Hello lovelies, I’m so excited to share with you the making of my first formal dress. One of my very close friends got married on Saturday and she asked me to be a Mistress of Ceremonies (MC) for her big day. I was so happy and honored as I knew them both separately and as a couple. They have such a beautiful friends to lovers love story and I wanted to look nice and honour their special day and of course celebrate with them, lockdown has been hard on us the last couple of months. We don’t attend enough weddings and I’ve witnessed 2 in the month of August, how very special.
Remember Serena Williams dress that she wore at Harry and Megan’s wedding reception 😍 when I got the invitation back in February 2021, I stared googling “fit and flair formal dresses” and “fit and flair formal dress with pockets” and this dress popped up in the search results. I mean the bright bold skirt was right up my alley and the pockets were a definite winner. I love pockets, regardless that you don’t see them often in evening wear, and they definitely bring out a fun element to a dress. I also know that my favourite silhouette on my body is fit and flair. So this is where my inspiration came from, I knew that the next steps would be to find fabric to compliment this.
Looking at the fabric, it looked like a type of satin, I knew I didn’t want those beautiful but light weight Italian satins because I’ve worked with them before and they were a nightmare to work with. I’ve worked with Duchess Satin before and lately the fabric stores had been advertising a lot of printed duchess satin and had some great specials on it. I saw the above abstract pattern and I really did love it, I proceed to buy 5m of it back in June. So the plan, black bodice and this skirt.
Fast forward to the 16th of August, on my instagram feed I see Danette (@foralllove) and she’s wearing this beautiful 8 panel skirt from printed duchess satin that she bought from Curtain Dream. I was like, actually this is the fabric I want, it will be more cohesive with what I have in mind plus the plain black bodice will flow better. Off I went to their website, and when I saw my final choice of fabric, I knew I had to get it, it was on sale and so cheap. Can you believe this fabric was only R56.95/$3.86 per meter? I bought a total of 5m and 1m plain black duchess satin. My only gripe with Curtain Dream is their shipping is expensive (R135), I have never paid more than R100 for shipping within South Africa, actually I pay at most R80 from most fabric stores around the country. Plus, their rulers are small, my 1m of plain black was 0.95m and my 5m was 4.8m. Am I the only one who measures their fabric when buying online? Anyways I didn’t bother complaining because I was on a sensitive timeline as the wedding was a little over a week away.
When I first saw the Rose Cafe Bustier dress, I fell completely in love, I immediately went to buy it, then I looked at the size chart and the bust went up to 100cm 😭 and my heart broke. Daria quickly heard the communities call to expand on the sizes and now the pattern goes up to a cup size K so more people are included within her sizing. The pattern is accompanied with a YouTube video and this definitely made it easier to follow, I didn’t even bother reading the instructions after I picked my size. I’m addicted to this pattern and I want to make it over and over again. It’s a solid 9/10 for me! Actually for my birthday, I’m planning another dress and expect that I will use this pattern again. For the skirt, I drafted a simple circle skirt so I would get the volume that I wanted.
So from the get go, I knew I would have to create a muslin for this pattern to make sure I fitted the cup sizes correctly and I’m so happy that I did. I clearly didn’t know how to correctly measure my bust cup despite following the instructions, I cut a “size I” cup, this was way too big as you can see on the left cup. They also recommended measuring the inside cup of your well fitting bra, I did just that and ended up cutting “size F” cup. Remember, the cup sizes in patterns for home sewing has nothing to do with your bra cup sizes. Size F was perfect, I loved the fit. For the underbust, I cut a size 14 and had to decrease under bust by 3cm but increase the waist by 3 cm. Overall these adjustments seemed to be enough.
Honestly the sewing was very straightforward, the bodice is interfaced and lined, I didn’t have underwire channeling so you can see my overlock stitches on the inside of the bustier cups. But it looks very neat so not too much to worry about and it was very comfortable. Of course hemming 5m of circle skirt was not easy, even though I started hemming with a full bobbin, I had anxiety of it running out half way through hemming. But I should have known that things couldn’t possibly go so smoothly.
Thursday, I fitted the dress and all was good, zip and length were all fine. Friday evening I try the dress on one last time and the zip gets stuck just after the waistline, my sister and I try our best to take it down and it doesn’t move. We jiggle it for a couple of minutes and absolutely nothing happens, the panic starts settling in! In my panic state I pull just a little too hard and POP! Out goes the zip from one of the tracks and the rest of the zip just splits. Guys if you saw my IG stories that day, I was so close to tears, this is happening at 6pm the night before the wedding. The bride is watching my meltdown on instagram and quickly sends me a message offering help, see her mom is a fellow sewist and made her wedding dress and the bridesmaids dresses, so she’s like let ask my mom is she has a zip for you. This really got me to calmed down, the bride should not be worried about me, this is the night before her wedding, she should focus on herself and relax. Around this time, I receive a DM from Carrie (@cpbcreates) with a link to YouTube (Click here for video) on how to fix an invisible zip. Guys this video saved me from having to unpick everything and adding a red zip because of course I didn’t have another black zip. So I cannot thank Carrie enough! While fixing the zip, I realised that this would continue to happen because the zip was too light, the dress is heavy and fitted. So I decided to add grommets and have like a faux corset closure. This really helped in supporting and stabilising the zip, it stayed put through my MC duties and the after party. Whew, the anxiety comes back just thinking about it😅😅😅
I would just like to say, I have so much support and people are always rooting for me, and something as small as a dress so many of you came through with just encouraging words like “you are sew star Tino, you’ve got this.” to sharing tips on how I could fix the zip. This tells me that if things really got serious, I know you guys have my back. So thank you so much to everyone who reached to me offering help or just an encouraging message. I decided to get ready at my friend Phyllis’s house and while I was getting my hair and makeup done, she was watching Youtube videos on how to insert grommets, guys she’s not even a sewist but she made sure I was ready on time and helped me get into the dress, zipped me up and secured the faux corset. Thank you to the powerful mother and daughter team Amanda (@mandyakamandz) and Enhle (@beauty_beats_by.e) for making sure my hair and makeup were snatched, please support them for your next special event.
Guys, what a beautiful wedding. So much love and happiness filled the day, thank you Andrea and Sizwe for the honour of MC’ing your special day. I loved every minute of it. Even though lockdown curfew cut the fun a little short, we absolutely had fun! From me, Tino, thank you for reading this very long blogpost and here are some pictures of the dress.
Be kind and keep sewing, keep smiling and keep sparkling!