I am getting married in June, and in planning the wedding it has been a real challenge for me to not try to do everything myself. All of the things associated with weddings – flowers, cake, food, dress, music, decorating, printing invitations, etc. – are things that I know how to do. We are both DIY people by nature, but we realize that if we take on too much, we won’t actually enjoy the process.
Instead, I have tried to focus on a few really important things that I will actually enjoy doing. We designed and printed our own invitations, and I am planning on making paper flowers for the bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages with a little help from our friends, and I am making my own dress.
“What?!” You are probably thinking, if you are like most of the people I have told that I plan to sew my own wedding dress. And you aren’t completely wrong. I am not one of those home sewing mavens who can whip out anything they try looking like it came off Savile row. But I have sewn some garments for myself and other people, and they have come out looking like garments you would actually wear in public and fitting pretty well. So I know it is a little bit nuts.
The thing is, when you aren’t a perfect size 6, shopping for any kind of clothing can sometimes be a pretty demoralizing experience. I wear a pretty standard size 16, so when I can find one it fits just fine. But so many stores don’t carry a 16. Do they think that if a bunch of large women shop in their stores, all of the small ones will be scared away? I’ve never shopped for wedding dresses, but I have shopped for bridesmaid’s and prom dresses, and it sucks when you see a dress you like and they trot out a size 10 and tell you to just slip it on but don’t zip it up to get an idea of how it looks. Um, I don’t usually wear my dresses unzipped, do you? Furthermore, I don’t want to special order something, pay for it, wait a few weeks, then find out if it looks good on me.
Even more importantly (didn’t mean for this to turn into a rant about size-ism), I don’t want a giant pouf of merenge with ribbons and bows and chiffon and pearly buttons and one of those criss-cross ribbon corset backs. It’s not my style anyway, and we are getting married outdoors, in June, in Texas. I don’t want to die of heat exhaustion on my wedding day. I want a crisp, cool, cotton party dress, in white dotted swiss. I can picture exactly how I want it to look, and I think my chances of making that are easier than buying it.
There’s the backstory, I guess. I’ve been planning on making my own dress since February, and working on making it since March. Not very hard, but working on it. I picked out a pattern (butterick 5209), I bought material, I told people I wasn’t crazy and that it would be fine. Then I made a muslin of the bodice to see how it would fit. Then I made a second muslin of the bodice because the first one was so bad I thought I must have done it wrong.
Just laying there on the table, it looks just fine, but let me tell you that when I put that thing on it is a crazy mess. Unfortunately, the pattern doesn’t come with a tiny little wasp waist as pictured! So when I made it up in the size corresponding to my measurements on the pattern sleeve, the waist actually fit, but in every other way it was ridiculously too big. So yes, I could have made a smaller one and just made the waist bigger. The kicker, though, is that the sleeveless version is basically also backless, so there is no way to wear a bra with it. I suppose back when this pattern was originally released a woman would have some sort of corset-y undergarment that would work with this dress, but I sure don’t, and the best thing my local lingerie shop had to offer was a half bra (the front half, specifically) made of clear silicone rubber like material that you glue/tape on to your body. No thank you.
So, on to plan B. I occasionally read Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing (where do you think I get all the crazy ideas I have about being able to do this myself?), and the writer of that blog is one of those home sewing mavens who can whip out anything they try looking like it came off Savile row (or at least it seems that way on the internet). She has a course on Craftsy where she teaches you how to sew “perfect bombshell dress.” It comes with a pattern, has step by step instructions, and seems (then seemed, but now seems again) like a perfect solution. So I signed up, printed all the course materials, and started again. Then I found out that the stupid pattern only goes up to a size 12! After a few hours of extreme annoyance, I realized that if I just followed the pattern increases for the other sizes, I could sketch in the line for my size and presto! It worked.
So, I have now made a muslin of that bodice, and (with the help invaluable online video instructions) it fits. Now, all I need is some time and space and to take a big deep breath and start on the actual dress fabric. AHH!