Hello, hello! I usually write blog posts during the day or in the early morning, but this night seems like the perfect time. I’m watching the ONLY craft show I know of, Making It, on NBC. Have you seen it? We are on week 2, so not deep into the show just yet, but it’s cute. I do wish there was a seamstress to represent the sewing community, but the makers on there are all very talented. And I am a huge fan of Parks and Rec, so seeing Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman together again is a dream come true! (Now if only Andy and April would make a surprise appearance!)
I finally took detailed photos of the dress I wore to my cousins wedding and am very excited to share!
I didn’t intend on making a dress. After my weight struggles, I was feeling so discouraged, I just wanted to buy a dress, but once I started feeling more myself, I wanted to show off my hard work. (I was also really scared that the dresses in my wardrobe wouldn’t fit so making a dress that fit my current measurements felt safer).
I wanted a dress to accentuate my top half, something a bit low cut and flirty, because that isn’t my typical style. I had a really difficult time finding a pattern to go with the look I wanted. The skirt portion wasn’t as important to me, but I really wanted a bodice with boning, spaghetti straps and low V neck. This style is becoming very popular in the “wedding guest dress” world and I wanted a fashionable piece rather than a timeless piece. I was also looking for a pattern that included a full lining with clean finishes. There are so few occasions that I make pretty formal dresses, that every chance to test my skills, I want to take.
I always want to make indie patterns first. They normally fit better, and have detailed sew-a-longs with the pattern in case you run into any problems. The issue with a lot of indie brands is that they don’t dive far into the special occasion dresses. Sure there are a few full length options, and some fun flirty dresses, but I couldn’t find a pattern with the structure I wanted. Needing to turn to the “big 4” of sewing patterns, my first thought was Vogue. But they didn’t have anything I was looking for! (Man, some of these patterns are really bad!!) But I finally found the perfect pattern in McCalls 7720.
Once the pattern was selected, I ran to Joann’s to find fabric. I knew I needed to start this dress fast, and didn’t have time to wait for shipping, so I headed to my local Joann’s where I found the perfect print. This rose print brocade was not on the “recommended fabrics” list, but I knew the pattern would be able to support the structure of the fabric.
With my measurements, I made a size 10. Normally in McCalls, I’m a size 8, but sizing up a bit was a chance I needed to take, as it’s easier to make something smaller than making something bigger! I also made a muslin of the top, because I wanted to be sure those measurements were accurate. My muslin fit well, as I was mostly concerned with the size around my torso, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to fit in it once the zipper was in. Once I determined the fit was comfortable, I moved onto my fabric. The bodice came together very quickly. Even with the addition of boning, and a fully lined top, I was surprised it was a decently quick/easy sew.
One of my alterations to this dress was with the straps. I never understand using ribbon for straps. I get that it makes life easier, since you don’t have to turn a skinny tube inside-out, but to me, real straps give the dress a more professional feel. If you look at the actual pattern, I made the straps much shorter, meaning they don’t technically sit where the pattern calls them to sit. This was a personal preference, and in reality, I could have sized down on the bodice, but I didn’t have enough fabric to re-cut.
My original plan was to shorten the skirt to right above the knee, to keep with my flirty vibe, but after making the skirt that came with the pattern, it was a no brainer to keep it. I just had to cut a good chunk off the bottom to align better with my height. I cut off about 3.5″. I also thought the bodice would look too “long”, but once it was pinned in place, it hit appropriately and I kept the length.
The skirt pleats were…interesting. I had to read the directions over several times because the lines just weren’t making sense. These pleats are huge. Like, really big. It makes for a VERY full skirt, and by making it in a brocade, it was super roomy. I did love that the pattern called for sewing a hem band, rather than just turning up 5/8″.
After completing the dress, and trying it on, I noticed there was a little gaping in the bodice, as my bust didn’t fill the bodice as it was supposed to. This alteration didn’t appear in my muslin, partially because I didn’t add the lining. I don’t think my bust measurement decreased that much within the 2 weeks I was making this dress, but that was one of the first sections of my body to go back to normal when I changed my diet plan, so the fit could be a mixture of things.
I, of course, didn’t want to take the entire dress apart to fit this issue, and I considered just leaving it, but as the point of my new dress was to show off my hard work, I couldn’t let it go. Since my dress form isn’t super true to size anymore either, I turned the dress inside out, zipped it up (which is not easy, thanks Drew), and pinned darts in place on my own body to keep it from gaping. (You can also see a little bit of pulling on the dress above the dart, which I’m not very pleased with, but my dart alteration happened the day of the wedding and I didn’t have that much time to fix it. Thankfully when I’m wearing it, it looks much better. If I remember to do so, I will go in and let the dart out on this side a bit more.)
This alteration wasn’t the cleanest finish, and you can certainly see where the dress was fixed, but the fit is much better this way.
I tend to stay away from alterations in finished garments, as that is an area that is super scary for me to wrap my head around. I don’t mind doing them for myself, but whenever someone asks me to fix something for more than just a simple stitch, I turn them down. I hope to get better over time, and learn the “cause and effect” of fit issues.
I LOVE the clean interior on this dress. I didn’t do any fancy seams, just finished with some serging, but you can only see them when you lift the lining. The skirt also has a very faint high-low look, which I love.
All in all, if I were to make this dress again, I would size down. I would also take the time to make a better muslin. I’m getting better at making a practice version, but sill need to take it further. (I’m still learning guys!) The finished dress is pretty and comfortable, and was a very easy sew, which all make me really happy with the outcome! Obviously the dress isn’t perfect, but I’m still proud of it.
The wedding itself was nice, and I’m happy the rain held off on the outdoor ceremony until we went inside! Since my grandparent’s passed, we haven’t been that close with my mom’s side of the family, so it was a little awkward, but I’m happy that my parent’s, sister and Drew make family events fun.
I was only able to get a few photos wearing the dress, but it held up well on the dance floor! We have another wedding to attend in October, and since that is Halloween month, I think having this dress to wear will make the month go smoother.
Drew and I have been to A LOT of weddings in the past few years, and it’s been a fun adventure. We pretty much know what we would and wouldn’t want for our “big day”, even though we aren’t engaged hah! But lets be honest here, I’ve been planning for a long time – even though I keep it in my head. I have to say, the older I get, the simpler I want my wedding to be and elopement is looking like a really great option (although that would never fly with my guy!) There are a few things I know for sure, the man I want to marry and that I want to make my wedding dress. Having practice formal dresses get me a step closer to creating my perfect dress!
Pattern: McCall’s 7720
Size Cut: 10
Alterations Made: Fabric Straps, Added bust darts, Hemmed 3.5″
Fabric: Pink Roses on Black Brocade – Joann Fabrics