The right tulle for the job

by Suw on July 12, 2007

Sunday I spent some time making a few back-of-an-envelope calculations at to how much tulle* I would need to make my wedding veil. I've spent quite a bit of time looking for patterns and instructions online, having initially found a really very simple set of instructions which made me suspicious because, well, it can't really be that easy can it?
I decided that I want a fingertip veil that goes down to, well, my fingertips, with what's called a 'blusher' – the bit that comes over your face and which gets lifted at the altar. I did a bit of measurement, and decided that I'd need 45″ of tulle for the fingertip part and 30″ for the blusher, making a grand total of 75″ of fabric. Tulle comes in two widths – 72″ and 108″, and the wider fabric is recommended for a longer veil to that it's nice and full. This information I gleaned from the web.
Last night, I popped into Peter Jones on Sloane Square on my way home from a conference and went up to the haberdashery on the 3rd floor. Sure enough they had the two widths of tulle, but the measurements were all in metric. Damn. I still haven't really got my head round how big metric measurements are, other than at the millimetre and centimetre scale. In my head, distances are measured like this:
– thou (thousandths of an inch, for really small stuff that you need to use a pair of callipers to measure)
– millimetres
– centimetres
– inches
– feet
– miles
– light years
You'll notice two key measurement missing – metres and yards. (Oh, and AU – astronomical units – but that's not generally an issue in day to day life.) For some reason, I can't visualise how long a metre or a yard is, although I know that a yard is three feet, I find it very hard to judge whether something is that long. And I know that metres are a little bit bigger than yards, but still can't really just look at something and figure out if it's a metre long.
Oh well, I knew that I needed the wider tulle, so that's easy, and that I need 75″ or more of fabric, so I asked for, oh… let's say 3m. Seems like that'll be enough.
I couldn't quite understand why the assistant was questioning why I needed 3m of tulle. I explained that I was making a 'test veil', to make sure that I get the shape right and stuff before I do the real thing, but didn't really cotton on to the fact that, well, 3m of tulle is a lot of tulle.
I got it home, got it out of its bag, and sort of arranged it into a roughly the right shape. Standing in front of the window holding the mock veil to my head, I realised that I'm only 5' 8″ – which is 1.7 metres for those of you who do find that measurement meaningful – so not only is 3m way more than 75″, it's almost enough to fold in two lengthwise and still reach the floor when pinned in place. I actually have enough tulle to make a chapel veil with blusher, i.e. one that's floor length. I'd need a bit more to do a cathedral veil, but that would be overkill. I'll just make the fingertip veil and see what's left over.
Not that it really matters Рat £4.95 a metre, this stuff is hardly expensive and I can experiment until I get it right.
I noticed, though, that they had some really nice embroidered tulle which came in a sort of antique ivory colour rather than the standard white, and which would make an amazingly impressive veil. The edging would be tricky to deal with and you'd need to do all sorts of things to get enough fabric together to make a fingertip veil as they only had the narrower width. So that'll take some thought and further investigation. It was only £10 per metre, too.
Whilst I was in Sloane Square, I also went to VV Rouleaux, possibly the most amazing ribbons and trimmings store I've ever been in. It wasn't immediately apparent to me that it will actually help me with the wedding stuff, but still, it was fun to take a look around. I had a look at the laces that they sell, which looked hand-made but might not have been. The real laces that they had were in the Torchon style, and whilst they had two that were finer and wider than the stuff I make, they had nothing in the Bedfordshire style, which is my preferred style these days.
I'm not sure if I am going to make the lace edging for the veil myself now. If I go with this embroidered, antique-looking lace, then that will negate the need for lace edging as it has an embroidered edging. I really need to get to some proper bridal fabric shops to see what else is available – Peter Jones didn't have a brilliant selection, to be honest. If I can get a wider embroidered tulle, then maybe I'll go with that instead. We'll see.
Meantime, still haven't got the invitations together, although I have got samples so that's a start. But all this playing with tulle and tiaras is just too much fun!
* Tulle is basically netting

Anonymous July 13, 2007 at 11:11 am

I can't do metres either – although I think a metre is actually smaller than a yard. When it comes to working out how long a yard is, I mentally lie my 6ft tall husband flat and cut him in half.

Anonymous July 13, 2007 at 1:01 pm

Mental metre / yard:
Put one finger on the end of your nose. put your arm stright out horizontally sideways. The distance between the finger on your nose and it's opposite number on t'other hand is a yard. Ish. Depends on the length of your arms, natch, but it's in the yard / meter ballpark.

Anonymous July 14, 2007 at 11:50 pm

Oh, my! Suw, 3 m is 10 feet. (I know, I suck at visualizing lengths, too.) Eifion is right, though, about the arm/nose thing. It's a handy (sorry!) reference. 🙂

Anonymous July 17, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Hmm, cutting Kevin in half and using him as a yardstick might work, but could get a bit messy. Plus I'd have an extra inch as he's actually 6ft 2ins.
Finger on nose and putting the arm out straight bit is a bit more helpful, but as you're looking down the yard, it's not so easy to translate that into looking at a yard perpendicularly.
I think I may just take to carrying a tape measure with me when I go and buy fabric instead. 😉

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