Since the bridesmaid dresses were an 18 month project, I've broken this into smaller posts. This is the second, here's the first (summary) post!
Choosing the Dress Design
I modified the typical choose a bridesmaid dress routine—bride chooses a bunch of dresses she likes, bridesmaids tell her which they like/dislike, new ones enter the field, bridesmaids try them on and email each other pictures, etc. I decided to use pinterest for this part of the procedure. I created a shared pinterest board between all my bridesmaids and asked them to pin their favorite dresses with minimal guidance from me. They knew I was looking for short/knee length and not strapless. I did have two other features in mind, but I didn't want to sway them before I got a sense of their tastes. We commented on them, etc., until I felt ready to design a dress. I feel like this was a really good way to choose a dress, and even if you're not designing your own, it would be a good way to make sure you don't choose something anyone hates/that you do choose something your girls will like.
|How to choose a bridesmaid dress|
From there, I drew out a bunch of options and had the girls vote. I combined their tastes with the two features I already had in mind: a full circle skirt and looped straps in the back. I gave them each design along with pictures of the dresses they pinned that inspired it and listed the pros/cons for making and wearing that style. And finally, I ended up combining two of my designs to create the final. Other general features include a slightly gathered neckline and a slightly dropped waist (1" below the waist). I can't find my final drawing right now, but I'll add it later if I come across it.
|Bridesmaid dress options for my girls|
Choosing the fabric was WAY more difficult than I expected. It was really hard to find a good fabric that came in all the colors I wanted. So many fabric sets either didn't have an orange or didn't have a green. I also didn't want to look like a kindergarten classroom--I was going for more of a jewel toned rainbow. I chose a peau de soie/lamour satin from Syfabrics.com after checking out swatches from a few places. In a perfect world, I would have chosen something a little more flowy, but this turned out nice enough. I also ended up going with a pink instead of red in the ROYGBV (I skipped the indigo).
|Fabric swatches-I also considered a red, lime green, and royal blue|
Designing the Dresses
I ended up designing these from scratch. I first based the design on a basic pattern I had made for myself before. I made a muslin for myself, and I collected measurements from my bridesmaids (in all but one case I actually measured them). I more or less wrote out an algorithm to design the dresses and tested it on myself. Then I made a muslin for each girl and fitted it. This was difficult because I only see most of them 1-2 times a year! In all but one case (the girl who measured herself), alterations were fairly minor at this point, so I moved on to the actual dresses.
|Fitting the muslin|
Honestly, getting through the muslin step was the hardest part. Next came the assembly of the dresses!