The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour: My Make (V8997)

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After many months of waiting, my Cocktail Hour make is finally here! I’ve posted before about the fantastic selection of patterns on offer and I honestly had the hardest time picking out my choice. But I finally settled on the gorgeous V8997 and boy did it deliver a beautiful dress…

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In the interests of full disclosure, I’m not a drinker. My martini glass has tap water in it. It was also 10am when I took these photos so it’s just good sense.

When I was looking through the patterns on offer, I knew that I wanted to make a dress where the base pattern wasn’t inherently formal. I wanted a pattern that could work just as well as an everyday dress. That way, I figured I could have some extra fun hunting for a fabric that would take the dress to Cocktail Hour level. V8997 comes with six versions – all super different and perfectly suitable for a variety of occasions. I went with Version A because I loved the romantic sleeves and the floaty skirt. However, there are several options for a fitted skirt, as well as both sleeveless and long-sleeved variations.

I made the dress using a black brocade fabric and it was an absolute nightmare. I’ve never worked with a fabric that has frayed so dramatically and so quickly. Without my serger, I’m not sure that the dress would’ve survived. Fortunately, now that it’s finished, I’m incredibly glad that I decided to persevere with the fabric I picked out. I knew that it would perfectly elevate the pattern – a pattern that would work well in so many different kinds of fabrics, depending on where you intend to wear it – to a Cocktail Hour make.

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Now that I look back at it, there’s actually something super witchy about the fabric. Which just makes it all the better because the stars are the real selling point.

Of the pattern’s various features, the sleeves are absolutely one of my favourites. I was concerned that the thickness of the brocade meant that both the sleeves and the skirt would lose some of their shape but the fabric ended up working perfectly. I think this type of sleeve is a wonderful option for anyone looking to make a more formal dress whilst hesitant to go sleeveless. I always like a bit of coverage because I get cold super easily. I also think that, compared to the other versions of V8997, the fullness of the sleeves works incredibly well with the wide, deep neckline.

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I absolutely love the neckline on this pattern. Firstly because V8997 comes with a choice of cup size when cutting out the bodice. This is such a rarity and takes a whole lot of the effort away from the sewist when attempting to properly size the chest. Although I rarely have to adjust the fit of the bust on garments, I find it a really annoying oversight when patterns take no account of bust-fullness. The fact that V8997 offers cup variations was so exciting for this reason. I also just love the deep V on the front and back of the dress. The V is low enough to help the shape of the sleeves and skirt pop, but still high enough that you don’t have to worry about any inappropriate flashing (versus appropriate flashing which is, of course, fine when consensual).

The width of the neckline helps to balance out all of these proportions and is, to me, one of the features of the pattern that makes it so appropriate for more sophisticated settings. I won’t lie, it’s a pain finding a bra that works with this. My strapless bra didn’t fill out the bust of the dress properly so I ended up just wearing a normal one and pushing my straps to the very edge of my shoulders. This obviously wouldn’t be very feasible when wearing the dress out and about. So I would certainly suggest that, if you’re planning on making this pattern, you account for underwear choices. Finding a strapless bra that works and fitting the dress around it would probably be the best path (if you have a lot more forethought than I did).

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Now all of this is very well and good, of course. But what you’re asking at the back of your mind is what we’re all asking whenever we look at a new dress/skirt pattern – ‘Where are the POCKETS?’ As if this dress couldn’t get any better, I get to tell you that V8997 does actually include pockets!! I had an internal debate for all of 5 seconds about how appropriate pockets would be in a Cocktail Hour setting before I decided that, honestly, women suffer from a terrible lack of pockets in their clothes. Who am I to miss a chance for more pockets when they’re offered to me? Plus, you never know when the opportunity might present itself to sneak some extra canapés away with you.

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Moving on from the various features of the dress, I want to highlight the simplicity of constructing this pattern. It’s labelled a ‘Vogue Easy Options’ pattern and, although I wouldn’t say this dress is necessarily right for an absolute beginner, it’s certainly a stress-free make. The dress itself is fully lined and, as many of you know, I genuinely despise lining garments. Every time I try to do it, I face a million problems. But lining V8997 went surprisingly smoothly. Had this pattern been my first experience with lining, I probably wouldn’t have the massive aversion to lining that I currently do.

I ended up leaving the lining of the skirt unattached at the hem because I liked having it hang as more of an underskirt in order to give the dress a bit of added volume. Obviously this completely depends on personal choice. But I think finding a way to volumise the skirt a little is perfect if you choose the Version A sleeves. I really appreciate the way that the shape of the skirt and the sleeves is so similar in this version of the pattern and leaving the lining loose on the skirt was perfect for really helping these parts of the dress mirror one another.

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So there we have it! It’s been such a pleasure taking part in The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour. As with the Big Vintage Sew-Along, proceeds from the patterns in the Cocktail Hour selection go to The Eve Appeal. This charity raises awareness of and funds research into the five gynaecological cancers. I think we can all agree that this is an incredibly worthy cause. So please be sure to take a look at the patterns on offer and make a purchase to back this fantastic organisation. You can also take a peak at the choices of the other fabulous bloggers who have taken part, which is a wonderful way of getting some extra inspiration. Make sure to post some photos of your makes and use #sipandsew so that everyone can enjoy your beautiful garments!

 

How To Sew Your Wedding Dress (Part 2): Choosing Your Fabric

Here we are, with the second post about sewing your own wedding dress! The project is definitely moving in the right direction. I finished my wearable muslin last week and am very excited to show it to you. I’ve definitely refined a number of my sewing skills trying to achieve the perfect fit for this dress. Normally I’m pretty lazy about this. Confession time – I basically trust the pattern sizing and, unless there’s something pretty noticeably off about the fit, I go with whatever the final product happens to be. With my wedding dress, this attitude has definitely shifted and I’ve been working overtime to get the muslin looking perfect.

Since my main fabric is now washed and ready to be cut, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk you through my process of choosing the fabric and offer some general advice for you when doing the same, whether for a wedding dress or other event garment! Obviously this is totally based on my personal experience. If you have anything to add by way of suggestions from your own experience of making event garments (even if not wedding dresses), please add a comment to the post!

1. Consider the pattern

This part is elementary but also something that might involve a little creativity on your part. As I’m sure you know, patterns typically come with a list of recommended fabrics. These fabrics are ones that best guarantee the desired fit (for example, stretch fabrics versus woven fabrics) and shape or drape of the garment. When making something as important as a wedding dress, it’s obviously vital to make sure that you aren’t going against the grain (PUN!) by choosing a fabric that will totally warp the look of the pattern. If you decide that you want to go with a fabric that is not recommended by the pattern – particularly if it means working with something tougher to sew, like a silk or satin – definitely make a muslin using the same material! Make sure that it works with the pattern!

As a reminder, this is the pattern that I’m using:

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The Sweetheart Dress from Sew La Di Da Vintage

With such a flirty ’50s-style dress, there are obviously a plethora of fabrics that could be used. The key is to consider what best accentuates the shape of the garment and any cute details built into the pattern – perhaps the sit of pleats, the volume of a skirt, or the shape of the bodice. In answering these questions, you’ll also need to ask yourself about whether it’s appropriate to use more than one fabric. For example, would you prefer to use satin overlaid with lace? Would you like to make the sleeves or neckline out of lace? Or perhaps use a sheer, embroidered fabric for an interesting back panel? Obviously the answers to all of these questions will depend upon your personal preference but will also be largely dictated by what’s achievable through the pattern that you’re using.

2. Consider the event

Again, this piece of advice seems obvious, but it is so easy to get lost in fantasies about the perfect dress and forget about the event itself. My choice of pattern is a reflection of the sort of day that me and my fiancé are shooting for. It’s going to be pretty informal and put together in a relatively short space of time (we’re talking about a month). I wanted a short, fun, ’50s dress to mirror the spontaneity that will characterise our wedding, but also just the general joy that after many months apart we’re finally back together and getting married. To me, all of these factors didn’t add up to the formality that I usually associate with silk or satin fabrics. Bearing in mind that I will also be getting married in the height of Missourian summer where temperatures can get up over 100 Fahrenheit, something that clings to the body is not a good idea. Temperature is key!

The most important thing is that you’re comfortable in whatever you’re wearing. Will there be lots of dancing? A fabric that doesn’t move so easily with your body might be a problem and getting sweaty while you dance isn’t a good look if you’re wearing pure silk.  Just be sure to reflect on what the event itself speaks to fabric-wise and don’t consign yourself to wearing something that prevents you from really enjoying the day.

3. Consider your colour palette

This will be a relatively brief consideration for most people. However, when choosing your fabric, it’s important to think about any other colours that you’re integrating into your day – bouquets, table arrangements, dress accessories etc. Since wedding dresses are traditionally white, for most people fabric colour won’t even be a question. But if you’re torn between, white, ivory, cream, or any unconventional colours for your dress, it’s super important to think about the rest of your colour palette.

Since I’m going for a ’50s style dress, I had already decided that I wanted a big ruffled petticoat. With regards to colours, there’s a couple that I needed to consider when picking out the fabric for my main dress. The petticoat that I ended up going with is the aquamarine petticoat from Doris Designs (these petticoats are seriously GORGEOUS and you must check them out right now!). This will be paired with some lemon yellow shoes (hopefully, since I haven’t yet found any that I want).

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When thinking about the colour of my dress fabric, it was obvious to me that white would end up being the best option. Since the dress is shorter, the whiteness will be broken up with the pop of the petticoat and the shoes (as well as any other accessories), stopping it from feeling like it’s just too much white.

So, if you’re using other colours, make sure to give them some thought before committing to your fabric.

4. The final fabric choice

When I was choosing my fabric, I was thinking mostly about the fact that I wanted to make sure the dress looked bridal. While a ’50s style dress is absolutely what I want, I was concerned that it could easily slip into a summer dress – rather than wedding dress – look. The fabric is totally key to getting that bridal feel. I spent a long time searching around and came across a lot of gorgeous fabrics. For those of you reading this because you’re in the process of making your own wedding dress, I highly recommend taking a look at the following websites for inspiration:

  • Bridal Fabrics  – This site caters exclusively to fabric for wedding dresses. A lot of the fabrics are on the more expensive side but they have an excellent range.
  • Fabric Land – Not as wide a range here, but they have some nice lace fabrics. They also have a lot of traditionally bridal fabrics in non-traditional colours (i.e. not white). A lot of their fabrics are also incredibly reasonably priced.
  • CheapFabrics – If you’re on a budget, this is a great place to look. Lots of choice and all so well priced.
  • Truro Fabrics – Some of these fabrics are crazy expensive and most are not friendly if you are on a budget. But they are super gorgeous, particularly the laces. Definitely worth a look!

But the winner for me was White Lodge Fabric. The more I browsed around, the more I settled on using a brocade fabric. Since the dress is on the short and summery side, I didn’t want to overwhelm it by using multiple fabrics (although I did dither for a while on whether to make the sleeves out of lace). So it was super important that I choose a fabric that looks inherently very bridal without any extra additions. The White Lodge Fabric bridal range is impressively large and reasonably priced. When I came across their Bridal Brocade fabric, I was sold. I ordered samples in both ivory and white but, given that I’m matching to the beautiful aquamarine petticoat from Doris Designs, I decided that white would be the best option for me. It’s a beautiful fabric and I’m SO excited to get cutting!

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I just love it. The pattern, in particular, really adds to that vintage vibe. I’m beyond thrilled! As an extra shout out to White Lodge Fabrics, there was a small mark on one of the selvedges (just running over onto the body of the fabric). They pre-empted any issue by including an extra half metre in my order. Paired with the fact that I paid second class postage and got the fabric in about two days, I think their customer service is incredible. Big thanks to them!

Finally, a little sneak peak of my muslin for you. Since I’ve worked with it simply to ensure that I get the right fit, I decided to make a muslin that I could wear as a day dress. In keeping with the ’50s pin-up style, I decided to go for a navy blue cotton with white polka dots.

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It looks amazing and I’ll be sharing it with you really soon. Plus check back in on Friday for a new weekly series – My Vintage Life! In these posts, I’ll be talking about various aspects of vintage lifestyle and fashion, pointing you towards some great classic films, books, icons, and just generally fabulous bits of information. I hope I’ll see you then!