Special Wedding Guest Outfit using Colette Pattern's Macaron

Sewing your own dress for a wedding; wedding guest outfit using Macaron pattern with a sleeveless sheer yoke.

The real deal this time.... a proper outfit for an occasion that lots of people were going to. This was the first time I was creating something specifically for an occasion, and specifically for something I would normally invest a good deal of shopping time and money into. This time I would be trying handmade, bringing together some of my favourite elements from dresses I like into one special outfit.

I had bought the Macaron pattern especially for this family wedding after being inspired by Dixie DIY's version for her very own wedding. I like the idea of using a sheer yoke and more luxurious fabrics. I had made one dress already to test out construction and fit, so this second Macaron was good to go. For this dress however I made some alterations that I did not apply to my first garment… which made things a lot more difficult than I had bargained for.

Fabric

The fabric I selected for the main body of the dress was a mink coloured Prestige Crepe from The Fabric Godmother at £15 per metre. I was specifically looking for a more romantic style, and was also avoiding colours that I knew were part of the theme (who wants to look like a wannabe bridesmaid?) and not clashing horribly either. This crepe was new to me as a fabric to use in dressmaking. It was easy enough to cut, and stitched well too, but does fray. When pressed it doesn't tend to stay in place as much as other fabrics I have worked with so far but I have to say it is quite forgiving when it comes to being unpicked!

To make this Macaron feel more like an occasion dress I used more delicate materials for the contrasting elements, all in ivory. The yoke was a sheer organza trimmed with ivory silk satin bias binding. As I really wasn’t sure what kind of fabric would do the job and yet not be too delicate to last I went to MacCulloch and Wallis for advice. The ladies in the shop were incredibly helpful and also worked out exactly how much I needed based on my descriptions. I took away more than they said I needed, knowing I was likely to make a mistake (fortunately so as it turned out). These again were new fabrics for me, and were easier to work with than I anticipated. I used sharp needles and lace pins which helped a lot too.

I also used an ivory duchess satin from John Lewis for the waistband contrast…I nearly always wear a belt of some kind so it made sense to sew it as part of the dress in the first place! This is also how the pattern is intended really too so I chose the closest (non-see through) match I could find to the bias binding. Finally this dress is lined with ivory premium lining, also from John Lewis. I knew this was not really necessary but seeing as this dress was for an occasion I wanted to go the whole way to create a high quality garment. The lining had the benefit of finishing the bodice nicely on the inside so the organza was not able to creep up, or be visible from the front. (Plus it meant the dress swished brilliantly on the dancefloor!)

Macaron sheer yoke and lining


Pattern and Instructions

As this was my second Macaron I felt comfortable with the pattern and the construction now. It was the alterations I made that made this pattern more complicated to sew this time!


Alterations

I altered the pattern pieces for the yoke to take account of the sheer fabric and bias. I no longer needed a seam allowance at the neckline (no facing) so reduced this by 5/8 inch at the front and the back. I also traced a back yoke with darts already folded so I wouldn’t have excess material at the back of the dress (darts would not look good in the sheer organza). I set aside a big chunk of time for attaching the bias binding thinking this would be what created the most problems for me, and I didn’t want to restart a whole dress because of this! As it turned out I had to redo all of this...but more of that later....

I did run into issues attaching the front bodice and top yoke because I was attaching a lining, and using a standard joining technique (I didn’t want the topstitching feature for this as I don’t think it is as elegant). Deviating from the pattern made it difficult to work with the sweetheart neckline. I got there in the end but am still convinced there is an easier way of doing it. I tacked the yoke to the bodice, then pinned the lining and stitched all three together. Seams were trimmed and understitched to the lining.

Sewing your own dress for a wedding; wedding guest outfit using Macaron pattern with a sleeveless sheer yoke.As you can see I also constructed and attached the lining as a separate element to the shell of the dress. I did consider interlining but did not feel confident in doing this successfully. As both materials were fairly delicate it did not create any difficulties around the darts or pleats. It did however mean that there were some issues where it joined the waist band. The lining and waistband seams needed a lot of persuasion/pressing to sit nicely, and this created a lot of bulk around the zip area which made it a bit more difficult to do the dress up (not terribly, but more of a considered approach was needed).

The biggest issue I had was with the top of the bodice and the yoke. Because I had switched to a sheer fabric you could now see down the dress (not a good look no matter how nice the strapless bra might be). This then meant that I needed to reduce the gap at the side seams. I used a safety pin to mark where the seam needed to fall in order to make sure that the dress was snug enough not to reveal underwear and stitched this line. It was quite a large adjustment, which then had to be followed up through the yoke to the sleeves. The good news was that the bodice was close enough but the sleeves were then way too tight. To the point that I needed help to get the dress off because I couldn't raise my arms at all.

Disaster.

Off came the yoke.

I was so disappointed. I had managed to attach the bias binding quite successfully (small snag with the ending part but not really noticeable). I had also worked out a nice pleated sleeve instead of a gathered one as I thought there was no way this would work in my fabric (with my skills). And got the hang of French Seams too. All this had to be removed, and there wasn't really a way of salvaging it. At this point I thought I might have to start completely over again for the whole dress.

Sewing your own dress for a wedding; wedding guest outfit using Macaron pattern with a sleeveless sheer yoke.

So then I left the dress and came back to it the next weekend.

The main body was still quite useable, and did fit so I didn't remake this. What I did do was to remake the yoke as a sleeveless item. Luckily I had overbought on the organza and the bias binding anticipating some disaster. I kept the same pattern adjustments as above for the front and back yoke pieces. I did not reduce the seam allowance at the armhole to allow for bias instead of sleeves as my shoulders need a more forgiving line! I french seamed the shoulders and sides, then attached the binding to the armholes as well as the neckline. The I painstakingly (it felt) reattached the bodice, again, and understitched to the lining, again.

I then went through some final touch ups; removing areas where my marker pen was still visible, restitching pleats that were coming apart, trimming the waistband seam allowance and giving it a good press. The hem of the lining was machine stitched, and the hem of the main dress was slipstitched to be as invisible as possible....

Sewing your own dress for a wedding; wedding guest outfit using Macaron pattern with a sleeveless sheer yoke.

And they lived happily ever after...

I did receive a lot of compliments about my dress (before people knew that it was handmade!) which was so nice after the hours that had gone into it. I was apprehensive about wearing a handmade dress to a big event but needn't have been at all (there really was an emergency sewing kit in my handbag in case the whole thing popped apart). I knew that nobody else would be in the same outfit and felt comfortable knowing that it was made to fit me, in a style that I liked. Even being able to sew in a 'belt' meant that I didn't have to worry about losing that either. I was glad in the end that I had taken the time to line the dress as it definitely presented a more polished item, even if it had made it more difficult than it needed to be!

This was definitely the most challenging make I have taken on so far. If I were to make this again I would switch the zip from the side to the back, and make the back yoke into a deep V instead as I think this would be much easier to construct and alter to fit. I would also think about a different way of adjusting the top of the bodice so that it doesn't show my underwear, but is a little less snug. (Saw this after I had made it but not sure if it would work here). Please let me know if you have a better way of doing it!!!
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Hi, I'm Laura. Welcome to my journeys with modern, feminine dressmaking and delicious food.
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