Wedding Gown Diary-
Concept Page

Summer 1999. (cont'd)
 The design opposite shows my idea for my wedding gown (without a train) and also for the bridesmaids' gowns.  
  My gown was designed to be backlaced over an existing underkirtle.  An underkirtle is a "corset" or "stays" with a padded skirt sewn to it.  It is usually front laced.  Mine is made of  white taffeta and is lined in fine white linen.  
  Over the underkirtle a white silk self lined half kirtle was made (as a wedding present) with a slight train to it.  A monogram of "B" (Bess) and "E" (Edmund) was embroidered at the base of the placket at the back.  A blue bow was stitched inside the front of the waistband. 
  The forepart was made from an ivory dupion silk damask and matched the undersleeves.  This were decorated with habotai silk for the "puffs" and jewels of amethyst and pearls. 
  The main gown had a very arched neckline which was jeweled , a very full skirt with a two and half foot train.  The overcuffs were self lined with the fabric of the gown. 
  The hood is the typical "French Hood" of the period. It was made of the silk damask and decorated with wired pearls.  It was lined in ivory silk and made without any veil as I wished to wear my hair loose down my back.

  The first swatch of fabric is called "Lattice" and is a gold and Ivory silk damask.  It was not my first choice - the original was an ivory silk dupion with an embroidered chain stitch pattern in matte gold thread.  It was nice, but we did at the time fear it would be too pale for my colouring.  I showed my Mother this swatch and she insisted that this was better than the original choice - even though it was more expensive! 
   I had worked out that with the train and because of the pattern, I would require 10 metres of this silk damask - it was not cheap! 
   The silk damask made the whole gown, and the lining for the turn back sleeves as well as the hood - I still a little left for small pieces. 
   The second  swatch was the silk damask for my forepart and my under -sleeves.  I felt it was a nice delicate pattern - even though it woul d not show very much in any photographs.  To "lift" the undersleeves, I used nice bright jeweled roundels which were originally ear-rings from "Past Times". The amethysts and pearls echoed the pearl necklet I wore which had a small amethyst pendant attached (one of the first presents my husband bought me when we were first engaged!). 
   The forepart and undersleeves were lined in habotai silk and both were stiffened with iron-on interlining - medium weight.  I ironed the interlining to the back of the silk on both garments as the silk is extremely lightweight. Initially, all the attendants were to use the same silk as foreparts and undersleeves for the bridesmaids and as trimming for the page boy.  In the end, were only used it to as a decorative lining for my mother's medici collar for her gown.  We used a different ivory silk damask for the attendants garments.

  For a gown of this type, the only decoration (usually, but not always) are jewels or embroidery around the neckline.  
   My mother and I had shared the cost of purchasing six necklaces from "Past Times", which were based on a design worn by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in the 16th century.  Pearl and gold beads of various sizes finshed the design off. 
   An amethyst pendant on a pearl necklet was worn around my neck with a small choker version of the Earl of Leicester necklace which I had altered. 
   I wanted the jewels to be simple and elegant, but still have a rich and luxurious feel about them.

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