Weddings. Besides the obvious, love, lifetime commitment, joining two people together blah blah blah….what’s it really all about Alfie? Well, the dress of course. Firstly the bride’s, if there is one day you can go all out its your wedding day right?
My first real wedding frock memory, I suspect like many of my vintage, was Princess Diana, getting out of her glass carriage (talk about travelling in style…) in that massive frock with the 700 foot train. My Mum sews, and literally the first thing she said was “why didn’t they iron it??”
My own dress was rather more simple. I adored Caroline Bessette’s look when she married JFK Junior, so simple but stunning. As I married in a registry office in London, turning up in a glass carriage in a dress needing 25 m of fabric seemed just a tad excessive. Instead I rocked up in a Ford Focus wearing the perfect silk sheath dress & jacket I’d found in my lunch hour from work, in a non bridal shop, so at about 10% the price of an actual wedding dress. I’ve never found it so easy to dress for a wedding since. Friends, I had peaked.
Since then there have been many low points. The silver 5 inch heels I wore to a wedding I didn’t realize was being held on a soft uneven grass lawn, with no seating. The swelling in my feet took several days to subside. The tight spanx that left me essentially unable to sit & eat….but I could still drink, and it was a VERY hot day. You can imagine how well that turned out…
So when an invite to a wedding in December , in the Hunter Valley popped into my calendar I decided to take action . I knew it would be warm, and I knew I wanted to wear a dress. I remembered how much I loved the style of my Ngaio blouse, and how I had thought at the time what a pretty vintage style tea dress it would make. Would I be up to hacking a pattern? Dare I?
Well, apparently yes! I have really enjoyed making this dress. I’m ridiculously pleased with myself actually. First I found some rayon on sale at Spotlight. I honestly wasn’t sure about the colour but it had the right drape for the fabric I had in mind for the dress, and there was plenty available ( I always buy extra for my inevitable mistakes…) I put a call out to the Scroop Patterns Facebook group to see if anyone had done it before, and Leimomi kindly responded, advising me to lengthen the bodice panels, adding as much width as required for the kind of skirt I wanted. I knew I wanted a gentle tea dress style, with just enough fabric for a bit of swoosh.
Having made the pattern already certainly helped. I felt confident in my size choice, and simply traced off the relevant pattern pieces (only two, the back & lower bodice) onto some Swedish Tracing paper, then extended them out to the approximate length I wanted. Sounds too simple right? Well, it isn’t actually that complicated (even for me which is saying something!). I measured around my widest part (hips/butt) so I knew my dress had to be wide enough to skim over with some ease. For the nice swish I wanted I knew I would need to make an A line shape, without going crazy wide.
It works surprisingly well. I followed the pattern and after trying on the dress once I had sewn up the side seams realized the darts at the back, while lovely on the blouse, were too low for me on the dress, essentially pulling the fabric in right above my butt, the last place I needed it. So I simply unpicked them and raised them up 8 cm. I have a sway back so it pulled the fabric in nicely, while leaving plenty to skim over my booty…
I lengthened the sleeves to the elbow, I’d really like to make a version with a more kimono sleeve style, I just need to figure out how!
I love the neckline, so pretty, and actually really easy to do. Follow the pattern carefully, stopping your seams as instructed (can you tell I didn’t the first time I made this pattern?), then the gathering is done by hand, which I found really simple, despite not being a very accomplished hand sewer. I think the effect is wonderful.
The one thing I would change? Pattern matching, or rather the lack of. My BFF is a Virgo & tells me the haphazard pattern (non!) matching down that centre front gives her a migraine. Next time I will make an effort, promise…….
So something that was only meant as a muslin I MIGHT be able to wear , has turned into a pretty dress I’m thrilled with. I call that a good weekends work. I hope your weekend has been as fun/productive/relaxing!