Episode 52. Wedding Sewing

Listen to the episode

In this week's episode, we're talking about wedding garments and wedding sewing. And for more in-depth sewing talk, we're joined by Collective team members Shilyn (@ShilynSews) and Esther (@EstherMakesAdventures) who share a bit more about their own wedding sewing.  Follow the pod at @AsianSewistCollective on Instagram. For show notes and a transcript of this episode, please see: https://asiansewistcollective.com/episode-52-wedding-sewing/  If you find our podcast informative and enjoy listening, you can support us by buying our limited edition merch, joining our monthly membership or making a one-time donation via Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective 

Links 

Patterns & Designers mentioned

Ruby Overalls by Helen’s Closet

Lamour Dress by Charm Patterns

Resources

My Budget DIY Wedding (Under $5k!), Shilyn Sews on YouTube

@ShilynSews, Shilyn’s Instagram

@EstherMakesAdventures, Esther’s Instagram

WEDDING SEWING 1: INTRODUCTION, Part 1 of 10 on Esther’s blog

Show transcript

Ada

Welcome to the Asian Sewist Collective Podcast. The Asian Sewist Collective is a group of Asian people from around the world brought together by our shared appreciation for fibre and textile arts, and our desire to see more Asian representation in the sewing community. In this podcast, we explore the intersection of our identities and our shared sewing practice as we create a space for Asian sewists and our allies. 

I’m your co-host, Ada Chen, and I’m recording from Denver, Colorado. Denver is the traditional territory of the Ute (yoot), Cheyenne, and Arapaho peoples. I’m a Taiwanese American marketer turned entrepreneur and these days you’ll find me running my own all natural skincare business called Chuan Skincare CHUAN and sharing my marketing tips on my blog, The Cultivate Method. Most importantly for this podcast, you can find my sewing and i dot hope dot sew on Instagram.

Nicole
And I’m your co-host, Nicole. I’m based outside of Chicago, Illinois, the original homelands of the council of the three fires, the Ojibwe (oh-jib-weh), Potawatomi (pot-uh-wat-uh-mee), and Odawa (oh-dah-wa) people. I am a Filipinx-American woman, and a lawyer by day and a sewing enthusiast the rest of the time. You can find me on Instagram at @nicoleangelinesews.

Ada  
All right, before we dive into this week’s episode, Nicole, can you tell us about your current sewing project?

Nicole 
I can, I am actually working on something. I am working on a pair of shortalls. Shortalls? I think that’s how the kids say overalls that are shorts. I have two meters, calling that meters because it came from England. Two meters of like a Barney purple chambray not chambray, a Barney purple corduroy. And it’s two meters long. And it’s I measured the width in 57 centimeters. But it’s from my mother in law Pat, who gave it to me the last time I was in England. 

Ada  
Nice. Is that like a full cut that Pat bought? Or was that like an off cut that Pat  was using for something else?

Nicole 
It’s a full cut of two yards and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make I think so I don’t you know, dresses and skirts not me anymore, but I didn’t want to make pants because I just don’t want to make pants. And then I was like, oh, you know, a jumper would be cute like a pinafore but um, but for whatever reason, skirts and stuff don’t they don’t feel right. So I am going to make the Helen’s closet Ruby overalls, which come I think it’s view B is a shortall version of it. And so I am going to make the straight size 18. I haven’t cut out the fabric yet. But I’ve got the pattern ready. So that’s a start. I’m also thinking about and maybe we can talk about this on a future podcast but thinking about making napkins I paused because it sounded it’s like, okay, you said who I was like, this is unexciting and boring. Like, it’d be nice to get through some of the cotton that I that I have and make like napkins sets for family in Australia. And of course, I’m overthinking it, because I’m like, do I do double sided? Do I do mitered corners like do I do the, you know, single sided with mitered corners? But I’m like, well, I’ll uh, maybe I’ll start it after the corduroy shortalls. And it’s finally cooling down on the Chicago area, although it’s going to be like 80 again on Wednesday.

Ada  
But then you could still wear shorts in that.

Nicole 
Exactly. But I won’t get it done in two days. We’ll see. There’s always tights that can be worn underneath shortalls. And what are you working on?

Ada  
So I’m not working on any clothes. We had a barbecue yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve ever entertained more than like a couple of friends and our friends who dogs it for us occasionally or over. And we were talking about how I do have a baby sling that I made for Mochi, it has like two big metal rings that I sewed on. It’s actually that same fabric that I sent you Nicole with the floral print, kind of like a narrower cotton and it’s great. But Mr. Mochi is a little uncomfortable right now he’s getting up there in age we’ve had some not great diagnoses today from the oncologist so I’m trying to make him comfortable. And I was thinking I bought this at eight yard A roll of black net fabric when I was at the creative reuse store in Boulder with Lisa Wolfork and I there’s plenty of it for the t-shirt classes and the boxtops that I’m going to teach. But I was thinking maybe I should just cut a big strip of that and make it into like a knit fabric sling for a dog. I don’t know if you’ve seen those are like $10 on Amazon. And they kind of look like a messenger bag but like cross with a hoodie.

Nicole 
Yes, yeah, I have. 

Ada  
I was like it can’t be that hard. It’s like two tubes of fabric. What What could that be? So I will be I’m working on like, what how do you reverse engineer this from just a few certain angle shots?

Nicole 
I bet you’ll figure it out and Mochi will love being able to be carried in close to you to comforter.

Ada  
I hope so. Otherwise, he’s just gonna get another thing to snuggle in.

Nicole
That’s not objectionable at all right. This episode was produced by Ada Chen researched by Cindy Chan and edited by Clarissa Villando.

Ada

Hey, podcast listeners, looking for a way to support the Asian Sewist Collective. Well, we have a great way for you to do that now and we are excited to announce our first set of merch we’ve launched a limited edition set of woven labels on our coffee page so ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective and you can get a pack of five woven labels custom designed by our very own producer Mariko with some cute sayings from seasons one through three like this was a panic so forgot to pre wash or made with fabric purchase while traveling. And they all have really cute designs on them that you should definitely go check out on our Instagram and on our coffee page. And to get your very own set of five labels. You will be supporting the podcast and helping us bring you new content and new guests week after week. So head to ko-fi.com/asiansewistcollective.

So today’s episode topic is going to be something we’ve mentioned in past episodes, but haven’t done a deep dive into, which is wedding sewing. If you’ve been following, I got married last year and so a lot of the stuff that comes up with wedding planning and sewing some garments in the lead up to my wedding came up in those episodes. But today’s not about me or my wedding, it’s about the topic of wedding sewing in general! 

Nicole

Today’s episode is going to talk about wedding outfits – especially because that term can mean different things to different people across the Asian diaspora. We’re going to talk about the different ways you can approach acquiring a wedding outfit, and then we’re going to share some stories and journeys from our team & you, our listeners. 

Ada

Let’s start with wedding outfits. What is a wedding outfit exactly? 

Nicole

I mean, it’s basically any outfit you wear for your wedding! But I guess we should get more specific for our listeners. For those of us who grew up across cultures, a wedding outfit might mean different things. Oftentimes, the outfit that we most associate with weddings is a white dress, or a Western wedding dress or wedding gown.

Western wedding gowns used to just be a person’s best dress, and before the 1800s, it was frequently a black dress – though there were scattered periods and cultures in history where brides wore white to symbolize purity. The real big shift to white dresses happened after the 1840 wedding of Queen Victoria of England to Prince Albert. Queen Victoria’s portrait was widely distributed (#colonialism #imperialism) and nowadays, we could call her the “first celebrity wedding influencer”.

Even so, having a white wedding dress was typically reserved for those who were wealthy enough to have one. Basically the impracticality of an all-white garment was seen as a status symbol, especially since most people still wore their wedding dresses after their wedding as formalwear.

It wasn’t until after World War II that white wedding dresses became widespread, and the whole concept was re-spun to symbolize purity/the bride’s virginity.

Ada
Right, and the concept of the white wedding dress really kind of expanded from there. Now, they’re everywhere, including in Asia. The white wedding dress rose in popularity across Asian countries as globalization, the opening up of communist countries, and the desire to emulate Hollywood (read as: white dominated narratives) became more popular. There are now tons of photo studios in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and elsewhere where you can actually rent an elaborate white ballgown to wear for wedding photos or even for your wedding day. Much in the same way that we think of the wedding dress industry as big business here in the States, a lot of similar imagery and narratives have turned into big business in Asia as well.

I’m also going to add a note here that a wedding outfit could also include a tuxedo or suit, or any garment really that is worn for a wedding. One of our friends wore a fancy one-piece jumpsuit and I will say, that was an amazing wedding outfit.

Nicole
So I think what you’re getting at here, too, is that in many Asian cultures, the white wedding dress isn’t a traditional garment.

Our researcher Cindy pointed out that every culture has a specific outfit designated for weddings, but often they’re the same styles as everyday traditional clothing, but in more luxurious materials and specific auspicious colors. She researched a selection of them, but there are literally so many that going through them could be a full episode! We will note before we get into it that the outfits we’re about to describe are very gender conforming, and we don’t believe anyone needs to conform to these norms or traditions.

Here’s a really quick rundown: In Cambodian weddings, multiple ceremonies traditionally require an outfit change for each, with both parties generally wearing embroidered silk clothing, with gold being an auspicious color. Women wear a tube top and skirt and elaborate hair and jewelry to match and men wear silk sampot [sahm-poht] (wrapped trousers).

In Chinese weddings, women can wear a qun kwa [choon-kwah], which is a two-piece traditional outfit comprising of a top outerjacket and a skirt, though among the diaspora, a red qipao or cheongsam has become more popular in the past few decades. Qun kwa are only supposed to be worn for your wedding, whereas qipao can be worn anytime and arguably have more of a Western influence in their history and design, which you can learn more about in episode 11. For men, ma kwa [mah-kwah] is the traditional outfit, but it is much less commonly worn.

In Filipino weddings, women traditionally wear Filipiniana (traje de mestiza or a more modern butterfly-sleeved ensemble) in white; for men, the barong tagalog, a translucent embroidered shirt, is worn. We actually did two deep dives, episode 42 on terno and episode 43 on piña, if you want to learn more about these garments and fabrics.

Ada
In Indian weddings, multi-day ceremonies traditionally require a new outfit for each occasion, with both people wearing the traditional clothes for their region (typically sari or lehenga for women; sherwani, jodhpuri, dhoti, or kurta sets for men. We talk about most of these garments in episode 19, all about saris. Wedding garments have more elaborate embroidery and jewelry than everyday or other formalwear, and different ceremonies can have associated colors, like yellow for the haldi ceremony, vibrant colors for the sangeet, red for the wedding.

In Japanese weddings, men can wear montsuki kimono, in black with their family crest embroidered in white; while women can wear shiromuku, an all-white ensemble, with a large white hood, or wataboshi. The white symbolizes purity and taking on the colors and values of the groom’s family. This is very traditional, so modern brides may instead choose to wear uchikake, a heavily embroidered red or orange robe with auspicious motifs over the white kimono, or hikifurisode, a specific bridal kimono with long sleeves and a trailing hem.

In Korean weddings, formal hanbok can be worn. So red for the woman and blue for the man, and traditionally the bride would do elaborate embroidery on their hanbok jacket, the jeogori.

And in Vietnamese weddings, the woman would wear a wedding áo dài, specifically in red, usually with gold embroidery, along with a khăn đóng (which is a circular headdress); while the man would wear an ao gam, also with a khan dong.

Nicole
We’ve barely scratched the surface, there are so many beautiful traditions and garments associated with weddings from different cultures and so many cultures to cover. We will definitely be including photos and links in our show notes, so be sure to check it out.

Back to the topic of this episode, let’s talk about how these wedding outfits practically fit into the big day or big week.

Ada
For most Asian American weddings that I’ve been to, if there is an element of having both Western and Asian attire, it usually has to do with having different events or even different photoshoots.

So, for example, during the ceremony, the couple might be wearing traditional or traditional lite garments, and then they might change before the reception. Or, there might be multiple festivities and multiple outfit changes where they switch between Western attire and traditional Asian garments.

I haven’t personally been to any weddings where the couple are wearing traditional outfits the whole way through, have you Nicole?

Nicole
I’ve only been to one wedding where the celebrants and guests were wearing traditional outfits, and it was for my cousin’s wedding to a woman of Moroccan descent. It was a beautiful wedding that included Moroccan and Muslim traditions–my cousin converted from Catholicism so his spouse could marry in her religious tradition and they wore their outfits the whole time! Norah wore a white kaftan, which is traditional in many Moroccan communities. Her kaftan had a white lace over lay and she wore a silver jeweled belt and tiara.


Ada, can you give our listeners a refresher on what you wore for your wedding?

Ada

I went for the big ol’ white – well technically pink-ish nude – dress! And when I say big, I mean big. I wanted cake topper level poof.

If you want a technical description of it – it’s a strapless sweetheart neckline corset bodice with a big poofy skirt. The base fabric was off-white and quote-unquote-nude but basically a very similar tone to my skintone, with a very light pink lace on top. I had a cathedral length train and multiple layers of tulle and horsehair holding it all up. We will have photos of it in the show notes!

When I went shopping, I had a vague idea of the shape and style I wanted and that was about it. I wasn’t going for a designer dress, because honestly who the heck cares, but I ended up with one based on my budget and the style I wanted, and I guess if it had to happen that way – I’m actually pretty happy that I ended up with a dress designed by an Asian American designer, so at least that part was pretty special.

I should add that – it’s literally the most expensive thing I own besides big things like a car or my college diploma. And I don’t think everyone has to do it this way AT ALL, and that’s a big reason why I wanted to do this episode. Had I known everything I know now about wedding dresses, I might’ve opted for something different. 

Nicole
So you bought your dress new? 

Ada
Yes, I bought it new at a bridal salon (which I hate). You also bought your dress new, right?

Nicole
I did. Yeah. I think I’ve mentioned this before, you know, I just went into David’s Bridal and bought something off the rack. I was like, I don’t know, I had no idea of like what I wanted. It’s not something that I grew up like. Like I didn’t know that I wanted a strapless ballgown, you know, with like a jewel encrusted belt and a sweetheart top, which is what I want with you know, a really pretty sad, I would say probably cake topper as well. But I don’t think as caketopper-y as you. I just remember going in and being like, I don’t know, let’s just try everything. And I knew that I didn’t want to go through like stuff, like go through a bunch of different places. So I just picked what I liked. And like there were at the time, and that made me feel good. And I was like, Alright, great. It was pretty fit great. And I just actually only needed to have cups installed. So there wasn’t really anything I needed to do with it, whatever was going on with my body at the time fit the dress, and maybe that’s why I was like, Sure, whatever, but that was over 10 years ago. And so I would definitely do it differently. Sometimes I want to have another wedding to the same person. So that maybe I could make stuff like Shilyn and Esther who we’ll talk about later or just find something that reflects my personal style now, but um It was right for me at the time.

Ada

Our research found that 93% of brides in the US buy a new dress, and that the average amount people spend on a main wedding outfit is $1900, which is up from $1500 in 2019. This number doesn’t include outfit changes or alterations.

But like we’ve been alluding to, there are a few different ways you can acquire a wedding outfit – and our guess is that remaining 7% of folks buy secondhand, rent or make their outfit. 

Nicole

Which brings us to our roundtable discussion! We have two members of our team, Shilyn and Esther, here to share a bit more about what they did as part of their wedding sewing and DIY.

Shilyn, who goes by @shilynsews on IG & YouTube, has multiple videos on her YouTube channel about sewing her Old Hollywood wedding, which we will link in the show notes. Welcome Shilyn!

Shilyn  

Hello. 

Nicole  

And Esther who goes by at @EstherMakesAdventures on Instagram. That’s e s t h e r makes adventures on Instagram. Just finished posting a 10 part blog post series on her own wedding sewing links again will be in the show notes. Welcome Esther.

Esther  

Hello

Nicole  

Shilyn and then Esther Can you remind our listeners a little bit about who you are and what you do on the podcast and share what you did for your wedding sewing.

Shilyn  

Hello, I’m Shilyn. I am a one and a half generation Filipino American and I am a producer and sometimes editor for the podcast.

For my wedding. Nicole already said we chose to do an old Hollywood theme. So our colors were champagne gold in green for Irish for my partner. So I sewed my mom’s wedding dress, my maid of honor’s dress. And then when we realized that we couldn’t rent what’s called a morning jacket for a morning suit. Because most of that would be found in the UK and not here in the US. I ended up having the tailor and learning how to do all of that so I can make his three piece suit which were included his pants, double breasted vest and a morning jacket in a chocolate brown wool. And his vest was the same champagne gold that I made my dress up out of. And then somehow after doing all of that I was able to make and finish my wedding gown, which was a champagne colored silk charmeuse underlined with silk organza. So the bodice was a sweetheart neckline, strapless bodice, I used the charm patterns L’Amour dress for the top. And then for the skirt. It was a mermaid skirt that I self drafted. And it had a small sweep train in the back. And so I knew that I wanted it to also have like an off the shoulder look. So I found a lace to go, you know across the neckline and then over my shoulders. And then I use that lace at the hem line. And then I also made the fascinator instead of a veil for to complete the look.

Nicole  

Oh wow, what an amazing process.

Ada   

That is a whole wardrobe. 

Nicole  

And of course you left yourself for last. Oh. Well, we’re gonna talk more about how all that went for you. But Esther can we hear from you.

Esther  

Hi, I’m Esther. I’m an Asian American with Hong Kong roots. And I’m a producer here for the pod.

So for my wedding dress project, I let my imagination run totally wild. And the project eventually evolved into a multi piece garment outfit. So I actually self drafted everything. So we’ll start off with the base, the bases, top and skirt scent that’s made out of handkerchief linen that’s in the lilac color. So the top is up princess seam halter top with a mandarin collar and an arch back. And then the top also has a built in corset with owning channel access so that because I’m lazy, I can just throw it in the washer to wash. The skirt is a princess seam, mermaid silhouette skirt. And it has a train that I pulled until it felt like it was the right length for me.

On top of the base layer, I made an overlay dress thanks to actually Shilyn’s brainstorming session with me.

So the overlay dress is made out of tulle and silk organza, and topped with some beaded lace, the pattern’s pretty much is the exact same as the base layer. Just a little bit of modification here and there. And then the last item that I made was a tool cape, and it has a mandarin collar and beaded lace on the shoulder. And just again, I bought the end of the the end of the train until it looked right. And that’s all my outfit.

Ada   

And you also posted about it while you’re creating it like we followed along your whole journey on Instagram stories. So if anyone wants to check that out, definitely go to Esther’s Instagram and the blog posts. But since Esther was the most recently married, can you tell us why you chose to so for your wedding?

Esther  

Yeah, um, so I knew I was always wanted to sew my own. After I really got into sewing. And quite honestly, I felt like I had really specific wants in my wedding outfit that is not normally found and ready to wear outfits, or, you know, wedding dresses. And if I’m going to ask someone to custom make it, I might as well be the one making it myself, right. So the specific wants that I wanted in my outfit was one to incorporate my heritage. And that was to have the mandarin collar to echo, the cheongsam or qunkwa look that we were talking about earlier. And I also wanted to make sure that when I’m making this outfit, I have opportunities to rewear it. And so, you know, putting so much effort into making such an elaborate outfit just so that I can wear it one time just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. So there was a lot of design challenges there.

Ada   

Shilyn did you have the same design challenges? Or was there another reason you wanted to make your own outfit.

Shilyn  

So like Esther, I have always kind of wanted to make my wedding gown. But really at the time, the biggest reason was that we needed to save money. And we knew that the the outfits would cost the most aside from the venue. We ended up pricing it all out, including the venue to be under $5,000. Which, you know, it sounds impressive. The biggest tip for that is that we also had a very small wedding was like 30 people. So that definitely helped. But I priced out all of the outfits and how long it took. So and this doesn’t account for the fittings. This is just for the main outfit. So for my mom’s dress, it costs about $25 in material. And it took about a day. So five to six hours to do. I was really lucky that she kind of has like an off the rack type of sizing. So I didn’t really have to do much for hers. And the same with my maid of honors dress that was about $25 And it took you know, a day. Same thing, she only had one fitting and it was great. The three piece suit is what took the longest. It was just under $100 in material. And it took 36 hours to make the pants, the vest and the jacket, but I had three fittings. So in actuality it probably took six months to make his whole suit. And then that left me with two weeks to make mine and that so that took in actuality like you know, I’m not working I’m not at work or whatever. It took 36 hours hands on the dress to make it and it costs just over $125 in material, like including all the boning and stuff. And then the fascinator I made the day before the wedding. And classic. Yeah, so that costs like just under 15. So, you know, all the outfits and everything was under $300. And then the rest was like wedding stuff.

Nicole  

Wow, that is really cool that you kept an accounting of what, of how much everything costs in time and, and money because I think I didn’t really start to think about these things until I started sewing. So it’s cool to be able to look back and say, This is what it took, you know.

Shilyn  

I was going through some sort of Excel spreadsheet phase. So I was like, I need to know if this was worth it. Because I know this is gonna take up so much time. And I need to know if I’m actually saving money or anything.

Nicole  

I mean, it sounds like you did as given as much as as much work as it was for you. It sounds like you did. Do you feel like you did?

Shilyn  

I mean, yeah, I think it was worth it. Did you want me to go into the story?

Nicole  

Yeah, of course. Okay.

Shilyn  

So, with the whole process, I do think it was worth it. Because I was able to add little details that you can’t really do when you buy something off the rack, I guess you could add it on later on, you know, later, like you hear about people doing like initials into their jackets, or dresses. And that’s really cute. But like, just being able to add little details, I think made it more special. So when we were fabric shopping, my partner found this yellow, floral print rayon, and he was just like, this is really soft, and I would like it against me. So we I lined his jacket out of that material, because he said it was really soft, and he really wanted it somewhere. No one had to see it. But he wanted to know that even he could be pretty. So we put that in there. And it’s just stuff like that, that you can’t do unless you want to pay for custom. Another part of the process that I really enjoyed was just being able to control each part of the dress. 

So I went dress shopping with my maid of honor. And you know, we did the whole montage where you try on the different dresses and you take the pictures and you figure out which one you like. So we took pictures of every gown that I liked, and every part of it. So you know, I knew that I liked the top of one gown, but the skirt of another and maybe I like the detailing of a different one. And so that’s how I figured out that I like dresses with less lace and like more details in certain parts of it. So even though I like I said earlier, even though I planned out so much time for each piece, I ended up taking six weeks longer on his three piece suit because I think it was like the jacket, the hand stitching and the what’s it called? For the lapel, when you do all the hand stitching to manipulate the lapel stitching, yes, pad stitching, I did not realize how difficult that would be because I was like in the pictures, it’s just lashes across the lapel. I didn’t know that it was actually supposed to like make it fold out a certain way and manipulate the fabric. So that took a lot longer than I expected. Obviously, fitting didn’t I didn’t factor in fitting. So I had to learn on the go like the shoulders didn’t fit right so I needed to do all these changes that I had never had to do for myself because I’ve I have boobs and that’s a little bit different to fit for boobs than it is to fit for shoulders and like a wider chest. That’s not like protruding you know what I mean? So I was like, I don’t know anything about menswear. Oh my god. So I had two weeks to make my gown. It went along pretty well. For the first week I had a full gown made and I I just wanted to do the detailing I talked about the lacing across the chest and around the shoulders to make that off the shoulder look. The lace had mesh on it, that was nude, but it wasn’t my skin tone. So I had seen a tip where you can use a soldering iron. And you can burn off all of the little extra mesh bits. So you’re left with the just intricate lace, and it looks more delicate. 

So a week before the wedding, this is Monday before the wedding on Friday. I am late night I’m working. I’m late night working on this dress, just burning off the little pieces of the mesh. And my ADHD kicks in. And I’m just like, what else do I have to do? After this? I got to work on the veil or on the fascinator. And I don’t really remember why put the veil material. So I call my partner and I’m like, Do you remember where this material is? And in that moment, I had put the soldering iron down, I was still holding the dress. And he comes upstairs and he’s like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I’m just like, useless. What do you mean, this is the last part of my dress up? This is and he’s just like, calm down. We’ll find it. Is it on the table that everything sewing, and wedding related is on and I’m just looking at the table. It’s mostly my dress. And I’m like, No, it’s gotta be somewhere else. I put the dress down and I start looking. He goes downstairs. I’m upstairs looking in all the drawers like maybe I put it in a bag over here, maybe a bag over there. 

And all of a sudden, I smell something burning. And I just like, oh, no, I grabbed my dress, pick it up. There’s a burnt patch on like the hip area of my dress. This is something that you cannot show or hide anywhere. With any amount of like creative thinking, at least at the time. I don’t know, maybe, maybe someone else can come up with something. And I just like Scream. My partner comes upstairs. And he goes, I don’t know where it is what what’s like, it’s not that it’s my dress. And I’m and he’s like, can you show me? No, I’m still in like bride mode. You’re not supposed to see my dress. This is bad luck. You can’t you can’t look at this. You don’t even know how to sew. So why would I show you this? If you can’t come up with an idea anyway? Oh, no. So I’m just like crying. And he’s just like, kind of looking but not looking like are you sure? I can’t look at it. Oh, I don’t like I mean, I guess you should because our wedding at the time. It was in September, there was a hurricane coming up Virginia. We lived in Virginia at the time, the wedding was in Ohio and my family would have to fly to Ohio. And the hurricanes like coming up strong. And I’m just like, it doesn’t even matter. Because I don’t even know if my mom can go to the wedding. So the wedding is good to be off because I don’t have a dress. My mom’s not gonna be there. So why does it matter? Like, calm down, let’s just, you can I look at it. And I’m like, whatever, look at it. And he’s just like, grabs the scissors. And he’s looking at the dress and he’s like, we can put the lace across the hip. Like, that would be hideous, ya know? And he’s like, you can put a flower you can make a little flower and put like flowers down the side of your dress. And I’m just like that is hideous. That’s 80s or whatever. 

I don’t know what popped in my head. But I’m just like, shooting down all of his ideas. And he’s like, where’s the pattern? I got the scissors. And I’m like, I don’t think you understand this is silk. It is difficult to work with. And he’s like, but I have watched you for years. So I will figure this out. And I’m like fine, you do it. And this man grabbed the silk laid it flat he saw I don’t know what one time how much it shifted on the table. So he tapes it all down. With the pattern on top tapes the pattern down on to the dress or on

Ada

Wait no old pattern weights just tape?!

Shilyn

Tape! And it worked because when you put the pattern weights on there, the edges will still shift because of how silk is. But the tape made it so it wouldn’t shift at all. So I’m on the other side of the table while he’s cutting. And I’m just still bawling my eyes out. My tears are eventually dropping on to the silk and the silk is starting to stain and I’m like, oh, no, I can’t cry on my dress. So I have the dress like as far away from me as possible, as I’m bent over seeing ripping it crying, not only my dress, so I could salvage the rest of the dress. And so I think we stayed up till like one or two in the morning, and we were able to put it back together. Oh, the saving grace. And I don’t I mean, I don’t, this can’t be a tip because I hope no one ever burns their dress. But silk organza, I guess burns at a higher temperature. So the organza underneath the silk kept it from burning through to the back of the dress. So I only had to do the one panel. So we were able to reuse the organza and just have to cut out the one silk piece.

Ada   

I mean, that’s still pretty good. Many many lessons learned here, some of which I will summarize as make sure your your partner watches what you’re doing when you’re sewing so that they know what to do in case you cannot complete your dress or you accidentally burn it. Number two hot irons are dangerous. That is why they some of them have safety switches. Number three always have extra fabric.

Shilyn  

I bought so much extra fabric I bought 10 yards of this thing. And I only ended up using like three. So I bought so much of it. And I mean, in the end, it was like I tell the story now, and I still feel the emotions. But I also always read it reminds me that I chose the right person. Because he immediately had a solution for like everything even though I shot them all down. In the end. He was like, like a little seamstress, hero and a cape and like the scissors in his hand. He was like, show me where the pattern is. And, like I still remember what he looked like when he did that. So yeah.

Ada   

I love it. Alright Esther, I know you didn’t have anything similar, I think. But now that you finished your blog series and reflecting on your whole wedding sewing process, I know you spent a lot of time on research, and then designing and choosing your fabrics. So was there anything particular that you enjoyed about the process or was maybe quite as memorable as Shilyn’s experience?

Esther  

Yeah, mine was not nearly as dramatic as Shilyn’s, I’m so glad you made it past it. But, like Shilyn was saying, where you went to the store and tried out dresses, I did the same thing except I went alone. And I thought that was actually really helpful to try on the dresses to get like the right silhouette. So that part was part of my research phase. And that was really fun. And I knew similar to what you did, I also took pictures to decide the elements of a dress that I like, so that I can kind of pull it all together into this one giant, ridiculous project. So the part that I actually really, really enjoyed was the testing part of it. So I made a lot of mock ups, a lot of samples. Ada, you mentioned earlier that I was taking everyone on my Instagram on this journey of dressmaking, which was quite fun as well. But one of the few things that I really enjoyed was even though the the design decision making part of it was really overwhelming. 

And I think it’s one of those things that you don’t really notice it when you’re, you know, trying to make a dress out of a pattern. But when you have to start everything from scratch everything by yourself, that’s when it starts becoming overwhelming. But it was also really exciting to me because it was making a one of a kind garment like literally no one else on the face of this earth will have the same dress. So that was really cool. And at one point in my journey, I realized that no amount of googling is going to be able to save myself. Because when you’re making a one of a kind, right, you’re like, Oh, let me google how this is gonna work out for like a similar design. But then, in reality, you really just have to do, you know, mock ups and test your samples with your fabric and see how it drapes and everything. So that for me, I was able to take that into more of an experiment direction, which for me became a lot more fun, because then it’s a lot less about my perfectionism, and a lot more about just trying things out and learning through the success and failures. And then I will say that one of the last thing that I really enjoyed was learning all sorts of different skills. So in particular, I learned how to drape my own bodice. And then I also learned how to make a corset. Those are the two things that I would say, making the it’s very different from making it every day garment

Nicole  

Ada, speaking of do you want to give it a try, or wish you had tried?

Ada   

Oh, absolutely not. Like Shilyn’s, like I had 10 yards of fabric, and then I only used three, like to achieve the amount of poof that I wanted, I think I would have needed like 100 yards of tool in my house. And I just don’t think that would have been great for any of the other things that I was working on at the time. But, you know, I did end up doing some alterations, which we can talk about later. But I’m curious, like, we’ve talked about what we’ve learned, things that we’ve tried out the process with, is there anything that you would have changed about the process of making your own dress.

Shilyn  

So I know that my story was very dramatic. Obviously, I wish I had a little bit more time, that probably would have helped the situation in the sense of it’s, it’s in three days, you know, like, I don’t have time to do this. But really, I don’t think I would have changed a lot of it. Because I really learned a lot and i In the end, I look, I still look back at those pictures. And I’m like, Wow, I did that. I sometimes wonder how I did it, because I don’t think I would make it again. I do sometimes wonder what I would have come up with if I started delving into my Filipino culture before that time, because I’ve only recently done that, like in the past couple years. So but like Nicole said it was the dress was right for me at the time. So maybe if I did a dress now, I would have went and did some sort of, you know, elaborate Filipiniana. But at the time, I was really into the whole Old Hollywood 50s vibe. I do have a tip and it is 100% related to the timing is because what I did was I actually did have a friend that made her wedding gown about a year before and I asked her for help. And she said I gave myself six weeks. I wish I had 12. And so I’m telling the listeners maybe triple the amount of time you think you need, just in case something happens because if you haven’t self drafted it before, or if you’ve never used boning before, or like me, I hadn’t also done pad stitching. I didn’t anticipate anything that would go with it. So I had no gauge of how long that would take.

Ada   

Esther did Shilyn warn you? Like Shilyn asked her friends when you already knew this when you went into your journey. So did you ask for advice? Yeah,

Esther  

There was definitely a lot of advice asking from Shilyn because since we’re talking about time Shilyn did warn me about the time. She said she had 12 weeks so I was like okay, she did it in 12 weeks, I’m going to add two weeks for buffer for myself. So I had 14 weeks to do this. To be honest, I wish I gave myself even more time. So yeah, double the time, triple if you have to. I will say that. Throughout this process. I really do wish that I gave myself more time to properly rest and shout out to Mariko. Our fellow producer here on the pod. I had complained to her about it. And she said, I know what you need. So she worked out her project management skills and helped me pull together like a whole timeline. We, you know, we’re working on the mirror board trying to figure out what task I need, what our goals and what our stretch goals, because the whole nine yards is awesome. So shout to Mariko, thanks for your help. So project, project management is was was really helpful there. 

I think another thing that Shilyn talked about was making sure that you have extra material. And I think that’s very true. Especially when you’re trying to buy stuff online, you do have to kind of buy samples to test it out to see how it looks in person. But otherwise, I don’t think there are any changes that I would do to my journey. Have you guys ever seen the plot that says success is not linear? And then like, it’s like a squiggle that looks like a bunch of spaghetti. Yep. Kind of feels like that plot really describes how my dress journey was. And you know, life in general, right. So I feel like I got to, like, enjoy every loops, and dips, and of all in that whole journey. And so I felt like this whole experience of learning, celebrating the success, and also learning from the failures along the way, really helped boost my self confidence, and like believe in my ability to make something. So yeah, I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

Ada   

And your photos came out gorgeous. Like, I remember when you posted in our Slack, you were like this highly anticipated event. And I was like what highly anticipated then, and then I clicked on it. And it was your wedding photo book, kind of like I don’t have a better description of it. I was like, Oh my God, it was done. And like the Collective collectively lost our mind. We’re screaming, like, separately, but in emojis and GIFs. And, yeah, it turned out great. So I’m glad you had a good learning experience. Part of the learning experience that we kind of touched upon, but we haven’t actually gotten into was that when you make your own dress or yourself drafting you, I assume don’t have to alter it unless you go through some major changes between when you draft it and when you’re wearing it. Because you’re making it to your measurements as of when you’re measuring and cutting out stuff. Whereas I had to do some light alterations and Nicole had to do cup insertion, which is an alteration. So my alterations were also cup insertion and then creating a whole bustle from scratch on my dress, which in its own way is its own form of wedding sewing.

Nicole  

Yeah, I didn’t. So at the time again, over 10 years ago, didn’t have a sewing machine. But I do I did. What I always do is copied my older sister and I went to someone called the boob fairy. On her business card, boob fairy I was like, oh, okay, um, and just got cups installed. And then there was a little bit of beading that needed to be reset, like at the I’ve been, I would have done it now. But yeah, I just got it done the traditional route by someone else. And I know some of us have been married for longer than others. And I want to hear what’s happened to those wedding outfits since getting married. And I’ll tell you, number one, Michael wore a morning suit, but we rented it. We were able to find it at the time. I know. I know. Sorry. Shilyn wish we knew each other 10 years ago I don’t even think it was anywhere special but he’s English. So you know when he moved from England and all the all the men in our bridal party and like sponsors, which is a Filipino slash Catholic thing all wore morning suit. So it’s nice to see like my brother and my uncle and a morning suit. Anyway, those went back because they were rented. Right now my dress is in a box. I got it preserved and it’s kind of weird. It’s just this large box and it’s it was cleaned and folded up nicely. It’s just in a box and I feel a little bit like I’ve there I’ve gone through phases, especially since I started sewing thinking, let’s just do something with this. It’s just it’s fabric in a box surely, like I could use this white satin or I could use the other things like I haven’t decided yet. So it’s in a box. What about you Shilyn.

Shilyn  

So, my mom and my maid of honor both kept their dresses. I’m not sure if they actually wore it again, but I made them, you know, like a knee length. That way they could wear it another time if they really wanted to. My partner’s three piece suit. His morning suit is partially still here. I made it out of wool. And we forgot that it was made out of wool. So he was wearing the pants for work because he was like, I nice brown work pants. I will wear this every so often. And we throw it in the wash and they shrunk like four sizes. Yeah, they were like, five inches shorter and like way too short in the waist and they look like little kids pants. So those are not no longer here. But he does still wear the vest to work every so often. And he’s really been itching to wear the jacket again, we just don’t get invited anything crazy, where he could wear the jacket. So hasn’t worn that yet. My dress is just sitting in the closet. I look at it every so often. And I’m like, Wow, I did that. But that’s really the most that it gets. That gets done to it. Now I don’t have any other ideas for it’s pretty fitted. No longer fits me. Yeah, no idea. I don’t know what I could do with it unless I just made little pieces of something else out of it. 

Esther  

So for me, mine’s currently sitting in the work in progress pile. Because after taking the wedding photos, and doing laundry and washing it all I realized that there were a few minor things I wanted to fix. So namely the collar for the mandarin collar. Your very smart girl did not interface it. So now it’s like all wrinkly and like, oh, like every time I look at it, I’m just like, Why did I do that. So I’m gonna fix that. And then also, there were beads that just weren’t secured like I didn’t catch it when I was speed hand stitching them all down, just in time for the photoshoot. So I have to fix that too. But the whole outfit will hopefully see light again, when we go home for Christmas. We’re hoping to do some photo opps with family. And the for at least for the base dress because you know kind of what Shilyn was saying earlier where it’s like you don’t really have an occasion to rewear something that you work so hard on. I’m hoping that I get invited to my cousin’s wedding next year. And then I can wear it again. But before that I have to add a bustle to it because I don’t think I want to chop off the train. That’s too pretty. I feel too much like a princess in it. So.

Ada   

But you also want to be able to walk so the bustles a little little helpful. I my dress. I don’t know if it’s normal, but it took a very long time after we came back from our wedding to get it dry cleaned. So I actually had it dry clean probably eight or nine months after. It also doesn’t help that I had surgery right after we came back. So like that kind of threw off my timing. But before we packed up and like came home I did try to pick out as many souvenirs as my photographer called them from the bottom because as you can imagine in a giant cake topper dress when you’re walking on grass and around trees and things, you pick up souvenirs. So I spent the morning after our wedding, picking out souvenirs and like later picking out some more souvenirs. And the very nice Asian owned dry cleaner here who did it was very understanding that it was a gigantic wedding dress and he was like this was you really went for I did not feel judged. I felt very supportive. But I also felt very bad that they had to go through all those layers. And that dress is still sitting upstairs. I didn’t get it preserved per se because I thought about maybe either chopping it to have like a big kind of formal dress, but I again didn’t know what kind of occasion I could wear that too because with the color scheme it is it could skew a little bridle. And I also thought about unpicking the skirt from the bodice because the corset top is actually pretty cute and I thought I could rewear that but we shall see you And I actually have another dress that I haven’t talked about. Because I bought while I had ordered this dress, the one that I did wear things with my dad were declining. So we thought about doing a wedding outside of his window. And I went ahead and just like went and bought a dress off the rack. And so that dress was very similar but not the same. It was a sample one. So it had to get repaired and and altered actually officially like that was way faster than me doing it in my frenzied state at that point. And so that dress actually did take it to do photos and during my makeup trial and my hair trial. And so it did get kind of its day in the spotlight because we didn’t get to use it for a window wedding. But it is actually up for sale right now. On one of those second hand markets, it’s been listed for a while. So we’ll see I think it’s a bit harder to resell a wedding dress, even one that’s like an a line skirt with a V neck. And it’s just hard because the sizing has to be pretty close, right in terms of how much alteration you could do without completely drastically changing the dress. So I think to find somebody within the size range that could fit this dress that couldn’t isn’t taller than me because I did have it shortened a little bit. We’ll see what happens to it. But yeah, they’re just sitting in my closet. Right now.

Nicole  

I forgot to say that I also had a second dress. But I never wore it it was supposed to be a reception dress that was also like a sweetheart to top neckline but a mermaid style skirt instead of the ballgown style. And I was just having so much fun at the reception that like I was like kind of whatever I don’t need to change into it. But to your point about like what to do with this other dress. I’ve no I don’t have any pictures of me in it, I ended up donating it to an organization that allows brides I can’t remember what the cause was, but people who are getting married to pick out wedding dresses for free. So that’s if you don’t feel like keeping it around. I think I just ended up donating it not to Goodwill or anything like that. But it was like a specific organization that was meant for providing wedding outfits for people.

Ada   

I love that. Okay, one final question for everyone. Whether you bought made altered your wedding outfit. Any advice for someone considering wedding outfits in the near future? Esther?

Esther  

I would say there are no rules on what a wedding outfit should look like you do you pick out what makes you feel the most like yourself, whether it is a jumpsuit, whether it’s a white dress, whether it’s a super colorful ensemble. Do what makes you feel like you’re special, because you are.

Shilyn  

I think I’ve mentioned this before, or we’ve mentioned mentioned this a few times earlier, but if you plan on making it, I fully recommend just going out and doing a dress fitting anyway, just so you can see what you look like because I thought I had a certain idea for what I would like to wear and make. But then when I put on the different gowns, I realized that I did like the fitted look. And I actually kinda looked good in it instead of like, oh, maybe I need to, you know, do like a bigger skirt. Because I didn’t like how I looked in some other types of dresses, I thought it would be the same thing. So you might surprise yourself. If you just go out and, you know, try on and pretend you’re going down the aisle with your friends, you know, and hopefully you can come up with the silhouette that you want. And then if you are making it again, you get an idea of what the construction looks like. Because I may have peaked on some of them like, Oh, how did they do this? And I noticed that like some of the buttons down the dress that look really delicate and you’re like how do they put all of those buttons on? It’s a zipper. So you’d be surprised with how they do some of the construction for these pieces.

Esther  

Yeah, I agree with what Shilyn said. It really was helpful to go try on what looks good on you. And I definitely was peeking underneath the dress and spent a little too long in the dressing room taking pictures of what the underneath looks like.

Ada   

I’m gonna echo that but more in the sense of the colors of bridal fabrics. When you think of like a white dress and like Western attire. There. There’s I didn’t know there were so many shades of white ivory neck show. I had no clue and I thought I wanted like bright bright white. And then I came out of a dressing room with one of those on and I looked gray. And I was just like what is happening? I look sickly. And so I didn’t think I would end up – pink is my favorite color. I didn’t think I would end up with a pinky nude dress. But here we are, it actually did look very white on me. And so if you are able to go try on dresses, I definitely recommend like looking at those swatches, or even if you’re making your own and you’re buying the fabric, like swatch the fabric against parts of your body because not all the same parts of your body have the same color. So, you know, go in different shades of lighting, use mirrors, take pictures, like have your friends weigh in on how the pictures are coming out or how it looks, because you would be very surprised how these colors come out. Alright, Nicole, advice to take us home?

Nicole  

I don’t have any advice. covered it. I echo everything. I didn’t do any of those things. But they all sound like really sound plans for figuring out what you want to wear for your wedding.

Ada   

All right, that wraps it up. Thank you, Shilyn and Esther for being on with us today and in front of the mic slash camera. sharing more about your wedding sewing experiences, we will be linking to all of their helpful resources on the internet. If you our dear listeners would like to take a stab at making your own wedding outfit or formal wear. I’m sure their knowledge will be helpful for some of our listeners. 

Thank you so much for joining us on this week’s episode of the Asian Sewist Collective podcast. If you like our show, please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi by becoming a one time or monthly supporter or by buying our stickers and sewing labels. That’s right we have merch by the labels they are hilarious. Your financial support helps us with overhead expenses and will allow us to give back to our all volunteer team who work so hard to provide you with new content each week. The link to our Ko-Fi page is Ko-fi.com/Asiansewistcollective and you can find the link in our show notes on our website and on our Instagram account. Check us out on Instagram at AsianSewistCollective, that’s one word Asian Sewist Collective and you can also help us out by spreading the word and telling your friends. We would appreciate it if you could rate review and subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Nicole  

All of the links and resources mentioned in today’s episode will be in the show notes on our website. That’s asiansewistcollective.com And we’d love to hear from you. Email us with your questions, comments or even voice messages if you want to be featured on future episodes at Asiansewistcollective@gmail.com This episode was brought to you by your co hosts Ada Chen and Nicole Angeline. Thank you so much to the other members of our collective who made this week’s episode a reality. This is the Asian Sewist Collective podcast and we’ll see you next week.

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