Hello Internet Friends!
I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since myself and the #fluffyblondemonster tied the knot on the beautiful Gambier Island! In someways it seems like it was only yesterday and in other ways it feels like we’ve crammed so much adventure into the past year that it’s like our wedding was ages ago! To commemorate our one year adventure into marriage I figured I would finally get around to posting about the three bridesmaid dresses that I made. That’s right, in my crazy need to #DIYAllTheWeddingThings I made 3 bridesmaid dresses, two for my bridesmaids and one for Ashely’s groomswoman.
I started off this sewing adventure by looking for a sewing pattern that fit the following criteria: 1) had to suit the tastes of all three women, 2) had to be in the beginner to intermediate skill level range so as not to cause unneeded stress, and 3) LOOKED GOOD! I circulated a few options amongst the ladies and finally settled on the Kieo dress by Named Clothing
I started off by making a version for myself to wear for our engagement photos. This way I could get an understanding of how the pattern came together and how it fit me which I hoped would translate to being able to fix any fit issues when it came time to fit the three dresses. You can read about my version of the dress here! I learnt a few important things, while the mid weight jersey version that I made worked well in terms of drape it was still a bit too thin add showed pretty much every line of my bra :S . Wanting my friends to feel as comfortable as possible I knew this meant that I needed to source a thicker jersey, possibly a modal or scuba which would in turn change the style lines slightly for the bridesmaid dresses. They would likely turn out a bit more ‘structured’ than the version I had made for myself.
After some searching on Instagram (using a pattern’s hashtags is a great way to quickly find multiple versions of a dress!) I was suitably convinced that the more structured look given by either modal or scuba would still look amazing, and actually add a bit of a ‘minimalist fashion’ look. Now that I had landed on a pattern and a type of fabric it was time to get some measurements from the ladies as well as some fabric!
As it so happened two of my bridesmaids are from out of town so to make getting accurate size measurements easier for all involved I turned to My Body Model for assistance. I sent each of the ladies my account info and had them fill out a body model with their measurements taken in accordance with the My Body Model instructions. Doing things this way meant that not only did I get a plethora of measurements I also got a custom croquis for each bridesmaid that I could then sketch the dress on to along with the different sleeve options. I think this helped each of the ladies envision how the dress would look on them which was helpful since they would have nothing to try not until after I had made all the dresses :S After sending along the sketches it turned out that each wanted a different sleeve option, which was fine by me :D
One of the hardest things about making these dresses was sourcing a fabric in the colour I wanted. A lot of the options I found online were either out of my price point or only shipped to the states. Things were looking down until I got super excited as I found a bolt of a beautiful modal in the ‘deep merlot’ colour I wanted while shopping at Dressew! How lucky was I? Now for those not local to Vancouver, Dressew is this amazing store in downtown Vancouver with 2 whole floors of every sewing fabric and notion you could think of! Knowing that if I walked away from this fabric I would probably never be able to find it again I went ahead and bought the bolt. The fluffy blonde monster and I were happily leaving Dressew bolt in hand when I realized that I had been fooled by the indoor lighting in the shop, what looked like ‘deep merlot’ was actually just a deep red when in the sunlight......and there are no returns at Dressew.......I debated just throwing my colour scheme to the wind and using the fabric but I knew it would forever bug me...so I absorbed the cost of the bolt and kept searching.
A lovely friend of mine offered the use of her US postbox so that I could explore some additional online options. In a first for me I actually ordered swatches! I took something in the order of 100 pictures looking at each swatch in doors and outdoors and even took little videos looking at drape as well as ‘sheerness stretch tests’. I sent the pictures and videos to the ladies for consideration along with some of my sewing friends and finally decided upon a burgundy stretch ponte from mood fabrics. I ordered 10 yards and waited anxiously for the fabric to arrive.
While waiting I set about cutting out pattern pieces for each dress. Lucky for me the #fluffyblondemonster has access to a plotter so he printed out three copy shop version for me. One of my brides maids was ‘just’ outside of the largest size, even though I knew that the fabric had a decent amount of stretch I ended up drafting up one more size by taking the difference between the largest and second largest size and adding that to the largest size. I dutifully labeled each pattern piece with the recipient’s name so as not to get pieces confused.
When the fabric finally arrived I let it sit out as unfolded as I could to allow the elastic in the fabric to relax. I then had myself a little cutting party for one. I made a ‘fabric holder’ out of objects around the apartment and used the full length of our dining table and both of our large cutting mats and got to cutting! It took a full afternoon but by the end of it I had 3 neat piles of cut pattern pieces (so satisfying to have neat piles of cut pieces!) I attached a safety pin note with each person’s name to each piece again to avoid getting pieces mixed up. Since I was able to piece each pattern as close as possible to the previously cut pieces I ended up using much less fabric than I thought! I was left with about 4 yards left over :D A nice addition to my sewing stash if I do say so myself (And it came out of our wedding budget instead of my sewing one, double win!)
Now to sewing! I batch processed the dresses meaning that I sewed all the darts on all 3 dresses, then all the shoulder seams, etc. This allowed me to focus on each separate task without having to think about having to do the whole process over again for each dress. I refrained from cutting back the bust darts and back darts until after I had done the fitting of each dress just in case additional modifications were needed. I also simply basted all the seams with a wide zigzag stitch to again allow for fitting. Then all I had to do was wait until everyone was in town to test the fit on everyone!
Waiting until the week before the wedding to do the final fitting was kind of stressful but the ladies were all so awesome about everything! We were super lucky that no major fitting issues arose other than shortening of the dresses at the hem (I actually lengthened most of the dresses by 2-3 inches to be on the safe side since all of the ladies are taller than I am!) and the requirement for some shoulder shaping darts around the back neckline of one dress to prevent neck hole gaping. After addressing these issues I simply sent each dress through my serger to sew and bind the seams all in one go. I cut back the darts to reduce bulk since the fabric was on the thicker side, no need to finish the edges since it’s a knit fabric. I ended up hemming the skirt, mostly to address the neatness of the kick pleat. For the neckline and shoulder/sleeve hems I ended up leaving them unfinished, when the ladies tried the dresses on I realized I really liked the look, and adding a hem would add a lot of bulk.
Following a quick steam on the day of the wedding (my lovely father steamed every dress and my wedding dress and cape!), the dresses were ready!! I loved the way they turned out :D and I think each of the ladies looks stunning!! Despite the ‘slight’ increase in stress I’m really glad I was able to make these dresses for my ladies. I get a huge confidence boost from wearing my me made and seeing others look fab in dresses I made really helped with any ‘wedding day of jitters’. I’m so thankful for the support these ladies gave us on our big day as well as being so patient with my crazy ‘DIY EVERYTHING’ brain! A final thank you to Cat and Jeff from The Apartment Photography for taking such beautiful pictures! :D (oh and thank you too to the one and only #fluffyblondemonster for always encouraging my creative side even when it means our apartment looks like a craft store threw up! Happy first Anniversary!)