Thursday, 5 February 2015

Bride and Groom Cake Topper and Pattern for Bride's Outfit

Bride and Groom cake topper - 2007

When my daughter announced her wedding to her lovely Mauritian boyfriend, I started to look for bride and groom cake decorations. However, I could only find couples who were either pink-skinned (both of them), or dark brown-skinned (ditto). What is more, the dark brown-skinned couples appeared to have been made out of the same moulds as the pale skinned couples  - so they didn't have the right sort of features at all.  Since my daughter is a brown-haired English rose, and her (now) husband has an Indian Mauritian mother and a Creole Mauritian father, I decided I would have to make the cake decoration couple myself to get something vaguely authentic. In this blog, I give enough detail for you to be able to replicate all or part of the designs!

Firstly, I did succeed in buying on-line  a 1:12 scale white family ( brown-haired mother, father and two children) and an African American family (same grouping)  which had much more realistic features than the 'all from the same mould' dolls . These were from the Town Square Miniatures series  (from I threw out the white father and the children, and the African American mother and her children (actually, they've all gone into my box of things I may be able to make use of one day). Thus, I was left with the white lady and the African American gentleman - who bear reasonable enough similarities to our happy couple to be plausible. Before I started, I painted her shoes white, and put up her hair. I had first thinned the hair down, and wound it around into a chignon, leaving just a couple of side fronds - more or less the style I thought my daughter would be having for her waist length brunette hair. It was then heavily lacquered and glued (the doll's hair, not my daughter's!)

Dressing him was relatively straightforward, as he would be dressing in a standard grey tail suit and top hat. I was able to use adapted patterns of a tailcoat suit and hat from 'Making and Dressing Dolls House Dolls' by Sue Atkinson. But rather than fabric, I used very fine kid leather in a soft grey for his suit, which didn't fray, and was able to be slightly stretched so I could make it look reasonably tailored. Tiny (1.5mm) black beads were used to represent the buttons on the front, the cuffs and the back of the coat where the tails join the waist at the back. His ivory cross-hatched waistcoat was made from fine silk ribbon woven at a slight angle to give the diamond pattern which the real thing would have. His 'gloves' were cut in single thickness from fine ivory kid leather, and his top hat was cut from grey card with black silk ribbon around it. Pink ribbon pushed through a small slit in his coat provided his button-hole. (A bit too high up on his shoulder, but too late to change it.)

Bride's dress and accessories

However, I also wanted to try and represent her dress, tiara etc. as accurately as possible. Her real dress, actually a two piece in ivory satin, has a slim fishtail type of skirt, with a fairly long train embroidered in ivory and pale pink scrolls and flowers, while the top is a corset style with heavy embroidery in the same colours - almost a Tudor style. I had no pattern, so I had to make one, by trial and error. I've included my patterns later.

The skirt

It is a four-panelled dress in my version: a slim front panel, two side panels that start the train, and the back which includes the train. My train was not as long proportionately as the real thing - see the pictures - if it had been it would probably have pulled the doll over. Although the real dress is satin, I decided to use very fine silk. Even so, an enlarged picture shows it would scale up to look like linen! But it is the finest I could find. I made up my first attempt of the skirt in a spare bit of silk (pale green! - I had only a very small piece of the fine ivory silk I was going to use - with the finest interfacing I could find. I decided the train was too short, and the fishtail effect not pronounced enough, so re-cut the pattern pieces, and went for a second version in a scrap of white silk from an old handkerchief, without the interlining.  It was still not quite right, but I decided that one, version 2, was good enough for a petticoat, and version 3 became the final version. Before I stitched up the final seam, I did all the embroidery on the train, using fine silk and a tiny needle.

I've included my patterns further down so you can use them if you wish!

Here are some tricks I found useful for sewing in miniature.
  1. I didn't, as you might normally do, iron the whole piece of interfacing to the silk, attach the paper patterns pieces I'd made, and cut them out both layers together. The silk was far too slippery, and precious if I made a mistake. Instead, I tacked the paper patterns to the interfacing only, and cut those out. The cut-out interfacing pieces were then ironed onto the silk, and I could cut around them without any tacking or pinning to the silk.
  2. Pressing seams flat on such a tiny item looked impossible, until I hit upon the idea of pushing the thumb of my (clean!) oven glove into the narrow little tube of a skirt, and ironed gently over that. But you could use a piece of rolled up cloth round cotton wool or something similar.
  3. With the interfacing attached to the pieces, they seemed less likely to fray, so I waited until I'd done all the pressing before fray-stopping the edges. If you iron over fray-stop you'll end up with a glue-y iron. But I also came across another good wheeze. I didn't want a turned up hem on the train - too bulky. So instead of using fray-stop round the bottom edge of the skirt, I used glitter glue, very finely. This gave a beautiful appearance of the tiniest possible sequins. I was so pleased with this effect I repeated it round the silk chiffon veil.
  4. Before I stitched up the final seam, I did all the embroidery on the train. This is explained below.
These are the patterns for all the pieces for the skirt and top. For sizing, the straight line down the side of the front skirt panel is 3.5in or 8.8cm. (The unlabelled panel piece is some knickers I decided
 to make her. Couldn't attend a wedding not wearing any!)) You have to cut one of each, except for the side panels and collar (cut two of each).

The bodice

The bodice is a tight corset style, and I made this in two parts. First I made the body, with bust darts. After embroidering it, I tried it round her. It looked shockingly low-cut for a wedding dress at this point. However, the shoulder pieces overlap across the front, covering her modesty. I attached these at the front, pointy edge forward, before wrapping the body round her and stitching it tightly. Finally, I poked the back edges of the shoulder pieces inside at the back and stitched these to the back. (They don't meet each other, but go over the shoulders and tuck in at the back.)

On this picture, you can hopefully see the bodice embroidery - and also the glittery edge to the veil, on the right - more about that below. Bear in mind she is only just over 5 inches high - or about 12 cms.


The embroidery on the real dress is very heavy, almost like brocade, comprising scrolls and flowers. However, scaled down, it still had to be very fine. Rather than use embroidery thread, I opted for fine polyester thread in ivory, and pale pink. This was 120 gauge, although I believe you can get 140 Guterman silk, which would have been even better had I managed to find any. My needle was the tiniest I could find that I could thread - a No. 10.

I did the embroidery by first drawing my whole design on tissue paper, and I stitched through on the right side right through the paper and the material. I then very gently tore the tissue paper away, holding onto the stitching, and thus leaving the stitching on the skirt. The scroll designs, which had been done using back stitch of about 1mm in length, tore away quite easily. following the scroll lines. The star-shaped flowers were more fiddly, requiring a little more care to pull away. I had done these as 'spokes' into a centre point, so I just had to wiggle gently and remove the last little scraps of paper with small tweezers. This method made the embroidery very slightly raised (because of the 'thickness' of the tissue paper) - however, I rather liked the effect.

In the picture you can see some of the seed pearls, and the scrolls and flowers embroidery.

The veil

The difficulty here is to get material fine enough. I had bought a doll wedding veil kit off a US web site - very pretty, but it wasn't right, as the gauge of the open work net would scale up to holes of about quarter of an inch! So I eventually found a scrap of very fine silk chiffon or gauze. I tacked the pattern I'd made to the gauze and cut it out, leaving it attached to the tissue paper pattern for stability until I'd gone round the edge with the glitter glue and let it dry.

The tiara

My daughter had chosen a very delicate tiara with tiny pink, crystal and pearl beads.

I ransacked my packet of tiny seed beads (multi-coloured) for everything that was pale pink, white, glass, silver, pearl-coloured, or iridescent, and fortunately found enough. (I'm now left with a packet of bright and dark coloured beads for which I've yet to think of a use!)

I also obtained a card of fuse wire - harder and harder to get these days. I used the 5 amp and 15 amp wire - the 5 amp to thread in and out of the beads, and the 15 amp to form the 'alice band' framework. The threading pattern is shown on the diagram. After the veil had been lightly stitched into her hair, the tiara was then just stabbed into her hair! Still, she didn't complain.

Fig 1: Diagram to show threading of beads with fuse wire (partial section of tiara)


I used tiny ready made roses. We were by now only a few weeks before the wedding, and the bought ones looked better than I thought I could make myself. The stems were cut quite short, and some foliage (actually dried spikes of thyme) wired on to them, with pale pink ribbon and some tiny trimming roses added. The challenge was to make the bouquet hang the right way up, as the heads of the roses were of course the heaviest part. So I stitched more ribbon firmly to the highest  couple of roses and glued the ribbon into her hand. I already had a small bible for her other hand. (The church wedding was very important to my daughter.)


Finally, I stood them both up to be photographed. He stood up proudly, if nervously, on his own two feet, but she tottered on her high heels. (Too much to drink at the hen night?)  The ready-made doll-stand I stole from another doll was far too bulky under the slim dress. So I used the last piece of fuse wire, the 30 amp, to fashion a small support to go under her skirt. Now they were ready to be photographed, and to take their places on the cake. Actually, as, by this time, my daughter had chosen a chocolate cake, they were going to stand in front of it, rather than finding their feet sinking into chocolate! Of course, by the end of the wonderful evening, someone had moved them into a more compromising position,  but they'd served their purpose by then!

Materials used:

Fine interfacing
Very fine ivory silk
Very fine ivory silk chiffon / gauze
Coats Moon spun polyester thread 120 gauge in natural and palest pink (093)
Fray stop
Glitter glue
1.5 and 2mm seed beads from The Dolls' House Emporium in clear, silver, pearl, ivory and pale pink
Fuse wire 5 amp, 15 amp and 30 amp
Ready made silk roses, and rose trim
Williams size 10 quilting needles
Tiny tweezers
Tissue paper

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