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My Dress Parade Part 2

Long Sari Dress TopIn August I wrote about my crazy plan of making my own wedding dress. I achieved this dream by simply sewing many dresses, just as Tanya Whelanβ€˜s bookΒ β€œSew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time” explains.

After my dress parade, part 1 showcased my first two trial dresses, I am now presenting dress No 3 and dress No 4. Make the runway free for the two sari dresses of my dress-making journey!

Making a Dress from a Sari

The idea of making a dress from a sari I had several years ago. When you live in the Arabian Gulf the Indian subcontinent is not far. Unfortunately, I have never been to India, but the influence of migrant workers from the subcontinent on public life in the Gulf Region is very present. You can feel it everywhere! The food, the spices, the music and so much more!

I have always had Indian colleagues for example. And some of them also introduced me to the Indian culture and the different types of sari fabrics. They could tell from the type or color of the fabric from which region in India the sari came. I found this fascinating! But I do not know enough about it to make this a topic of my blog. πŸ˜‰

Long sari dress detailWhen we went shopping together to buy sari fabrics, I used to choose according to the prints or colors I liked. The region or Indian state was not so important to me as everything was new anyway.

This particular Sari however I have bought on my own a few years ago in Abu Dhabi. It was when I first got my sewing machine. Back then I also had the idea that I wanted to make a dress out of a sari.

However, sewing something out of a sari is not that easy. The fabric width is smaller than that of normal fabric bolts. Using it in the usual way with a pattern for sewing a specific piece of clothes makes not a lot of sense. Saris have border prints on both ends of the fabric width. Plus there is the elaborately decorated end that you drape over your shoulder. And the other end that you can use for making a matching sari blouse.

Thus I needed to improvise quite a bit… πŸ™‚

Practicing Various Types of Pleats

The main skill I wanted to practice with this first sari dress was a pleated skirt. So I decided to stick to my basic bodice and not change the pattern of it at all. I cut the fabric for the bodice from the ‘blouse end’ of the sari.

The general issue I had with this sari fabric was that it was super transparent. It would not work – neither for the skirt nor for the top – to use without a lining underneath. For the skirt, this was not so difficult, but for the bodice, it was quite a challenge.

When you make a bodice you can basically choose between finishing off the arm holes and neckline with interfacing (what I had done so far) or using lining for the whole top. When attaching lining all the seams are closed to the inside of the two fabric layers. This way everything looks super clean outside and inside. But this was not possible here due to the transparency of the upper layer. I needed to find some middle ground between what Tanya Whelan describes in her book and hiding my seams towards the inside of the dress.

And I managed! πŸ™‚

The final dress looks really nice and I wish I had worn it more than twice. It is a dress for which I did not have a lot of opportunities to wear it so far. πŸ™‚

Experimental Dress Making

Back side of short sari dressWhen I was done with this first sari dress, I noticed that a sari really is quite a long piece of fabric. There was enough fabric left to make another, shorter dress. I hadn’t touched the beautifully decorated other end that is supposed to go over your shoulder.

So, I measured and experimented a bit with different options to cut the pieces for the bodice (not necessarily following the rules of cutting along the grainline). And I came up with a solution for having a bodice with a back zipper nicely accentuated by the gold leaf print of the sari blouse end. πŸ™‚

This dress is also based on the basic bodice, but I changed the shape of the neckline and moved the zipper from the side to the back. In general, I find back zippers easier to sew. Unfortunately, dresses with back zippers are not necessarily easier to wear… or to try on…

My poor husband was quite busy during my dress-making journey with closing my back zipper whenever I needed to try on a dress. And I am trying on my dresses a lot when I am sewing them. πŸ™‚

Also, the skirt is slightly different. Instead of standard pleas in one direction, I decided to use box pleats. I simply love box-pleated skirts! In this case, the pleats all have the same width and are evenly spread around the waistline. Something I would change for my next box-pleated skirt.

A Conventional Way of Fixing a Little Mistake

The waistline was also where I had a little issue on the back. When closing the zipper both sides of the waistline do not meet at the same height. This could have been fixed easily by undoing the waistline on one side and correcting it to be on the same height. But everything else matched up so nicely. I honestly was afraid to mess it up. Because it is a border print, I wanted to ensure that the print would match everywhere else and especially at the lower edge of the skirt.

So, I remembered what I would have done in such a case when I was sewing haute-couture as a child for my Barbie dolls. I just made a matching gold sash to tie around the waistline and hide my mistake. This gave the dress the final little touch that it needed and I was pretty happy with my second sari dress in the end!


What do you think about these two dress options? And how do you like my little solution to correct my mistake at the waistline on the back? Let me know in the comment section below.

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