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Wedding Guest Dress

I’m so excited to join the Minerva Makers Team! Little did I know it but the timing couldn’t have been better. You see I selected this beautiful ivory and black polka dot Stretch Sateen Fabric without knowing exactly what I would make with it. My default thought is almost always a dress (you’ll learn that about me), but I also considered a jumpsuit or two piece set. At the time I was finishing up a wedding guest dress so I set this fabric aside to work on after my trip. Unfortunately my wedding guest dress was a complete fail so I needed a plan B and ASAP because the wedding was in a week. Then I remembered my Minerva fabric!

This John Kaldor stretch sateen is described as having a “very expensive look” and being “a dream to sew and wear” and both statements were accurate. The sheen, weight and slight stretch all screamed semi-formal despite the arguably casual polka dot print and the slightly matte finish eliminated any issues with slipping while sewing. Fraying is the only issue and it was minimal.

I initially chose Vogue 9252 because it stood out as a quintessential wedding guest dress by being both simple and elegant, but I had no luck finding it locally. So I moved on to McCalls 7720 as it had similar features such as the princess seam bodice and full hi-lo skirt. The McCalls differed in that it featured a V-neck (which I actually preferred), a pleated skirt and a feature I’ve never tackled, boning. The only feature it lacked was in-seam pockets, but I decided I wouldn’t want to weigh down the dress with my heavy phone so this became a non-issue.

If you are familiar with my sewing journey you know I hardly ever make a muslin, but due to my limited time frame and inability to source more fabric quickly I sewed a muslin of the bodice. Now I sort of cheated by using the lining fabric, but I did a test fit and it truly paid off this time. I discovered I needed to size down and modify the shape of the bust curve slightly. In my hurry to finish this project, I sewed the bodice together before I realized that the instructions called for the bodice to be interfaced and I debated whether that was truly necessary because the weight of the fabric seemed substantial enough to carry the dress. Ultimately I decided to trust the pattern directions and take the bodice apart, add the interfacing and resew. Fusible interfacing was all I had in my stash and this fabric took the pressing and steam wonderfully. It was worth the extra effort as the bodice had more structure and laid nicer.

I’ll admit I was a little nervous when the time came to add the boning as I had never worked with boning before and had no time for any more mistakes. Luckily for me the installation was simple, though I’m sure there is room for improvement next time. I asked for a few tips on Instagram and one was to remove the boning from its casing and instead encase it in the seam allowance. Another tip was to press the boning on a low setting to remove some of the curvature.

Ribbon straps are called for per the instructions, but I prefer fabric straps. So I cut four 1” x 18” strips of fabric and sewed 2 strips together right sides facing using a ¼” seams along the long edges. Then I trimmed and turned each strap before substituting them for the ribbon.

The dress calls for a skirt lining and there are separate lining pieces for a less full skirt, however I opted to omit it for a few reasons. I was short on time, I didn’t have enough fabric on hand, but most importantly I felt the fabric didn’t need a lining due to its opacity and luxurious feel. If you use a lighter fabric I could see adding the lining. If you use the lining you will also need to utilize the hem band that I also omitted for a horsehair braid hem. This was also my first time working with horsehair braid but I felt it was necessary for my desired fullness, especially since I had omitted the lining. The installation is very similar to hemming a circle skirt with bias tape. Simply line up the horsehair on the right side of the fabric and sew very close to the hem edge then flip the horsehair under and blind stitch the horsehair to the underside of the skirt. I elected to hand sew my hem because I haven’t mastered my blind stitch foot on my machine.

In the end I am in love with the dress and almost glad that my original dress didn’t work out! I felt elegant all night and I’m sure it will get a second wear when the right event comes up.

Thanks for having me,

Tiffany @tipstitched


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