Simple modern wedding dress in ivory silk dupion with contrast purple silk detail. Hand embroidered butterflies in silk thread and lace applique complete the picture. Karen also had a bridesmaids dresses made bespoke, see here for more pictures.
Karen’s dress has a boned bodice with sweetheart neckline, trimmed in palest pink and silver floral lace and highlighted with hand sewn Swarovski crystals. The dress has asymmetric ruching and a split at the front to reveal a dramatic ‘Cadbury’ purple silk hand appliqued with beaded black lace motifs. At the back the dress laces closed with purple ribbon above a long train embellished with hand embroidered butterflies. Each butterfly is finished with more crystals as they fly randomly among symmetrically placed silver and pink lace applique motifs.
Lacing the bride into her dress with dramatic purple ribbon lacing.
Original design sketch.
The placement of the the butterflies and lace applique was done at a fitting with the bride there to help. We cut out and coloured lots of butterfly designs and pinned them to the dress to decide a balanced but natural formation.
The train finished on the stand, the butterflies fly at random amongst the symmetrically placed lace motifs.
Each butterfly was hand sewn with traditional Japanese flat silk embroidery thread. Long and short satin stitches combine to give a smooth and soft texture to the wings. We used four shades of purple and lavender and two shades of ivory and cream. Each large butterfly took about 6 or 7 hours to complete, the smaller ones about 3 hours.
There were six types of butterfly on her dress, each with at least two of its kind present. I didn’t want any butterflies to feel lonely!
Karen also commissioned a simple purple silk stole to wear in some photos.
The bride and her dressmaker.
Making Karen’s Dress
Stage one of creating a butterfly. The outline is drawn onto the reverse of the fabric and then running stitch pushes the design through onto the front. With the fabric in a frame to keep it tight the colours are gradually filled in using a technique called long and short stain stitch.
More colours are added and at the end the crystal body is sewn down the middle.
The lace motifs are also each sewn to the dress by hand. In palest pink and silver they provided somewhere for the butterflies to land.
The lace at the neckline had a pretty scalloped edge to soften the line. Hundreds of Swarovski crystals highlighted the middle of each flower. On one side, I used a few pale blue crystals for a hidden ‘something blue’.
This was the only ‘single’ butterfly, larger than the others and in three dimensions. It is made with organza wings that flutter as Karen moved. The button just below was for her train to hook up onto for later in the day, the organza butterfly hovering just above.
Here you can see Karen’s train spread out and hooked up for ease of walking. Her three stunning bridesmaids dresses were also created by me and can be seen in more detail in their own portfolio section.
Detail of the finished dress showing the black lace applique on the purple silk background.
Fitting pictures: Karen in her ‘toile’ (practice run).
Fitting pictures: Karen in the nearly finished dress, just the hem to do!