Early 35th Anniversary Present - The Wedding Gown Refactor

I originally wrote this post almost 5 years ago, for our 30th anniversary. A reader asked if I could post it here, since my old blog is closed up. So here you go!

30 Almost 35 years ago, a love story began.
June 1 1985
Since that beautiful June day, lots has happened – two sons, two careers, ups, downs, and everything in between that makes up a more or less normal life.

After the wedding, I had my gown preserved, and since then it’s been sitting in a big honkin’ box in the back of DS the Elder’s closet. To mark our anniversary, we decided to go out for a nice dinner. What to wear, what to wear? Well, typical of my style, on Thursday of this week I got the hankering to make a new dress, and a light bulb went off. I don’t have a daughter; I have a big old dress just sitting there. Surely there must be enough fabric to make something new that also is a sweet way to honor the occasion. I started looking through patterns at lunch and found this one.


Pattern Description: From Simplicity’s website, “Misses’ & Plus size dress with sleeve and neckline variations. Individual patterns for slim, average & curvy fit & B, C, D cup size for miss & C, D, DD cup sizes for plus. Amazing Fit Collection by Simplicity.

To add to that, this is an armhole-princess-line pattern. I made the v-neck, sleeveless version.

Sizing: 10-28 with cup size and curve variations for all sizes. I used a 12 at the shoulders, tapering to a 14 D-cup/Average figure for the rest.

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Silk Satin (Similar Here), Sheer Cotton Voile in White

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki serger, Iron, Ham. Shoulder press, sleeve board.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro-Tricot Interfacing, ¼” cotton twill tape, Lampo lightweight mesh invisible zipper, Japanese hand-sewing needles, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Fear Not the Fabric, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? I didn’t use them. It’s a straightforward princess line dress, and I can sew those in my sleep.

Construction Notes: I have to admit that I was very nervous about this project when I started. I didn’t know what condition the dress would be in when I pulled it out of the box.

Fortunately, other than wrinkles from being stored in a box for the better part of 3 decades it was in great shape.

Princess Diana would have been proud
There’s a whole lotta fabric in that train.

My heart was pounding as I started to cut the skirt but I got over my nerves and really enjoyed the process. I was fascinated to see that this dress was really, really well made. I had the dubious pleasure of helping a good friend with her $6000 Vera Wang wedding dress several years ago, and I was appalled at the shoddy construction used – unfinished seam allowances, threads left hanging, and 4mm stitch length. But my dress was beautifully made, with wide seam allowances, hand-sewn lining in the bodice, tight stitching and all seams finished. Not a serger stitch in sight, either.

There was enough fabric in the skirt to make the dress a couple of times over. I cut out the pieces and decided, thanks to time constraints, to underline the dress (the pattern is unlined) with cotton voile rather than create a lining for it. I made a quick muslin to check the fit. I have found that Simplicity patterns run huge on me through the upper chest and shoulders. This was no exception. I started with a 12, and I still had to take about an inch out of the back neck (I used darts) where it gapped dreadfully. I tapered out to a 14 at the bust (using the D-cup pieces) and gave myself a skoosh extra room at the waist (sigh…)

I used twill tape to stay the v-neckline. I hand basted the underlining pieces to the outer dress pieces and sewed it up. I used the serger to finish the facings and the hem. This went together very quickly. Once I sat at the sewing machine I sewed it up in 4 hours from first seam to last hem stitch. Pressing everything properly took the bulk of that time.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a great base piece for any wardrobe. I love the simple clean lines. I love the different cup sizes and curviness options. Hate Simplicity’s fit through the upper chest, but I know about it so I can fix it easily. There’s nothing I dislike about the pattern (other than the aforementioned fit issue). The pattern is beautifully drafted and goes together without a hitch.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would do it again. I definitely recommend it.

Conclusion: I’m so happy with how this turned out. I have enough fabric from the dress left to make a bolero, which I think I will do at some point. I also have all the lace, which would make a nice trim on said bolero. Enough of my yammering, here are pictures…

On Shelley
On me
With the man I love
Gratuitous Hoover Shot - I miss that dog.

So, go get that wedding dress out of storage, and make it into something you'll enjoy now. After all, there's no time like the present.

Happy sewing!