+1 Sparkly Cardigan of Arm-Covering

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

Like a lot of plus-sized brides, I’m not a huge fan of my upper arms and wear half to full sleeves pretty much year-round. The thing is, it’s not so much the size of my arms that bugs me the most, it’s the pale-yet-blotchy skin tone that makes me feel more comfortable with them covered. That and my nervous habit of scratching at my arms if they’re not covered (which doesn’t help the blotchy skin tone).

All that to say, I knew from the beginning that I would be wearing a sweater, shrug, or bolero along with my wedding dress. And that I shopped for my dress with an eye towards compatible necklines.

Since I am most comfortable in knits, and I do knit from time to time, I figured I’d be happiest if I knit my own shrug, etc. and began looking for suitable patterns ages ago. Thanks to Duchess Katherine’s second wedding look (which included a cropped angora jacket over her evening dress), Vogue Knitting dreamed up a close-enough version and offered it as a free download. As usual, the sizing wasn’t quite right for me as written, so I decided to give the pattern a go in a larger, less fuzzy yarn and different needles and see how close that got me.

Color me shocked when my test-run turned out to be a pretty close match to the shade of dress I ended up choosing, and that the pattern adjustment was just right. Happy accident, that! All that was left was some sparkle to make it wedding-worthy.

Beaded trim, if you’ve never priced it yourself, is damned expensive. For good reason, mind you; it takes a lot of work, usually by hand, to achieve just the right look, but I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we’ve got more time than money to put towards this wedding, and I’m already pretty adept with several styles of beading.

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

a beaded portrait (personal photo)

Since we Road Trips have a standing date with our DVR on Friday nights, I’ve been working on the necessary length to edge my cardigan (a little over a yard) during those date nights–it’s nice to have something to do with my hands while we’re otherwise vegging out.

I’ll do a better how-to of it in another post, but this beading took somewhere between 15 and 20 hours to complete. I’d have to check my receipts to see how much it cost me, but I know I’ve only used half the beads I purchased (I want to do more trim for the dress, plus a belt) and I doubt I’ve spent more than $50 total, so maybe $25 in materials, but something like $300 in time (at a rate of $20 an hour–not that high for custom hand-work).

Look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

The finished trim–look at it sparkle! (personal photo)

Even though I pinned out the length of ribbon I’d need to bead to trim the sweater, after hanging for a little while the neckline had “grown” as can happen with knits. It took a couple of tries before I got the trim and knitting to match up correctly without the body of the cardigan puckering, but it worked out in the end.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn't quite fixed yet.

You can see some of the puckers on the right that I hadn’t quite fixed yet.

To make sure the beading held to the knitted edges, I placed another length of ribbon on the back side of the knitting so that the trim would have something sturdier to anchor to. This also had the effect of stabilizing the edge of the sweater–it was curling in before the trim was added.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater's edge.

This is what it looks like from the inside of the sweater’s edge.

And here she is, all ready for wearing!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

All done! and, see, no puckers!

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

A close-up of the beading along the neckline.

One of the major “rules” about bridal diy is that you don’t plan something that means acquiring additional skills or expensive equipment. Thankfully this project required neither, just a lot of time.

Have you undertaken any ambitious diy projects lately?

It’s More Than Just the Dress

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

With the dress procured, what else to wear was still up for debate.

Let’s start from the bottom and head up.

When I tried on my dress I was wearing 3″ heels (pretty standard for me) and they were just about perfect for the existed hem. While they are not the shoes I will be wearing on the day of the wedding, they at least gave me an idea of what I needed to look for.

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans?

Have you ever wondered how much room your shoe collection spans? (personal photo)

To say that I have a thing for shoes would be putting it mildly. I haven’t counted recently (there’s been no good reason to), but the last time I wondered enough to do so I counted 85 pairs, and I’ve bought several since then. I’m definitely in the triple digits by now.  And most of them are heels because I find it painful to wear flats for more than a day. (I have Achilles tendinitis in both heels that developed several years ago, amusingly enough while I was wearing flats a lot thanks the multiple dance practices a week–usually it’s caused by wearing heels too often, not the other way around.) I also just love the confidence boost a good pair of heels can offer, and definitely have my favorites for when there’s an important meeting at the office.

So when I considered what I wanted in a pair of wedding shoes, I knew it needed a decent heel, preferably a platform for stability, closed toe, and an ankle strap to keep me from accidentally walking out of them–security is key! It was a while before I found my ideal wedding shoes, and for a while something like these (found via Offbeat Bride) were definitely a contender.

Images via ShopRuche.com

I’m definitely on the colored-shoe train, but not because it’s trendy: I just can’t stand white shoes (fallout from surviving the ’80s) and don’t want to buy a pair of shoes that I’ll never wear again.

The thing is, I have plenty of shoes around our wine color, but none of them are comfortable for an hour plus of standing around OR they’re way too tall. So I think I’m leaning a bit more towards cream or brown. I think it’s just a case of I’ll know it when I see it. Which is exactly the case when I found these Madden Girl shoes via Zappos.

image via Zappos

image via Zappos

I took them for a test-run at a charity event in April and I almost counted them out. They’re the first shoes I’ve worn in ages that rubbed blisters on my little toes–definitely not something I’d count in the pro column. But then I tried them on with the dress (which, by the way, still fits perfectly a year later–no alteration fees in my future!) and they were the perfect height. Unless something else comes along that’s even better I think I might just add some moleskin or other friction barrier to the littlest piggies and go with it.

As to the rest of the ensemble, I’m not planning to don a veil, so there’s the choice of hair decor to decide (remember, the girls loved me in a tiara, so that’s certainly an option). I’ll wear the journey necklace Mr. Road Trip gifted me on our first Christmas together and maybe a dressier version of my usual hoop earrings, so jewelry is mostly sorted out.

There’s also the matter of the jacket or sweater to cover my shoulders. I spent part of last winter knitting a cropped cardigan as a test for my wedding-day ensemble (patterns seldom work for me as-written, I always have to use the knit-and-see approach), only to find it matched the shade of ivory of my dress pretty much spot on! It still needed a little bit of dressing up, though, which brings me to: the bling.

I love the trend of sparkly belts, so plan to make one for my dress in cream beads and tiny ivory pearls. I’m also considering some trim to peek out just under the folded cuff along the top of my dress, and then edging the sweater’s neckline with the same beading so everything looks like a set, not just disparate parts.


The beaded neckline of one of my favorite shirts | personal photo

This shirt I’ve had for ages, and it’s one of my favorite pieces to wear. It’s a Henly-style top, but instead of buttons, both plackets are covered with this piled-on beading and that’s what I’m thinking will look best for the accents on my outfit. It’s a fairly simple technique, it’s just a matter of assembling the supplies and getting it done (tutorial to come).

What pieces are you still hunting up for your bridal ensemble?