Homemade Vanilla Extract Wedding Favors Doubled as Place Cards

DIY-vanilla-extract-favors

I’ve realized I’m very far behind in adding the DIY/tutorials posts from our wedding, so I’m going to try to get some of those up for anyone working on their late spring/summer weddings!

One of the fun and easy projects we created combined two tasks in one – favors for our wedding guests and name cards/place cards (sometimes known as “escort cards”,) to help our guests find their seats. Many of our guests enjoy cooking and baking – or live with someone who does! – so we decided to make a big batch of vanilla extract and divide it among our guests as favors. We dispensed it into adorable little glass bottles, adorned with sticker labels indicating the guests’ names and seats. We also had children attending our wedding, so we filled their bottles with miniature M&M’s candies.

wedding favors

Homemade vanilla extract wedding favor

I designed the sticker labels to match our wedding invitations, which was a fun and easy way to tie in the existing design elements and color scheme. Each label had the guest’s name, followed by the table number they were to be seated at.  As a little extra, I made the simple little ‘chalkboard’ style sign in front.  Since I added this piece at the last minute, we didn’t have time to find any small chalkboards. I made a quick little 4×6″ graphic and inserted it into a photo frame from Michael’s craft store.

vanilla-extract-favors-seating-signIf you’d like to make the same favors/seating guide for your guests, feel free to use the sign! I took our initials out of the heart, so you may download the image, or download the file as a .pdf to print it at a higher resolution, available here:

Favors-Sign

For the bottles, I purchased the clear glass 1oz size from Container & Packaging Supply:

You can find those here. I used the corresponding small silver bottle tops to go with them, but I do believe they also have white, and possibly black, in the same size. When you view the product page, it shows you the other items that fit with the bottle.

For the labels on the bottle, I went with a 1-1/2 x 1-1/2″ square sticker labels. There are plenty of additional sizes as well as round labels if you prefer, but I liked the look of the square to go with our theme/designs. These are the ones I used:

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You can find those here. One pack comes with a total of 600 square labels, which is a LOT! Plenty of extras for trial & error when you’re testing out your prints.

Last but not least, making your own vanilla extract is incredibly easy! This is the general guidelines I use, as follows:

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Ingredients for 8 oz of extract:

1 cup vodka

4-5 whole vanilla beans

glass jar with lid

Instructions:

Slice the vanilla beans open lengthwise with a sharp knife. Add the vanilla beans (the whole bean,) and vodka to the clear glass container. Give it a good shake, and store it in a cool dark place for at least 3 months. Every week or two, shake the container again. You’ll notice the little vanilla seed flecks floating around – this is perfectly fine, they are the bulk of the flavor!

Optional: Once the mixture has steeped and is a nice rich brown color (the darker the better,) remove the pods from the jar and pour the liquid into a separate vessel, if you so desire. Some people like to strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, but I personally don’t do that. It’s entirely at your discretion.

A great source for vanilla beans is Vanilla Products on ebay. I’ve been buying from them for years.

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Even if you aren’t getting married, vanilla extract makes a great gift for your fellow bakers! Be sure to start steeping it well ahead of your event for gifting.

The wedding photographs in this post were taken by Sarah Jayne Photography.

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My Handmade Wedding Gown – Images and Overview of the Design Process

VictoriaandFrank-115Photograph taken by Sarah Jayne Photography.

When Frank and I got engaged in May of 2013, the very first thing I did was plan a visit to a local bridal shop to try on wedding gowns. I was so excited that I booked an appointment a mere week later. When the day arrived, I quickly found myself surrounded by a sea of tulle, beads, and lace, in too-tight polyester nightmares which left me feeling breathless – and not in the good way.

I managed to try on half a dozen vastly different gowns before leaving the store. I was feeling disappointed, sticker-shocked, and uncomfortable… but the one thing I was sure of was that I did not want a strapless gown – weren’t they so “typical”? (Not to mention, I was convinced that my petite frame couldn’t pull off the strapless look; it probably didn’t help that all of the sample gowns were 8 sizes too big for me.) At that point I decided to spare myself from further dress shopping, and start the process of making my own wedding dress.

You might be thinking, “Is she nuts?” Well, maybe I am, a little…but I did graduate from FIDM with a degree in Fashion Design, so I had that knowledge working for me! Granted, we never made wedding gowns…or anything remotely similar.. but, nothing ventured/nothing gained, right?

Dresses-1-2Images by Sarah Jayne Photography.

Before I got started, I had one major hurdle: I’d already made my wedding necklace – hand formed clay roses accented by vintage faceted glass beads and freshwater pearls – and I had my heart set on wearing a gown that coordinated with it. Clearly this situation is different from the “normal” bride who picks out her accessories after she has her gown, but I am a full time jewelry designer – thus my priorities are a little different than most!

Dresses-3-4Images by Sarah Jayne Photography.

I spent some time that summer draping different silhouettes onto my dress form, and researching various fabric options and notions. For a while, I was still convinced that strapless wasn’t for me.

Then one magical creative day, design inspiration struck: I had draped a sweetheart neckline bodice (with the full intent of adding straps to the design,) and on a whim, added a curved trim piece to the top of the bust line. Suddenly my design vision was clear – the curved trim on the neck line was the perfect way to mimic the roses from my necklace, without screaming “floral” from the bridal rooftops! I tried on the sample top along with my necklace, and was excitedly surprised at how truly fitting it looked.

I finished sewing my sample by giving the bodice a natural waist line to accentuate my figure, along with a dramatic A-line silhouette with an over-sized layered flounce and modern wide hem trim. I knew I had a winner; I was elated! Our wedding theme was to be a mix of vintage and modern, with a trend of looped ribbon elements, and this design was a perfect fit for both myself and our big day. I happily pranced around in my sample gown while showing it off to my parents over a Skype video-chat. I think that is what most brides must have felt like when they tried on The One!

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Now that my design was solidified and I had made final fit adjustments, I had to get to work on patternmaking.  The above images show the sample I draped for the oversized flounce idea. This was one very long piece of fabric (cut on the bias grain line, in a circular shape) with large folds in specific places in order to create the “layered” look all the way around the waist line. I made two of these pieces – one for each side, starting at the center front waist line and ending at the center back. The really difficult part about this was making sure I marked my sample in a logical way in order to transfer the fold placement markings to my pattern, and then to my final fabric. Yikes! If you can’t see from the images, I used a different colored pencil for each fold grouping.

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Reminiscent of my FIDM patternmaking days, our pup Butters always takes the opportunity to lend a helping paw. Or, you know, distract me from getting my work done. Transferring the muslin pattern piece to the paper pattern gave me the opportunity to make some corrections in length. This piece shows a portion of the flounce. The final pattern piece looked like a giant elongated “C” shape.

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Between the outer silk fabric (Italian ivory silk taffeta) and the silk chiffon lining, I’d lost count of how many pattern pieces went into this design. I’d included princess seams (my favorite!) on both the front and back of the bodice, plus both center front and horizontal seams on the bust section.

Handmade-Wedding-Gown-Silk-Bodice-10-30-2013

Honestly, one of the most rewarding parts of designing – for me  personally – is sewing in the final fabric! (This outer layer is referred to as the “self” fabric.) It feels amazing to put the pieces together and see the garment come to life. The image above is the silk self layer of the bodice, still in progress.

Handmade-Wedding-Gown-Boning-Layer-11-07-2013

This was a close-up shot in progress of the middle layer of the bodice, which holds the boning. I used plastic boning, since I didn’t need super heavy-duty boning for this garment.

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For the hem of the flounce pieces, I added in horsehair braid. Nowadays this is made with a flexible nylon material, not actual horse hair. It’s very stretchy and fun to play around with! It helps add volume to your hem lines by flaring them away from the garment.

Handmade-Wedding-Gown-Sewing-10-31-2013

At this point, I was working on the hem of the skirt portion. The ideal way to do this would have been with long strips of my silk cut on the bias, but I was on a budget and wasn’t able to purchase all of the additional yardage I would have need to accomplish that. Instead, I did it the hard way!

Handmade-Wedding-Gown-Vintage-Glass-Buttons-12-02-2013

One of my favorite parts – notions! I found these beautiful vintage glass shank buttons from a shop on Etsy. I had exactly two of them left over after finishing my gown, and used 1 button in each of the two silk flower corsages I made – one for my mom, and one for my mother-in-law. I’ll post pictures of those later on. The close-up shot here was before I added the hook-and-eye closure at the top. I just really love these buttons! They looked great with the vintage glass on my necklace, and are so beautiful and unique.

Wedding-Gown-Test-Fitting-11-15-2013

I spent about four hours hand stitching each of the flounce hems closed with a catch stitch. Each length was multiple yards long! I would venture to say that it was one of the most tedious parts of this process. Although I find hand finishing hems rather relaxing, I did spread it out over the course of two weekend days, so as to not put too much strain on my body or eyes. After I finished them, it was time for another test fitting for length! I wanted it to be floor length, and had quite a bit of extra fabric to remove. It’s always better to initially have it too long than too short, though!

Wedding-Gown-Wedding-Date-Embroidery-11-25-2013

A friend of mine who was a fellow FIDM classmate assisted me with finalizing the hem length. You can do a lot of work yourself, but I would never advise measuring a hem on yourself, for yourself, alone. She did a fantastic job, and the length came out perfectly! For the finishing touch and that “something blue,” I added a little extra personalization by embroidered our wedding date and initials along the inside of the hem.

VictoriaandFrank-514Image by Sarah Jayne Photography.

Whew! That was a lot of work, but I really think it was worth it.. Don’t you? 🙂 If you’d like to see more images of my gown and our DIY handmade wedding day, please head on over to my full blog post about it, found here: https://victoriaallisonblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/diy-backyard-brunch-wedding-in-new-hampshire/

DIY Backyard Brunch Wedding in New Hampshire

SarahJaynePhotography-CampAllisonWedding1Image by Sarah Jayne Photography.

This past May, I married my best friend and partner of 10 years! We held our ceremony and reception in the backyard of my parents’ New Hampshire home – complete with a mix of sun, rain showers, and heavy downpours (in true New England fashion,) a cupcake chandelier, and a make-your-own waffles brunch.

SarahJaynePhotography-CampAllisonWedding2

My husband and I spent nearly an entire year planning, DIY’ing, and vintage sourcing, with help from our lovely family and friends along the way.

One of my biggest projects was designing my own wedding gown. As a graduate of FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising,) I don’t think I would have forgiven myself if I didn’t put my skills to good use, especially for such a momentous occasion in my life! I also made my necklaces, bracelet, and the accessories for the wedding party.

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Our dog Butters joined us for the event, of course.  He wouldn’t leave my side the entire time I was getting ready that morning!

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Frank and I both enjoy cooking, and decided to host a waffles brunch reception. We tested out various waffle recipes and purchased 4 double-waffle irons for our guests to use. My sister and I mixed the dry ingredients for the batter the night before the wedding, and our fabulous friends John and Amanda finished the batter the morning of. There was no shortage of fun toppings, from sweet to savory! (One of my “must have” toppings was real maple syrup! We purchased a gallon of it from a local farm, Ben’s Sugar Shack.)

SarahJaynePhotography-CampAllisonWedding6

We wanted to break away from traditional floral centerpieces and invoke a “wow!” factor as our guests entered the tent.  Some of my favorite DIY projects to achieve it included hand-rolled crepe paper rosette pomanders. I chose three colors – mauve, white, and olive – and made of them in varying sizes, which were hung above our head tables by my brother-in-law and Best Man, Jim. With the help of our friends and family, we cleaned and spray painted nearly 100 recycled and vintage glass bottles! We arranged them along the center of the main reception tables, over burlap table runners.

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For the head tables, mom and I collected vintage milk glass and vintage goblets in amethyst and olive. I sewed looped ribbon table runners and matching napkin rings, while my mother-in-law and nieces helped us fold and set all of the cloth napkins.

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One of the best parts about these decorations was that I got to keep them once the wedding day had ended!

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My sister Amity arranged both of our beautiful bouquets (peonies and lilacs, adorned with extra green ribbon from our reception decor projects.)

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Frank’s cousin Annie made all of our cupcakes and our cake. They were delicious -chocolate cake, and chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting piped into rosettes.  One of the highlights after the cake cutting was the lowering of the cupcake chandelier, which was designed and fabricated by my husband! A former stage rigger, he also hung all of the pendant lights to illuminate the tent.

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After the reception, we headed to the local ice cream shop (Kimball Farms) for a giant banana split.

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After our ice cream, we headed across the street to the beautiful field for some post-reception photos. Of course, I had to perform a quick change of my shoes and jewelry to be more “field appropriate!”

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Nearly 3 months later, I still feel like I have wedding-planning fever. With that being said, I want to share a series of some of our DIY projects with you! In addition to my usual recipe and jewelry posts, I’ll be adding tutorials and photo posts for those crafty brides-to-be out there, in hopes that it might add some inspiration to your own wedding planning.

Here’s a list of everything we made ourselves (photo posts and tutorials will be posted and linked later. Check back on this post!)…

My wedding gown

– Bridal necklaces

– Maid of Honor and flower girls’ jewelry

– Corsages

– Ribbon boutonnieres

– Flower girls’ hair accessories

– Invites/RSVP’s

– Clay rose ring holder (ring pillow alternative)

– Ceremony arbor

– Burlap table runners

– Paper-cut cake topper and table numbers

– Hand rolled crepe paper rosette pomanders

– Looped ribbon table runners and matching ribbon napkin rings

– Cards box

Homemade vanilla extract favors/seating placements

– Spray painted bottle centerpieces

– Cupcake chandelier

– Chalkboard signage

If there’s any tutorials you want to see first, let me know, as I won’t be working in chronological order.

Happy day!

All images in this post were taken by our fabulous photographer Sarah, over at Sarah Jayne Photography. She also has a blog and Facebook page. Hair and make-up by the talented Regina Garnett.

Wedding Season – Matching Jewelry for California Almond Orchard Engagement Photo Shoot

Happy March! Wedding season is upon us, and this year I get to make the jewelry Almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

for my own wedding! I’ve already designed the necklace I will wear, and next items on my list are the jewelry for my sister (maid of honor) and her daughters (flower girls.)

Last weekend we took a drive out into the California valley, and had a mini engagement shoot in an almond orchard. We were a little late in the blooming season – most of the blossoms are at their peak around mid February, but we were able to find one area that still had some pretty white petals.

Of course, I made myself a bracelet and earrings set to match my dress! The bracelet is multi-strand and features beautiful vintage glass, olive and plum freshwater pearls, and large link brass chain, all finishing with an ivory satin tie-up ribbon. I made some petite vintage glass drop earrings to go with it.

The bracelet and earring set..

Engagement Photo Shoot Jewelry - Victoria Camp Designs

A close-up with the bracelet, and a different image where you can see it in action!

Engagement Photo Shoot Jewelry - Victoria Camp Designs

 

I absolutely had to take a photograph of my beautiful engagement ring (an Edwardian antique) over one of the almond blossoms in the orchard!

Antique engagement ring over almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

Most of the blooms here had already fallen, giving way to the little green leaves, but you can see there were still a few hanging on. The ground was filled with flower petals.. they were dropping right before our eyes!

Image

There were LOTS of honeybees buzzing about. I’m daydreaming about almond blossom honey..Mmm.

Honey bee in almond blossom - by Victoria Camp

This is my favorite time of year – spring is well underway in California!

The Upcycled Collection – Wedding and Special Occasion Statement Necklaces

One of my latest collections has been brewing in my mind for quite some time.

 

I’m sure most of us are at least vaguely aware of the wastefulness that occurs in today’s society, but it’s probably not something that is given too much thought on a daily basis. As a jewelry designer, I see “wasted” product every day that I work. Paper scraps from map cut-outs. Wire clippings from metalwork. Short segments of chain from a previously broken strand. It happens. I recycle as much of it as I possibly can, but in the back of my mind I knew that there is so much jewelry that’s tossed out, destined for the landfill without a second chance.

 

This got me thinking. Instead of continuously buying new materials, what else could I do?

 

Well, for starters,  I use vintage materials whenever I can. If I can re-purpose something that’s already been in existence for decades rather than buying brand new, then I do it. I’ve actually been doing that for a long time, but I felt like I needed to do something more.. challenging.

 

And thus, the Upcycled Collection was born!

 

 

To design this collection, I’ve spent many hours sourcing the perfect components: vintage brooches, beads and baubles; broken necklaces and bracelets destined for the landfill; strands of vintage pearls, chains and beads that need a little TLC..

 

 

The purpose of this collection was to utilize as many old/vintage components as possible without buying anything new. Now, I do have to use some newer pieces – such as jump-rings, beading wire, and other small (but essential) pieces to hold everything together – but the bulk of the designs are composed of vintage and re-purposed parts. Many of the parts I had were broken necklaces, half-length strands of chain that had broken in the middle, vintage pearl strands that weren’t all pretty. (Of course, I didn’t use any of the ones that couldn’t be made presentable with a good cleaning.)

 

In the necklace below, for example, I had four jumbo metal chain links that had been removed from an old broken necklace. These links were still in good usable condition, and were a great accent to this statement piece!

 

Multi Strand Statement Wedding Necklace, Vintage Flower Brooch

 

The next design also contains of my FAVORITE vintage brooches! This color orange is so unusual.. not quite orange, not quite salmon.. but something in between. You’ll notice the center of the daisy is composed of teeny tiny orange and yellow flowers, with orange rhinestone centers. Beautiful!

 

 

 

The vintage brooches in the majority of these designs are removable. I think they look fantastic on the necklace and really add the “oomph” factor, but they’re too pretty to remain static.. they are pinned in place, and can be taken off if you want to wear just the brooch and make a more subtle statement.

 

I’ll admit.. it’s been a little difficult to let some of these go. (Such as the PHENOMENAL vintage brooch in the first photo – gold filigree flowers with white enamel, blue and clear rhinestones.. that piece still had its original tags on it when I found it!) Not to mention this Coro brooch; I have a weakness for Coro brooches. Perhaps it’s the rhinestones. This brooch isn’t in perfect condition, but really adds a delicate femininity to the pearl necklace (all vintage pearl strands.) It needed a little TLC first, including a replacement of the center rhinestone. Still one of my favorite pieces, regardless.

 

 

I also made a couple of longer statement pieces that could be worn on everyday occasions, such as a day at the office or a day out with your friends. If you’re a more dramatic bride, you could wear them on your wedding day! The brooches are not removable on these two designs.

 

 

 

I may add a couple more pieces to the collection later on, but these are the designs currently available. Each necklace is absolutely one of a kind. You can view my current pieces on my website, http://www.victoriaallison.com/Upcycled-Collection-Wedding-and-Bridal-Jewelry-s/1827.htm.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts!

Summer 2012 Bridal Jewelry Collection

It’s almost summer, and that means that the Summer 2012 Bridal collection is now posted! Actually, that’s sort of half true… I have some designs up and ready, but will be adding more as the season progresses!

 

I’ve actually been mentally planning this collection for over a year, and “hoarding” vintage enamel flowers for quite some time. I’m pretty sure that’s a collection that will never stop growing. Here’s a snapshot I took of some of the smaller flowers a few months ago..

 

 

Aren’t they pretty? Some of them have already been used in the summer designs, some are still in queue. There’s also a whole separate pile of larger ones that I haven’t photographed, including some really gorgeous pieces I’ve found while out antiquing with my mom.

The summer collection is listed as bridal, but these designs really are suitable for other special occasions as well – perhaps worn by a guest at a wedding? Or even for your bridesmaids! Wouldn’t it be so pretty for each girl in the wedding party to be wearing a different piece from this collection? Each necklace features re-purposed vintage enamel flowers (brooches, earrings, etc.) and vintage milk glass beads. I just love vintage milk glass.. the beads are a beautiful bright white, and smooth to the touch.

 

Here’s a few images.. the full collection can be viewed and purchased through my website: http://www.victoriaallison.com/Upcycled-Collection-Wedding-and-Bridal-Jewelry-s/1827.htm

 

Bridal Statement Necklace – Double Strand Vintage Navy Blue Enamel Daisy Flower with Vintage White Milk Glass (A personal favorite!)

 

Bridal Statement Necklace – Vintage Peach and Green Enamel Flower with Vintage White Milk Glass and Gold Beads

 

Alternate view..

 

Bridal Statement Necklace – Double Layered Vintage Pink Enamel Rhinestone Flower with Vintage White Milk Glass

Alternate view..

 

Vintage Magenta Enamel Flower and Pearl Necklace with Vintage White Milk Glass

 

This necklace is actually a set, and comes with matching magenta pearl earrings on gold earring hooks!

Bridal Statement Necklace – Vintage Yellow White and Orange Enamel Flower Trio with Vintage White Milk Glass on Gold

These necklaces are so bright and cheery, they make me smile just to look at them. I hope they make you smile too! All of the prices and additional images are listed on my website.

Enjoy the weekend!

Patterson House Jewelry Inspiration

Last summer I visited the Ardenwood Historic Farm (and Patterson House, located on the property) in Fremont, CA. If you live in the bay area and haven’t been here yet, I recommend it! This place is pretty awesome. They have various gardens and animals (sheep, goats, etc.) as well as an on-site blacksmith. Throughout the year they hold various events and festivals, depending on the season. It’s a great place for kids, but I’m an adult (sans kids) and I had fun too.

 

The highlight for me was the gorgeous Victorian Patterson House, the focal point of the property. This home was built by George Patterson in the mid 1800s, and underwent various additions and renovations throughout the remainder of the century. Let me tell you – this place is GORGEOUS. They have a lot of the original furniture, which thankfully has stayed with the family, and the architecture of the building is just beautiful. Each room in the house has so many historical nooks and crannies, you could spend all day in there. I took a guided tour with a dear friend of mine, but to be honest, we ended up ‘lagging’ behind everyone else, because we couldn’t stop photographing everything we laid eyes on!

 

By the time we finished the house tour, I was inspired. I knew this house was going to be influential in my designs, especially for bridal. I already completed an entire Spring Bridal Collection based on this amazing Art Nouveau chandelier in one of the bedrooms:

 

Patterson House chandelier - by Victoria Camp

 

Stunning, isn’t it? It’s not only one of my favorite pieces from the home, but one of my favorite chandeliers of all time. Ever. Seriously.

 

Anyway, every time I look at the pictures from this home, I get inspired all over again. Here’s a few favorites that inspired some new pieces in my shop..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you see why I was inspired?

 

Here’s a couple of new designs I made based on my Patterson House guest bedroom inspiration..

 

 

White Rose White Pearls Bridal Necklace with Ribbon Tie - Victoria Camp Designs

White Rose White Pearls Bridal Necklace with Ribbon Tie (2) - Victoria Camp Designs

 http://www.etsy.com/listing/99495719/white-rose-and-white-pearl-ribbon

Peach Pink Rose White Pearls Locket Necklace - Victoria Camp Designs

 

Peach Pink Rose White Pearls Locket Necklace 2 - Victoria Camp Designs

http://www.etsy.com/listing/99494344/pink-rose-and-white-pearl-locket

That’s all for today. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!