and then my parents were here so we traveled with them.
I can clearly remember the first evening after the wedding when I had the house to myself. Jon was on a night shift, and I came home after work to an empty house. This was a perfect opportunity to whip all the wedding dress supplies out of their hiding places and get loads of progress done, except…. the dress was done. What was weird and unexpected, though, was that I had a serious case of Lost Sewjo as far as starting any new projects was concerned. I was happy enough with my knitting, and with a few mending projects and things I’d left half finished back in August, but I just couldn’t bring myself to start anything new. I ended up sitting in bed with my knitting project and binge watching “Kitten Rescuers” on Netflix until I passed out around midnight. A few people told me I’d feel this way - it was almost like I was ‘mourning’ the dress. I wasn’t sad, don’t get me wrong - just very, very confused.
I finished the knitting project (in my precious ‘home alone after work’ time - it felt like sacrilege but also liberation). A few months later and it’s only just now cool enough for me to wear it. It’s the Architexture scarf with a hand dyed gradient from Man Made Fibre and my ravelry project for it is here. I went through the motions of starting things (I gathered supplies for a shirt, I made a list of things I wanted to make, and consulted my bullet journal for a list of projects I’d had lined up pre-Embargo, I bought quilt batting for a big upcoming project that I’ll tell you about soon) but I didn’t actually put scissors to fabric. Interestingly, post-wedding, it took about three weeks: the same amount of time it took to get used to my new Wedding Dressmaking Life back in August, to start feeling ready to take on new projects.
This is the first one, this bra. I’ve desperately needed a nude/subtly colored bra to replace an old one I’ve kept around since well before the Wedding Dress Embargo began, and I have immediate plans to make another one as the original has a friend that also needs to be retired. The nice thing about this project as an ‘easing back in’ type thing is that bras are very easy to quickly whip out if you already have a pattern that you know works for you.
This is the fourth one I’ve made from this bra draft (including a swimsuit top you haven’t seen yet) and I knew there was no risk that I’d come out at the end of the project with something that wasn’t immediately and immensely useful. I made it in two evenings (and then waited a few days for my bra clasp to turn up - I really should build a small stash of those…).
The satin I used for the lower cups is left over from the wedding dress (there are a lot of scraps from the circle skirt), the lace was from my stash, and all the elastics, plus the underwire casing, is dyed from white using the wedding dress dye recipe to match. I pulled wires out of an old bra a while ago that just so happened to perfectly match the wire I usually use, so I popped them into this one instead - yay for recycling! I decided to use new rings and sliders (from my stash) instead of recycling the ones off the bra I was aiming to replace because by then I’d realized that I didn’t have a back clasp so I couldn’t complete the project immediately. As soon as the clasp arrived and the bra was finished, I took apart the offending original bra. Unfortunately, the wires were too bent out of shape to be salvageable, and the clasp was beyond repair, but I did get the rings and sliders and the metal bits of the hooks and eyes out of it for a future bra!
I realized quite quickly - as soon as I’d finished cutting out that first piece of the bra - how excited I was to be back. Back to checking out all the sewing challenges on Instagram, back to casting critical eyes over my wardrobe to make sure I’m loving everything equally and that it’s loving me back, back to developing this thing we call personal style, and adding new items to my wardrobe. I loved working on the dress, don’t get me wrong - and I absolutely hope with all my heart that I’ll be able to take on a project that big again in the future, and hopefully be more well-prepared for the emotional roller coaster it entails - but right now I’m just glad to be back.