samedi 8 novembre 2014

Finished Project: A Bridesmaid's dress

*Warning* this is a long post! but this project was quite special so I wanted to share the details of how the dress was made. 

In July, my step-brother J.B. got married. I was one of the bridesmaids, together with the bride's sister. Right away I knew I wanted to make my bridesmaid's dress.

Judy (the bride) told us to do whatever we wanted - she trusted our taste and judgement, so with that, Katherine (her sister) and I started brainstorming ideas and exchanging inspirations. Eventually we settled on the concept of a flowy skirt, a fitted bustier-type bodice and a sheer overlayer to cover the shoulders. This was our initial inspiration:


Looking for patterns to use as a base, I found Vogue 8766 in my stash. The pattern looked perfect for what we needed: a fitted bustier (view A), a circle skirt (view C), and the full bodice option as well, to be used for the overlay (View D).

I cut out two muslins (one for me and one for Katherine, using her measurements).
The pattern included indications of finished measurements, which allowed me to realize even before cutting that it had a LOT of ease built in, especially for the bodice of view D. I used the finished measurements rather than the suggested size to figure out what size to cut.
Katherine and I went fabric shopping together. Originally, we were thinking of making the same dress but in two different blue tones. As we were looking for fabric though, we couldn't find colors that really spoke to us.
After looking for quite a while at the solid colour choices, I started looking around for other options, and came accross a really beautiful silk chiffon that looked almost painterly, with big brush strokes of pinks and reds. I layed the fabric down on a cutting table and both Katherine and I got really excited about this new option.

The bride had told us to do whatever we wanted, she didn't have any preference for colour. We did check with the mother of the bride to make sure it wasn't going to completely throw off the color scheme of the wedding - but she said that we should go with the fabric that excited us the most - and that was definitely it. The silk chiffon being sheer, we also purchased baby pink silk satin to use underneath the chiffon.
With the pink satin only, it had quite the bubble gum dress potential.
We also altered our oroginal concept as we realized that the fabric wasn't going to be sheer enough to get a strong opaque/sheer contrast on the shoulders like the inspiration. So we decided to drop the sheer over layer idea, and instead add a shoulder yoke in a contrasting cream fabric. All I had to do was cut the bodice piece so it would connect with the bustier above the bust, and that was that! We also changed the neckline to be more a sweetheart shape, and made the skirt knee-length instead of midi.

Aside from the design changes, I did very few adjustments to the pattern overall: Added a shoulder dart for both Katherine and I, did a forward shoulder adjustment, added 1 inch in length. We also altered the neckline to be slightly lower and wider, and we moved the zipper from the back to the side.
Unfortunate collateral damage: my tape measurere (the kind that rewinds itself) fell to the ground and litterrally exploded

 Katherine and I went on making our dresses seperately, but we sent each other pictures of progress on a regular basis. It was really fun to make this together and share challenges. The shoulder yoke especially turned out to be the most finicky part. We used a double layer of chiffon for it, but because the fabric was so sheer, the inside had to be as clean as possible. It was really challenging to get the seams all pressed and neat. We also decided to trim the seam allowances to .5 mm and leave them unfinished as any seam finishing would show from outside. Stuck between the two layers of the yoke, we weren't too worried about unravelling or anything.

The bustier was underlined with muslin fabric, to keep it stiff. It was ultimately made out of 4 layers: the silk satin underlined with muslin, the overlayer of chiffon, and the lining. I used baby pink bemberg for the lining.

 The skirt only had two layers: the satin (which acts as a lining) and the chiffon.
One thing that I had to do differently than Katherine was cut the skirt on the cross-wise grain. Being a bit taller, I needed a longer skirt, and it didn't fit in the length-wise grain. I ended up with a seam at center back, and the print of my fabric being a different direction than hers, but in the end, I don't beleive it was highly noticeable.

In anticipation of this project, I purchased two presser feet for my machine: a 1/4 inch narrow-hem foot and a 1/6 inch one as well. I'm so happy I did! Each of the layer of the skirt ended up being 4+ meters long of hem, which would have taken hours to do without those foot. It did take of bit of practice to get the hang of it, and there are some messed up areas on the hem, but in the end, i managed to get a pretty clean hem.

Katherine came over one night so we could help each other get our hems straight. I hemmed both dresses and Katherine pressed them (4 layers of fabric between the two dresses, that's 12-15 meters of hem!) Since those were circle skirts, cut on the bias, I had mentioned that we should let our dresses hang for a couple of days before hemming. I did but I must not have let mine hang long enough as a few days after heming it, the silk satin was peaking from under the chiffon in various places (i think the satin ended up stretching more than the chiffon, which makes sense since it's much heavier).
So I cut off the satin just above the first hem, and recut in the areas that were too long, and re-hemmed the whole thing. Again, I was so grateful I had the foresight to purchase that narrow-hem foot!

my dress on the left and Katherine's on the right. you can tell here that the print diretion on my skirt doesn't match her, but I'm ok with that.
We originally were going to have a closure of sort at the back of the neck, with a slit at center back down to the bustier, but we decided to leave the two side hanging as it looks pretty that way.

photo by eaphoto
In the end, both our dresses looked really good. And we were pretty proud of ourselves. I also like that this dress doesn't scream "bridesmaid" and that I could probably wear it again for a different occasion.

photo by eaphoto

photo by eaphoto

4 commentaires:

  1. So beautiful! You both looked wonderful, and the colour choice was perfect for both of you.

    1. thank you! I love the color, it felt a lot more summery than if we had gone with blue tones...

  2. OK, so where have I been that I missed seeing this? This is THE loveliest bridesmaid dress! The print....LOVE. The favorite part. The delicate swishyness of the hem makes me want the photo to come alive so I can see you twirl in it. Well done.

    1. Thank you! It was a very special project for a very special occasion so I was happy to see it come together. I do love the hem and flowy-ness of the skirt - there was quite a bit of twirling on the dance floor at the weeding!