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Two Dresses and a Wedding

July 1, 2011

In the last few posts there has been mention of the wedding my husband and I attended in Oxford, Mississippi. This was my first trip to the South, and I was excited to spend some time in a new place and experience a new culture, because really, Colorado and Mississippi are two very different places.

On the drive from the airport in Memphis to the hotel in Oxford we must have passed a dozen or so ‘Historical Markers’, reminding us of the long history of the area- us Westerners get excited about things/places/buildings that are more than 75 years old. The town of Oxford was adorable, and quickly had us imagining our alternate lives as long-time citizens of Oxford in good community standing (I was a librarian, my friend Alison a nurse, my husband a farmer with sheep and goats…). Most importantly, we got lots of good time with good friends and watch two people I love get married.

I was well aware that Southern traditions dictate attire that it a bit dressier than I’m used to- I joked with friends that my husband and I were packing everything we owned that wasn’t made of a high-performance, sweat-wicking fabric- and so I might need to add a few more items to my wardrobe. We met the groom while living in South Africa and he quickly became one of our closest friends, as well as a partner in crime in buying yard after yard of brightly colored, traditional East African fabric. Each time he had visitors from the US he would have some traditional clothing made for them, and he himself has become famous for his dress shirts and suit jackets made from the stuff- a westernized spin on traditional dress. So I knew that I had to make a dress using some of the fabric we had picked up in South Africa to celebrate him and his wedding (and because I’ve been wanting to make a dress using some of it for a long time). Plus, since I’m in the midst of a Year of Handmade, I wouldn’t be purchasing anything new to wear.

I chose to use a BurdaStyle pattern- Heidi (#6106) for dress number one. Every time I make something from the BurdaStyle website I swear I will never do it again- it burns through an entire print cartridge in order to print at home, takes hours to assemble and cut out the pattern, and gives little to no instruction for assembly. But then I get seduced by the up-to-date, fashionable designs and end up spending $5 to remember why I dislike using their patterns. This time was no different.

It was also part of the learning process in figuring out how to sew for my body shape/size, as I realized that I might need to start using a pattern size smaller for tops than I do on the bottom, and then do some tricky math/sewing to join the two together. I’ll be going back in to alter this dress to make it much smaller on the top so I can get a better fit. I also need to switch the snaps I put on the belt for hooks, as every time I laugh (which if you know me, you know I do often) the snaps dramatically snap open and fling my belt at nearby party-goers- a little bit embarassing.

Since we most certainly live on a budget and I feel a little bit guilty about the stockpile of unused fabric I have in the closet, I started thinking a little bit creatively about what fabric to use for dress number two. That’s when I remembered this bridesmaid dress I still have hanging in the closet:

Since I don’t have many opportunities to wear a full length gown with a train, but currently had the opportunity to use up plenty of fabric that such a gown would supply, I decided to chop it up and re-purpose it to wear to the wedding. I used Simplicity pattern 2406 by Cynthia Rowley. I’ve been admiring those cute little peep-shoulders in the sleeves and I really liked the open back.

The pattern was simple and straightforward, except for the pockets. I have no idea why they have you do the pockets that way (sewing the pockets together and then sewing them into the dress), and next time I’ll most certainly be putting in pockets the standard way (by sewing them to the front and back separately, then sewing front to back). It feels so darn satisfying putting that fabric to good use and this was one of my first projects in quite sometime in which I did not sew the dress to the tablecloth as I was making it.  I only got one shot of the finished product at the wedding:

I skipped the sash and wore a skinny, copper-colored belt instead. The true highlight was just before the wedding when I ran into the groom’s sister and made a joke about how we were wearing matching dresses. It wasn’t until I saw her walking down the aisle that I remembered she was in the wedding. Which, in case you didn’t catch it either, meant that I matched all of the bridesmaids. Oops.


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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Soraya Allies permalink
    July 4, 2011 6:22 am

    Wow Alicia, you’ve got talent!!! The two of you look stunning:-)

  2. July 23, 2011 2:28 pm

    YOU MAKE DRESSES?!! WOW! and you look amazing. and I love the dresses. and that you matched the bridesmaids.

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