Karlene's Workshop

My sewing, refashioning and upcycling projects revealed
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Wedding dress for my sister

  • 08/07/2009 2:16 pm

I was honored to be asked by my sister Janelle to make her wedding dress (the wedding was in November 2007) even though it was going to be tough with her in Auckland and me in Paraparaumu at the time. She designed it herself, I interpreted the drawings, made the pattern and sewed it.

Janelle's Wedding dress front detail

Not the best pose, I know, but it was the best view of the front.

She wanted the front to be ‘pretend’ lace up and the back to be real lace up as the opening.

Janelle's Wedding dress, back

The skirt was made to sit on the hips to show off her tiger tattoo on her back (can’t see it very well in photo) although not far enough down for her taste as it turned out, she lost weight before a crucial fitting :-(   and it ended up a little tight, even after I let the seams out as much as possible.

I also helped to make the flower girl dresses for my nieces. Janelle had made the skirts, with lovely layered chiffon petals, I did the top bits (On the big day, like seriously) and Mum joined them up after I started having a anxiety attack about the fact that I was still sewing dresses when I should have been putting on my own bridesmaid dress as we were already late for the ceremony – aahhhhhh!

They weren’t exactly how my sister envisioned them to be, but at least the girls had something to wear, and they still looked very cute.

Flower girls

The main thing I learned form this experience is how very important it is to listen to your client and keep communicating until you are 150% sure of what you are doing!

I also learnt I had too much stress in my life and I could no longer bear living so far away from my extended family. Luckily for me my wonderful husband was sympathetic and got a job in Auckland six months later.

Janelle's wedding dress

BTW isn’t my little sister just beautiful? I am always flattered at any remarks of similarity.


Quilt for Pip and Dave

  • 17/06/2009 10:10 am

I made a log cabin quilt for my friends Pip and Dave, using up a heap of scraps I had been storing for a while. This was my first attempt at doing a real quilt, so I learned a few things on the way.  The most important thing was why quilts are traditionally made from cotton fabric -  the synthetic ones are so much harder so sew! Cotton fabrics are stable and flow through the machine like they’re supposed to. The man-made fabrics, well they just have a mind of their own. Combining them in a quilt was kind of interesting.

Pip and Dave's quilt

I printed a wedding photo onto some printable cotton designed to go in your computer’s printer, to use as the centre panel and then worked a pattern around it with the log cabin blocks. The border around the photo is made from strips of Pip’s dress. I machine appliqued 4 red heart motifs to frame it.

I machine quilted around the blocks for stability, and hand quilted heart motifs where there was a need.

Centre detail

Oh yeah, Keith helped me by colouring the bouquet and Dave’s tie and buttonhole in the photo before it was printed. Ok he kind of helped with the printing part too. Thank you dear!

We hope Pip and Dave enjoy their quilt and think happy marriage thoughts when they use it :-)


Wedding dress for Pip

  • 03/06/2009 11:46 am

I made this Wedding dress for my friend Pip. Thankfully she made life easier for me by purchasing a pattern, so all I had to do was sew it.

Pip and Dave cut the cake

Dancing - aww

The lace has an organza floral trim and border. I used the tricky snip-and-hand stitch method on some of the seams near the hem so the flower motifs weren’t caught up in the stitching.

Pip's Wedding gown, back veiw

I don’t have any full dress shots unfortunately, but if I ever get hold of any then I will put them here.


My Wedding Dress

  • 05/05/2009 10:31 am

The first Wedding dress I completed was for myself,  from my own design, ie I made the pattern as well :-)

It looks nothing like the frou-frou meringue that I always dreamed of wearing as a girl, as the fashion at the time (2001) was for a more elegant streamline silhouette.  And I wanted something simple to sew to avoid stress!

My wedding dress

The top layer is an empire line style with ribbon loops on the bodice for the lace up closure, and a skirt that gets longer at the back to form a train.  Cut from some beautiful lace that I fell in love with, it has a rose style floral pattern and a deep border on the bottom edge that I used for the hem and the bodice. I also had to hand stitch a piece of  the smaller top edge border onto the cuffs, because if I had cut the sleeves with the cuff along the top edge of the fabric, the rose pattern on the sleeve would have been upside down.

The underneath layer  is a simple slip dress style in delustured satin with elastic straps (eww, what was I thinking?) trimmed at the hem with lace.

The photo doesn’t really do justice to this dress, that lace is exquisite. However if I had the chance to do this over again, I would make the satin under dress a lot more structured and form fitting.