Family History · Fashion · Sewing

First Things First…Choosing Colors and Sewing my Mother of the Bride Dress

The first part of planning a wedding is choosing a date and a place…it’s hard to have one these days without the other. Once that’s decided and shopping for the bride’s dress is accomplished (see previous post), it’s time to think about colors. With a Winter wedding, our daughter Lucy chose burgundy for the bridesmaids and a rich navy for the groom’s crew, dresses made-to-measure by Azazie and rental suits by Menguin, both of which we highly recommend. When one suit jacket didn’t fit perfectly, Menguin consulted, asked for pictures, and sent an alternate jacket, all to be returned in one envelope after the wedding. All the Azazie purchases arrived with no problems, but when a dress didn’t fit at our other daughter’s wedding, a new one was sent in time. There’s a reason we’re repeat customers!

A throwback to Sarah and Brian’s wedding…both with SD Photography, Azazie and Menguin.

A close friend asked me if I would make Lucy’s dress. Another phrased it more like “Please tell me you’re not making her dress–that’s just too much work!” I agree with that, aside from sourcing the materials, which would have to be ordered online with no touching or color matching, I’m just one person and I sew step by step! But the very best reason for not making a wedding dress is trying on different styles and finding “the perfect dress” is part of the bride’s experience. As I said in the last post, we recommend Carrie’s Bridal Collection in Chamblee, GA.

Making a Mother of the Bride (MOB) dress is quite a different story, much like making any formal dress. With my other daughter’s wedding, I had a sewing machine that was fine for mending, but not dependable enough for ambitious sewing. I didn’t know what I wanted in 2015, so I shopped all over town–there were many options it took forever to find my dress. For this wedding, I had knew what I wanted: long, elegant and warm, maybe with princess seams and absolutely with sleeves. Thanks to my husband (Mr. H), I’ve had a fabulous sewing machine (Brother Innovis N527500) and many patterns to choose from, as I have inherited quite a stash of them from my sister Jaice.

Patterns and fabric are fun to sort through, stretching the imagination. Some non-sewing friends enjoy walking through fabric aisles, using fusible hem tape to make tablecloths and curtains. Last year as I set up my new sewing room (Thanks to my DIY guy Mr. H!) I found some long-lost fabric in a plastic crate, purchased before my trusty old Singer’s swan song, a few years before the “mending only“ replacement. It was a dark teal moire taffeta with “watermarks”–it reminded me of the endpapers in antique books. Lucy had chosen it when a fifth grader, imagining it for a high school prom dress, and it was on the clearance table at Britex Fabrics in San Francisco, a cheap dream fabric on our family vacation. (We came back with a few typical souvenirs from Chinatown too!) By the time she was in high school, the dream fabric was forgotten as Lucy, a good shopper, found great deals on formals at beachtown boutiques and one even at J. C. Penny’s! I asked Lucy if she would mind if I used it for my MOB dress, and she approved, especially since teal, navy and burgundy look great together.

Kwik Sew 3656, two taffeta bundles from Britex and some lining from JoAnn’s…🧵💗

The pattern I choose, Kwik Sew 3656, was a plus-sized pattern from my sister’s collection, which I would have to size down, but I liked it, so I thought it was worth the time. Kwik Sew, by the Swedish designer Kerstin Martensson, originally called Sew Knit and Stretch, have been in the USA since 1967. Kwik Sew was purchased by McCall’s Pattern Company (also called Something Delightful, and parent company of “the big four”: McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick and Simplicity) in 2011. By 2021, Kwik Sew became a crafts line only, although one could still find a few Kerstin Martensson designs issued with different numbers under Simplicity or McCall’s. As you might imagine, the vintage patterns are highly prized, so I was happy to start work on my first Kwik Sew design–it was February, so I had plenty of time.

I chose an inexpensive cheerful cotton from my stash for my fitting trial-run (American’s call this “making a muslin”. Other’s say they’re “making a toile”). I wasn’t too sure I wanted to dance in a straight skirt at the reception, so I tried Simplicity 4138 view E—if I liked it, the longer view G would do nicely for the final dress, but the overall look didn’t work. I wore the yellow floral version once, but it was uncomfortably large, by about two inches around, and too long. I used a quilting cotton from my sister’s stash to try the Kwik Sew straight skirt. With only a little adjustment (sizing down twice and swayback), this toile is one of my favorite skirts.

I made a few design changes. Rather than reduce the size of the sleeve and collar to match my fitting needs, I decided to adapt to the popular trends and puff the sleeves (adding a gathered sleeve head) and gathered the collar to give a ruffled effect. I added a narrow ruffle to the sleeve cuff (2″ by 1 1/2 the length of cuff) just for fun. For a little extra warmth and to make the jacket and straight skirt hang better, I completely lined both garments.

Just a few different views…

What I learned: I have heard of, but never tried tracing patterns onto tissue and making adjustments to the new tracing, leaving the original pattern intact. When I made the second jacket, it was very hard to keep track of which adjustments I had already made and those I needed to make for the second jacket. If I had traced and made a customized pattern copy, fitting the second jacket perfectly would have gone much faster and been less stressful. So the next time I know I’ll be doing a lot of fitting, I will trace the pattern! I learned to do linings, consulting Pinterest and various library books. While lining was a rewarding experience, I don’t think anyone has a no-fail method. Looking at many ways of accomplishing it helped very much. With apologies for my graphics, I have learned to avoid changing to an updated blogging app while working on a post!

2 thoughts on “First Things First…Choosing Colors and Sewing my Mother of the Bride Dress

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