I haven’t been writing here as regularly as I had hoped to do, and yet I have many projects I would like to show you. Unfortunately, ever since I came back from my trip it has barely stopped raining: no way to get enough daylight to take proper pictures. Last Sunday I thought it was getting better, but as I was walking out the door, camera in hand, the rain started pouring again. Whatever, my blow-dry was ruined already so I went anyway…
I have been meaning to post this dress for a while, as it is quite special to me, but the couple times I had tried to take pictures of it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. This is my second version of Butterick B5748, a reproduction from a 1960 pattern that I had made before in a much busier fabric. I sewed this new one last year, to attend the wedding of two of my friends in Santa Cruz, California.
I have mentioned this here before, but last year for me was really the year of weddings. Excluding mine, I was able to attend seven beautiful ceremonies… and make as many dresses: I worn BHL’s Elisalex in April, Butterick 5882 in May, this Butterick 5748 in June, BHL’s Anna in August, Ralph Pink’s Carmen in September and finally McCall’s 4991 and Deer&Doe’s Belladone in October. In addition to being there for my friends for these important moments and celebrating with them, I was thrilled to get a chance to compare french and american wedding traditions. Whereas french weddings can sometimes be more relaxed and improvised (there are games during dinner, slideshows are displayed with embarrassing pictures of the bride and groom, and guests dance and drink a bit too much all the way until dawn), I was fascinated by how everything up to the smallest details can be planned out and rehearsed for american ones. One particular aspect that was alien to me was the concept of the “wedding party”, and how groomsmen and bridesmaid all wear matching outfits chosen by the bride and groom in order for the pictures to look pretty (dare I say Pinterest-worthy).
For this particular wedding, I was a “groosmaid”. Thankfully my friends are the coolest, and they only gave me two constraints for my dress: navy and flowy (the wedding was at the beach so the dress had to be light enough). I figured it was a good opportunity to try making a chiffon dress, as I had never worked with that fabric before.
I used 3 yards 1/2 of this polyester chiffon, with 3 yards of cotton voile for the lining. The chiffon is sold out, but if you are interested in the voile, know that as mentioned in the comments the color is very different from the shop picture: the actual color is much lighter, and close to purple. That said, it worked well as a lining even if the color was off, as you can’t tell underneath the darker chiffon.
The chiffon was a pain to cut: I cut the pieces using my rotary cutter, then starched them individually and compared them to the pattern pieces to recut the edges, which were completely off. Next time I might dunk the whole thing in gelatin so that it stays in place during cutting. The hem was also a nightmare: after leaving the dress to hang for a couple of days in order for the biais parts to stretch, I used my chalk hem marker to try and even out the hem, but despite trying three times the dress was still visibly crooked every time I put it on. I ended up giving up getting a perfectly even hem, and since the skirt has a lot of movement the irregularities don’t stand out as much in real life as they do in pictures.
The chiffon being see-through, I french-seamed everything so that no serging would be visible from the outside. Now that I think of it, I could have underlined everything, by basting the chiffon pieces to the corresponding voile pieces and treating them as a single layer, like I did for the Carmen dress. With all the french seams I messed up a bit and ended up with the left seam of the skirt sewn instead of the right one. I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal if I just sewed the zipper on the other side to compensate. Big mistake! There’s a reason zippers are always on the left side of dresses; being right-handed, putting on and taking off a dress with the zipper under the right arm is a struggle. Well, live and learn, and nobody will notice anyway…
I liked this dress so much, with its low back, flowy skirt and luscious texture that I decided at the last minute to wear it to my own wedding (which was very much improvised). I am a bit sad that the pictures still don’t do it justice, but there’s a saying in French that says “Mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux” – rainy wedding, happy marriage… maybe it works for photo-shoots too?