Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Dress for My Bridal Shower Tea Party

 There's this thing about sewing a wedding dress. It takes a heck of a lot of time. A heck of a lot. For a solid 4 weeks, I sewed nothing but my wedding dress. So. Much. Silk. And. Lace. I love it. The dress is coming out just as beautifully, if not better, as I always dreamed it would. Four weeks of only working on one thing however? That is exhausting. I needed to sew something else. Something a little more instantly gratifying than this gorgeous gown I've been dreaming of for over half of my life. I love it, but I needed a break from it.

Thus, at the end of the fourth week of wedding dress making, I took that break. My sister and mother were hosting a bridal shower for me on Sunday, and I decided that was as good a reason as any to switch gears in the sewing room. On Friday I would not touch my wedding dress at all, instead I would make myself a new dress to wear to my bridal shower.

I don't know about you, but personally I have an endless list of sewing projects I'd like to get around to. I have patterns and fabrics from my stash all paired up in my mind - and sometimes even on paper - I just lack the time to do everything I want to do. Thus, when I decided I was taking Friday to make myself a bridal shower dress, I ran through my mental list of these fabric and pattern pairings to pick something suitable. I wanted my new dress to have a white background (to be appropriately bridal and all that) which narrowed down my endless list considerably, and within a few minutes I knew just what I would be making.

Simplicity 8731. Now the coat is the real eye-catcher when one looks at this pattern, but give that dress a second glance. It has some really neat seamlines and the potential to be amazing all on it's own. I picked up this pattern on sale when it first came out, and shortly thereafter my best friend's mom gifted me 4 yards of a rose and butterfly print quilting cotton, which someone else had gifted her. It wasn't something my best friend's mom could see herself using, but she figured I might just enjoy it. And she was right! Immediately the fabric was earmarked for this dress. Less immediately, it was sewn.

So, after a couple years of not getting around to making this dress, I decided it was time. I would sew the dress on Friday and wear it on Sunday. My best friend's mom would even be at the bridal shower on Sunday to see and appreciate what the fabric had become. It was perfect! Thus, on Thursday night I cut out the dress.

This dress featured an under the bust seam, which I knew from experience with Simplicity patterns, would hit me mid-bust as drafted, rather than under the bust. So, before I cut into my rose and butterfly cotton, I slashed the front bodice piece right above the bust darts and added about an extra inch of length there. The darts on Simplicity patterns are generally a little too high for me, so I figured this would fix both the too high darts and the too high under bust seam all at once. I added the same amount of length to the back bodice piece at about the same level so the front and back would still match up properly, then cut out my dress, hoping for the best.

Friday morning I got the bodice and skirt assembled before work. Friday afternoon, I pleated the skirt and pinned it to the bodice while sitting in a school pick-up line. I then managed to get the skirt sewn to the bodice using my boss's sewing machine while the kids were occupied and playing nicely. That evening when I got home, I hemmed the dress and put in the zipper. I'd done it! I had a new dress to wear on Sunday!

I was thrilled! Not a single seam was finished in this thing, but that was fine. I'd made myself a wearable dress! Possibly the first casual dress I've made myself this year! (Getting engaged in January really slowed down my normal sewing for the year. . .) I loved it! Well. . . almost. It was definitely missing something. 

I put the dress on and stared in the mirror, trying to figure out what that "something" was. I threw on a net petticoat under the dress. That certainly helped, but it still needed something else. A belt? Not quite. What did this dress need?

The following morning it hit me. The problem was the fantastic seamlines were disappearing in the print. Those seamlines needed to be highlighted. The dress needed trim. I pulled out my collection of ribbon, lace, buttons, and bias tape and started playing with different options. Nothing was quite right. 

  I told my mom about my struggles and she pulled out her collection of trims, passing me anything that might be about the right color. After considering quite a few options, I settled on a couple small lace appliques and some robin's egg blue bias tape.

Neither my mom nor I had any ribbon the right color, so I used the bias tape in place of ribbon to highlight the under bust seam. Thanks to my pattern alterations, this seam did indeed hit me properly under the bust!

I used the lace appliques to highlight the way the skirt seam curved upward to the under bust seam. 

I sewed the trims in place Saturday night, then tried the dress on again.

The trim was just what the dress needed!

This time I truly loved the dress!

No reservations!

On Sunday I put on the dress.

My sister-in-law spoiled me by doing my hair in a vintage-inspired style.

And we proceeded to have a fantastic time at the out door tea-party bridal shower my sister has been pain-stakingly planning ever since I got engaged.

We played games, talked, drank tea, and just generally enjoyed the company of friends and family we haven't been able to see in a while!

My sister did a wonderful job planning this party!

And my best friend's mom did indeed recognize my dress fabric!

She was happy it had been put to good use!


  1. Beautiful! A perfect pairing of fabric and dress pattern for a bridal shower.

  2. This is the downside of being creative: the lack of time to do all we want. Nice dress. It looks like pleasant weather and quite warm at your place. I'm still wearing woolen things .... :-) All the best! Regula