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Category: Tips and Suggestions

  1. Learn to sew: what you need to get started...

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    Dressmaking lessons with Blue Lily Magnolia Nantwich

    Has the Great British Sewing Bee inspired you to learn something new this year? Or encouraged you to pick up a long lost creative hobby? You are not alone! Being able to make your own creations and manipulate fabrics to your heart's desires can be extremely rewarding - we all need to feel a little bit creative in life, no matter how small the project.

    In this blog, I want to pick out a handful of my must-have 'tools' for learning to sew. There are tons of accessories and tools out there for beginners and professionals alike, and generally, I find them very useful because they've actually been developed to help us do things better. But, let's be honest, as much as I would love to have everything, like a kid in a toy shop, the reality is that 1) my house is not big enough for everything, 2) unfortunately I don't have an endless supply of cash and 3) if I can get by without, do I really need it?

    My first must-have would have to be a good pair of fabric scissors. Ask any dressmaker, professional or not, and they will tell you the horror of seeing someone use their fabric scissors to cut paper or other things. Your fabric scissors should be for a single use only - to cut fabric and threads!! It should have a blade of a decent size that enables you to cut large pieces of fabrics with ease, but not too big and heavy that you can't control it.

    Pins and needles (not the physiological variety) are next on my must-have list. I use pins to hold things into position, as well as to mark the position of folds, seam lines and the like. The floor of my house often has the odd pins and for this reason, I recommend the pins with round coloured heads - much easier to spot when they fall or they find themselves in a place they shouldn't be! As far as needles are concerned, a small range is great - thin ones for delicate fabrics, and sturdier ones for heavier weight fabrics.

    Sometimes I use a ruler (I have various types, various lengths, shapes and materials!) to measure things up and when I'm marking fabric, but most of the time, it's a tape measure. So that's my next must-have. You can actually take a measurement of any circular part of your body (waist, hips, bust, etc.) with a piece of string and a ruler, but it's a bit tedious and prone to mistakes, so forget that idea and grab yourself a tape measure. It will not break the bank...

    A sewing machine.... As someone getting back into sewing, or starting to learn, a standard size machine will be your biggest investment early on in this adventure. I would not recommend buying a mini machine simply because they're so limited. Any other regular machine that's able to do at least basic lockstitch, zigzags and buttonholes is a great start. Of course if you want more advanced features such as embroidery and other stitching styles, go for it.

    The final thing that is needed, but that hopefully you should already have is an iron. A steam iron would be better (and an ironing board is always handy of course). Pressing and ironing are often underestimated in dressmaking and sewing but it is amazing how much it can transform the finish of your creation, as well as make things easier to handle.

    Finally, two little things that are technically not must-haves, but for me are absolutely essential. A thimble and an unpicker. The first is because my fingers are so sensitive that  if I use a needle without a thimble, I literally get needle holes in my skin! The second is that as an alteration lady, I often need to unpick seams. Small pointy scissors do the job too, but an unpicker is just the best. Not to mention that for cutting out buttonholes, they're really useful too.

    So here we are, my must-haves to get started with sewing! What are yours? Have I missed anything?


    Blue Lily Magnolia - for bespoke dresses and alterations, based in Nantwich, Cheshire. I also offer private sewing classes to cover topics of your choice, from the very basics to get yourself started, to more advanced techniques such as corsetry. Get in touch for more information by calling Sharon on 07766766573 or email me at [email protected] or check out this page here.

  2. Wedding Alterations: What should you consider?

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    Wedding Dress Alterations

    If you've bought your dress from a wedding dress retailer, and even if it's been made to order, chances are that you might need some form of alterations before you're able to walk in it comfortably down the aisle. But, before you book yourself an appointment with a dressmaker, here are a few things you need to do, just to be sure:

    Firstly, buy your wedding shoes. Whether or not the hem of the dress needs taking up really depends on the height of your heels. Things get a little tricky if you are thinking of killer heels for part of the day and flat shoes (or removing your shoes altogether) in the evening. When you do remove the heels, your dress will drop to the floor and will need lifting up to walk and possibly to dance too. This may be a little price to pay for comfort, as fitting the hem to a flat shoe length is a no-go if you intend to wear heels when walking down the aisle and taking the official photos.

    Secondly, make a decision on your underwear. If your bust needs a bit of filling up with a push-up bra, or if your waistline needs a bit of re-shaping with shapewear, make sure you get these bad boys and try them on with your dress - the need for alterations on the bust or waist area may disappear completely. Or vice versa. Underwear shopping for your wedding dress is actually quite a challenging task, especially if you do want to wear a bra, and have a fairly low back or backless dress. Ideally you want to be able to wear the bra under the dress to make a decision, but most of us think that we can't bring a wedding dress into the underwear shop. Can you? Perhaps a call to the shop prior to your visit may help solve this dilemna.

    Thirdly, consider whether you are likely to fluctuate in size between now and the wedding date. If you are dieting for example, and think that you may lose more weight, it might be worth waiting a little bit longer before booking yourself in.

    If, after considering all three points above, you put on your beautiful dress and find it too long or gapey in some places, then it's time to give a call to your dressmaker. Many will need several weeks before being able to complete the work, especially if your wedding happens in the peak seasons (spring and summer), so allow yourself plenty of time. In doubt, especially regarding point 3 above, give them a ring in advance to ask for their lead times. Most will be able to tell you if and when they can accommodate you and when might be the best time to visit them.

    And for your visit, don't forget your underwear (especially bra if you are wearing one) and your shoes!


    Blue Lily Magnolia alterations: for wedding dresses, bridesmaids, and other formal occasion alterations for clients in the Nantwich and surrounding Cheshire areas.

  3. Want a bit of Wedding Colour Inspiration? Read on!

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    If you are getting married in 2018, 2019 and beyond, have you chosen your colours yet, or are you struggling to decide? Or are you curious what other brides have chosen, or what the industry is predicting? Read on to find out more about 2018 and be inspired!

    First off, let's start with the colour experts, Pantone.

    Pantone colour of the year 2018 ultra violetpantone colour of the year 2018 wedding

    Pantone's colour of the year for 2018 is Ultra Violet 18-3838. "Complex and contemplative, Ultra Violet suggests the mysteries of the cosmos, the intrigue of what lies ahead, and the discoveries beyond where we are now. The vast and limitless night sky is symbolic of what is possible and continues to inspire the desire to pursue a world beyond our own." Pantone's own words lend themselves seamlessly to the idea of a marriage, the union of two leading to the limitless possibilities for the future.

    And here, from Hanami Dream (which creates and collates wedding inspiration) and Perfect Wedding Guide (online guide for planners and brides), some examples of how this gorgeous colour can be integrated in your wedding:

    Hanami dream mood board ultra violet pantone 2018Perfect wedding guide ultra violet 2018

    pantone spring 2018-min

    But Pantone also has other predictions for 2018, and this is what the spring/summer range looks like, with loads of beautiful bright colours for the arrival of the blooms and warmer weather. According to Pantone, "The Spring 2018 palette encourages a sense of fun and playful release. With an air of complexity and distinctiveness, we find ourselves in a sanctuary of color that is ideal for some more unique and dramatic color mixing."

    This spring colour prediction is intended for the fashion industry, but then it inevitably weaves its way into other industries as a source of inspiration. Wedding specialists end up creating their own mood boards based on how they've been inspired.

    Here are some examples from Bride Story for Business, the online wedding directory and marketplace, who have created three colour boards on the theme of Tropical Weddings for spring 2018. Plums and Berries are mostly warm red-based colours, with the 2018 colour of the year Ultra Violet added in. Birds of Paradise is an explosion of the bright, vibrant and dashing, taking inspiration from exotic birds. Blushing Sunset is a softer and more subtle palette for a more romantic feel, still pulling in a little bit of a purple violet shade.

    plums and berries wedding colour paletteBirds of paradise, tropical wedding palette, spring 2018Blushing sunset colour palette, spring 2018

    And next, are three more examples from Magnet Street (provider of personalised wedding stationery amongst other things) for the summer of 2018 - I have picked only 3 stories from their 8 colour themes for the season, so check out their page highlighted above to see the other 5 and also for the other forthcoming seasons. Shine is based on sage green, with bits of rose, ivory and gold. The Rosy colour palette is based on a mauve rose, with peach, burgundy and metallic grey. The Oasis theme is a brighter palette, with a cheery lime green, and smaller accents of neutrals.

    shine colour palette, Magnet Street colour prediction summer 2018 Rosy colour palette, wedding trend, summer 2018, Magnet Streetoasis colour palette, Magnet Street, summer 2018

    What about autumn / winter for 2018/2019? Does purple appear in? Are the colours more toned down?

    At custom stationery makers Shutterfly, the autumn colours are orange-based, with orange reds, caramels, gold, mango, peach, cream, orangey autumn leaves colours, and accents of purple (of course), yellow and teal.  

    brightcolourful wedding colours Shutterfly autumn 2018

    Winter colours at Shutterfly are cooler, with lots of purple (in line with Pantone's colour of the year), hints of blues, pinks and berries.

    winter 2018 colour trend, shutterfly, metallicswinter 2018 shutterfly bright

    At the Bridal Consultant (specialists in destination weddings), the winter 2018 colours are deep and rich, navy and marsala, olive and black, plum and grey.

    bridal consultant wedding colours for winter 2018

    Whether deeper, lighter, pinker, bluer, many of the colour mood boards shown above have a little purple influence. Ultra Violet may be colour of the year for Pantone, but, truth to be said, purple has always been a favourite for brides for many years. Ranging from lilac to deep aubergine, and for British couples, the famous Cadbury purple - purple turns up regularly as chosen wedding colours.

    Here's a little snapshot of real brides' wedding colours for 2018 and onwards. This word cloud was created out of responses from a Facebook post, and shows actual colour choices, as opposed to predicted colours. Purple is prominent (including Cadbury's, lilac, mauve, eggplant, royal, dark), as are many shades of blues (baby, aqua, electric, cobalt, navy, pastel, royal, sky, dusty) and shades of pink (baby, blush, dusty, fuschia, pastel, rose, vintage, watermelon, hot).

    wedding colours brides 2018 2019

    At the end of the day, whatever the colour predictions or colour trend, and no matter how much Pinterest and blogs can influence you, the colour theme for a wedding is very much a personal choice. And importantly, hopefully an agreed joint choice!

    Hope you enjoyed this blog, and do share with us your own wedding colours.


    With the exception of the Word Cloud, sources and Images from: Pantone, Hanami Dream, Bride Story for Business, Perfect Wedding Guide, Shutterfly, Bridal Consultant and Magnet Street. All links in the Blog text above. Do visit them for more images and inspiration on colour.

    Blue Lily Magnolia makes bespoke and unique accessories for special occasions, including for brides, bridesmaids, grooms and groomsmen. If you would like to create a one of a kind piece for your wedding in the colour of your choice, get in touch for a friendly discussion.