Designing bridesmaid dresses

Since the bridesmaid dresses were an 18 month project, I’ve broken this into smaller posts. This is the second, here’s the first (summary) post!

Choosing the Dress Design
I modified the typical choose a bridesmaid dress routine—bride chooses a bunch of dresses she likes, bridesmaids tell her which they like/dislike, new ones enter the field, bridesmaids try them on and email each other pictures, etc. I decided to use pinterest for this part of the procedure. I created a shared pinterest board between all my bridesmaids and asked them to pin their favorite dresses with minimal guidance from me. They knew I was looking for short/knee length and not strapless. I did have two other features in mind, but I didn’t want to sway them before I got a sense of their tastes. We commented on them, etc., until I felt ready to design a dress. I feel like this was a really good way to choose a dress, and even if you’re not designing your own, it would be a good way to make sure you don’t choose something anyone hates/that you do choose something your girls will like.

How to choose a bridesmaid dress | Bobbins of Basil
How to choose a bridesmaid dress

From there, I drew out a bunch of options and had the girls vote. I combined their tastes with the two features I already had in mind: a full circle skirt and looped straps in the back. I gave them each design along with pictures of the dresses they pinned that inspired it and listed the pros/cons for making and wearing that style. And finally, I ended up combining two of my designs to create the final. Other general features include a slightly gathered neckline and a slightly dropped waist (1″ below the waist). I can’t find my final drawing right now, but I’ll add it later if I come across it.

Designing bridesmaid dresses | Bobbins of Basil
Bridesmaid dress options for my girls

Choosing the fabric
Choosing the fabric was WAY more difficult than I expected. It was really hard to find a good fabric that came in all the colors I wanted. So many fabric sets either didn’t have an orange or didn’t have a green. I also didn’t want to look like a kindergarten classroom–I was going for more of a jewel toned rainbow. I chose a peau de soie/lamour satin from Syfabrics.com after checking out swatches from a few places. In a perfect world, I would have chosen something a little more flowy, but this turned out nice enough. I also ended up going with a pink instead of red in the ROYGBV (I skipped the indigo).

Fabric swatches for bridesmaid dresses | Bobbins of Basil
Fabric swatches-I also considered a red, lime green, and royal blue

Who got which color? Well, some choices were easy: I told my sister, the maid of honor, that she could be either end of the rainbow, and she chose purple. The others kinda fell into place based on preference/what looks good on which girls, etc.

Designing the Dresses
I ended up designing these from scratch. I first based the design on a basic pattern I had made for myself before. I made a muslin for myself, and I collected measurements from my bridesmaids (in all but one case I actually measured them). I more or less wrote out an algorithm to design the dresses and tested it on myself. Then I made a muslin for each girl and fitted it. This was difficult because I only see most of them 1-2 times a year! In all but one case (the girl who measured herself), alterations were fairly minor at this point, so I moved on to the actual dresses.

Fitting a muslin for bridesmaid dresses | Bobbins of Basil
Fitting the muslin
Honestly, getting through the muslin step was the hardest part. Next came the assembly of the dresses!

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