Being in the middle of a global pandemic meant that creating complex fitted masterpieces for my bridesmaids was out. Also, the fact that I had 4 (down to 2 due to number constraints) meant that fitting and creating 4 bridesmaids dresses, a wedding dress and a suit between July and March, alongside a broken arm, was a herculean effort that was beyond my motivation levels
Concept / Design
Comfy was my main criteria, I personally believe that when people are comfortable in what they’re wearing they look extra beautiful. I also wanted to make them semi-breastfeeding friendly (for two of my bridesmaids). I looked at two dresses the Delphi Dress by Named Clothing (this has now been discontinued) and the Hilo Dress by Friday Pattern Company.
There were two contributing factors which helped me decide on the Hilo in the end. 1) I broke my arm meaning I needed help from my lovely sewing friends. 2) The Delphi was only available in A4, with non-nested sizes. I love that my friends offered me help but I’m not such a bridezilla that I would make people kindly giving up their time to help me piece 4 A4 tiled patterns that may then need tracing and grading!
I then got the A0 sheets printed by my local printer. A note about this – Friday Pattern company are absolutely brilliant at trying to reduce fabric waste however the cutting layouts often (certainly for the Hilo and Sagebrush) show the whole piece i.e. cutting on the flat. On the pattern which you print, there is only one ‘half’. So I printed 10 copies (2 for me, 2 for each bridesmaid) of the pattern to be able to piece them together to be able to cut out on the flat without losing my marbles, they are LARGE pattern pieces. They were even larger as I had then made them maxi dresses and on one had altered the length of the bodice.
I also relied on my lovely Bridesmaids to take their measurements, which for non sewers, can be a bit of a nerve wracking moment. Fortunately, on to another great point about the pattern, is that it’s for Jersey! So the stretch is an excellent bit of forgiving help if any errors have been made.
The fabric I selected, after getting quite a few samples, was a bottle green viscose jersey from StofStil. I decided to use a viscose jersey as I wanted the dresses to have a drapey, wafty movement. One thing that is also great about this fabric is it doesn’t go really see-through when stretched.
I made myself a practise garment so I could establish the fit and the look of the garment. I made myself the low-back version. A few notes on fit here *low back dress only* – Size down. My measurements put me firmly in the size S. However the back gaped a lot and you could most definitely see my pants. I ended up taking it in at the sides a fair bit, it now fits much better over the lower back. I then read the instructions again properly as I was concerned about the fit on the bridesmaids, which reassured me that sizing down slightly for the lower backed dress was normal. The bridesmaids had all requested the higher backed version due to the wedding being in March so I didn’t size down for them.
Cutting and Making
I cut my one in my sewing room on my table (75x150cm) this was not large enough. I cut my second one on the living room floor, helped by my cat. So my third was cut in my office room on the floor with the cat locked out! She likes to help.
When I’m sewing Jersey I tend to use wonder clips instead of pins. Sometimes I find it hard to get pins through Jersey and also, clips are harder to miss and go over in the overlocker. I had a real issue sewing the first dress, skipped stitches galore! I have since re-read my sewing machine instructions and am more confident now! I skipped the sewing machine for the other dress and made it completely on my overlocker. I also love that with the viscose jersey, I could choose not to hem the edges as they wouldn’t fray!
Finishing Touches and Final Thoughts
I really enjoy putting labels in my clothes. No label I could find felt more appropriate than the ‘Room for Cake’ labels from Joy of Pink Coat Club. My Sister and Sister-in-law have said the dresses were super comfy so I think the brief was nailed! I like to think, in a very cliched way, that these are dresses that you can wear again.
The Hilo is great and really easy to follow, like most Friday Pattern Company patterns. I would recommend this for a beginner, especially as there are very few fit issues to struggle with. I also managed to whip these up pretty quickly, the cutting was the longest part. I also think I’ll be making myself another one, potentially hacked into a top!