Friday, 12 May 2017

A 1970s wedding

I think this is the last post on the theme of my childhood textiles as I have run out of photos to use.  We were married in 1972 and did  it 'on the smell of an oily rag' as they say.  So making the wedding dress and the bridesmaids' dresses was essential.  This was the decade in which lots of people abandoned the whole idea of a white wedding and did things as cheaply as possible.  All so different from the last few years.

In our case my parents sent money to pay for the parts of the wedding the bride's parents generally paid for.  They never knew that this money also had to pay for my husband's suit and even the wedding ring.  The reception was in a local pub which kept the cost down and we used a friend as photographer and another friend as chauffeur.  There were fewer than forty guests but by getting married in London we avoided having to invite lots of relatives and members of the older generation.

When it came to the dresses, I remembered that en route to Europe four years earlier I had bought a white sari in Singapore.  White because I had become very sun-tanned from living n Australia for eighteen months.  This sari had sat in a polythene bag as I had no idea what I wanted to use it for and would not have worn it as a proper sari.  Now I had a use for it.  It was extremely fine silk with a narrow border in gold right along one long edge and a much wider border in gold across one end.  The first task was to design a dress.  At the time I more or less lived in long dresses so I began by buying some Laura Ashley cotton fabric, choosing a pattern and making a 'mock-up' which I could wear to work.  I got a lot of wear out of that dress but I do not have any photos of it.

I decided to use the heavily embroidered end as the bodice and to cut off some of the narrow border to make a collar.  The dress was to have long sleeves with cuffs made from more of the narrow border and was vaguely Empire in style.  There were plenty of patterns to choose from in the pattern books.

The second task was to find a sewing machine on which to stitch it.  Here I failed.  I borrowed a Bernina from our landlady but the silk was so fine that I abandoned the idea of machine sewing it at all and made the whole thing by hand.  This meant stitching the under-layer which was made of taffeta.  I even did French seams because the fabric was so fine.  How to sew French seams

I had always dreaded the idea of wearing a veil so I was very happy when I realised this was not compulsory!  Instead I bought a white straw hat from Libertys.

I added a narrow gold velvet ribbon around the crown.  As I remember it, it was a typical spring day: showers, cold, so I borrowed my sister's vest as my 'something borrowed' and quite windy. I nearly lost control of the hat at times, especially when we were taking photos outside the church.

When it came to the bridesmaids, one of them wanted to wear purple but this was a colour that no-one in our family ever wore so I put my foot down!  I think they made their own dresses which were Liberty lawn in shades of yellow with olive green sashes.  I was also determined to have good flowers so we went to the poshest florist in Wimbledon.  As you can see from the photo, I carried yellow roses  and the bridesmaids had daisies (cheaper).   Some leftovers of the bridesmaids' dress fabric appeared in the first quilt I made for our bed.

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