Bridesmaid Dresses: Finishing Touches

This is the fourth of five posts documenting the creation of my bridesmaid dresses. Click here to go to the start.

There were a lot of finer details involved in these dresses than the casual observer might notice. These dresses have a lightly gathered round neckline, a full circle skirt with a rolled hem, a slightly dropped waist (1″ below the natural waist), an invisible zipper with a hook and eye closure at the top, a straight skirt lining for modesty purposes (the bodice is also lined), interlocking straps, and a criss-crossed pleated waistband. 
Working in reverse order from that list…
The waistbands were a PAIN to make. After making one, I realized I didn’t have enough time (or hands) in my life to pleat them all. Hence, a pressing party. I enlisted the help of some lab members (6 extra hands and one extra iron!) who helped me bang out the remaining five in about 4 hours. Each waistband has four pieces—the base (the flat back of the waistband), a back piece that is pleated horizontally, and two front pieces, each pleated horizontally and then criss-crossed. Having two people work on pressing one piece saved many burnt fingers—this fabric conducts heat very well, and trying to hold a pleat in place with one hand while ironing with the other was not fun.
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Pleating party

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Pressing party!
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Pre-pleating party
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Fully pressed waistband pieces
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Finished waistbands
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Finished waistbands
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Front of the waistband

The straps were one of my pre-determined features. Interlocking criss-cross straps in the back. I love how they look. I decided on this style well before I even asked my bridesmaids, but I didn’t mention it until I saw what they preferred, just in case one of their tastes influenced my preferences.

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Invisible zipper, back looped, criss-crossed straps
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Straps from the back
Photo credit: Sean Marshall Lin
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Back of the dresses—interlocking straps and zipper
Photo credit: Sean Marshall Lin

The lining served its purpose and made the dress look good, inside and out. The bodice lining was more or less the same as the outside of the dress with two exceptions: 1) the neckline was pleated instead of gathered (gathering would have added too much bulk and made it much more difficult to create the right size, and 2) I only sewed the darts halfway and basted the rest so the lining had more give. The skirt lining was just a straight rectangle for the front and back with appropriately sized darts at the waist to allow for movement. The reason for this type of skirt lining was simple: some (or all) of my bridesmaids might have had reservations about flashing the entire wedding.

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Left:rolled hem
Right: normal hem on the lining 
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Lining under the dress 
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Full circle skirt with a straight lining to allow
twirling without flashing everyone.
Photo credit: Sean Marshall Lin

My zippers turned out really well, and I’m happy with my hook and eye, too. I sewed in an invisible zipper along the back seam, and I hand-sewed the lining to the zipper on the inside to give it a finished look. I included a hook and eye at the top.

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Invisible zipper (the pins are holding the
straps in place before they were sewn in place).

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Invisible zipper from the inside,
hook and eye closure

There were about 14 feet of hem for EACH DRESS. Lots of hemming! Luckily, I bought a rolled hem foot for this purpose. The back seam caused some problems, but the rest looked really good. Each hem took me about 45 minutes. This fabric frayed quite a bit, so I trimmed it just before hemming.

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Rolled hem
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Rolled hems. Purple doesn’t have the skirt yet.
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Rolled hem
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Rolled hem

Gathering the neckline was easier than it looks. After I designed the bodice based on each girl’s measurements, I just made three slashes along the neckline toward the bust and spread the pattern to add ~3 inches. For the lining, this translated to three pleats, and for the outside, I gathered the neckline to the size of the lining.

Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Gathered neckline, cotton lining
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Gathered neckline
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Gathered necklines
Bridesmaid dress details | Bobbins of Basil
Gathered neckline

Click here to see pictures of the final product in action at our wedding!

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