While thinking about what to name this post, I came up with USSR abbreviation which in my sewing world now stands for Un-Selfish Sewing Records. It is not even really that funny, but it was to me so I let out a huge “HA!” while sitting in a coffee shop writing this blog post with my co-maid of honour sitting by my side, working away on her stuff.
This blog post has been long coming, yet this seems to be the perfect time to write it whilst I am visiting my best friend in Vancouver, who journeyed with me through the years of wonderful ups and downs, and was there, along with other two amazing women, standing by my side as I embarked on my journey into married life.
Even though I was undecided about making my own wedding dress, right off the start I was absolutely sure I would be making dresses for my bridesmaids. This really was an easy decision. It was very important to me that my ladies have well fitting dresses they love and feel comfortable in. I didn’t want them to feel obligated to spend a fortune and I hoped they would like their dresses enough to wear them again. Sewing their dresses was really the only obvious way to go about this.
When I was thinking of a style, I figured a simple fit and flared dress would be best. Fit and flare dresses look great on everyone. They fit (put intended) all occasions, both dressy and more casual. They also require less altering, because bodice is really the only place that needs extra attention. There are plenty of great fit and flare patterns out there, and it was a bit of a tough choice, but I ended up settling on Deer and Doe’s Belladone Dress. The dress won over me with its unique diamond shape cut out in the back. I though it was just the perfect way to slightly elevate bridesmaids dresses while keeping them classy and elegant.
Even though the dress style decision was easy, finding just the right fabric was not at all. When I was thinking of my wedding I envisioned the bridesmaids wearing burgundy dresses. In my mind the fabric would have a nice texture to it and, while being a special occasion fabric, would still be wearable after the wedding. I am not over-exadurating when I say I spend months looking for fabric. I searched high and low, what feel like on every continent (thank you internet!) and in every possible fibre content.
Eventually I was ready to give up and just buy a wool suiting fabric in the right shade of burgundy to make these dresses, when it occurred to me that I could try to contact an independent fabric store owner and perhaps they would be able to help me… This is when I thought of Michelle from Style Maker Fabrics. I remembered that last Christmas she carried a nice collection of special occasion fabric and I hoped she would may be have some leftovers or know somewhere I could find what I was looking for.
I messaged Michelle and to my absolute delight she was eager to help me out. I ended up sending her pictures of fabrics I had in mind and Michelle was looking for possible candidates while on a shopping trip for her store. When she found a couple fabrics she thought I may like, she mailed the samples to me. It was a hard choice, and after much consideration and consulting with my bridesmaids, I picked this beautiful burgundy rose taffeta on navy background. The groomsmen were wearing navy suits and I figured this fabric, with its navy background would compliment the suits just perfectly.
Sewing the dresses was no small feat. I wanted to make sure each dress fit really well. I started off with making a muslin of the bodice for each bridesmaid. From there I made fitting adjustments, transferred them to the paper pattern and made another muslin. I repeated the process until I was satisfied with the fit. I made anywhere from two to five muslins per bridesmaid! But the work was worth it, the dresses turned out exactly how I want them. It also helped that the taffeta was a dream to sew. The fabric was very cooperative, easy to iron and didn’t fray a ton, unlike the lining I used. I am looking at you, bemberg lining. I know you are all silky and stuff, but, boy, is it a pain in the rear sometimes…
The pattern provides instructions to finish neckline and armholes with bias binding, but I wanted the dresses to have a more invisible finish. I decided to line the bodices completely which allowed for a very clean finish. Lining the bodice of the dress with a diamond cut out on the back was a little challenging, but I managed to figure it out. It did require a few extra steps, but again, I feel that the results were worth it.
I also had a pleasure of having two young ladies be a part of my bridesmaid pack. Little Anya was my flower girl and her older sister Katya was a junior bridesmaid. I wanted Katya’s dress to match bridesmaids dresses, yet still have “young girl” vibe to it. I ended up drafting a simple bodice for her, complete with a diamond cut out in the back. I copied the design of the skirt from Beladonne dress to complete Katya’s dress. The only difference was that Katya’s skirt had pleats in the back as well as front. She was really happy to have a dress that matched the rest of the bridesmaids, including her mom, who was the other half of the maid of honour duo.
Anya’s dress was very simple. I wanted it to slightly resemble my dress, so I picked up taffeta in a blush colour, a similar shade to my wedding dress. I drafted a simple bodice and attached a gathered rectangle as a skirt. I felt like having a big bow would really complete her cute look. I managed to find satin fabric that went well with the blush taffeta and I made a pleated belt that had hook and eye closure. To the belt I attached a big bow I made out of the same satin fabric. It looks like the bow sash is a one piece, tied together around her waist in a very delicate way, whereas in reality it is an easy to put on and take off belt with a bow hand sewn to it.
I couldn’t be happier with how the dresses turned out. My ladies looked and felt amazing. They also loved the pockets on the dresses, which came in handy to carry all the necessities like extra kleenex and lipstick.
I am very happy with my decision to make the bridesmaids dresses. It felt like the perfect way to show my appreciation to my friends who were there with me on one of the most important days of my life.
Prior to getting engaged I didn’t even realize how much having these incredible women by my side on my wedding day would mean to me. I get emotional thinking about the power of friendships and having strong connections that last and evolve throughout the years. These ladies have been by my side through so much. We have supported each other, laughed and cried together and we got through some rough times. Having them stand with me on this happy occasion and knowing they have my back as I tie my life to Shaun and start this whole marriage thing felt absolutely incredible. It gives me so much courage and confidence to know that we have each other’s encouragement, guidance and love no matter what happens in life. Making them the perfect bridesmaids dresses is really just a small way to show how much I appreciate them and how lucky I feel to have them in my life.
I will finish this post before it turns into even more of an emotional ode to female friendship. I still have quite a bit of this gorgeous fabric left, and after seeing just how beautiful these Beladonne dresses looked I may just make one for myself now. Perhaps one day all four of us could hang out and drink wine while wearing matching dresses. Now, how perfect would that be?
P.S. Michelle has loads of gorgeous special occasion fabrics in her shop now. Go check them out!
Thank you to Sarah Nicole Photography for these amazing shots. The talented Shirley did our make up and she was wonderful! Blake has been doing my hair for years, and I couldn’t be happier when he agreed to do our hair for the wedding. He is an absolute riot!