I’ve talked a bit about my ceremony veil in other posts - it’s a killer handmade all-lace mantilla, but it won’t work at all for our swing dance reception. For the dance, I’m planning on changing into a tea-length grey dress. To still look “bride-y,” I decided to DIY a birdcage veil. I might wear it at my rehearsal dinner, too. It’s super-simple and quick to make one, and the materials cost less than $10.
What you need:
- an applique (or fascinator - though that will raise the cost a bit)
- a 9” wide piece of Russian netting (use a wider piece if you want it to cover your whole face; 9” comes to just below the eyes)
- a pack of bobby pins
- a needle and thread.
- Cut the Russian netting into a trapezoid shape. Mine was 21” long on the bottom edge.
- On each diagonal side of the trapezoid, sew in and out of the square openings, anchoring each stitch into the thick areas of the netting. As you pull the thread tighter, the material will bunch. Stop when you get to the flat top part of the trapezoid, and knot off the thread (again, into the thick area of the netting).
I realize that instruction may sound unclear; it did to me, too. I spent quite a lot of time looking for help on this, and used this tutorial - it has a few great graphics showing the trapezoid shape you’re going for. Honestly, though, don’t worry about getting it perfect, because what is really going to make this veil look good is how you pin it on. A lot of sites will tell you to sew it onto a comb, but I found that was unnecessary.
Assuming you don’t go the comb route, you’re going to pin the veil itself to your hair - use a lot of bobby pins to get it to sit just how you want it. Birdcage veils have a tendency to puff up. After it’s situated, attach the fascinator or applique to your hair as well, using it to cover up the spot where the veil is gathered. My applique had a million threads criss-crossing the underside, so I just stuck some bobby pins through and then had a friend work them into my hair. If you’d like to be more thorough, buy an alligator clip and glue it using E6000 or something similar.
An applique will sit flat on your head, so if you want something more decadent, buy a fascinator clip. There are many amazing ones on Etsy.
I know this tutorial needs a lot more photos, especially of the finished product. I’ll update it with pictures of me wearing it once I have my wedding pictures. :)
Update: this is the birdcage veil from the back, worn with the applique.
I had this grand vision that I’d DIY the jewelry parts of this wedding, too…at very least, my bridesmaids’ necklaces. But now, with one month left: no way! :) It’s kind of liberating. I had started hunting around for silver deco mountings and emerald-cut garnets (the “burgundy” part of “grey & burgundy” is kind of underrepresented in our wedding), and then realized I just didn’t have the time to wait for materials to arrive when I still have so many other projects to get done. I don’t want to give rushed gifts.
So! Etsy. I wish they still had the Alchemy function, so I could’ve just put up an ad detailing what I was looking for, but I made do with searching around the site for hours and emailing sellers. These are the ones I’m considering…so many talented artists to choose from!
This is a thwarted DIY project with a happy ending. :) Starting in late July, I went looking for an all-lace waltz-length mantilla veil. Aside from the shoulder-length Catholic mass veils or traditional Spanish mantillas (usually black), they’re impossible to find.
That’s probably because a piece of lace this big would clash horribly with most modern wedding dresses, but in the late 19th century it was actually pretty common to have a simple dress and elaborate veil. Belgian lace heirloom veils occasionally come up for auction, but they’re incredibly expensive and delicate. This was one of my favorites:
Most of them are hand-embroidered. The one above is a Russian family’s coat of arms.
So I tried to DIY one, by finding patterned lace myself. I considered buying a heavy Venice lace, pictured below, and cutting along the motif. It turns out that it sits poorly on the head, and is incredibly heavy. Failure.
I realized sewing would be required - I’m not that great at sewing - and tried to sign up for private lessons with a local SF seamstress, where the project would be the veil. How hard could it be? A circle of lace edged with other lace! Unfortunately, my teacher didn’t quite get what I was going for, so sewing lessons were a bust.
The site that always comes through: Etsy! I looked around for weeks until I found a black lace veil similar to what I wanted, then contacted the seller, Honeycomb Veils. She is amazing. She understood “the vision” right away, told me what would work and what wouldn’t, and started sending me snippets of laces in different colors. We decided to go with a thin ivory lace that would fall lightly on the head, and I found a warm silver edge lace at Britex Fabrics of San Francisco. (It was vintage deadstock from an Italian factory!)
Today I got the photos of the finished product, and I’m so thrilled with how it looks. It’s not really like the embroidered Belgian lace veils, but it has a style all its own and it’s my absolute favorite part of what I’ll be wearing during our ceremony.
The past two weeks of planning have been super fun…I’ve started looking for vintage silver & silverplate serving pieces, and it’s like a little treasure hunt. There are so many beautiful things out there. I love all of the intricate details in these old pieces.
I’ve been looking for 1930s-40s holloware and serving pieces. A lot of it is surprisingly inexpensive, especially on eBay and Etsy, and I’m excited by the idea of having gorgeous keepsakes to entertain with long after the wedding is over. :)
This is what I’ve found so far…
A Wallace Silver pierced bread basket (for programs)
A decadent little basket, stamped “Made in Occupied Japan” (for flower girl)
An International Silver basket (for confetti)
I know it doesn’t match, but finding a matching set turns out to be pretty much impossible.