by Daughter Fish

“You can do anything you can get away with, but no one has ever gotten away with much.” - Flannery O’Connor, Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose

Since my wedding in the fall of 2009, I’ve regretted not making my wedding dress. Originally I planned to. I had pictures of bias-cut “inspiration” dresses from the 1930’s hoarded on my desktop at work, and I incessantly sketched the dream dress on napkins and the backsides of bills. In the end, though, I just didn’t think I had the time or skill to sew such a garment.

Instead, I bought a beautiful Claire Pettibone lace-and-silk-charmeuse gown at a sample sale, and paid (what I thought at the time) an exorbitant amount to have it altered. Even though it was lovely, I’ve since harbored this animosity toward the dress. I didn’t make it. I should have made it! And I spent too much on it.

Photo courtesy of Annie Easter (thanks Annie, you rock!)

But sewing this bias-cut dress over the weekend has made me utterly happy for every cent I paid for my wedding dress and to the lovely seamstress who did the alterations. Sewing delicate fabrics on the bias is HARD. The seam ripper and I got pretty tight on this project.

I made the dress from a soft rayon challis. It has a wonderful drape and I love the color, but when I started making it from this (beyond funky) 1980 Simplicity pattern, I didn’t realize the skirt was cut on the bias.

In addition to the two darts around the collar that the pattern called for, I removed the lapped front and added three darts along the shoulders for more soft folds, which I love.

Generally, I think my version is a lot more feminine and wearable than the funky/clunky version pictured on the cover of the pattern.

It’s the skirt I have a problem with. The zipper in the back puckers and one of the pockets doesn’t lay flat. And this is all because of the slippery nature of the bias cut. I’ve since ripped out the zipper (about six times) and am going to reinforce it with fusible web to see if I can fix the ripple problem. I’m also going to tackle that errant pocket (yet again!) before I wear this baby out.

The Flannery O’Connor  quote above refers specifically to writing fiction. But I think it can easily be applied to sewing delicate fabrics cut on the bias. You really can’t get away with much.