This fall I will be in the wedding party of one of my oldest and best friends, and she’s given me complete control of what type AND color of dress to wear. This is of course a thrilling freedom–but it’s also a little scary, especially if you’ve promised yourself (as I have) that you’ll MAKE your bridesmaid dress instead of buying it. So I decided that a systematic approach to the project was definitely in order. A wedding is no time for half measures in proper fit and quality work, right? The first promise that I made to myself was that I’d test run any potential pattern to check for fit. At this point I have made a couple of test dresses–and this weekend I completed what I think will be the strongest contender.
With its nice a-line skirt and its whimsical ruffly front, this pattern from BurdaStyle combines simplicity of cut with a bit of not-too-stuffy-formality. (By the way, if you like to sew but haven’t yet joined BurdaStyle, do so! Even if you aren’t a super active member, it’s still a great resource and an inspiring community.)
This is the Coffee Date Dress pattern, designed by ElaineMay, a BurdaStyle member who lives in Aachen, Germany. I made a few changes to the construction, which reflect my own preferences more than anything else:
1. I put a shorter zipper (8″) along the side seam, instead of putting the zipper down the back as called for. I prefer a side zipper when possible because any wonkiness is a bit more hidden. It means that I pull it on over my head instead of stepping into it, so keep this fact in mind if you ever consider moving a zipper to the side.
2. I finished the neck and arm openings with bias tape instead of using the lining pieces called for. This was really just because I didn’t want the nautical print showing through; if I’d had plain white cotton I would’ve used it and made the lining pieces as instructed.
3. I made a long, long sash belt for tying in a bow around my waist. Why? Just because I like waist sashes.
The fabric is from a visit to a Massachusetts antique mall earlier this spring. And even though this was just a test dress, I’m pretty happy with it and if the rain ever lets up here in New York I’ll be glad to wear it. I’m also happy about using some of my (admittedly, newer) fabric stash in a productive way.
If the bride-to-be approves, my next project will be cutting into the dark blue wool satin (for the dress) and the shimmery olive green satin (for the sash), both of which I purchased recently in massive quantities. Why such quantities for a single dress? Because of the second promise I made to myself regarding this special dress: buy a whole lot more fabric than needed, to have plenty of room to wiggle around mistakes.