Making a wedding

When we planned our wedding earlier last year, I decided that if I didn’t at least try to craft some of the props and elements I’d be disappointed. It all worked out quite well although my husband did wonder exactly when I would finish the bunting and move on to the wedding dress. Especially when we got to a fortnight before the wedding and I was still surrounded by piles of triangular flags. If you’re thinking of doing something similar, here’s what I learned.

1. Know your budget

I initially spent about £60 on fabric which included some Liberty lawn but realised with some shock one Saturday afternoon that it was nowhere near enough. I spluttered that I was “just popping out” splurged another £100 at Beyond Fabrics, mostly on retro and vintage prints. That made about 100m metres of bunting, with a small amount of fabric to spare. It was probably cheaper than buying bunting before you factor in the time for cutting, ironing, sewing, assembling. Still, I’m glad I did it. It’s already been used for another wedding and is booked in for a couple more – it will be shared, used and treasured.

2. Save time where you can

I had enough fabric left over from my dress to make a matching bag, but then thought the shape turned out a little odd (you’d think I’d plan more, but, um, no). So I was faced with carrying something that I didn’t really like or spending more time embellishing it. Then I spotted a belt in H&M which had a huge red silk ribbon bow on it. Quick snip of the shears and some strong as nails glue, and I had the perfect accessory. 

3.  Enlist help


My brilliant friend Abi came shopping with me, and we trawled Soho for beautiful fabrics and looked at patterns. I chose Burda 7569 even though it didn’t look that promising from the envelope. Abi came over to help me do my measurements, to fit the muslin and then to stop me from eating my fists when I had to fit the concealed zip.  Poor husband did try to help but understandably, hadn’t a clue what was going on. Without Abi I would have had to resort to a lot of safety pins. And screaming.

My brother and sister in law also decided to take it upon themselves to make us favours. They were adorable and I wouldn’t have had time or the crafty mojo to make anything as pretty as they did. Family FTW.

4. Communicate

Because I was also on a diet ahead of the big day, I knew that I’d need to finish the wedding dress fittings reasonably near the actual day. This happened to coincide with us selling our flat and moving into a friend’s for a fortnight. I had always planned to pack the sewing machine to take, and had ‘booked’ Abi to help – I just forgot to explain the plan to husband. To his credit, he didn’t panic. Not visibly. It would have helped his blood pressure to know that I actually was working to a schedule, and also had a contingency dress if it all gone pear-shaped. Oops. 

5. Make it personal

We thought that many of our friends would find it funny if we hashtagged our wedding, so this was our cake topper. It was rather larger than I expected (shown with cat for scale) so I sent a tracing of it to our baker extraordinaire friend with the message “I think we’re going to need a bigger cake”. Seriously, for the laughter it caused, and the fact it meant it was much easier to find all the tweeted photos afterwards, this was one of the best £5 I spent.

Our day all went to plan in the end, or if it didn’t we either didn’t know or didn’t care, but DIY Weddings are not for the faint hearted. I wasn’t working full time so it made sense to do as much as we could and it helped with the budget too. Next up – making your own wedding dress…

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What’s lurking at the end of the garden

The rear of our long, narrow paved garden is book-ended by a shed, which has a Narnia-like door now boarded up at the back. We realised that this was the short-cut that the house’s previous owner used to reach his plot on the allotments behind the building, which we can see from our upstairs windows.

When we first moved in we were madly keen to put our names down on the waiting list for our own allotment, but sanity intervened and we thought we’d try to sort out the house first. And the bloody pond.

By a lucky coincidence we found out that the vendor intended to leave all the koi in the pond which takes up about a third of the space at the end of the garden. To put it mildly, we were horrified – well it wasn’t like he was leaving his cat (we would have been fine with that) – and so he arranged for a charity to collect them. Everyone said ‘Oh but they’re really valuable!” Yeah, but you can’t eBay live animals. And the cats would have treated it like a buffet. So we were left with a pond, and stupidly in hindsight, no pump. It’s now full of water and is going to need to be emptied after all the recent heavy rain so I’m really relishing the thought of going at that with a bucket. Not.

It’s 360cm x 160cm at its widest so it’s taking up quite a bit of real estate. The one practical thing that we can think of to do with the pond is to make it, or the space it takes up into a raised bed so we can start a veggie garden and see how we go with it. Quite how we’d access the back of the area, I haven’t worked out yet but I’m going to consult with the parents when they’re over, as it’s their forte. A bed will be less demanding than an allotment obviously but will be a good barometer of our skill and commitment. So we lose a pond, and gain a bed. Enough space to have a go, and see how far our enthusiasm runs. 

If you’ve had success with a small urban garden (especially in south-east England), I’d love to hear from you.

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If you’re thinking of getting into gardening, here are some resources I’ve found helpful:

Gardening tips for beginners – we’ll have less space at first but this is inspiring and I like the idea of 

Quirky ideas with containers – our back garden is mostly paved so containers might be fun

Value for Space Rating (VSR) – choosing what to grow in terms of how much space it takes and the cost to buy it, and how home grown quality compares to what you can find in the shops

Penny Golightly – great tips on kitchen gardens, especially from a budgeting perspective.

Hello 2012!

I’ve decided that 2012 will be the year that I stop just beating myself up about the old hang-ups – perfectionism, lack of achievement – do something about it instead. I’ve got my big old diary ready for the year and I’m using bits of the Flylady system (which ironically results in lots of email spam) but here’s what I’d like to see in 2012:

  1. Remembering everyone’s birthdays – whether that’s a card, call or online message of some sort
  2. Getting back into the ‘make’ side of things – I need to clear out the craft room anyway so making lots of quilts with all the fabric in there will be a start, and I’ve felt like I’ve lost my crafting mojo (even if I did make my wedding dress and 100 metres of bunting last year)
  3. Handmade gifts – I’m realistic enough to say that these won’t be for everyone but I’m going to try to make some at least. Better start stocking up for next Christmas now.
  4. Doing more ‘rake’ around here – working out what the plants we inherited actually are, and how to take care of them. And growing tomatoes.

In that vein, getting prepped for new year and effectively decluttering, I got a lot of projects off the needles over Christmas. I’m really not a great knitter, technically, but it’s a lovely social habit. But I’ve been faffing about with knitting as a way of ignoring other things. 

The Opal socks were cast off (yarn that all four girls purchased on our knitting trip to Germany in 2009) and they’re floppy but comfy. Uncharacteristically I sped through a test knit for the lovely Helen but can’t show you any pics yet. I even blocked something!

This is Ysolda Teague’s Ariel pattern. Rather than an aran weight, I decided to use the Malabrigo Laceweight that I bought in ImagiKnit in San Francisco four years ago. I’d almost like to say it was stash busting but given that it’s been on the needles since May 2009 that’s wishful thinking at best.

I’ll cast on something else fun soon, this year might even be when I knit a garment.

What are your big plans – knitting and otherwise – for 2012?

Photo credit: Daniel Moyles on Flickr