Saturday, May 30, 2015

Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

The proposal was on Mother's Day and her original plan was a July wedding! We managed to convince her to wait until October, but plans needed to begin right away. Both the bride and groom are one of five siblings and weddings need to be a family affair. One girl friend was also added to even the odds with the brothers.

I had pinned similar cookies to a Pinterest board long ago and the Bride was on board with the project the minute she saw the inspiration photo. We found the perfect individual boxes for each cookie and got to work. 

I  just happened to have cookie cutters in the shape of prom dresses and high heeled shoes. I am just that kind of person. We decided to stay with the dresses. We used our favorite sugar cookie dough recipe, but the first set were too "puffy".  The finished cookies resembled a) an old style light bulb or b) a Christmas bell. We played with the dough, added more flour and less baking soda, chilled it while we ran for coffee and tried again. Since the cookie cutter itself was a perfect fit in the boxes, we trimmed the cutouts with a knife to allow for skirt growth. We also shaped the bodice with our fingers to give it more shape and more of a waist.  Luckily we only needed eight perfect cookies (one for each bridesmaid and two for the flower girls who were on solid food).
After baking, cooling and running out for salads (a girl has to keep her strength up!), we got ready to decorate. I had stocked up on beads and pearls and had purchased that glitter sugar (I am not sure what it is really called) which really added glamour to the cookies. The sugar needs to be applied immediately in order to adhere to the cookie. 
I think you can see the glitter sugar at this angle. It added that touch of sparkle we needed. 
It took a few tries to get the hang of the tips for detail on the tiny skirts, but once we got started we couldn't be stopped. It was a contest to try and out do each other's creations! The wedding colors were gray and navy, but we really did not think they would make an appetizing cookie. We played with pure white bridal dresses, but decided a bit of Tiffany Blue would just make them that much better.
We had many leftover cookies. I took one plate to the priest and the seminarian where I was volunteering once a week. I wondered if they would find ball gowns a little odd in a cookie, but they gobbled them straight down!

We tried navy ribbon, but it lacked a certain something. After searching my sewing supplies we found some navy lace hem binding that was just perfect. We lined the boxes with navy shredded paper, placed the cookie, tied the ribbon and attached the labels!

All the ladies were very happy to be asked to serve. As a bridesmaid veteran herself, my daughter told the girls that they could wear their choice of a sleeveless navy knee length dress.  The groom's sister had one in her closet from a wedding the week before, his step-sister was able to hem a floor length navy gown from a previous wedding, her sister-in-law had one in her closet, one sister-in-law purchased a dress which her seamstress was able to add velcro to the shoulder and side seams to allow nursing of the six week old ring bearer and her sister and friend were able to purchase a dress they could wear again for work or a nicer occasion.

The groomsmen were slighted in the cookie arrangement, but were thrilled to hear that a tuxedo rental would not be required. The gentlemen wore dark gray dress slacks (many had a pair in their closet) with a navy dress shirt and navy and coral striped tie that were the groomsmen gifts from the bride and groom. They appreciated the apparel more than another monogramed flask for their collection.

As you can see below, this low cost alternative to expensive wedding wear resulted in a very classy and cohesive wedding party and did not strain the pocketbooks of those asked to serve.
Still not an "official" wedding portrait. The wedding was in October 2014 and we are still waiting on pictures . . ..

Friday, May 29, 2015

Brooch Bouquet

******NEWS FLASH******
Our mystery is solved! Thanks to Ruth from PA who messaged me that the mystery brooch/pins are actually vintage curtain tie backs from the 1940's! We are so excited to finally identify the beautiful centerpieces of our bouquet. Now that I know what they are, I might start another collection! Thank you so much, Ruth, for helping us solve this question. 
When my youngest daughter announced her engagement, she also announced she would like to carry a Brooch Bouquet in her wedding. Since this was our fourth child to get married, as well as the third wedding since 2010, and since her young brother had gotten married only nine months before, you would think that I would be "in the know" on all these new fangled wedding things. But I had not heard of a Brooch Bouquet. I did think it might just be a big undertaking since she was hoping to schedule the ceremony in three months (thank goodness she stretched it to five months) and browsed the internet and Etsy to see if we could just purchase one. After finding out the cost of purchasing a ready-made Brooch Bouquet, I agreed to help with the project.

It turned out to be about a thousand times harder, took about a thousand times longer than I had planned and was a thousand times worth it. My grandfather was a jeweler and I may have mentioned in past posts that I am both family curator and family dumpster. I have inherited the remnants of a jewelry store that closed in 1968 as well as the jewelry collections of 3 generations. I don't want anyone to think this is an organized collection. A few weeks after we began the project, we were cleaning out a shed. There was an old metal potato chip can from my parent's garage with a garden tool, some old tupperware, other odds and ends and two brooches. It is that kind of collection. However this did save us a small fortune in the cost of even dimestore brooches.
Miscellaneous collection of brooches from my stash

More Brooches collected from my house.
If you want to start this project, you will need brooches. You should pick a number and then try to accumulate about 100 times that number. A good suggestion would be to look for the largest brooches you can find so that they take up more real estate on the bouquet. We started at a flea market (since I wasn't sure I wanted to use "real" jewelry) and bought a handful of cute pins. We did use them to fill in around a few tiny open spaces, but you really need large ones. I had previously come across some collections of some kind of antique pin or buttons (and if you know what they are, please tell me!) and these were our starting point. They are as big as an half dollar and have a very sharp pin back point on the back. I kept them in frosting containers since they were so sharp. The pin back is small and I am not sure how they could be anchored with anything.
These are some of the mystery pin/buttons with a very sharp point on the back. Some are metal, some are enameled and some are celluloid.  I wish I had taken a picture of the back, but I am never taking this bouquet apart! And I want to apologize for the quality of the photo. I have a feeling I took it with my flip phone. 
We purchased large styrofoam balls to use as a base (see further for better recommendation) and began to layout patterns. I preferred a symmetric pattern, the bride preferred more random. It was her bouquet and she was totally right. Her design was perfect! We also practiced layouts on an aluminum pizza pan (seen on right). We were still struggling with how exactly we were going to anchor them in this ball.
 We also did not like the look of the styrofoam between the brooches. We tried several ideas such as covering the ball in lace and fabric, but then decided to try silk flower petals.
These are the silk flower petals in layers, They are very thin and came with a tiny hole in the center, just perfect for wiring.
 I had not remembered, but I guess we found white floral tape, but it really helped blend the wires into the bouquet. At the top right, you can see brooches with wires wrapped in the white floral tape and a flower petal backing - they are laying upside down, ready for insertion in the bouquet. 
I had a package in my miscellaneous craft closet. We liked the effect, but when I tried to find more, I discovered they were a 1970's fad and were only available at a cost more than we preferred at places like Ebay and Etsy. We do have a local craft store, still manned by the owner, George, who is now in his 90's. George found a case of assorted colors in packages in his storeroom and sold them to us at the price listed on the 1970's price tags that were still attached! Whatta guy!

Meanwhile, the only "brooches" we could actually attach were the pin backs and that was just for looks, not stability. I did a little youtube research and they suggested attaching wires and hollowing out the styrofoam. Fortunately, before I attempted the styrofoam butchering, we took a little road trip to Hobby Lobby for paper to make the invitations and I found a large styrofoam 1/2 circle that is hollowed out! I can't remember the cost - maybe $15? It is worth every penny. And in case you were thinking this would be a money saving bouquet project, I will advise you at this point that it will NOT.

Also note; this project will go faster if you have a place that you can leave it undisturbed. We worked on my dining room table and had to completely back up after each session due to visiting grandchildren.

We purchased thin jewelry wire in gold and silver (it is on spools like thread). We either twisted it to the ends of the stick pins on back, or wove it through the brooch or tied it or whatever we had to do to make a loop. We used long strands and did not trim them.
This shows the brooches with just the thin wire attached. We found it was not strong enough to push through the styrofoam and had not yet found the heavier wire that we would wind the thin wire around. You also see some bouquet holders we thought we could wire in - you CAN'T. It will not hold the weight.
We then attached the jewelry wire to the heavier floral wires that you see folded in half. We actually cut them in half with some nifty jewelry tools we also purchased, which made them about 9-12 inches long. We twisted everything as tight as we could while stabbing our fingertips and then wrapped it tightly in floral tape. If you look in the picture, I think you can see brooches in all stages of this process. Be warned; it is a lot of trial and error.  Here the lovely bride-to-be is posing with the final plan of attack.
Here you can see both the styrofoam ball we started with and the half circle we went with.
We soon realized that the ball would not lay flat with the long wires sticking out the back. Our first remedy was to set the ball over a small mouthed one quart canning jar. As you insert more brooch pins, you will need to switch to a wide mouthed jar. And we switched to a large, two quart jar. I guess in a pinch, you could find a nice vase, too.

After hours of wiring, rewiring, taping and poking, the bouquet was arranged! The next question was - how was she going to carry it. At this point we began to realize the weight of the bouquet. All those brooches and wires made the styrofoam quite "weighty" and our plans of using plastic bouquet holders of some kind was out of the question. We also had to do something with all those wires extending from underneath which are needed to keep the brooches in place. We had wrapped them in more wire and twisted to make sure that no one was moving. I again turned to youtube where I found a young lady with a great mind who suggested using a pool noodle. GENIOUS!!!!
We pinned lace on the underside of the foam to give it a nice edge using metal floral picks. They are "u" shaped and sold next to all that floral wire. 
We wound all the wires together, cut a portion of the pool noodle in the size she felt comfortable with, slit the pool noodle to allow us to place the wires and then covered it with ribbon! It worked perfectly!!!
And now we are just getting silly with the completion of the gift card birdcage and the bouquet. 

And a family friend designed and created the birdcage veil to feature another brooch. 
The bouquet did its job, they are pronounced husband and wife (isn't he handsome!)

Yeah, and here is the family. A friend took this while we were trying for a nice family portrait for the Christmas card. Do you notice the new guy is the only one posing for the camera? It was a chilly October day to be standing out by the family homestead on Route 547.  I was horribly disappointed at first. Then I realized that this is what reality is. And I used it for my Christmas card!

And to further prove that she is my daughter and prone to wild and crazy thinking, she included all of their nieces and nephews in the bridal party as their "little loves". Yep, all of them.

Linking to Metamorphis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch:

and Tweak it Tuesday at Cozy Little House

and Wow Us Wednesdays at Savy Southern Style\

Miss Merry