I kind of love making dresses to wear to weddings. I like considering the taste and style of the people getting married and trying to create something that is like a merging of my style and theirs… Is that totally crazy? Does it make me a weird wedding stalker? Well, I might be okay with that. I love weddings. I especially love weddings that are a true reflection of the couple being married (and sadly, so many aren’t – the marriage industrial complex is homogenizing weddings everywhere…), so I felt so glad to be included at the wedding of two great friends and just generally awesome and stylish people in Northern California (by which I mean the actual northern part of California, not the Bay Area, which technically speaking is in the middle of the state – just sayin’) a couple weeks ago, which was so beautiful and just so very them.
Only thing, I almost didn’t have anything right to wear. I’d been thinking about making a dress for this wedding all year – I bought fabric in New York for it, then when I wasn’t sure about that, I bought different fabric online in May for something else, but I still wasn’t feeling it. Then, about a week before I left for the wedding, Ms. McCall randomly passed on some stash navy lace that as soon as I saw it I knew was the right fabric for this wedding. It has a great vaguely 70s crochet vibe that I wanted to highlight by backing it in a contrast color. I laid it over practically all the solids in my stash, and it became clear that mustard/gold would be just the right color, but the only solid mustard fabric I had was a cotton-lycra jersey, which isn’t exactly the most luxe formal dress fabric… but because I had less than a week and my “local fabric stores” (you know, the two stores we have within 40 miles) didn’t have any even almost yellow broadcloth or poplin, the jersey it was. And actually, it turned out to be kind of perfect. I mean, a stealth pajama dress is perfect for a wedding with a whole table of different desserts!
Once I had my fabric settled, I hunted for a perfect pattern. I wanted a simple shape, sleeveless with a waistband and a full skirt, no crazy design lines to suck up my time or distract from the lace. I kept coming back to Vogue 8469, a pattern I’ve had forever but had never used due to some less than favorable reviews. It had everything I wanted, though, so I went for it. According to the measurements it has significantly less ease than the usual Big 5 offerings, so I cut the top size in my envelope, 12, for the bodice and fudge-graded out in the waistband to around a 14 or more. I was going on the premise that my lace wasn’t stretch, but actually it turned out to have a lot of give and stretched with the jersey, so in the end I took in the side seams by at least as much as I added, if not more.
I decided to treat the lace and the jersey as one throughout, both as a time saver and to hide the lace seams. It was almost stupidly easy with the jersey underlining – for the neckline and armholes I literally just folded under the edges together and coverstitched – the stitching lines are nicely disguised by the lace pattern. I omitted the zipper, obviously, and sewed up the side seams last for fitting. I did add pockets (pockets are very useful at a wedding, actually), which meant I had to treat the skirt as one also and not hem the lace and jersey separately. Again I just turned and coverstitched, and hemming as one gave the skirt a lot more body than if the fabrics had been separate, which I think I like. The pockets peek out a little because they’re solid jersey, but worth it – pockets.
Had I muslined the pattern first (ha! like I would do that), I would have made the neckline a little lower and narrower, and shortened either the back bodice or back waistband, since the back waist droops lower than the front. I also should have added belt carriers on the side, as I was pulling my belt down all day (but I actually had a perfectly matched belt in my drawer, remarkably). I omitted the giant ties – it just wasn’t the style I was going for.
It’s always nice when a super last-minute item turns out better than you could have planned it. I was sure until the final stitch that this dress would turn out to be unwearable, but when it was finished I absolutely loved it and couldn’t have imagined wearing anything else to the wedding.