This wee project is hands down the most epic and insane I have ever undertaken, and a perfect example of my inability to say no to a challenge!
I pushed my sewing skills to the max. Learnt more in the short space of time, than I think my whole sewing career to date. Ended up saying yes to everything I declared I would not do! But, most stupendously I welcomed my serger into my life!
This tale all started when my sister-in-law approached me about making dresses for her bridesmaids… I was half flattered, half terrified.
I mean a wedding is not a time for Becky-Homecky to come out to play… also I’d never made anything for someone I didn’t know really well – which implies a certain level of understanding. Namely tolerance for multiple fittings and my unique creative project management style (read last-minute charlie! sewing down to the wire!). Haha in fact the last bridesmaid dress I made was for my sister (for my own wedding) and I put the final hand-stitches in at the hairdressers the morning of!
But, at the end of the day coming from a family of makers, I was never really going to say no – when family has big events we just roll up our sleeves, put on our creative hats, and pitch in!
Let’s start off with some key facts… because I’m a dork who had fun calculating these, and I still can’t believe I finished!
- 60 yards of fabric – peach chiffon (aka the devils fabric!) and bemberg lining from fabricland
- 1.25 km thread
- 6 hand-picked zips
- 10 metres of pleating
- 27 metres of french seaming
- 20 metres of narrow hemming
Phew!! but as you can see below fully worth it eek!
This was a vogue pattern party, all dresses use the skirt from Vogue 8901 with different tops for each left to right:
- Vogue 8901 View C – tweaked slightly – as the top was so sheer I didn’t want to clutter the view with construction details, so I sewed the darts on the lining in the same manner as the outside (so instead of being encased they were against the wearer) so only one dart was visible from the outside.
- Self drafted asymmetrical top – I originally tried to base this off a pattern with limited success. So instead I drafted from basic measurements taken off the bridesmaid, and undertook an experiment in slashing and pivoting to create the pleats/gathers.
- Vogue 8901 View A – tweaks same as view C above.
- Vogue 8849 View A – this was my crash course in boning, and I have to say I really built that one up to be much more tricky than reality. I would however, like to go back and add some interfacing to help out the front.
- Vogue 8921 view A – adapted this from a knit pattern to woven.
- Vogue 8849 – View C – as was, this was my first time working with the multi-cup pattern and I loved not having to do a FBA!
All of these patterns were pretty good – the usual fitting adjustments that come with big four and their generous ease. I think I would make the V8901 again – mostly because it’s the closest to my personal style. However, as much as I love the final look, and the way they move in chiffon, I’m on a fairly long hiatus from that devils fabric!
- As I hate inserting zips (this was prior to getting an invisible zip foot which has now changed my life!!!) and was nervous about the over working the chiffon I opted to hand-pick in the zips… because why not learn a new skill when on deadline! Couture sewing techniques was a constant companion through this adventure, and happy to say I’m now huge hand-picked zip fan, love the look from the outside.
- French seamed everything – the combination of the sheer fabric, and wanting the guts to be oh so pretty made this one a no brainer… this was also another first, and another new love!
- Added waist stays – I was initially only going to do this for the strapless but the weight of the skirts meant I ended up popping them in all. I struggled to fully grasp the process having never seen one in person, the instruction I followed recommended grosgrain, I’ve since seen it done with wide elastic, if I had a do over I would give this a shot.
Moments of insanity
Bahaha too many to count!
- For starters I managed to get a severe concussion between the muslin stage and final sewing. Whilst very scary/painful etc. It also really drove home the level of thinking and calculations involved in sewing. I couldn’t even start to look at my sewing without my brain literally hurting from the thinking.
- Anyhow… that downer over, it did mean I had to change my game plan. The shiny new serger I was paid in, and was supposed to be using to finished the guts all pretty… was no longer an option. After spending 3 hours one night having a staring contest with the loopers trying to figure out how to thread it, I admitted defeat (admittedly this was not all head injury. That damn thing is still such a puzzle, I’m terrified of ever re-threading!). Instead I french seamed the heck out of everything – actually a much nicer finish truth be told, and another new trick for my repertoire.
- There was also the lovely moment where I sewed, clipped, turned, and pressed one of the bodices. Before realising I had the fabric wrong way around. To make matters sweeter this was also all on the bias so nicely got stretched in the unpicking and restitching – argh!!!
- Hilariously the easiest dress to fit was actually for the bridesmaid living overseas. The muslin fitting was completed by proxy on a boozy weekend away, and we only had one in person fitting!
- There was a hairy moment when I realised after a lifetime of sewing for short folks I didn’t even think about maybe having to add length, thankfully caught this in the nick of time moments before cutting!
Phew, ok and with that here’s another pretty pic!
So that ends the tale of the six bridesmaids all done up in peach. I’m happy to report several of these were worn again by the maids themselves! In addition, some have now been donated (and already snapped up) to a lovely charity Ginas Closet Bridal. With all the proceeds going to cancer charities in the region.