Deciding what to wear to a special event is hard enough – Imagine outfit planning for one of the biggest events of your life! Pattern designer Rae Cumbie shares her outfit planning & design process for her role as Mother of the Bride.
It was over a year after I created My Body Model that I put it to good use. Three outfits were needed for my daughter’s wedding weekend and I decided to use my model to work out all the design details.
There were three important outfits required of me: a rehearsal/cocktail party ensemble, a black tie mother of the bride ensemble and a casual look for the post wedding brunch.
I am lucky to have a closet full of clothes I love to wear so my plan was to wear one of my tried and true outfits on Friday to the rehearsal, create a wonderfully dressy ensemble for the wedding, and make a more relaxed top and pants for the brunch. The brunch top seemed like a good place to start.
Planning my Mother of the Bride brunch outfit
I had a silk blend jacquard fabric in my stash in shades of berry with a hand dyed look. I wanted to dress it up with some vintage glass buttons and a small piece of brocade also in my stash.
I sketched a series of tops based on Fit for Art’s Tabula Rasa Jacket pattern (TRJ) and its current variations. These sketches feature a pair of skinny pants in blue faux suede made with my personalized Eureka! Pants pattern.
I love the three-croquis My Body Model pages because side by side I can choose my favorite look.
During the fall as I traveled to 3 Original Sewing and Quilt Expo’s I asked the students in my Curate a Contemporary Wardrobe class to vote for the style they liked best. The votes were evenly split between the 3 styles and I couldn’t decide.
So, I created a second set of sketches imagining a new TRJ variation pattern I had been dreaming about. These three had a fresh, casual energy I liked, so I chose to make the top with the asymmetrical hem and band opening. It seemed perfect for featuring the brocade and buttons without it becoming too serious.
The faux suede pants did not get made in time, but it worked to pair the top with skinny black denim Eureka! Pants so I felt fun and comfortable even though I was pretty tired by the time brunch rolled around.
Planning my Mother of the Bride wedding outfit
For the wedding ensemble, I had purchased a black and silver velvet lace for a jacket and a pleated piece of purple crepe de chine for a column dress underneath. The outfit was inspired by the art deco designs of Mariano Fortuny which I have long admired. As a bonus, it would be the perfect base for a black and silver necklace I wanted to wear.
The fabric had a border on each edge which would become the hemline of the jacket body and sleeves. That meant it had to be cut perfectly, placing the pattern pieces along the scalloped border for the perfect length.
This inspired my sketching. What were the best sleeve length/hem length proportions for this ensemble? My desire was for a 3/4 length sleeve on a below the hip jacket over a floor length dress. It was so helpful to do these sketches to establish the final proportions.
As is my habit, I drew the outfits in pencil on a blank paper laid over my 3-model sketch page, with the croquis outlined in black marker for ease of tracing. Then I began coloring them for a more informed perspective. It quickly became apparent the middle view was my favorite. The dress looked long compared to the jacket and the sleeves were long enough for winter but short enough to see my grandmothers watch.
My friend Edye had me put on the shoes and the partially made dress to measure the jacket and sleeve length based on the sketch. These measurements were easily used to adjust the jacket pattern so I could cut accurately. Read Wedding Worthy Tabula Rasa Jackets on the Sew! Let’s Get Dressed Blog to see more about the pattern work, cutting and sewing of this jacket.
I felt comfortable and confident all weekend long and My Body Model informed the design and pattern work so each outfit worked!
Planning my rehearsal dinner outfit
I will close with a 3-sketch page of the outfits I considered for the rehearsal/cocktail party. All three outfits were already in my closet, but again, the sketches gave me a fresh perspective.
I chose the grey Japanese brocade Tabula Rasa Jacket with tapered black Eureka! pants. The bride was wearing a top I made recycling my mom’s wedding gown. Choosing the lighter colored jacket seemed like the perfect complement to the beautiful bride who I never wanted to upstage!
Rae Cumbie is Creative Director at Fit for Art Patterns whose three core patterns yield one great wardrobe. Her coaching, blog posts, Threads articles and Sew News fitting column encourages stitchers to sew successfully: adding fun, comfortable, fabulously fitting, artful and creative additions to their wardrobe. Catch her blog, Sew! Let’s Get Dressed at fitforartpatterns.com for everything from basic sewing to artful inspiration.