How to Sew and Dye Your Bridesmaid Dress: Part II

This post is the second post of an ongoing series on how to sew and dye your own bridesmaid dress. You can find part one of the series here.

Already a couple of weeks have passed since Part One, and yet little has been accomplished in the way of actually sewing my bridesmaid dress! I did, however, make some changes with regards to the sewing pattern.

I ended up deciding on the Kielo wrap dress by Named Clothing (which, if you’ve been following along since the last post, is neither Option 1, 2 or 3). Reasons being:

  1. It looked easy (there are only three pieces to assemble together)
  2. It doesn’t require much yardage (less fabric equals more savings!)
  3. It’s versatile (I could shorten, change the fabric, and wear it all summer)

This pattern calls for a light, drapey fabric with some stretch. Meaning, the beautiful silk chiffon that I had purchased earlier from Fabric Treasury wouldn’t work. Which might be a good thing, as I still haven’t received the shipment! The fabric shipped from India on April 12 and got held up with customs in Mumbai around May 15. Since the tracking number I’ve been given still isn’t registering with Canada Post, which likely means the item is still in transit. 

Which brings me to my next point: the trials of online fabric shopping. 
While waiting for my Fabric Treasury package to arrive, I fell in love with the beautiful fabrics available from Organic Cotton Plus, and even purchased 5 swatches to feel up close. But I soon ran into a road block when I realized that purchasing fabric from the United States can be quite expensive in shipping fees! In the end, I headed over to Fabricland, which isn’t nearly as exotic, but much more efficient. I walked in empty handed and walked out 20 minutes later with 3 metres of white stretch cotton jersey at just $40 CAD (they were having a Canada-wide sale that weekend, I guess some things are just meant to be!).

Assembling the PDF pattern

I’ve just realized that my pattern may need some alterations …

After I purchased the Kielo Wrap dress pattern, I spent a lovely afternoon taping the pieces together and cutting out the pieces. It was surprisingly peaceful. It did, however, take me a full afternoon, something that I was not expecting. I mean, I thought that sewing was supposed to be faster than knitting, but if I’ve already spent several hours just taping my pattern pieces together, that’s not a good sign ….

Altering the pattern

Who knew altering patterns could be so much fun?

After I had finished assembling the pattern, I decided to venture one step further. I knew that the size didn’t quite fit, so I read a few tutorials on altering patterns and then happily set about making adjustments.

Here’s what I ended up changing:

  • Shorten the pattern by 2 ” between the waist and hip
  • Lower the front neckline by 2″ from the centre
  • Lower the back neckline by 2″ from the centre

I enjoyed this part of the process much more than I expected. For some reason, it just felt natural and fairly intuitive. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself …

Sewing the Mock Up

Intuitive or not, I only got to the actual sewing bit at about 10 pm that night, and I had been working on the pattern for the entire day, starting at 10 am that morning! I don’t know what I can blame this on other than  my newbie sewing skills…

I only started the actual sewing bit at 10 pm that night …

Rather than start by sewing with the actual bridesmaid dress fabric, I was very wisely advised by a friend to practice first with a muslin. I wasn’t looking forward to the idea of going back to the fabric store again, but then my mother suggested using her old bedsheets! Which just happened to be a beautiful shade of blue. 

Don’t you just love it when some things seem meant to be?

I set up my sewing machine (after rereading my instruction manual – it’s been ages since I last used it!), and practiced some basic stitches on a piece of scrap fabric.

Then I read the pattern instructions for what seemed like the gazillionth time. Although they had seemed simple at first glance, by now I was feeling pretty intimidated by step 1: sewing in the bust darts. What followed was a blur of sewing, ironing, and pinning on repeat. As well as more than a few “oh no” moments when I realized that highlighter does not work as tailor’s chalk, as well as an “oh yes” when I realized how pretty white stitching looks on a blue dress!

Overall, my mock up was a superb learning experience, and I am so glad that I decided to do it. It also made me realize just how much I enjoy sewing, and how much more ‘intuitive’ it feels to me than knitting does! Strange, right? I always would have guessed the opposite, but I guess that’s just because I had never actually sewn anything more complicated than some P.J. pants with my mother’s help.

Here are a few lessons I was very glad to have learned before sewing the real thing!

Lessons Learned from the Mock Up

  1. If you shorten the waist to hip by 2″, the bust darts are no longer in the right position and might look a bit odd.
  2. It’s never a good idea to start a pattern by sewing darts when you can barely sew.
  3. Highlighter should not be used as a “tailor’s chalk” when tracing onto the pattern. It will show up on the other side of the pattern, creating lovely orange dots on the aforementioned bust darts.
  4. Pattern preparation takes a looooong time!
  5. Hemming the armholes is a tricky business. I definitely need practice with this.
  6. I love to sew!


My biggest success: I really like how the back shape of the neckline turned out.

Next Steps

Although I’d like to think that the worst is over, there is still so much work to come! Still on my to-do list is:

  • Buying natural dyeing equipment (pots, pans, etc.)
  • Experimenting with natural dyes before dyeing my dress fabric
  • Finalizing any last minute pattern alterations (I’d like to lower the neckline a bit more, but figure out how to do so in a way that doesn’t mess up the location of my bust darts …)

Is it too late to try something new?

Lastly, I’ve been becoming a bit obsessed with all things embroidery on my Pinterest feed lately! Although this may be getting to be a bit too last minute, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could embroider the bodice of my dress with light white and blush pink coloured flowers?! Oh, I can just envision it in my head right now.

Here’s the source of my inspiration (the centre and bottom right image are both from embroidery artist Tessa Perlow. Aren’t her designs beautiful?) I couldn’t find the original source of the bottom left image, although it could be Tessa Perlow as well.

Image credit: TessaPerlowInc on Etsy

Let me know your thoughts on all of this in the comments below! 

How to Sew Your Own Bridesmaid Dress: Part II - The Mockup