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March 11, 2018

this is the first day of my life | our tiny minneapolis elopement

Our wedding day | Photography by Jessica Holleque
All photography by Jessica Holleque
It's been exactly three weeks since I married my best friend (two of those three were spent in total luxury on the North Shore of Lake Superior - more of that to come), and I'm finally sharing the photos! It took a long time to whittle down what snapshots I wanted to share here (our amazing photographer took almost 400 of them!), because they're all special to me. Our photographer, Jessica, was amazing to work with, and it was such a pleasure having her share the day with us. We felt totally natural and comfortable around her, which was fortunate, because for most of the day it was just the three of us! Okay... let's get to the pictures.

March 3, 2018

on making my wedding dress

Why I chose to make my own wedding dress
All photography by Jessica Holleque
When I first told people I was making my own wedding dress, everyone was polite about it. I received applause for my ambitions, but behind encouraging words, I could sense there was an inner dialogue. No one outwardly said what I'm sure they were thinking. Yikes. That dress is going to look tacky. Is she going to get it done in time? Will it fall apart? Why bother?? My friends and family are supportive, and luckily for my ego, courteous. Who wants to disagree with a bride-to-be, right? In the end, those thoughts of doubt (that I myself had many times during the dressmaking process) totally came true. My dress was a little tacky, in places. Specifically, the balloon-ish hemline and the uneven way the dress zipped up in the back. It was completed on time, but not by much. And yes, the dress did fall apart. Throughout the course of the day, my toes repeatedly snagged on the hemline, pulling out threads and making the skirt almost too long to walk in. In spite of all of that (or because of all of that), I love this dress. And I love that I got to make the dress I said my vows in.
Thoughts on sewing your own wedding dress
I want to write about our actual wedding day and share the photos our amazing photographer took, but I'll get to that in a later post. I feel so emotional about our wedding day, just tabbing through the photos makes me well up with tears! For now I'm going to focus on closing the book on this DIY wedding dress. 

My wife (eee!) and I got married elopement-style, which meant we had a stripped-down ceremony. We always knew our ceremony would be just the two of us, but we still pushed the "I Do" date almost two years away from our engagement. And it was all because of this dress. That and saving up money and vacation days for a bougie two-week honeymoon (10/10 would recommend).

Truthfully, this dress could've been completed in 2-3 dedicated weeks. It's a simple a-line design, and there's no excessive trim work or details. Instead, I opted for leisurely taking my time. I talked before about a longer timeline helped keep stress levels low, but the extra time kept me mindful as well. In between bouts of sewing, the dress hung on a form in our spare room. It's presence served as a reminder that I was lucky to find someone to share my life with. Every day that I chose to stitch a little, iron a bit, or make a decision about the design was a mini expression of love. Every time I walked into our spare room and saw it hanging there, I would get more and more excited about what my future held for me.
Why making your bridal gown means mindfulness
In the end, the dress is more symbolic than it is spectacular. I know it's plain, but that fits my style and makes me happy. It does, however, hold a lot emotional value. The dress represents care and mindfulness. It represents the attention and planning that went into not only our marriage, but the entire relationship I've shared with my partner. It symbolizes the dedication we have for each other (more so the dedication my wife has, seeing as how she was willing to wait almost two years for me to complete this project!). It symbolizes a growing love, a continually developing affection. It reminds me that good things don't just exist. Like my marriage, like my dress. Good things have to be built. 
Mindfulness in sewing: Making a DIY wedding dress
Details from our DIY wedding day
If you were curious about my shoe choice, I ended up going with some navy booties. They were hella comfortable, and I am able to wear them in my everyday life, too.

I promise, promise to write about the whole wedding day soon. It was a magical whirlwind of every emotion imaginable, and definitely the shortest, longest, best day of my life. I can't wait to share all the details from that day.
Intentional sewing | Why I'm grateful I made my own wedding dress
Thank you for following along in my adventure into dressmaking. It's been so fun to share challenges and decision-making with you all, and I am so appreciative of your words of support and encouragement. It feels strange to no longer have to tend to a project that's been a part of my life for such a long time, but I can't help to feel a little proud, too. I made my wedding dress!

Side note: The best part about making your own wedding dress is you can do with it as you please, and no one can say boo. I  ended up cutting off about a foot (!) from the bottom of the skirt before we made it to dinner. The skirt was getting muddy from walking around in the melting snow, I kept tripping on the hemline, and by that point in the day the dress had served its purpose. So, bonus - it ended up being a convertible dress too - haha! I got to share a lovely first meal with my wife in a cute little tea length dress. Happy endings all around.


P.S. To look back at the entire DIY wedding dress journey, start from Chapter One.

February 1, 2018

the dress | chapter five (final chapter)

I made my own wedding dress, and I'm really glad I did
It's done. My wedding dress is done. I set out to make my own gown, and I did it. And you know what? It turned out really nice. It's nothing flashy, nothing fancy. It's simple. And that's all I wanted.

Looking back at where I started with my original idea, I pretty much stuck to the plan. I did skip a belt in the middle, and added some extra trim around the neckline that I hadn't initially planned for, but other than that - that initial sketch has materialized into something real. Finishing this dress was such a relief - and with time to spare! It feels really good.
Thought on making my wedding dress
So... what's it like to make a wedding dress? While this isn't the first gown I've ever made (shoutout to my prom dress which I am totally NOT going to share pictures of), it's certainly the most notable. That's what stuck with me while I was sewing. I kept thinking, This is an important dress. I have to be mindful while I'm working on this dress. Normally, when I'm sewing for myself, I don't fret over the details. I don't care if the thread matches exactly, or if the hemlines are a little crooked. But not with this project. And I think it's that mindfulness that makes me love the dress now that it's finished. I took my time (um, basically a whole year), and I think that helped. I never sat down at my sewing machine for too long, because I never wanted to get frustrated with or tired of my dress. I wanted to love this dress, always.

Here are a few quick things I learned along my dress-making journey:

  • Test your stitches on scrap fabric first. Figure out the tension while you're testing, and write it down for future reference. Time saver!
  • Use ALL THE PINS when sewing a zipper in. Don't let it budge a bit.
  • Boning (the support pieces that hold the bodice of a dress up) will straighten out nicely if you keep your dress on a dress form. 
  • Speaking of dress forms - get a dress form! You can see what your dress will look like IRL without having to try it on over and over. The hemline is really easy to set on a form. And you can add trim with ease. 10/10 would recommend. This is the dress form I have, if you're interested.
  • Get your hands on a steamer. Even though you iron pieces of fabric as you sew, it's inevitable that the dress will get wrinkly while you're working on it. A steamer will fix all your wrinkly woes. 
  • And finally, buy your shoes before you pick the length of your dress. It's the easiest way to get the length right.

My favorite part about this dress are the pockets, and I can already tell how handy they'll be the day of our wedding. I'll be carrying everything in them. Chapstick, tissues (because I know I'll be tearing up), a copy of my vows... it makes me wonder, how do brides manage without pockets??
Are those wedding bells I hear? Thought on my DIY wedding dress
The last little details of our tiny wedding are coming together. We pieced together a ceremony, my soon-to-be-wife has her suit pressed and ready, and the day before our marriage we'll go pick up a bouquet or two of flowers. I absolutely cannot wait.

I don't want to give away what the final dress looks like yet - I'll wait until our much more qualified wedding photographer can snap some pictures of it. Until then, it's just a matter of counting down the days until I'm a Mrs.!

- m.e.

P.S. Take a look at the previous chapter in this DIY wedding dress journey.

January 15, 2018

life | links (mlk day)

Life, Links: The beautiful aftermath of a day of snowfall

Happy Monday from the icebox that is Minneapolis. It's emergency-level cold today, but yesterday it was warm enough for snowfall. A couple lazy inches took all day to fall yesterday, blanketing everything in the process. It was the best kind of snow, too. The kind that muffles every errant sound and forces the city to go into slo-mo. The kind that actually sparkles like glitter. The kind that crunches under your feet.
I have a lot to blog about (i.e. wedding dresses), but my head feels to scattered to do that today. Instead, here are some interesting reads. Today is MLK day, which means it's sort of still the weekend. For some, anyway. Which is why I don't feel weird sharing this type of post today, where I'd normally just save it for Friday. But running late seems appropriate in this weather. Here are some fun things I found around the internet this week:


Life and links | A red car in a Minnesota snowstorm
Martin Luther King, Jr. did not have an easy life. He did not have an easy death. Somehow, he left in this world a multitude of inspiring thoughts and quotes. Look some of them up today, because they apply now more than ever. Here's my favorite one: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

- m.e.

December 6, 2017

how to make a security pillow (a.k.a. topponcino) for baby

How to make a security blanket (a.k.a. topponcino)
Before you get any wild thoughts - no, I don't have a baby. Nor am I expecting! Nor am I ever going to have kids, but that is an entirely different blog post. My brother and sister-in-law, however, just brought a beautiful baby boy into the world. He's amazing. He's cute, and has chubby lil' legs, and even though I haven't met him in person (yet!), I can tell the world is a little better of a place with him in it. I sewed this topponcino for him just a few weeks before he arrived, along with some washable covers. I'll be honest, though - I still don't totally have a grasp on what a topponcino is.
Topponcino pattern
Topponcino - it sounds like a drink you'd get at Starbucks, right? If anything, this might be the opposite of a latte. It's to make baby feel secure as they are passed from one adult to another. They're supposed to sleep in it always, so that is smells of them, thus creating a safe space. And there's definitely no caffeine. The topponcino is used in the Montessori Method of child-rearing (which is basically a no-frills/more adventures method of raising kids). You can buy them off of Etsy, but they're so easy to make at home. I did some research before I started this project (here and here), and here's the method I took:
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