Sunday, December 12, 2021

The Bridesmaids' Dresses (and Jumpsuit!)- Simplicity 8202

 Of course I was making my wedding dress - that was non-negotiable. 

And the flower girls' dresses, little girls are so much fun to make dresses for. How could I not make those??

Now as to the bridesmaids' dresses. I wanted to make those too, but would that be biting off more than I could chew? Would I have time to make everything?

That was the question.

Well, thanks to some pretty awesome friends and family, the hand made bridesmaids' dresses I'd envisioned became a reality.

When I first got engaged, the topic of bridesmaids dresses came up pretty quickly between my sister and I. What did I want them to look like? What color would they be? Well, I had that all about half to three-quarters of the way figured out.

The dresses would be dark green - one of my very favorite colors, and one that would look pretty good on all three bridesmaids too.

As for the design, I had an idea for that too. A couple years back my sister picked out Simplicity 8202 during a pattern sale. She and I hadn't taken the time to make it yet, so I suggested we make her bridesmaid's dress out of it. View A would be perfect!

My sister was onboard with that plan, now we just needed to figure out the other two bridesmaids' dresses. I had my two best friends over, showed them the pattern my sister had picked out, told them the color I had in mind, and suggested they go through my pattern stash and pick out patterns for their dresses. They both looked at my sister's pattern, declared they liked it and suggested we make all three bridesmaids' dresses from it. Ok, that was easy!

That decided, we discussed the feasibility of actually making the dresses. My bridesmaids offered their assistance, and we decided to ask their mothers and my mother if they would all be willing to help too. If we could get enough people together to sew, we could probably knock all three dresses out in one weekend. 

We asked those involved in our scheme if they would be willing to help and they agreed. One Saturday in April we would all get together and make these dresses! There just a few things we needed to do first to get ready for this sewing day.

First I measured all three bridesmaids. They were each one size apart from each other. I did not feel like taking the time to trace off the pattern in three different sizes, so I just went and bought 2 more copies of the pattern the next time Joann's had Simplicity patterns on sale. Spending an extra $4 saved me a couple hours of frustration. Tracing patterns is not my favorite thing!

 Next, a couple of us went to Joann's to pick out fabric. I did not want a shiny fabric like satin, or a stiff fabric like taffeta. I wanted something soft and drapey with a matte face. Something like chiffon, only not chiffon as I didn't hate my friends and family who were helping with the sewing, so I was not going to put them through the torture of sewing with chiffon.

After a walk through the fabric store, we found just the right material. A dark green polyester crepe with a lovely drape and soft sheen. Nothing else compared.

There was just one issue. My local Joann's only had one yard on the shelf. We took the bolt up the counter and asked if they could order more for us. 
No, this fabric was discontinued.
Well, crap.
They could however call around and see if any other Joann's stores had the fabric in stock, and if so they could have it shipped to my Joann's for me to pick up.
Yes, let's try that!
They called around, and between 3 stores in 3 different states they were able to find 10 yards of the fabric - just about the amount we needed for 3 bridesmaids dresses! Woohooo!
This would work!

While we waited for the fabric to come in, it was back to the patterns. I cut out each pattern in the right size and made a few minor alterations.

We all thought the neckline on the pattern looked too high for comfort, so I lowered it a couple inches and gave it a slightly squared shape to reflect the square neckline on my dress.

One of my bridesmaids does not enjoy wearing dresses, so I altered her pattern to be a wide legged jumpsuit rather than a dress.

I pulled out Butterick 3836 (the pattern I used to make my split skirt) and grafted the crotch curve and inseam from it onto the center front and back skirt panels of the dress pattern. To do this I had to change the center front panel to have a center front seam rather than being cut on the fold, but that was easy enough to do. Just don't forget to add seam allowance!

Once the pattern pieces were all cut out, altered, and ready to go, my bridesmaids came over for an evening of cutting out. We labeled all the pattern pieces with the bridesmaids' names so pieces wouldn't get mixed up.

Each bridesmaid was then assigned a different pair of scissors to cut with. One bridesmaid's dress would be cut out with normal fabric scissors. One would be cut with pinking shears. And the last one would be cut out with scalloped pinking shears. The goal was that once all the dresses were cut out and the pattern unpinned we would be able to easily tell which pieces were for which dress based on which shears they had been cut out with.

After a couple hours that evening, all the dress pieces were cut out and stored away in a zipper bag to wait for our sewing day!

One Saturday morning, a week or two later, everyone arrived at my parents' house by 10am, ready to make these dresses!

One person pinned pieces together and kept an eye on the instructions to make sure things were going together in the right order.

The pinned pieces were then passed off to those on the sewing machines to be seamed together.

After the seams were sewn, they were passed off to those at the ironing boards to be pressed. 

Then back to the pinning and sewing tables the pieces went until each dress was completely assembled.

By 10 o'clock that night, 12 hours after we began, all three dresses were done!

All that was left to do was the hems, but I could easily do that on my own time.

The dresses fit!

They looked fantastic!

And appeared to be comfortable!

We all felt pretty darned accomplished!

Within the next few weeks I hemmed the dresses and stitched each bridesmaids' initial into the back neckline so we could tell whose dress was whose without having to look at the seam allowances to see what scissors the dress had been cut out with. 

And about 6 weeks after our sewing day, everyone was zipped up into their dresses.

Feet were slipped into brown cowboy boots.

And my little sister and two best friends stood up beside me while I said "I do!"

I am so glad we decided to make the bridesmaids' dresses ourselves!

We had fun working on the project together.

Everyone was comfortable.

And looked fantastic!

If we hadn't made the "dresses" ourselves my friend wouldn't have gotten this marvelous wide-legged jumpsuit/romper thing, which was the perfect choice of formalwear for her!

The work was worth it!


  1. Your bridesmaids look beautiful in their dresses. Each different size is a nice flattering fit. I'll bet they will find future occasions to wear their stylish dresses.

  2. Wow! It certainly took a village, but what an achievement!

  3. Sewing the dresses looks like fun. Great job! I especially like the jump suit.

    Enjoy the last weeks of the year!