Maybe a bridesmaid dress after all

Last weekend I finished sewing that black eyelet dress I mentioned in the previous post. I made it out of Simplicity 2886, the pattern I used for the brown dress I posted earlier this month. I had deliberated for months as to which pattern would best highlight the swirly pattern in the eyelet. Should I have it go vertical or horizontal? Is it better in a 60’s pattern or a 50’s one? Since it wasn’t going to be a bridesmaid dress anymore, should it be more casual or keep it fancy? Finally, I just threw caution to the wind and went with vertical and the 50’s pattern, which actually looks more late 40’s after I sew it the whole thing together.

Pardon the wrinkles on the un-ironed fabric.

Cutting the pattern in vertical posed a challenge as it require me to cut the pieces out long-ways on my yardage instead of across. I was also trying to match up the patterns on pieces which always means more wasteful fabric usage. But I think it paid off, as the vertical swirls were totally the way to go and having intentional swirl patterns looks much better than if it had been random.

Taking a nod from a vintage black eyelet dress I own, I added black rhinestone buttons to the bodice to really signify “fancy dress” as opposed to sundress. But wait! Those aren’t rhinestones after all. It’s actually an inverted, jewel-cut indentation painted silver to look like a rhinestone. I didn’t even notice this until I took the picture. Total fakers. I guess the upside is that I will never have to worry about the rhinestones falling out or getting caught on something. It’s actually quite functional in that regard. Pretty funny.

I also adjusted the neckline on this one as the high scalloped collar of the original pattern, while lovely on the brown dress, looked downright Amish as a black dress. I was going for formal, not funereal or puritanical. The straight v-neck is much better on this now.

Never one to miss a chance add pockets, I added one small hidden side pocket on this one. My usual large front patch pockets would have marred the lovely eyelet patterns, so I went with the bare minimum here. Just enough room for a chapstick or phone.

I rushed to finish it up on Saturday as I wanted to wear it out to dinner with the bride and some friends. If not a bridesmaid dress, then a bridesmaid-event dress. After getting stuck in horrible traffic going  into SF on a Saturday night, we made it to the restaurant, met up with the bride and another bridesmaid and, upon seeing my dress, the bride said, “This looks great, you could totally wear this in the wedding!”

So, much to my delight, the black eyelet bridesmaid dress is back on! I’m really excited about this as I loved her black eyelet idea from the get-go and part of me really wanted to stay true to her original vision. Between you and me — and uh… the rest of the entire internet — I had felt sort of bullied into ditching the black eyelet originally. I suspect a lot of people think of eyelet as a really casual fabric nowadays. Maybe even a little corn-pone and costumey. Too many instances of using it in bad community theater wardrobes, maybe? I don’t know why black eyelet is so misunderstood, but maybe that is one of the things that endears it to me so much. While black eyelet has a solid history of being used in more formal attire, unless you collect vintage or are a big fan of old movies, you might not think of it that way.

Thankfully, both the bride and one of the other bridesmaids saw it and totally got what I was going for. With the endorsement from both of them, it’s back on as my bridesmaid dress. Woo hoo!

I tried it on with the shoes I am planning to wear (though I’m not totally sold on these as they are wobbly and not exactly what I had in mind) and a bright green slip. For the wedding I’m either going to wear it with a lavender slip (to coordinate with the groomsmen) or a black one. I’ll also accessorize with a necklace and earrings to fancy it all up. So, Bridesmaid dress: CHECK!


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