June 14, 2010

Dress to impress

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 10:49 am by Amy

Because I live in this mindset of making everything much more difficult than it needs to be (and because my budget for the handfasting is just about nil) I decided that my bridesmaids could make their dresses. One of them is an exceptional seamstress while the other two know their way around a sewing machine well enough to sew a simple dress.

When you look online or in stores – most bridesmaid-type dresses are at least $100. Just getting all three of them to go to a store and try on dresses would be difficult enough. One of my maids is pregnant (and delivering in the beginning of August!), another lives 3 hours away and the third does not like wearing dresses that are shorter than floor length. All of them have different body shapes, height you name it. Oh, and you know, we’re all kind of on tight budgets so asking my three friends to spend $100 or more on a dress that they might only wear once is asking a bit much – and I can’t afford $300 for dresses either. So sewing them ourselves became the best option.

The challenge is finding a style of dress that will flatter, very literally, every body type. Not only that – but pick a color that will flatter a variety of skin tones. My MOH doesn’t wear green well. One of my maids has fair skin (like me) and my other maid is fairly tan. I hadn’t picked colors yet and I would guess that it would all stem from what my bridesmaids will be wearing. My answer to the solution – purple.

I found a gorgeous fabric – a polyester shantung – at Joann Fabrics one day while I was bustling about and I came across this color

Photo from Joann.com

Isn’t it a gorgeous plum color? I fell in love with it! It’s a lovely rich plum color. It was a little more on the red side of purple than I wanted (I tend to gravitate toward more blue or grey purples myself) but I knew it would look beautiful on my maids. Think of pairing it with a gorgeous

And then it was time to pick a pattern.

So what shapes look good on just about every body type? What will also work as something that my maids could wear again after the handfasting and wedding? Empire lines work nicely, but it would have to depend on the pattern. I needed something with straps (or even sleeves) so that my maids can wear a supportive and comfortable bra and tasteful enough to wear to work, or some other function that requires a nice dress.

After scouring through the pattern websites I finally landed on this beauty:

Photo from Butterick.com

This dress was perfect! The straps are wide enough for a good supportive bra, it has a nice v-neck (but not too low). It’s an empire waist with an a-line skirt so it will flatter every body type and is incredibly forgiving. There are variations on this pattern, but I think all my maids are going with this option – only extending the skirt panels to ankle length.

I ordered the patterns (I already owned one version of the pattern that I made for myself to give it a test run on difficulty) and it cost me about $9 for two patterns on the website. It only took a few days to get to me as well. AND it was cheaper than going to a fabric store to purchase them outright.

The fabric I ordered about a week ago as well because if you ordered online (before June 12) there was a promo code for 40% off one item. If I ordered the fabric all in one bolt – well I would get 40% off the fabric. At $9.99/yd. originally and then down to only $5.99/yd I was saving around $40 on my dresses (I ordered 10 yards of 58″ fabric) figuring that would be enough for the three dresses.

On Saturday my fabric arrived and I was SO excited (and I was on my way to my friend’s baby shower so I figured I’d take it with me to show her) I tore open the box and…

it was the wrong color.


They sent me a color called medium purple. See, when I was in the store someone must’ve been following me and taking notes because I stood there trying to decide between the plum color (pictured above) and this color:

Photo from Joann.com

(My computer has the picture coming up as a heathered purple – although the website says it’s charcoal)

I liked how this purple was a little more on the blue/grey side but I wasn’t so sure how it would look on my maids. I decided to go with the plum because it was easier to see them liking that color.

I ended up with the color pictured above and while I was a little disappointed to get that color fabric (considering that’s not what I ordered) I wasn’t terribly upset since it was a color that I liked to begin with. Then I looked at the printout and it said that there were only 9 yards of fabric instead of 10. Great. Now I wouldn’t have enough to make all the dresses the appropriate length! I was NOT happy.

I took the fabric to my MOH’s mother’s house last night (we were having a picnic at her place and she’s sewing the dress for my MOH) and decided to measure it out and cut off my MOH’s share of the fabric.

Oddly enough the fabric was already cut into two pieces. The first piece was 4 yards. Great. I had a feeling it wasn’t going to measure out right. Then we measured the second bolt (thinking it would be 5 yards) but it was really 6 1/2 yards of fabric. So, I was sent 10 1/2 yards of fabric (only charged for 9), but in the wrong color – which really is a nice color anyway…

So I kept the fabric, gave my MOH the 4 yard bolt and I’ll pick up whatever isn’t used after the pattern is cut. Oh, and the total for fabric and patterns for 3 bridesmaids dresses? $80. Original budgeted amount? $150. (The maids are getting their own thread and a zipper)

The lesson I learned from all of this is sometimes the Universe has it’s own way of making some of these decisions for you and it’s best (at those times) to acknowledge it and hope for the best. I think it all worked out nicely. 🙂


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