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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beginning the mother of the groom dress

First off it might be useful if you remember who you are dealing with here.

Do not expect to be seeing a dress you yourself might actually wear to your son's wedding, or something you would find in the MOG section at a store, or many iterations of careful muslins and series of multiple adjustments.

I want to make a cheerful dress that I feel comfortable in and then forget about it. 

I have a dog to think about, a granddaughter who wants to learn to sew, and the crab apples on my tree in the front are getting ripe.

Let's face it, mother of the groom is not the main event. 

I figure that I have already done my bit by providing a decent groom and one who will be an excellent husband or his sister and I are going to kill him.

Also I really like the mother of the bride and we are in a mutually supportive situation going into this, so I don't feel any pressure there at all.

That said I do want the guests of they are thinking about my dress at all to think "I can't believe she made that herself" as opposed to "do you see what she is wearing? I hear she made it herself."

So I am putting some effort into this, which includes making a "muslin" to test out the pattern (Marfy does not come with instructions or pictures - which is OK because I never use instructions anyway, even when it is obvious I should).

So what we have here today is mark one of the muslin, made up yesterday.

I pinned the pattern, which comes without seam allowances to some scrap fabric (if you thought I was going to go out and actually spend money on proper muslin then you obviously didn't grow up in rural Manitoba where a person's grandmother used to wrap up and save quarters of left over pancakes). 

I traced around the pattern with a ballpoint pen and added an inch to the structural seams to play around with, half and inch where there was a standard attachment like the collar, and did not add anything for these purposes at the armholes so I could see what it would look like finished:

Now before I show you the muslin here again is the design drawing from the website for this pattern. Having done some sewing on this unit now I can report that when you look at this taken into consideration that the person in the drawing has about 40 years and 50 pounds less going on than I do:

She also did not appear to have gone to her daughter's friend who is starting out as a hairdresser and seems to have an approach to hair cutting that produces a result not unlike letting a rodent chew your head, in spots. 

The real purpose of time of course is to let your hair grow back.

But that is another story and another blog post.

What you don't see from the pattern picture, but you see when you unfold the pattern pieces, is that that diagonal bit is actually a separate piece you sew in, in the picture outlined with ribbon, and the collar ends with this sort of tab that is supposed to be held in place with a brooch.

I have some dupioni and some lace. My plan was to do the insert and the collar in the lace, the collar insert underneath in the silk, but to have the hanging free end of the collar in lace only. The rest of it in dupioni one of my favourite fabrics.

The idea of a matching brooch is beyond me so we will think about that one later.

Here are the fabrics:

Now, delaying this as long as possible, here I am in the first cut, sewn as per pattern, no alterations yet.

I am happy with the bodice, think the collar is cool, but definitely that hanging down piece needs to be in something light.

I have to add enough length to cover my knees so I look dignified and need to smooth out the side seams which always come with a curve at the hip this banana shaped body does not need.

The insert which looks pretty aggressive here in my left over contrast from a skirt I made my mom, is a bit wide and does not have the dramatic swoop the picture has, maybe having a significant difference between waist and hip makes a difference.

The back of this dress does not have back darts and as a result my rear looks like what it is, which is prominent. I have to think about adding darts or just more room at the back. Best not to over fit that part and articulate it maybe.

And I have to curve the back seam so reflect my body.

Feel free to leave comments, including, you must be crazy.

My husband actually said he liked it, although he has been known to tell me that something looks great from the other room behind a closed door.

And on we go.


Virginia at A Sewing Life said...

Nice with the socks, ha, ha! I really like the design on you. It's got plenty going on but in a good way. From the pics it looks like you might have too much width at the back neck.

But what I really wanted to say is that I think you should curve that sucker over your booty. Why not show it off? Prominent is good--it means your muscle mass hasn't headed south. Of course it's up to you, but I like to see a garment fit well in the lower back, and I'm not offended by a non-wimpy posterior.

Angela said...

I agree with Virginia;) Looking good so far.

sewingkm said...

The fit from the front looks great and a couple back darts should correct the excess fabric. You on the right tract and I love the fabric and lace. Karen

Anonymous said...

Amazing dress... Great balance of interest and simplicity in the lines. You look stunning too. I can offer very little fit and construction expertise, my sewing skills being bar snacks to your wedding banquet, but I can confidently say I'd pick you out to hang with over the pattern sketch lady at a wedding reception and think you've totally nailed it. -Janome Gnome

Donna W said...

I think the fit is great! I know that is a muslin but the two colors go together quite well.

Lynn said...

Congrats on being able to show off those arms! Others are commenting on the back needing to be further fitted. Have you considered a "sway-back adjustment?" The one where you pinch out horizontally in the pattern before cutting?

Anonymous said...

Wow, with the negative build up I was expecting something MUCH less attractive; in fact this looks great and seeing it in my mind's eye with the actual fabric, fantastic. I'd like the back with maybe fish-eye darts (is that a thing?) to hug a bit closer, but one does need to sit down at weddings.....so not too hugged in.

I told my husband when he was dragging his feet about a new suit for son's wedding that the function of clothes for the parents of the groom was to make it CRYSTAL CLEAR that they feel absolutely delighted about the wedding. No "they don't love the bride enough to dress up" vibe allowed. Your dress will be wonderfully festive!


Anonymous said...

I thought with the way you were writing it up it was horrible! It's really not that bad. The front looks good but there's something going on with the back. There are upward diagonal wrinkles from ss to cb and some gaping at the back neckline plus maybe a little too much length from back neck to waist. Without a full back shot it's hard to say what's causing some of the wrinkles.


Vicki said...

Yep it needs to be tamed at the back, but overall looking good!

freshcityfarm said...

I think this is an amazing start!!! It's interesting how in the drawing the waist inset looks more parallel to the neckline. Perhaps the wrong side of your heavier fabric would work for that part? And I whole heartedly agree -- show off your awesome backside! You are such a sophisticated creator of amazing garments that this too will end on an amazing note...of that I'm certain!

Anonymous said...

This dress is going to be beautiful on you. The neckline and waist are quite becoming. I know you'll get the upper back fixes and sway back adjustments as a given, but if I could offer one bit of advice, it would be to check the hang of your side seams. Could just be the picture angle, but they seem to angle toward the front of your body which may be causing some of the pulling in back. Congratulations on the pending nuptials!

Marianne said...

Gorgeous, elegant dress!

If your tweaks haven't already fixed this, I wondered if you might also want to change the front armsceye curve a bit to add a little fabric so that you don't have to worry about your bra peeking out.

Great writing about the thinking process involved in our projects. So many things we want or need to do, so many competing priorities. Yesterday I had to set aside my quilting project to spend some time on the phone with my sister. It's all important.

Judi Pinkham said...

Yes the back needs a little tweaking, but the front looks beautiful...makes you have an hour glass figure. I agree with Marianne...the front armsceye appears to be just a tad low in the front. Perfect pattern!

/anne... said...

Part of the problem with the back, as I see it (apart from the fitting issues), is that there's nothing going on there - it would be nice to continue some of the collar or the diagonal panel thingie around the back. Which would also give you an opportunity to incorporate some fitting into the new seam lines :-)

And I'm a little disappointed that the diagonal panel isn't as swooshy as the picture - I'd angle the panel up to curve just under your bust. Why let the drawing have all the fun?

Other than that, great choice, very chic!

Mary said...

Great dress. One suggestion for the brooch idea is not to use one, but rather make a covered button of the appropriate size using the the dupioini fabric with maybe some of the plainest part of the lace over it. You would have to experiment, but ithe might be a nice touch and wouldn't clash with any jewelry choices. Good luck.