Betty goes to a wedding

Handmade wedding guest dress

I could find nothing at all for the wedding I was going to in Italy. NOT ONE THING that fit nicely! Whilst bemoaning this fact to my husband he piped up that maybe I should make myself something. So I did. I always like a full skirted dress at weddings and decided to use the Sew Over It Betty dress pattern for my wedding guest outfit, as my previous Betty had gone together quite nicely.


Being a special occasion I decided to go for a pricier fabric than I normally use. I found a pretty Italian silk chiffon from Joel andSon Fabrics. The silk I chose was a remnant piece, and there was just shy of the 3m that the pattern said I needed, but given I had taken up my dress previously I thought I might be able to squeeze it out. As a remnant it was hugely discounted, and I ended up with around £200 worth of silk for about £50 instead. I have to say I’ve been on this site since and when they have sales they really have sales so it is worth a look every now and again.

I really loved the blue and yellow floral design of this fabric. It was perfect for a bright and sunny wedding in Italy....

It was not easy to work with though! I had to lay the pattern out on the kitchen floor in order to cut it accurately, and even then somehow I ended up with something entirely out of shape when it came to hemming. 

I needed another layer under the chiffon as it was so sheer, but struggled to find which one would really work well (and make sure the dress wasn't see through!). In the end I had a lovely conversation with two helpful assistants in John Lewis which resulted in an ivory satin back crepe which set off the colours in the chiffon beautifully. I picked up on the ivory with a belt I already had and ivory satin shoes too.

Full circle skirt in chiffon and crepe


I did need to think a little more carefully about this construction, based on fitting issues with my last Betty and the fabrics I was working with this time around. After having made one Betty dress already and finding it too large I made a toile of the bodice and tried using the size below. In case it was too tight I used a 1cm seam allowance instead of a 1.5 cm. This ended up fitting much better.

I basted the crepe and chiffon bodice pattern pieces together so that I could treat them as one piece of fabric, rather than having a separate lining. This meant that features such as darts were less obvious too. It also helped with the general construction as I was able to work with the super slippery chiffon more easily, and use markings on the satin back crepe. I was worried that the all in one facing might not work out, and there was definitely more bulk than in my first Betty, but it did look quite effective in the end. 

I treated the skirt panels differently and did keep these separate with French seams for the chiffon (which was also seamed up the centre back to the sip notch). When it came to inserting the zip I kept the two fabric layers together for the final stage (sewing the fabric at the bottom of the zip), then moved the chiffon out of the way.

Using the chiffon meant that I had to use a narrow rolled hem for the bottom of the full circle skirt. I had to look around a lot for how to hem this fabric properly! (By Hand London have a good tutorial on sewing curved hems). And then it took a long, long time to hem these skirts as you basically have to sew around the full hem twice for the narrow rolled hem (plus trimming and working with chiffon which doesn't want to press nicely into shape), and another twice for the lining! 

Sew Over It Betty Dress in silk chiffon


Although the finished dress was a success in that it actually came together and was finished properly, it just didn't look as amazing as I thought it would. The satin back crepe was quite thick (as otherwise it would have been see through) but this meant that the bodice became quite bulky. This was not as flattering on my frame as I thought it would be in the end (even though the drawn in waist and circle skirt always helps out). People did compliment, but I think they were mainly drawn in by the beautiful fabric. The chiffon hem also liked to roll up, and needed a fair amount of steaming to make sure that it sit properly. Overall, a nice dress, but just not as flattering as I wanted it to be.

And the hairdresser I went to cut my hair way too short for the wedding. Which did not help at all.


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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