Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shadow Boxes: A Little Snapshot of Our Wedding

A long, long time ago, I put "make wedding shadow boxes" on my post-wedding to do list.

Well, better late than never I guess, because I finally got around to it!

Earlier this summer I had purchased some cheap shadow box frames, which I had a location for on a specific wall, but nothing to put in them. It was the perfect opportunity to find some mementos from our wedding that I had stashed away last year.

So I dug through my old boxes of wedding stuff, and printed out some photos to make a collage for the shadow boxes. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my husband's dried boutineer, but I'm sure it will turn up eventually. I distinctly remember hiding it in some kind of little box or something, somewhere "safe" where it wouldn't get damaged in our cross country move, but I guess it was such a good hiding place that now I can't remember where I put it!

Want to see the finished (but not yet hung) shadow boxes? :)

(Tip: After you figure out how you want to display your shadow box items, take a photo of the layout before you glue/tape everything into place. It makes a good reference, and is a lot easier than trying to remember the exact layout you liked after picking things up to apply the glue and tape.)

And how about some close ups?

Below shows one of my "something old" items, a little bear I gave my grandma when I was 3 years old, that she carried around with her in her purse for 20 years, until my grandpa gave it back to me after she passed away. Also, one of my Cola rehearsal bouquet flowers, as a nod to my time writing here. And in the far bottom right, some fabric from the napkin rings I made.

A close up of our laser-cut invitations. So much work, with all the cutting, folding (I even hand made the pocketfolds!), and gluing, but I'm still so proud of them.

I had to include a photo of our six foot tall cupcake tower that my husband and I built together, since that was another one of my favorite wedding projects. And also one of the rocks from our "wishing stone" guestbook, signed by my parents. My mom even drew a little flower on it, just like from our invitations.

And now for a closer look at the second shadow box.

Our programs, and a few leftover flowers that I had after I turned the cuffs from my DIY wedding shoes into a clutch.

One of the magnets from our save the dates, and of course, a photo of our first kiss as husband and wife!

And finally, the belly band from our invitations, and our LED luminary escort cards, another favorite wedding project of mine (partly because my husband did most of the work, haha!)

It's just too bad I can't leave the batteries turned on all the time, to glow like they did at our wedding.

(Above photo, and photos used in the shadow boxes by Shoot Me Now Photography)

I can't wait to get some Command picture hanging hooks so I can put these little snapshots of our wedding up in our hallway. Can you believe that these will be the first wedding photos we'll have put up on our walls, over a year later!

Will you be saving any mementos from your wedding, to showcase them later? And how long did it take you after getting married to hang or display your wedding photos?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Rehearsal Dinner Dress: Revamped One Year Later!

Alright, well really it's 13 months later, since I checked in last month with our one year anniversary update!

But, now that our first wedding anniversary has come and gone, I've started thinking again about what to do with some of our leftover wedding items.

I still haven't gotten around to selling or giving away a few extra decor items and still haven't cleaned any of my wedding event dresses yet. Partly because of laziness, partly because I hate getting rid of stuff, and partly because I ran out of time to take care of these things before our big move to the east coast, and they're still packed away.

But recently I did dig out my rehearsal dinner dress from BCBG, because I wanted to try to dye it so I can re-wear it, instead of selling it to someone. I knew that if it was a color other than white, I would have a lot more use for it, and since I really liked the silk floral applique detailing, I figured it was worth a shot.

Here's a look at my rehearsal dress, so you get an idea of what I'm talking about (the purple sash is not attached):

And a close up view of the fabric:

The problem was, the top floral layer of the dress is 100% silk and the under layer is 100% polyester. Googling high and low, time and time again I read that there wasn't a fabric dye that would work on both silk and polyester.

I briefly considered taking apart the seams to separate the layers of the dress, dying them separately, then sewing them back together, but that just seemed like too much work.

I kept Googling, reading fabric dying forums, until I found a mention of what is called iDye (for natural fabrics like silk) and iDye Poly (for synthetic fabrics like polyester), which can be mixed together to dye poly-blend fabrics). So I ordered some dye, after polling friends on what color I should pick, and crossed my fingers that it would work on my two layer dress too.

Picking the dye color wasn't easy, since they have so many natural dye colors to choose from, but I was inspired by a bright yellow dress that at Cat Deeley wore a few weeks ago on So You Think You Can Dance. Plus, I decided it was a safer bet, since I had to use both a natural dye and a polyester dye, and the polyester colors were a bit more limited. So I went with yellow, hoping it would turn out something like this:

{Photo of my TV playing So You Think You Can Dance}

I bet you're all dyeing (ha ha) to see how the process worked, right? :)

Well, I pretty much just followed the instructions on the packaging for dying a poly/natural blend fabric, but I took pictures along the way to properly demonstrate!

First, fill a metal pot or bowl with just enough water for your dress to move freely, and make sure the fabric gets completely wet all the way through (to make sure the dye soaks in evenly).

Then, take the dress out, place your bowl on the stove and turn it on to high. Add both packets of dye and the color intensifier that comes with the poly dye to the water and stir until it's completely dissolved.

I stirred for about 5 minutes as the water was heating up, but there were still a couple of dark flakes of dye that wouldn't dissolve, so I fished them out with a spoon and dumped them on a paper towel (be sure to wash your spoon quickly afterward too).

Once your water is boiling and the dye is dissolved, reduce your heat to medium high and add either 1 cup of salt (for cotton blends) or 1/3rd cup of vinegar for silk. Make sure you move the fabric to the side so you're not pouring directly on it, and then stir, stir, stir!

It says it takes anywhere from a half hour to an hour for the dye to work, and for best results, stir frequently. I'd already poured myself a glass of wine before I put my dress in the dye, and had a bar stool nearby to sit on, so I just set my timer for a half hour, had a glass of wine, and didn't stop stirring the whole time.

But with still a few minutes on the timer, I held up my dress for a look, and I thought it was about dark enough.

The instructions said to gradually cool the fabric, so with 8 minutes left, I removed the bowl from the heat and continued to stir it constantly until the timer went off.

Then I ran warm water over the dress, slowly turning the temperature cooler and cooler until it was about room temperature.

And after hand washing it with some Woolite, and all of the dye was rinsed out, I squeeze/roll dried it as best I could between two towels and hung it in my bathroom to hang dry.

The next day my dress was dry and a little lighter in color.

I can't tell you how happy I am that this ended up working! I was a bit nervous to potentially ruin this rather expensive BCBG dress, but as much as I LOVED it in white, I knew I'd never wear it again unless I dyed it. And now I can't wait for an excuse to put it to use!

But until then, I took a few photos of it on in my backyard, so you can get the full effect of how the color looks in natural light. With neutral accessories:

And with black accessories (my favorite, because it's bee colors!):

I'd also really love to pair the dress with some medium grey pumps and a grey belt, although I don't own a grey belt. But yellow + grey is an awesome color combo that I think would look great here too!

And while I'm at it, here are a couple of close up photos of the fabric.


However, if you're thinking of doing something similar, let me interject a couple of words of caution. First, my dress did shrink a little. Which I was sort of expecting, since it's supposed to be a dry clean only dress. But it wasn't a tight fitting dress to begin with, so I thought it would be alright, and it was. But just something to keep in mind if you're thinking about dying something yourself!

Secondly, you may have noticed that the bottom layer of the dress (the polyester layer) came out lighter than it looked like it would when I was boiling it in the dye bath. They say that it's a risk you run; that not all polyesters take the dye, or take it in different intensities, and there's really no way to know unless you try it. I actually really like the look of it on my dress, but it's also something to keep in mind if you're dying a poly-blend fabric. I didn't want the silk layer to end up too dark, since it looked like it was headed toward orange in the dye bath, so I took the dress out early. But if you're dying polyester, or a poly-blend, you might want to leave it in longer. I really don't know if the color of my silk layer would have stopped getting more intense at some point or not, and I wasn't willing to find out, but I probably would have let it go a bit longer if I'd been working with a blended fabric, to avoid a splotchy look. Just another thing to consider!

And finally, if you're planning on using the pot or bowl you used to boil your fabric in again, be prepared for a lot of scrubbing. I ended up using Goo-Gone to remove the last of the film on my bowl, and then put it through the dishwasher several times. And I threw away the old wooden spoon I'd used to stir the dye-bath--it was bright yellow, and I didn't plan on it being salvageable.

But other than that, everything went according to plan and turned out great. The hardest part really was just taking the plunge, and putting my dress in the bowl of dye!

Have you ever tried to dye fabric? And are you planning to revamp or reuse any of your dresses from your wedding-events?

(All pictures in this post are personal photos)