First thing’s first: if you’re a brideslady in my wedding…
Seriously, leave. Thaaanks, love ya!
OK, now that they’re gone, I can tell you that one of the things I fixated on pretty early in our engagement (and/or maybe perhaps before we were engaged) was what I should get for my posse to wear while we’re getting ready. Is it 100% necessary that we all match? Nah, but I love getting-ready photos, and I think they look especially cute when everyone’s dressed cohesively. (Also, I tend to fixate on details, in case you hadn’t noticed that yet.) Plus, I thought it’d be a nice gesture to let my girls know they don’t have to worry about finding something to wear that won’t mess up their hair when they change out of it.
My first love was the ever-popular Plum Pretty Sugar robes. I mean, they’re so pretty it’s even in the brand name!
However, my goal was to get something that was either (1) relatively cheap or (2) something they would conceivably wear again—and preferably both. I didn’t really see my particular ladies lounging around in colorful robes on the reg, no matter how gorgeous they were. Also, maybe it’s just me, but the robes looked a little short for my comfort, and we all know that the gifts I’m getting for my best friends should be all about *my* comfort. Errrr. Anyway, at $65 apiece, these weren’t exactly in-budget, either, so I moved along.
I could’ve gone for terry- or waffle-knit robes, instead. These were probably more practical options, since the girls could actually use them after showers or while trying out for boxing championships. However, it was less clear to me whether they’d want to do so after coating the robes with their late-August sweat. Yum.
Image via Memento
And then there was the classic button-down. Tasteful and potentially re-wearable…except for the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single one of my bridesladies wear a button-down. So, probably not for these chicas.
And then, one random day in March, I had an epiphany. My infinity dress!
Me in my infinity dress at Mr. Hammer’s college graduation party. And yes, that is a sandwich in my hand, one hour before dinner.
Now, to be fair, not all of my bridesladies wear dresses all that often, so I’m not sure how much wear they would actually get out of an infinity dress. However, at least two or three of them have separately complimented me on this dress when I wear it around them, and they’re cheap and ridiculously easy to make. Plus, you can usually pull them on from below, so they won’t mess up hairdos or makeup when changing. And while it might seem silly to put on a separate dress before your main dress, since these dresses are all made out of stretchy fabric, it’s basically like wearing your pajamas until gettin’ fancy in the middle of the afternoon. Score! (When I squealed about this idea to Mr. Hammer, his reaction was…underwhelming. Hence why I blog.)
When I made my infinity dress, I followed this tutorial pretty much to a T. I liked it because it has a “modesty panel” built in—which was important to me, because if I wore the more traditional infinity dresses that look so pretty on other ladies, I’d be putting on quite a show. I decided to do the same thing for my bridesladies, because the modesty panel can easily be tucked down into the skirt if you’d rather go for the classic look.
Image via trulyYOURSjr
On this girl? Dainty, classy, Grecian, lovely! On me? A whooooole lotta cleave.
The first step was to find the right fabric. No problem, I bought a couple half-off Groupons for my local fabric store and went on my merry way to find the cheapest jersey fabric I could in five different colors. (I wanted each brideslady to have a dress in their favorite color—or at least a color they wear often—since I was already forcing them into gray for the actual bridesmaids’ dresses.) I bought between four and four and a half yards of each, depending on how tall the specific girl was, and was pretty psyched when the fabrics averaged out to about $14 per dress.
People. Learn from my mistakes. What I didn’t know about at the time is that there’s a very big difference between clothes made with two-way stretch fabric and clothes made with four-way stretch fabric.
Two-way stretch fabric is usually (in my experience) cheaper, and (despite the name) it only stretches in one direction. Observe:
A square of this two-way stretch fabric will stretch sideways but not up and down.
Four-way stretch fabric, on the other hand, stretches both up and down, like this:
This means that the four-way fabric will hug your body better and will generally make a more comfortable dress. Therefore, it probably would’ve been worth it to spring for four-way fabric for all my ladies. However, I was young and naive at the time, and bought a mish-mash of fabrics. It’s really not the end of the world if you get two-way fabric—you just have to be careful to cut the modesty panel so that it stretches width-wise instead of crosswise, in order to make sure that the modesty panel will stretch to fit your ladies’ bangin’ curves.
Anyway, lesson learned. Step two was to wash each piece of fabric separately in cold water and air-dry it.
Step three—cutting out the fabric—was probably the most time-consuming part. I sneakily wrote down my bridesladies’ dress sizes when we went to try on dresses at J. Crew and then used J. Crew’s size chart to figure out their rough measurements. With a stretchy, wrap-y dress like this, it’s not essential that you get their exact measurements, but it helps to get a rough ballpark so you can make sure the dresses aren’t falling off them and/or a tight squeeze.
You need four pieces to complete this project:
1.) The modesty panel. I made each of these about 11? tall by [insert waist measurement]” wide.
2.) A skirt. You need two radius measurements to cut the skirt: the waist radius and the skirt length. For the waist radius, I took each lady’s waist measurement and divided it by 6.28, a la the aforementioned tutorial. For the skirt length, I guesstimated how long each skirt should be—again, based on the J. Crew size charts. For example, say one of my bridesmaids wore a 4 petite. According to J. Crew, the waist measurement should be 26? and the skirt length should be 20?. Divide 26 by 6.28, and you get roughly 4?, so the waist radius should be 4?. And the skirt length should be, um, 20?.
3. + 4.) Two straps. I made each strap about 11? wide to make sure they were wide enough to cover the ta-tas.
Once I had my measurements, I folded a piece of fabric in half lengthwise and laid it on the ground. Then, I added the waist radius and the skirt length together and folded one end of the fabric over crosswise by that amount so that the skirt piece would be on four layers of fabric. Then, I marked up the fabric with pins to show where I was supposed to cut. The original tutorial tells you to cut out a paper pattern of the skirt, but um, I was way too lazy to do that. Instead, I measured from the double-folded corner of the fabric with my measuring tape and marked both the waist radius and the waist radius plus the skirt length with pins.
Depending on which direction the fabric stretched in, I divided either the width or the length of the modesty panel in half and used those measurements to lay out the modesty panel along the fold in the part of the fabric that was only folded over once. Because, well, I’m lazy and wanted to minimize the cutting. Then, the rest of the single-folded fabric was devoted to the straps. I cut them so their length was the entire length of the single-folded part of the fabric. You want the straps to be as long as possible to facilitate wrappage.
If you made it through that explanation, congratulations! You now have a PhD in seamstressing. Here’s what it looked like all laid out:
In case you can’t see where the eff the pins are in that lovely, photojournalistic image, here’s an artistic rendering of my layout (“W” stands for waist radius and “S” stands for skirt length):
You’re welcome, America.
Once I had everything laid out, I could *finally* cut out all the pieces along my pin lines.
Then came step four: sewing everything together. I followed the original tutorial verbatim on this, and she does a much better job of explaining things than my hack job above, so you should probably just go straight to the source for this part. (Know that the sewing part was actually pretty easy; it’s just hard for me to explain without photos, and I’m a blogger-fail who was too impatient to take photos at this point in the process.)
Ta-da! Moving clockwise from the upper-left corner, that’s BM/FSIL K’s dress, MOH A’s dress (please excuse the indecent amount of leg in this photo—MOH A is tiny), BM J’s dress (in which I forget what to do with my hands), my dress (in which I get bored with posing nicely alone in my apartment), BM A’s dress (in which I get so bored that I turn my back on you all), and BM S’s dress (yup, still bored). Side note: Is it creepy that I tried on these dresses before giving them as gifts? I’ll wash them, I swear…maybe.
So, there you have it! My solution to the getting-ready-wear “dilemma.” Are they necessary to my or anyone else’s life? Absolutely, positively not. The ladies would’ve looked just as lovely in whatever they chose to wear that morning. What makes getting-ready photos beautiful is the excitement and anticipation (and, possibly, the pukey Nervous Bitch Faces), not the matching uniforms. But in case you couldn’t tell, I’m one of those people who’s happiest when she’s got a project going, and this was definitely a project. And honestly, as complicated as I know it sounds, it really only took me about an hour to make each of these dresses, which isn’t bad for a sewing project. And it should be noted that, while I do have a fair amount experience with my sewing machine, I still have projects that turn out like this:
Is it supposed to look like a hospital gown? What do I do if my dress is trying to strangle me? Is it OK to smack your fiance if you walk out in your latest project and he says, “I can see your pockets!”? I have so many questions.
Therefore, I think this project would be suitable for a beginner-to-intermediate sewer. Now, I just have to figure out how to package them cutely, because right now, they just look like piles of fabric.
Awww, you shouldn’t have!
What do you guys think? If you were my bridesmaid, would you be pumped to get this dress, or would you wish it were a robe—or that your crazy bride didn’t try to control what you wore the morning of her wedding?
- Wychmere Beach Club