[engaged in the D] How I made my own lace wedding dress

Welcome guest blogger Katherine back to LoveintheD! To read her first guest post, click here. Curious about how Katherine made her own wedding dress for her Detroit wedding? Read on for her dress story!

When I told people about my intentions to make my own wedding dress, despite never having made any kind of dress ever in my life, they thought I was a little nuts. They said totally logical things like “I would be scared!” and “what will you do if it doesn’t work?” and “that sounds stressful and complicated!”

“I just don’t want you to be in a panic a week before the wedding because you have nothing to wear…” said my sweet, and extremely reasonable, fiancee.

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Despite it being a very large project, I can honestly say that the wedding dress was the least stressful of my many DIY projects for the wedding (aside: just because you’ve seen other people screen print, that does not mean you are ready to screen print your wedding invites). One of the reasons it was so low-stress is that I started very early. Another is that my wedding dress was never going to be exactly “traditional.” So go ahead and get that big white cake of a dress out of your head right now.

I actually didn’t set out to make my own wedding dress, and first found a seller on Etsy who made dresses that I thought might fit my criteria (eco-friendly, not white, dripping with sentimentality, LACE, budget-friendly) but one night while pursuing my options and dreaming I suddenly thought: “Wait. I can do that!”

Wedding dress1

Left: Dress base made of a slip and a loose skirt dyed green / Right: Early sample layout for dress that was ultimately abandoned as too busy 

My dress (much like the ones I liked on Etsy) uses a slip as a base, which eliminated a lot (though not all) of the complicated fitting process. I also relied heavily on trusted friends with more experience than me to consult me. Garment creation is often more complicated than it looks on the outside, so it was great to be able to call friends and ask: “Will this work?” Sometimes, the answer was: “Not exactly…” and I had to modify my plan slightly.

I did not use a pattern. Instead, I collected the pieces (shout out to Amy at Smallcraft for helping me get lace!) the dress would be made of and worked on the layout by pinning them together over and over again.

By far the most tedious portion was the lace sewing. Most lace needs to be sewn by hand in order to avoid unattractive bunching. I actually love hand-sewing, so this wasn’t a huge problem for me. I also found that a lot of wedding planning feels rushed, so it was great (for me) to have some forced downtime making slow and steady progress. It felt very romantic! However, if you are thinking of doing this yourself, be forewarned that I probably clocked at least 50 hours with a needle and thread in my hand.

wedding dress 2

My finished dress pictured with my partner Chelsea’s dress

Readers: Have you ever sewn your own clothing? Would you consider making your own wedding dress?

Local letterpress love from Salt & Cedar

Last week I had the privilege of interviewing Leon of Salt and Cedar, one of Detroit’s fine letterpress companies! I knew that Salt and Cedar produced quality letterpress but did not know anything about their event space used to host locally sourced dinner events.

Read on and take a look at some wedding invitations!

About Salt and Cedar

Salt and Cedar recently celebrated its one year anniversary, but Leon has been involved in paper-making, binding, distributing, and letterpress for two decades. He loves that with letterpress printing, “we have control over all aspects of production.”

Leon wanted to incubate a business in Eastern Market where he and his partner have lived since arriving to Detroit in 2010. One of his favorite things about living in Eastern Market is finding great local produce on Saturdays. Leon says it “feels wonderful to be part of a community of merchants” that have been here for decades. The print shop was imagined as a space for collaboration and it has grown tremendously over one year.

So what is letterpress all about?

Letterpress presents an opportunity for “deep engagement with hands-on processes as a designer.” Letterpress designers are not governed by pre-established fonts because the letterpress uses movable type and each letter is set by hand. Designers control the quality of the paper. The charm of letterpress may come from the “practically sculptural” metal type and tactile nature of letterpress. Sean and I had letterpress invitations for our 2011 wedding (click here to read Sean’s blog post about the process of designing the invitations) and can testify to the amazing creations that can result from letterpress!

salt and cedar 2

salt and cedar 1

What is the role of the kitchen at Salt and Cedar?

At the back of the letterepress print shop, Salt and Cedar developed a market studio kitchen, which hosts five to six dinners each month. Leon is “interested in the power of the dinner table” in cultivating community and loves to work with the farmers selling at Eastern Market, artists, and papermakers.

salt and cedar dinner

Weddings in Detroit

Let’s say you’re a bride or groom exploring the idea of letterpress wedding invitations. If you contact Salt and Cedar, you’ll enter a collaborative process for design. You can view 30-40 invitation projects and an incredible font selection. You can discuss the quality of paper you would like and personalize, personalize, personalize. As a couple, you have creative control. Leon “can really cultivate an invitation or packet of materials that is distinctive to your tastes, ethics, and aesthetics, similar to a custom built bicycle.” After you choose which paper you prefer, you can choose the ink color, perhaps based on the flower arrangements and other details of the wedding Salt and Cedar will actually hand mix your batch of ink in front of you, and allow you to take the metal plates as keepsakes!

stamphere2Photo credit: Miranda Clark

stamphere5Photo credit: Miranda Clark

salt and cedar letters

Photo credit: Renee Sandoval

Salt and Cedar is teaming up with Trinosophes to host a Detroit wedding in October at the Trinosophes space on Gratiot. From custom cocktail drinks and thirty roasted organic chickens to letterpress wedding invitations, this wedding is chock-full of local Detroit goodness.

Leon has noticed that couples wish to be more and more involved and hands-on in all aspects of the wedding invitations and printed materials. Engaged couples want to be involved in the process!

Detroit’s “image repertoire”

Leon notes that Detroit has an incredibly powerful and provocative image repertoire — from the landscape to antique maps of the city to old photographs of Detroit homes, Salt and Cedar has spent some time looking at Detroit images. One Salt and Cedar customer wanted to use a photo of their parents dancing when they were teenagers, so Salt and Cedar created a black and white line drawing based on that photo. Whatever image emerges as a priority, Salt and Cedar will find a way to translate via metal onto your invitations.

Readers: Are you a fan of letterpress printing? What has your experience been with designing wedding invitations?

Organic Detroit wedding cakes by Good Cakes and Bakes

So I missed Jazzin’ on Jefferson this summer because I was out of town, but Jazzin’ on Jefferson (a must-visit summer festival in Detroit) is where my friend Tierney met April Anderson of Good Cakes and Bakes! About a month later, Sean and I met April at the East English Village 100th Anniversary Party.

Of course we ordered a red velvet cupcake (one of my faves), and it was delicious!! And get this … Good Cakes and Bakes uses local organic ingredients whenever possible and is based right here in Detroit. I knew there must be a spot on LoveintheD for this local socially conscious wedding vendor! Last week I had the joy of interviewing April. Read on for the details!

Good Cakes and Bakes - April

April Anderson has been baking since she was nine or ten years old. She used to bake for everybody in the family! When she was ten years old, she hadn’t purchased a Mother’s Day gift for her mother, so instead she made her a cake and got a great response from her family members. April found her passion in baking and says “people can never be sad when you have baked goods!”

In 2008, she decided to take a cake decorating class and later made a birthday cake for her niece. After that, people began to offer to pay her for her cakes. A year later, she decided to go to school for pastry art. She found the perfect program at Macomb Community College, which is the only college in Michigan which offers a specific pastry art degree. Skip ahead to June 2013. April left her day job and has now been running Good Cakes and Bakes full time for a few months!

What does Good Cakes and Bakes have to offer a Detroit wedding?

Good Cakes and Bakes has cupcakes, cookies, sheet cakes, cake pops, brownies, pies, French pastries like danishes and croissants… you name it. As April says, she can “do anything that requires sugar and butter!”

April has baked cakes and cake pops for several Detroit weddings. She also has a September wedding for which she will bake a cake along with more than 100 “cakes in a jar.” I had no idea what a cake in a jar was (here’s a link to a cakes in jars Pinterest page but be forewarned that mouth-watering is likely to ensue), so April explained that she bakes a cake in a wide-mouthed jar and then puts icing on the cake along with decorations such as wedding monograms.

Say you’re a bride or groom interested in Good Cakes and Bakes for your wedding. Two months or more before the wedding, you would set up a tasting appointment for which April would make samples with three different fillings and icings. Together you will develop an image for the cake or you can give April a sense of what you want and she will make it happen!

Good Cakes and Bakes - wedding cake

How is Good Cakes and Bakes socially conscious?

Whatever April can purchase locally, she does. The eggs used in Good Cakes and Bakes cakes are from Beaver Farm in Southwest Detroit. She purchases fruits and vegetables at Eastern Market. For red velvet cakes and cupcakes, she does not use red dye. Instead, she uses beet juice! April’s interest in organic cakes began because of her wife, who “eats organic everything!” April realized she could really taste the difference. She began using unbleached organic flour. She does not use ingredients that include hormones or steroids.

Detroit themed wedding cake, anyone?

If April could do any Detroit-themed cake, she would love to make a Motown record cake. If she was into three dimensional cakes (she isn’t so much), she would like to say she would make a car cake.

I asked April if she has observed any trends in the wedding cake business in Detroit. Cupcakes and dessert tables are where it’s at, people!

Big news!

Guess what? Good Cakes and Bakes is going to have a storefront on Livernois Avenue, the Avenue of Fashion in Detroit! Good Cakes and Bakes is among the winners of the Revolve Detroit “Art + Retail on the Ave” competition, and will team up with Local Social Ice Cream on a storefront opening on September 20! April found out about the competition when she had her pop up earlier this summer and local residents encouraged her to apply.

Congratulations, Good Cakes and Bakes!


Detroit’s future – Vote on Tuesday August 6!

I apologize for the lack of blog posts over the past few weeks. I know this isn’t a great excuse, but life has just been a little hectic lately. In a good way!

As you know, I started this blog because I love Detroit and wanted to provide inspiration for brides and grooms to pursue socially conscious choices in their wedding planning and to highlight responsible vendors based in the city. Some of you know that I am not a wedding planner and was not a do-it-yourself bride. I got into blogging because I care about our city and have a social justice orientation to things :-)

You care about the future of Detroit as well. Tuesday’s primary election can be a historic one and your vote can help make the difference. Yes, the bankruptcy might happen. Yes, the emergency manager is in place. In my view, resident voices are more important now than ever before. In addition to the mayoral race, we will be voting for city council members by district for the first time in 95 years. This is our opportunity to elect candidates that will best represent the values, concerns, and visions of our neighborhood residents. The new city council will help shape what Detroit’s future looks like and set the bar for what a district-based city council can achieve.

Click here to read the League of Women Voters Detroit voter guide to learn about the candidates and make your decision! Then go vote on Tuesday, August 6.


I filled out my absentee ballot last night and am excited to turn it in today. Will you vote on Tuesday?

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. To check out your sample ballot and find your polling location, click here. Detroiters across the city will be voting on Tuesday, August 6. Will you?

P.S. Congratulations to Melissa & Chris who were recently married in Detroit!! Check out their Engaged in the D guest blog posts here and here.