Friday, September 20, 2013

Tips On Sewing Bridesmaid Dresses

So I thought I'd share some things I've learned from this whole bridesmaid dress experience.
Now before I start, I want to say we all walked down the aisle fully clothed and according to everyone, looking very nice. My hope is that by sharing these tips someone else may have a smoother journey than I did and there will be less stress involved for all around.

Iphone outtakes...
First, making custom dresses is the most inexpensive way to nicely clothe five bridesmaids that range in age from mid twenties to mid forties, have a foot difference in height, and are in different stages of motherhood (or not).

Don't let someone who doesn't sew choose the pattern and fabric.
   My best friend has never sewn in her life and her mom has only sewn home decor or small projects. While I remembered to warn my friend on how sizing differs from RTW I didn't even think to mention that very rarely do dresses look like the model on the packet. Pattern photos are advertising just like any other garment store photo. The fabric chosen, while fabulous to work with, was heaver than required which also resulted in a different look. This meant that we had very different results than what the bride was originally picturing in her head.
   If I could have re-done this part I would have had her send me photos of what she wanted and gone pattern and fabric shopping from there.

Try to be as concrete as possible.

   My friend wanted these dresses to be something we would wear again so she said we could choose any of the different necklines from the chosen pattern that we wanted. Since I was sewing long distance I chose the cowl neck since it had the greatest amount of ease built in and the least amount of pieces on the front. I figured it would be the easiest to alter for our different body shapes. 
   Long story short, one of the bridesmaids didn't like the neckline, said her sister would make the dress, and called me the monday before the wedding to help. I spent the first hour putting the dress back together for a fit check and the next 45 minutes trying different neckline solutions until we found one the bridesmaid was happy with. With much prayer I was able to do this without collapsing in tears or anger.
   The solution to this would have been to have the bride and seamstress make as many of the decisions beforehand as possible. When you are a bridesmaid, state your opinion early or not at all. If you do decide to speak up, tell the seamstress not the stressed out bride.

One of my best friends!! Fabulous to stand up with
her! She nailed fit on her dress btw.

Remember the details.

  • Get accurate measurements and remember to mention the importance of undergarments. ( I made a video showing the basic measurements as well as some special ones needed for the design of this dress. This helped tremendously in getting a good fit.)
  • Remember when buying a lot of fabric to get it all in one go or check the dye lots. (this saves on the bride's nerves when she's called and told the fabric is a different color.)
  • Decide hem height and remember to take shoes into account for hemming.
  • If someone else is finishing work you started make sure to make notes of the changes you made to the pattern so they can complete it correctly.

Be Patient and Flexible
   No matter how much you prepare; you never know what changes, challenges, or craziness will happen. Being a calm seamstress, letting go when you need to and being patient as you deal with all sorts of people will help keep the bride calm and confident so she can focus on her day.
Cold feet before the wedding ceremony.
Mine, not the brides. :)

Finally, Don't fret and trust your skills.
   The dress I was most worried about fitting ended up being the best fitting dress the Matron of Honor had worn in a long time. She was so pleased she had plans to wear it again. Seeing someone glowing and confident in what they're wearing makes it all worth it!

Happy Matron of Honor

At the end of the day, they're married and that's all that matters anyway.


niddetissus said...

That's a lot of work - kudos to you for your work!

Jen said...

Wow, that sounds stressful!

I friend of mine had bought a wedding dress that was really ill fitting and wanted me to alter it for her. I had to say no because I was so worried I would ruin the dress and she'd hate me for ever. I know I could have done it, but it would have just been way too much stress for me, I couldn't bare the thought of ruining her day.

You must be so proud at what you accomplished though, even with all the issues.

EmSewCrazy said...

Thanks. It was a challenge but one I am glad I took on and conquered!

EmSewCrazy said...

Yeah, there is no way I would have tackled her wedding dress! I was prepared for things to go wrong so I wasn't super surprised when we did have some hiccups. I also had some great friends that wouldn't let me stay stressed for long. I am very proud of how well things turned out too though. :)

Gaenor said...

My mum and I are tag-teaming my sister's wedding sewing. As the (way!!) more experienced sewer she is making the bride's dress, while I have the over-corset in hand. On top of that there are 9 linen waistcoats and 4 bridesmaids' dresses... Between us we have made the little dresses (I made the bodices and Mum got to wrestle with organza skirts) and soon I get to sew the buttons on. As for the waistcoats Mum has already steamed ahead and made 4 of them, I am halfway through the first of my two, and there are three more to make... Oh, and the wedding is in 4 1/2 weeks' time!!

And did I mention that I am also making the cake??

At least my sister is really easy going and has loved everything that we have made without serious quibble, so we haven't had to do any major rethinks/redesigns. :-)

Gaenor said...

Oh, and I meant to say, "Congratulations, job well done!".

EmSewCrazy said...

Thanks, I'm pretty proud of what I accomplished but not as proud as you and your Mom will be! Wow. That's a lot of work. It sounds like you are making a lot of beautiful pieces. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

HoW did it take you to complete? They look great! How long?