The “Emily’s Wedding” Dress

The Facts
Fabric: 3.5 yards “raspberry tweed” from SCRAP, $6.00; cotton lining from stash, free
Pattern: Simplicity 2226 from SCRAP, $0.50
Year: Late 50s/early 60s? pattern; thrifted/possibly vintage fabric
Notions: Buckle $0.25 (in stash); dye for lining $1.59
Time to complete: One very long night
Sewing soundtrack: Santogold and everything after…
First worn: To Emily’s wedding, March 23
Wear again: Yes.
Total cost: $4.75

 

This dress was a happy accident.

I was getting sick on one of the days I was planning to make this; I ended up sewing like two darts on the lining and then just going to sleep, so I lost a lot of time. The next day/evening/night/early morning, when I actually put most of this together, I knew that if I wanted to sleep at all, I wouldn’t be able to do everything. So I skipped some stuff. I didn’t begin with the bound buttonholes that I’d originally wanted–which later turned out to be a very good thing. When I was trying the dress on at some point, the collar flopped over on the diagonal, and I decided I liked it like that–enough to deviate from the pattern’s more buttoned-up style and finish the bodice like that instead. And (while I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to use my covered buttons–I made a special trip just to get the right size), I really like it this way. And if buttonholes had already been in place, I highly doubt this would’ve worked.

Another “accident” was my omission of bodice facings. I knew from the get-go that whatever I made from this fabric would have to be lined, so the facings weren’t strictly necessary, but I was going to use them anyway because the fabric was so light. (It doesn’t look light, I know. But it is.) But I again decided there wasn’t enough time. And, again, was very glad I did so.

I also omitted the pockets on the skirt. Generally, I like pockets, and if I’d been going for a more outerwear look, as on the pattern envelope, I would’ve probably kept them. But I wanted something a bit dressier (and less time-consuming, okay?). And I also left off the buttons at the cuffs. And the weird little collar (though that was never a consideration, even when I had all the time in the world).

I also still haven’t ironed it. Oops. Probably shouldn’t spread that around.

It is fully lined, though, and the pattern didn’t call for that.

I have to mention the belt, accident number three. I wasn’t happy with the belt I made for my Mad Men dress (though I have since fixed replaced it). This belt, I… uh, also ran out of time to make. When my parents came to collect me for the wedding, I still had a pile of fabric scraps on the floor; I think it was actually my dad who suggested I just tie one around my waist. I did add in the buckle, but essentially, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t even cut it to an even shape or trim off the ravelly edges. And, again, I really liked it.

Since the wedding, I’ve “finished” the belt. I still didn’t measure anything, and it is not symmetrical, but I did get rid of the raw edges, giving it a backing of the same pink cotton as the lining. It doesn’t drape as well now, but it does well enough.

I guess part of this week’s theme is also explaining the fabric. I don’t really have any VIPs. Most of my fabric is stashed not because it’s special but because I just haven’t gotten around to it. This piece was one of the nicest ones I owned, though, and that’s why I picked it. (I also kind of consider the finished dress a very important piece–I mean, I wore it to a family wedding.) Yes, it’s true that I don’t know what the material actually is–I initially wanted to call it boucle, but I know it isn’t; I don’t think it’s tweed, either; I guess it’s just a lightly woven plaid–and yes, it’s also true that it was a beast to cut out–I swear, it would have rather done anything than get on a straight grain (which is why, if you look closely, you can see that the plaid at all the seams are about an eighth of an inch off being matched up, but good enough, I say–at this point, I’m sure that any attempts to correct it would only make it worse). But it’s really nice to look at, and it feels wonderful. I wish it were a bit sturdier, so I could wear it next to my skin instead of on top of a lining.

The lining is a plain cotton bedsheet from my stash, which I had a lot of fun dying. I was really surprised at how close the pink came out. I honestly wasn’t trying for an exact match–remember, when I did the dying, I was still planning on all of the lining being invisible to everyone but me. I just dumped everything in the sink and I guess I got lucky. The only thing I’d change, were I to purposely remake this dress exactly in the future: the lining fabric’s really thin, so you can see a slightly darker line along the seams where the fabric is doubled, so I’d use something thicker next time.

Since I still didn’t manage to get any good, or even non-blurry, pictures, despite spending the evening in it in a room containing at least 30 cameras, I’ll leave you with this photo, of the favors my aunt and cousin (not the one getting married) made for the reception, because I think they’re gorgeous. My cousin designed the labels and her fiance did the laser cuts. But my aunt single-handedly made twelve hundred of those little candies. I wish I had that kind of dedication.

Author

Z.

Z. has, much to her surprise, been sewing since 2007. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and uh 1955-fantasy-land. In addition to sewing, she likes words, music, and old things. Her life is a story.

11 Comments

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  1. Looks great! Glad you were able to finish it before the wedding. Love how the shoes match.

    • Thank you! And you’ve found my second-favorite pair of shoes. (Half a size bigger and they’d be my very favorites. Too bad I can’t let their seams out…)
      I’m glad I managed to finish, too. I’d imagined this as my dress for the wedding for so long that I really couldn’t imagine wearing anything else. I would’ve pulled an all-nighter if I’d had to :)

  2. So cute! I could totally see Joan wearing this. Great job persevering!

    • Thank you! This was actually my first idea for the Mad Men challenge–I even made it that week. I kind of wish I’d made two Joan dresses now…

  3. Hey Z, what a great style on you and the color is perfect. I’m sure you where the ‘Belle of the Ball’. The neckline is a great ouch, glad it was a happy accident.

    • Thanks! The neckline is my favorite part, too. I still want to make a dress with the pattern’s original neckline/bodice, but I’m so glad I didn’t in this case.

  4. I love it! Especially the red and pink together. The pattern is fantastic, but your version is better. And you look so darn elegant in it!

    • Oh–thank you! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I do still want to make the exact pattern, though.

  5. Wonderful – I do like how it all came together. The pink highlights are indeed a highlight.

    • Thank you. I’m glad I had the pink accents to break up all the plaid. I think it would have been a bit too… solid for me to pull off otherwise.

  6. Also, if anyone is thinking, “Geez, can’t this girl add?”–I can, really. I’m embarrassed (hence this comment). The $4.75 total is from last time; I’ve got an incomplete cut/paste/correct there. The actual cost for this dress was $8.34 (or less, since I have a fair amount of fabric left over).