Any time someone special in your life gets married, it’s an excuse to sew an outfit, right? Well, this summer my brother got married so I had grand plans for a rehearsal dinner outfit and a wedding outfit for myself. “Plans” are the operative word this time around.The first thing that got in the way of my “grand plans” is that Trevor asked my daughter Evelyn to be his flower girl. So I got to sew her a dress (more on that in a future blog post). My mom has some health complications and this summer she needed her legs to be covered. She didn’t have anything nice in her closet that fit this bill so I offered to make her a dress for the rehearsal dinner and some silk trousers she could wear with a nice tunic she already had for the wedding. I was happy to sew for her (my mom is one of the few people I’m happy to sew for since she’s my mom and she understands what time and energy goes into sewing clothes).
That being said, I did find time to get one dress sewn for myself. I recently found this Thai silk and this Vogue V8813 Marcy Tilton dress pattern at the thrift store and it seemed to be kismet. I don’t normally think of Marcy Tilton as being my style, but I decided to give it a go with this pattern. I’m not sure why this caught my eye when her patterns don’t usually, though I do know I’ve been exploring much looser silhouettes recently, but I’m glad I gave it a shot.
I paired it with a light sandwashed silk (also scored from the thrift store and sitting in my stash) to add a bit of contrast to the dress. I was looking too see other people’s versions of this dress in a woven to make sure that my vision was rooted in reality and I was definitely inspired by Eli’s versions.
Straight out of the envelope I felt a bit like I was drowning in fabric and it just wasn’t that flattering. I decided to shorten the sleeves and pinched the underarm up a bit higher while I was at it. Lisa (my long distance sewing buddy and business partner in Maternity Sewing) suggested I lower the neckline so I cut down the admittedly-kinda-weird standing/fold-over collar and lowered the neckline a bit. These small changes went a long way towards making the dress fitted in my upper torso which is what I like when the rest of the dress is oversized.
I also shortened the dress just a bit which is not something I usually do, given my height, but showing just a bit more leg helped to balance the size of the dress. I couldn’t bring it any shorter because the back would have gotten indecently short – the front hangs lower thanks to the funny shape.
The final change I made was to convert front gathers to a box pleat. I don’t know why, but the gathers that the pattern called for just weren’t flattering – they did something weird to the apparent shape of my bust but as soon as I turned the gathers into a pleat it all hung nicely and didn’t give me weird-puffy-square boobs.
Since the two silks are pretty lightweight and the Thai silk was pretty loosely woven I sewed french seams and then topstitched the french seams down so that any strain on the seams wouldn’t pull the fabric apart. There’s a tiny bit of pulling visible in the lower center back seam but this dress should hold up well enough for more special occasion wear.
My brother lives in Alaska and apparently whenever I visit they have horrible unexpected cold and rain snaps. So the wedding that was supposed to be in the low 60’s was instead 45F and raining which meant that I was pretty dang cold in my lightweight silk dress. I actually went out and bought a cardigan to wear with it and put it over some leggings I had brought and then spent the whole reception hanging out under the heat lamp in the tent.
I don’t think I’ll make this dress again, but I’m pretty happy with the result. It’s funny, because I thought this was a pretty dramatic departure from my usual style, but nobody else seems to agree with me. What do you think? Do you see it as characteristically Erin or something new and different?