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July 11, 2013

Shabby Apple Dare to Design

 One of my favorite clothing websites is hosting a design contest! Shabby Apple has long been the standard for classy, timeless clothing with an emphasis on feminine flair and modest coverage. Every now and then I stop by their site and daydream over the ruffles, lace, princess seams, and belted waists. When I discovered they were holding a contest, I was thrilled and had to enter.  Here are the guidelines that I followed:

This is my entry.

Me at Smith College in my seersucker dress. 
My inspiration was a trip I was planning with a best friend. We were going to Massachusetts write for a week at one of the great, old colleges in the western woods—Emily Dickinson land—and then we were going to follow the salty breeze to the Boston harbor to see if the water was still stained by tea, and then we were going to sail across the bay to the magical Nantucket island and bike along cobblestone streets to the wispy seagrass at the edge of the world. 

Who would think of taking a trip like this without a seersucker dress?! I certainly didn't dare. In my mind's eye, it had to have a square, 1940s neckline, with an almost Navy-esque feel through military buttons—also a 40s fashion statement—yet be light and breezy and playful, like the kind of dress you'd wear to jump on a sailboat on a Sunday afternoon and say "let's go!"

So, here's how it turned out! Some pics are from my trip, so you can see that I actually did wear it at all the places I wanted to, and the dress-dummy pictures are taken in my room back at home.
Excuse the sweater! Boston was breezy that day.

The dress I originally designed started out a lot different from how it ended up. Initially I had a full, gathered skirt on it, the sleeves were puffy, the hem went a few inches below the knee, and, well, it would have been cute if I were in Jr. High or Maria Von Trapp. So I changed it to fit the aspects of my figure that I wanted to help along, not hide. This needed to be a grown-up lady's dress, but with potential to be sweet and playful. I didn't need the puffy sleeves; my shoulders didn't want to look that broad. The full skirt was the next to go. I tore out the gathers, and drew a clean, straight, almost-pencil, A-line skirt that gave some curve to the hips. The pockets stayed. I loved those pockets, though I would say they are an optional part of this design, since it adds a little extra bulk to the front of the dress. These pockets later held ticket stubs, coffee change, seashells, bookmarks... yes, the pockets had to stay on my dress!

See the invisible zipper? Nice try. ;) So, I did not continue the waist accent-piece into the back, because in the front it is wider on one side and is narrow on the other, which would make it look lopsided if I continued it all the way to the center back.

If you look carefully, you can see a little tuck/pleat at the top of the sleeve. I wanted to give the sleeve some fullness without going completely puffed.

These were the perfect buttons! Exactly what I had pictured. Also, you can see the white top stitching in this picture. The top-stitching gives it a polished look.

 The final touch, which really sets the dress apart as an artsy design is the angular waist piece that cuts across the trimmest part of the waist with stripes going diagonally from one side to the other. At the point where the accent piece crosses one of the vertical princess seams, I have more military buttons, similar to the ones at the front neckline of the dress, but bigger. It looks like my accent belt was "buttoned" on. I love the trim, snug feel of the waist (so 40s!), and how the contrary diagonal lines help the dress from being too serious.

In this dress I opened the gates of Smith College and pondered its lofty edifices. In this dress I walked the Freedom Trail in Boston,  leaned over the railing of the Bay to see if the waves were brown with tea, and ate pasta in Boston's Little Italy. In this dress I would have wandered in and out of basket shops on main street Nantucket and buried my toes in the sand, but the locals called the weather "June-uary" and my dress decided it wasn't a sailing breeze.

Now I wear the seersucker dress to business conferences, weddings, church, picnics. Everywhere I go, people ask me where I got my dress and they say it looks like something from an expensive name-brand designer. I love that the classic silhouette of this dress will never go out of style, and can look good on every body type.

The fabric for this dress is cotton seersucker, striped with white and dark grey. I think this dress in light blue striped seersucker or pink striped seersucker would be really fun too! It is fully lined in thin white cotton, so it is very comfortable and airy. Other fabrics this dress would be great in are striped suitings in dark grey, tawny brown, navy, and light grey for more of a business look, or textured-distressed taffeta in a jewel tone for a more formal look. I would also love to create a blouse similar to this design, and a pencil skirt with a high waist that includes the diagonal accent piece.

Thank you for considering my design! I'm excited to see what possibilities await.

—Annie Sechrist

July 1, 2013

$50 Shabby Apple Giveaway at AmandaBeth Online

Amanda Beth is giving away $50 to use towards your next Shabby Apple Purchase! I'm thinking somebody would love this for a bridesmaid or rehearsal dinner dress. So pretty!

Here's the link to AmandaBeth's blog:

There are lots of ways to enter on her blog. Any comment you make on this post is NOT an entry. Yep, just wanted to make that clear. :)


July 26, 2011

Engaged and Planning a Wedding? Do it Corum Deo.

Recently a very good friend of mine said yes to a godly young man who had been pursuing her. Immediately they began planning their wedding.  It was going to be God-centered, gospel-preaching, and a joyful event to celebrate what God had done! They knew they wanted a short engagement, so a date was chosen 3 months out.

Recently I received a very sweet, transparent email from her asking for prayer. The wedding stress was starting to pile up, and it was getting more and more difficult to keep a proper focus on the things that really mattered! On top of that, she didn't like what the wedding stress seemed to be doing to the relationships that mattered most to her.

Here are some of the things she wanted prayer for. May her list bless you as well, and help you to keep a "Corum Deo" (before the face of God) mindset in your own wedding planning.

Pray that God continue to help us see each other through His eyes. That we would have unity and a united vision for our future. I believe we do have this but God allows us to see things differently and we need to use this as a strength not a weakness. 
Pray that financially things come through for us to get an apartment.
Pray that the Lord helps the wedding plans to come along but we don't want all our focus to be there. We still are trying to serve the Lord and seek him and a wedding is not more important then people knowing God and hearing the gospel!
I'm not perfect, still learning how to balance everything else and keep God as my first priority. 
Her heartfelt desire to please God and her future husband blessed me. I pray it blesses you as well! 

May 26, 2011

Top Seven Reasons to Use Silk and Real Touch Flowers at Your Wedding

Trying to make up your mind about whether to use artificial flowers instead of fresh flowers? This list of reasons might inspire you. 

1. Silk and real touch flowers will make your budget happy. In fact, the plethora of stems available at craft stores in every city have become so affordable that many of the more expensive silk flower merchants have abandoned the business. That’s a discount for you! A do-it-yourself bride with coupons in hand can easily cut her florist bill in half and have all her bouquets and bouts finished far in advance of her wedding. Or, she can find a great silk or real touch florist who will create a gorgeous design that fits her budget and her dreams. 

2. Here’s another secret. No one in your audience will believe that you aren’t carrying fresh flowers! In recent years, flower manufacturers have come up with innovative materials that make artificial flowers more realistic than ever before. Flowers labeled “real touch,” “true touch,” or “natural touch” may even fool the girl holding them!

3. Silk and real touch flowers never go out of season, which means you will not have to decide between expensive hothouse blooms and limited quantities of mediocre seasonal flowers. Go ahead and use summer-blooming hydrangea in your winter wedding, or daffodils and tulips in autumn. Your silk flowers will be just as vivacious in winter society as in summer. 

4. The variety of colors and textures alone will take your breath away. While fresh florists have to work within a specific blooming period of each flower’s life so that the color and size is right, silk and real touch florists do not! Shades of blue, white, and violet that are extremely rare in fresh flowers are easily found in silks and real touch, which means you get the colors you want at the price you want.

5. Silk and real touch flowers are low-maintenance. They don’t wilt, crush, tear, break, or fade as fresh flowers do. These are especially valuable qualities if you are a destination bride, because every destination bride knows that planning her wedding is more difficult when she has to find a florist overseas or across the country who can speak her language and keep his contract. However, silk and real-touch designs can be created months in advance and easily packed in a suitcase or shipped straight to your destination to look fresher than fresh on your wedding day.

6. You’ll have no worries about an allergic reaction to plants and petals! Sure your maid of honor tells you her allergy medication always works, but there was that one day last year… Yes, perhaps you’d rather not risk that sneezing fit during your ceremony. Silk and real touch flowers are the safest way to go if anyone in your wedding party has plant allergies.

7. All your artificial bouquets can be repurposed into home decor for your new place! Long stems (think calla lilies, iris, or birds-of-paradise) can stand in a tall, dark vase or be gracefully horizontal on a mantlepiece or piano top. Rounded bouquets, posies, and cascading bouquets are breathtaking when placed in a short vase, jar, or ceramic pitcher. Pomanders and kissing balls can be hung on varying lengths of ribbon from a row of coat hooks or piled together in a large bowl for your credenza or low table. If you are really innovative, try untying your bouquets and re-arranging the flowers in a styrofoam oasis inside a decorative planter or basket. The possibilities are endless!

Did you know? All the pictures of wedding flowers in this article are photos of silk or real touch flowers created by Lilywinkel: the bridal blossom shop.

    March 31, 2011

    Old Wedding Traditions from Around the World

    I recently found these funny old wedding traditions in the book, A Short History of Marriage by Ethel L. Urlin. Maybe you will find them useful for a wedding speech or best man toast!

    Southern Italy:
    "In country places harvest-time is the period for courtship, and the girl who is the quickest gleaner has the best chance of marriage. Gleaning takes place on Sunday, as a rule, and each maiden hangs the sheaves that she has gathered from her chamber window, or displays them on her roof, so that all may see the result of her labour." p. 79

     "It is the young women, and not the men, among the upper classes in Germany, who make the matrimonial choice. Girls who are sure of a comfortable dowry, settle the question with their mother." p. 82

    "Young men in Switzerland are very particular to marry a girl of their own village. Neighboring young men are kept out by force, and a girl who marries one is discredited."  p. 97ff

    March 8, 2011

    10 Tips for Clear & Glowing Skin on Your Wedding Day

    By special guest contributer Amber Schamel, Skin Analyst at Glow Spa

    Well congratulations! What an exciting time of your life! But you have lots to do! Picking out a dress, menu planning... and have you figured out what songs you are going to play? Are you having a reception? Who will be maid of honor? 

    But there’s one thing that the majority of brides forget: their skin. The skin has a 6 week renewal cycle; this means that women often won’t see skin problems until a week or so before their wedding, and by then it’s too late to do much about it! To prevent this, it takes some advance planning. 

    If you’re like most brides, there can be a lot of stress during the wedding preparation. Science has shown us that emotions and stress can cause skin breakouts such as acne or even eczema. In addition to that, brides-to-be don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to their skin on a daily basis. They need simple, quick, and economical ways to solve their skin troubles. 

    This is where the skin analysis comes in. With the analysis machine at Glow Spa Skin Analysis we can actually see below the surface of your skin to treat and prevent potential trouble areas. This also allows for more economical skin care as you know what is right for your skin. 

    We all want to have a glowing, healthy face and look our best on our wedding day, so what can we do to solve skin problems? 

    Here are 10 quick and easy tips to look your best on your wedding day.
    • Plan in advance!
      Brides need to start thinking about their skin right away and take measures to keep it healthy. If you choose to have a skin analysis, we like to schedule it 6-8 weeks before your wedding so that your skin has time to renew.

    February 24, 2011

    We Are Looking for Real Weddings to Feature!

    Tell us your story. Send us your photos. Be an encouragement to other Christian brides.

    Everyone who is planning a wedding loves to hear somebody else's real wedding story, especially if it gives insight or ideas for their own wedding. If you or someone you know has begun their marriage with a Christian wedding recently, we would love to hear about it! We want to know about how you managed both temporal and eternal details involving your wedding, so give us the low-down on practical things like venue, dresses, hairstyles, music, food, flowers, schedule, and other special elements that were important to you; but also tell us about composing your vows, using Scripture in the ceremony, honoring special family members, edifying others, giving glory to God, and making your wedding distinctly Christian for all concerned. Was there anything you were really glad you did? Anything that you wished could have been different? How about anything that was just plain hilarious?

    Real Wedding Stories Wanted!
    Let's give other would-be brides a vision for how to plan a wedding that is both beautiful & fun as well as God-honoring.

    If you're interested, contact Annie with your submission ideas.

    - The Christian Bride Resource

    February 17, 2011

    Create a Honeysuckle Wedding with the Pantone Colour of the Year 2011

    This color has been called "courageous," "confidant," and "vital," by its author, Pantone, the color trend-setter. This color has set wedding dreamers afloat on a cloud of rosy creativity. It's reddish pink: sweet, vibrant, glowing, energetic, and youthful. Why shouldn't it belong in a wedding? 

    Here are a few photos to help you out with ideas, and a few vendors who have caught on to the Honeysuckle Pink theme for this year. 

    Bouquets in Honeysuckle Pink
    We all know that the honeysuckle flower comes in yellow, cream, and white more commonly than it comes in pink. However, the fresh, sweet scent of real honeysuckle is what initiated the christening of this orangey-dusty-pink color as "Honeysuckle". Thankfully, there are many other types of flowers that come in this color, including roses, tulips, calla lilies, tiger lilies, carnations, ranunculus, and some orchids. 
    Pink Rose Bouquet by Lilywinkel (above)

    February 11, 2011

    The Vision of the Christian Bride Resource Directory

    There is a growing trend of snobbish brides that is starting to get out of hand. Their comments and conundrums are all over the internet as they stress over how to get the ring they want, how to exclude their little sister from the wedding party, how to trim down the guest list, how to tell a cousin to tidy his beard, how to get the rich great aunt to pay for a destination wedding... and the list goes on and on.

    It's no wonder. Bride resource magazines, websites, and forums have encouraged this type of behavior in all their literature. "It's your day." "What matters most is that you do what you want to do." "This is the biggest day of your life, so you are the one who needs to be happy with the results." "This wedding is about you, not them." Bridal advertisers build an image in every bride's mind of herself as the princess, the fairy queen, the goddess of the wedding day. Something about her status gives her the right to dictate exactly how every detail will be, and she thinks she has the right to cause thunderstorms or rainbows with her magic wand.

    February 2, 2011

    Custom Wedding Paintings and Drawings by Dina Argov of Dacha Studio

    Dina Argov
    Wedding portrait painting has become a lost art in this culture of digital photography, but many young couples and their families desire a wedding portrait that will be passed down to children and grandchildren in the form of a vivid, painted masterpiece. Today I want to introduce you to an artist with a rich appreciation for symbolism as well as an incredible talent for realistic representation in her custom wedding and portrait paintings and sketches. Dina Argov comes from a family of artistic talent and tells stories about her time spent as a little girl in Russia, sketching under the table while her mother painted folk art for tourists. Now Dina is married and has her own little girl. She lives in Israel, and spends her days painting heirloom masterpieces that represent the purity and joy of a godly marriage. If you'd like to contact Dina for a custom request or take a look at more of her artwork, go to the Dacha Studo on Etsy. Also, don't forget to tour the Weddings Section of her studio! 
    (Note: All photos copyright Dina Argov, Jan. 2010)

    Custom-made humorous wedding painting

    Tell us about your custom wedding portraits and what makes them unique.

    My custom wedding portraits are special artwork made by custom order. During history there were times when wedding portraits were very popular, and included marriage and wedding symbols like pearls, which indicate fertility, or palm leaves, which indicate pureness of the bride. My wedding portraits are inspired by this tradition, but they can be more versatile in theme and style. The premium portraits I make are with oil on canvas, or pencil on paper. I prefer monochrome when the style is classic, but full color when it is humorous.