Mismatched Casual Bridesmaids’ Dresses

seamstresserin's bridesmaids

Since I didn’t sew my wedding dress, I definitely wanted to sew my bridesmaids’ dresses. Of course, picking a style was a decision I labored over for a long time. I wanted something that would flatter the very different body types my gals have, and I really wanted the dresses to be something that they would wear again and again. I wavered between same-fabric-different-dress, same-fabric-same-dress, and all-different-but-same-color. And nothing quite felt right. Finally, I had an epiphany. What wasn’t feeling right was the formality of the dresses I was considering. As soon as I switched from thinking of silk dresses to picturing them in a nice jersey everything fell into place.

disapproving tig cat

I did a fair bit of looking for the exact perfect color of purple in a nice jersey (since I had already bought the fabric for the groomsmen’s ties and it needed to be a decent match) but didn’t find anything in San Francisco. We then moved to Seattle and just as I was getting ready to order dozens of swatches from a bunch of different online stores, I found the perfect cotton-lycra blend at Pacific Fabrics. I bought waaay too much of it (enough that each bridesmaid could have a maxi dress and then some) and from that point on, my little sewing space turned into a frenzy of purple jersey.

bridesmaids dresses in progress

I worked on the dresses in fits and spurts as I finalized patterns and arranged for fittings (in person and by Skype). I picked up a contrasting lighter purple to add a bit of interest to the dresses and made sure to sew in a SeamstressErin tag to each finished dress. I sewed as much of the dresses as I could be sure wouldn’t need fit modification (fortunately, jersey is forgiving) and left the side seams basted until I could have each gal try on the dress.

different purple bridesmaid dresses

Beth’s dress (on the left) was the most challenging since I picked the most complicated construction for her, her body is a very different shape than I usually sew for (i.e. me), and she lives in San Francisco so the only fitting I could do before the day before the wedding was by a grainy Skype connection. Fortunately, she had just bought a stunning gown that I was able to make a quick rub-off of before leaving SF that I then modified to compensate for the heavier jersey (the original was an ITY) and the shorter dress. The Skype fitting revealed that the dress was close enough, and I finished it up in an hour of sewing before going to bed, the night before the wedding.

Lindsey’s dress (on the right) was quite easy as I used Simplicity 1804, View A, the same as my dinosaur dress. She lives in Seattle so I had her try on my dinosaur dress so I knew exactly what fit changes needed to happen and then sewed it up with minor modification, including my first ever FBA.

Emily’s dress (second from the left) was also Simplicity 1804, this time View D. I sewed it exactly as the pattern intended, although I did make a few dumb construction mistakes from not reading the instructions that required ripping out some stitches on the jersey (not fun). I was SO glad when Emily tried it on and it looked so good on her because it looked awful on me and in college, she and I were constantly mistaken for sisters and could pretty much just share our closets. It’s interesting how 10 years has taken our bodies in different directions.

Stephen (middle) clearly didn’t get a dress (although I know he would have worn one if I would have asked because he’s that awesome of a friend). He, Adam’s groomsmen, and our fathers got handmade ties instead.


The final bridesmaid dress that I sewed was for (the other) Emily, Adam’s female attendant. She lives in Prague, which would have made her dress challenging had she not been visiting the States this summer. She left a RTW dress with us that I rubbed off for her in time for her to return to the US for our wedding. Fortunately, the dress was simple and the rub-off fit perfectly.

wedding party

I’m thrilled with how the dresses turned out. All of the gals looked beautiful and happy and comfortable, and that’s all I could ask for. They each swore to me that they’ll wear the dresses again (yay!) so I hope that each time they do, they are reminded of how much love, support, and friendship has meant to me over the years. I have some pretty amazing friends and their involvement in my wedding was one more reminder of how lucky I am to have them in my life.

Watermarked images are by Rosemary Wagner Photography.

Comments 7

    1. Post
  1. Perfect solution and everyone looks great and looks like they feel great! Beautiful photos as well!

  2. You did this and those gorgeous shawls?? When did you sleep! They all look great, not least because all the girls look so happy. That’s the clear mark of a good dress and a good friend!

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