Cambie, the perfect wedding (attendance) dress

Hey, this might be my first Sewaholic pattern that I haven’t made in a simple print (dots, stripes, checks, spots). But I did make it from fabric that’d been in my stash for at least a summer and a half, so I’ll forgive it not fitting the theme. Anyway, here is my sucessfully-completed-in-time-for-the-cousin’s-wedding Cambie dress:

 

I’ll start by noting that I did just jump right in and make this without muslining the bodice first (thanks for the encouragement, all you fellow muslin scofflaws!) After some hemming and hawing over the finished garment measurement chart (thanks, Tasia, for including that on the back of the envelope – what a concept! I’m looking at you, Butterick-McCall’s-Vogue), I ultimately cut out the following frankensizing: 6 at the top of the bodice grading to a 10 at the waist (sewed the size 8 darts), 10 waistband, 8 skirt, 8 in bodice length, 8 in sleeve length, 6 in sleeve width. Yeah, I’m not really the shape Sewaholics are drafted for. But you know what, it totally worked. I got a very close fit in the bodice, including a mercifully close-enough fit across the sweetheart neckline without an SBA (provided I wear a padded bra). I probably should have shortened the bodice a smidgen, ’cause I think that’s where those horizantal wrinkles are coming from, but this bodice is much closer to the right length for me than the Lonsdale bodice. Of course, grading from a 6 to a 10 in the bodice means eliminating basically all waist shaping and proving just how rectangular I really am. I’m starting to think that fitted-bodice-full-skirt dresses are not the best shape for me – I actually think empire dresses with some waist shaping are my bread and butter (proof to come). Poufy skirt dresses with a fitted waist do require no swayback adjusting though!

 

The dress came together well with really no adjustments after the size decisions, though. I started the dress on the Sunday before the wedding, and we left for Tahoe on Wednesday, so I effectively got it done in three days. I decided to underline the bodice, since my cotton lawn was quite sheer and I would have been able to see the darts and the seams through the fabric if I hadn’t underlined. (I omitted the pockets for this reason too, as much as it pained me.) Unfortunately, I only had enough random white lawn to underline but not to line, so I had to rush out to the local fine fabric store to get some white batiste for lining. Luckily the owner was there on Monday, a day the store is technically closed, and she was kind enough to let me come in and buy it so I didn’t have to, you know, make the whole dress on Tuesday. (I did end up hand hemming the skirt in the car on Wednesday, but only because my machine blind hem foot really hated this light fabric and I couldn’t get it to work, not because I totally ran out of time. No, really.) The construction is pretty straightforward, but the instructions have you construct the whole outer dress, then the whole lining, then sew them together at the neckline and zipper. This is pretty ingenious, actually (check out Tasia’s post on this step for more info), and totally solves the invisible-zipper-skirt-lining dilemma I keep having (if the bodice and lining are sewn to the zipper as one, how do you separate the skirt from the lining at the bottom of the zipper in an elegant way?). The only problem, though, is that you have to stitch in the ditch under the waistband to enclose the bodice and keep everything aligned, but since I do not have the technical precision of an android (or, apparently, of Tasia, who makes it look so easy), my lining came out slightly shorter than my outer shell and the ditch-stitching goes right through the middle of my lining waistband. Oh well, it’s just on the inside. I may try this lining technique on other dresses in the future, or I may not. I’m still undecided about it.

I appreciated that the sleeve/straps were the last things sewn (here’s a post on that process), since to get a close fit on the back neckline I ended up pulling the straps through almost an inch past the seam line. I may have gone a bit overboard, though, since it’s now pretty impossible to raise my arms above my head in the dress. I should have just taken in the back more at the top of the zipper.

The only real change I ended up making was to reduce the width of the skirt lining by 8 inches total (2 inches off each side seam) to make the lining less bulky. With my shape, though, I should have been trying to get the skirt more poufy, not less! I think the contrast between giant skirt and fitted bodice is the whole point. Crinoline time?

 

In the end, it was the perfect dress to wear to a fairly casual outdoor wedding at the lake, and I got a ton of compliments on it from the various family members in attendance (though that may have been because my mom was wandering around telling everyone that I’d made it… thanks, mom). I like the pattern, but I’m not sure I’ll make another one. The Lonsdale is a more flattering shape on me, and frankly this is just the sort of dress that I’ll wear to weddings but not anywhere else. I guess I’m just more of a jersey dress girl… lots of evidence of that coming soon!

 

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8 comments
  1. This is so cute and flattering on you. You have to wear it to more than just weddings. The print is perfect.

  2. What a cute dress! I can’t believe you got it done in 3 days!

  3. Diane Jacobs said:

    Really cute! I agree with Cuckoo Chanel, you should definitely wear it for more than weddings.

  4. a fellow rectangle 😉 i have the same problems with fitting things, but it sounds like you have mastered the fit! i’m glad to hear you found this pattern relatively easy to manipulate, as i’m dying to make it myself. your cambie is really lovely, and the fabric is so sweet – perfect for a summer wedding!

  5. Judith said:

    Super dress, and I just love the fabric. Definitely wear it more often…

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