My friend got married last Friday. It was a beautiful wedding – countryside church, fantastic food, and an atmosphere of relaxed joy. I can’t say enough about how lovely it was, so I’ll just leave it at that and show you what I wore.
I don’t have any photos of the venue to share (these pictures were taken outside the hotel I stayed at), but the reception was partially outdoors, partially in fantastically decorated barns, all on top of a hill in rural Buckinghamshire. I have to say I had a little panic when I received the invitation. After all, “April in England” is a three word phrase that doesn’t exactly conjure up images of blazing sunshine. As it happened, we were very lucky with the weather, but when I was deciding what to make, I was fretting over howling winds, pelting rain, and less-than-ideal temperatures . How to look glamorous without freezing?
That’s when I thought about a dress I made for New Year’s Eve – a black velvet Simple Sew Skater Dress.
I thought this dress might just be perfect – apart from anything else, I could wear a thermal vest under it. And of all the materials you can make a smart dress in, velvet has to be one of the warmest. There was one problem though – I didn’t want to wear black to a wedding. The bride wouldn’t have minded, but really – too sombre. Dark green, on the other hand…
I ordered some green stretch velvet from this seller on eBay (they were really fantastic, even when we had some postage problems because of the delivery company), and when it arrived, I knew it was perfect. It is such a rich, beautiful colour. I’ve made things out of stretch velvet a few times, and apart from using a ballpoint needle and a different stitch on my machine, I just sew it like a woven and treat any extra leeway in the clothes as a bonus. I know that’s not the proper way to do it – maybe I will try it with a stretch-specific pattern and be converted. I also wasn’t sure about how to press the seams at first, but I found this article from Seamwork about using velvet super helpful.
As far as the pattern goes… I’ve never been negative about a pattern on this blog before, but I really have to say that I wasn’t too impressed with this one. I have used and been seriously impressed with Simple Sew patterns before (in fact, my most-made pattern is a Simple Sew Zoe – see a wax print version here and a nautical version here). I should also say that my version of the pattern was free with a copy of Love Sewing magazine, and Simple Sew has re-launched the pattern since then, so they might have made some changes.
With those caveats out of the way, I really had to make a lot of alterations to this pattern the first time I made it. I had to do an FBA (which ain’t nobody’s fault but my boobs’), but then I had to lengthen the bodice again afterwards, because it was floating well above my natural waist…. oh well, I thought, I suppose I am quite tall for an English woman (5’8″/173cm), and I carried on. But then I realised the skirt – despite looking knee-length in the illustration – was going to end up absolutely miles from knee length. So I had to add five inches to the skirt. Then obviously the skirt was too wide even for my wide fabric, so I had to do a bit of slashing and overlapping to make it all fit. Phew. Also – at no point in the instructions does it say to sew the side seams of the dress. I’ve made enough dresses that I knew when it needed doing anyway – but I wasn’t impressed, and I think that kind of thing could really throw a newer sewist.
I might have some complaints, but I do think the dress turned out nicely. It is so swishy and I feel glamorous wearing it – plus I love the back V neck and the elbow-length sleeves. I can’t say enough what a beautiful wedding it was, and I’m glad I had a beautiful dress to wear to it!
p.s. Let me address the elephant in the blog post – it’s been eight months since I wrote a post. I don’t even really have an excuse, apart from being busy. For any of you who don’t know, I moved to London a little over a year ago to take a teaching job, and I sometimes feel like I haven’t sat down since. Sewing has been forcibly bumped down my to-do list, which means blogging suffers along with it. Having said that, I’ve been thinking recently how much I miss sharing my makes, and I really hope I can start writing more frequently this spring and summer. Not once a week or anything you understand, but hopefully more than my poor showing over the last year…