Wedding Sewing Part 1: Bridesmaids Dresses

I was given the honour/huge stress of making the bridesmaids dresses for my brother’s wedding. It was mainly self inflicted; I very rarely make clothes for other people mainly because I find the fitting a bit nerve wracking however after my bodice fitting Masterclass with By Hand London, I felt a little, no a lot, more confident on fitting and so I thought if I got to pick the pattern myself I should be fine. So I volunteered my services and set about planning what to make.

So starting with the pattern then, it just had to be Anna. I’ve made a few Anna’s now and I can honestly say that it’s one of the few patterns I genuinely enjoy sewing start to finish. There’s something so satisfying about it only having one front piece that it almost feels like cheating the system. Not only is there no sleeve setting, dart perfecting or strap lengthening, Anna also has this amazing elegance that never fails – I’ve never seen someone make a version I didn’t like. On the By Hand London bodice Masterclass that I went to at New Craft House, Anna was also the simplest to make edits and adjustments to so I felt confident I could fit it on someone else as well.

So pattern chosen, now for the fabric. I’m very lucky that my sister in law is basically the coolest and most chilled person on Earth, which made the whole designing process so much more enjoyable. She wanted a jewel tone and we decided that burgundy would suit the wedding and all the bridesmaids. Since the ties were all very patterned, we wanted something plain but with a texture which is surprisingly hard to online shop for. We hit up Goldhawk Road and got a bit of an idea about what types of fabrics we liked… sand washed silk, viscose, tencel… but nothing jumped out in the right colour. Then after a few weeks of searching, I saw Barbara from Rocking Stitch in the most glorious jumpsuit I’ve ever seen and was instantly sold on the tencel fabric from Sister Mintaka. I got a sample and showed my sis and she was also very happy with it. The Liberty print we used for the ties was a tiger print ‘Scotty’s Tigers’ and this tencel fabric almost had a tiger print texture which was a detail not lost on me but I doubt anyone would have noticed or cared on the day!

(Gutermann 108)

For the lining I went for an old favourite which is a crepe from White Lodge fabrics. It’s £4/m and very soft and discrete so it’s perfect lining really. I chose to get it in blush just because I loved the colour combo.

The making process then. Mine was super straightforward, I made the bodice in just a couple of hours, but I took some time to decide on the skirt. I ended up making the other Anna bodice first before deciding. My sis had a leg slit in her wedding dress so we decided that it might be weird to all have a leg slit. So I ended up making mine with a full circle skirt and Nina’s was a classic Anna.

On mine, I finished the skirt with bias binding from a Liberty print that I also made my boyfriend a tie in as I love the shape it gives adding binding to a floaty fabric. In hindsight I should have cut my skirt much longer, in the end I didn’t have enough length to trim off the fabric that had stretched from hanging and it was a decision to either leave it a bit wobbly or slash it shorter. I just loved the movement and length so decided to leave it and I actually don’t mind the wavy hem even if it’s not strictly good sewing practice.

On Nina’s dress, I took any chance I could get to check the fit… in the toilets of a pub or on the hen do!! In the end we had two proper fittings and ideally we could have had one more but I was overall happy with it and Nina looked gorgeous. It helps when your models look like… well models.

And as for the third dress, well I never really made it at all! I floated the idea of Roochi making her own because she’s a crafty talented person and I knew she could do it. She chose the Sewaholic Cambie and made the toile herself and cut it out, then we worked together to decipher it in a couple of evenings, in the end having a bit of an aha moment when the lining all slips into place in the most satisfying way. Although I had total confidence in Roochi being able to sew it, I felt such a buzz in the end that she’d achieved something actually quite difficult for a beginner… and an impeccable fit thanks to her toile 👏👏👏

I finished all the dresses with our names (the main reason I was seduced by the Pfaff Ambition) and made hangers out of the Liberty offcuts from the ties. On the day it felt pretty good that the time had paid off and everyone looked lovely in their bespoke dresses.

That’s not to say that I’m doing it again soon though, sorry friends. I was luckily in between jobs for 6 weeks before the wedding so had time to dedicate but many many hours were spent sewing, unpicking, swearing and pinning. I may have to go back to some selfish makes for a little while first.

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