Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

Help me design a dress for my friend's wedding!

I need help!

I am so excited to be a bridesmaid in my friend's wedding (I've never done it before, and she is also in my wedding 3 weeks later!).  I'm having fun helping her with DIYs and watching both of our weddings develop--they will both be really fun and cute.

She will have four bridesmaids, and we each get to pick our dress in red or orange.  Of course I wanted to make mine, so I haven't done it yet, waiting to see what the other bridesmaids choose.  But I had in mind something full-skirted and retro.  I don't usually wear bright red, but the fabric I bought is BRIGHT lipstick/fire engine red cotton sateen.  Would  make a nice flared or pleated skirt, and I have enough for a variety of bodice options.  I was imagining something like one of these ModCloth cuties...

Or these from Anthro:

Or these from J.Crew, the classic source for classy bridesmaid dresses!

But none of them seem perfect...

I was thinking about a halter, strapless bodice, full or ruffled skirt, or something with a cute self-fabric belt.  A little retro, very classic... but still waiting to see what the other bridesmaids got.  I want to sort of coordinate.

Now the other three have bought their dresses, none of which are anything like what I was picturing...

One of the bridesmaid's dresses is kind of like this, a darker red:

One of them is a dress kind of like the one in this random picture I took with my phone at Marshall's one time, but in very bright red:

And one is this (Helmut Lang?) dress from Nordstrom, totally different than the others...

So now I'm faced with a dilemma.  If I do something cute and strapless or halter or full-skirted, I will definitely be the only one in such a classically-shaped dress.  I'm okay with that, but I want it to be different enough that it's clear it was intentional, but not so different that I don't look like I'm one of the bridesmaids.

I am out of ideas for actual design of the dress.  I have a few favorite patterns I've been thinking about using:

But I still don't really know what I want the final shape to be.  I need your help!!

What would you do?  Post a link to the perfect dress, if you've seen it, or throw in your two cents about bridesmaid coordination!  I would love your input before I cut out the dress!

Update: Here's what I made!


  1. Blame my dialup connection or something, but I can't see the 3rd dress from Nordstrom, so I might be off base, but the other 2 have V-necks or at least a plunging angled neckline. So, if you're wanting to match while still be yourself, you could do something with an angled neckline but a much fuller skirt...kinda like the red modcloth one with the halter neckline.
    I got married almost 10 years ago so trends were a little different. All of my bridesmaids wore the same dress, but they all went shopping with me (how lucky was I that all 5 of my bridesmaids, my Mom, MIL and I were all available to go shopping in the same day!!!) and I let them choose the dress. As long as it was pink or yellow, I didn't care what they chose, as long as they were all reasonably happy with it. I think as long as y'all look similar, it's more important that you are comfortable than exactly the same...

  2. Oh, now I see the Nordstrom one and I see you are right...totally different... In that case, I say go with what you like. If the bride is totally okay with y'all being different, than pick what you want!

  3. OK, here's my two cents. I like the greeny/teal modcloth dress for the tiers and the ruffles, but since all the bridesmaid dresses have completely diff necklines, I think you should go with a strapless top, so that you're all different. BUT I also like the big bow belty thing on the green dress on simplicity 2444. Sooo, of you could modify that dress to be strapless, I think that would look really awesome, with the full skirt, and big bow. I hope that made some sort of sense. I think basically, what I'm saying is that all 3 dresses are drastically diff, so why not continue with different.

  4. What about an infinity dress? then you can decide last minute how to wear it, and get more than one use out of it!!!

    PS you always ask so many style questions, you should check out my blog for ideas! :)

  5. I think the neck detail is nice on the red dress from the vintage Butterick pattern. Maybe if your dress incorporated a slight ruffle it would tie the dresses together a little more (since there's a ruffled neck, vertical ruffle, and pleats on the other dresses). I'm excited to see what you decide on!

  6. The yellow one from Anthro would be awesome. It has the flowy look of the other dresses, and it's just super freaking cute. :)

  7. I really like the bodice on the third dress from the top on the right. It's different and interesting. Could do the same skirt or something different. Incidentally, I really dislike the off-the-shoulder number that one of the bridesmaids chose, although it might look just lovely on her.

  8. Hm... thanks for the tips!!
    Since I already have the red cotton sateen (and red fabric was hard to find, actually!), I need to go with something that works with it.

    Maybe I should do something strapless... or something that I could add a halter to later to make it less formal!

    I would like to make something I can wear again!

  9. The last bridesmaid's dress is way off base. So either attempt (impossible?) to make it look all right..... I'd say either a rounded neckline or a slight sweetheart with straps or no. But I LOVE the tiny vertical ruffles on the blue one, and I think an a-line shaped skirt skirt would tie in better with the other dresses.

  10. Anonymous6/16/2011

    I like the teal dress from ModCloth. I think it'd be super cute in red!

  11. Anonymous6/16/2011

    What about this from Burdastyle as a starting point?


  12. Anonymous6/16/2011

    Hi, I have been reading you blog for a bit and you are so custe and make such adorable stuff :)
    Just between you and me the 3rd bridesmaid dress...yikes ;)
    Anyway I browsed a bit and came up with these dresses. Hope these inspire you.

  13. OMG- I just posted a redo of my wedding dress modified into a bridesmaid's dress. I hope you will give it a look

  14. Anonymous6/16/2011

    My two cents is that everyone else chose dresses that are expressive of their personalities and personal style preferences--you should do the same. The bridesmaid who chose the Helmut Lang is REALLY going to stand out herself, because it's so flowing and modern--why not balance out her uber-modern silhouette with a retro-inspired one of your own? The other two bridesmaids will fall right in the middle!

  15. maybe asymetrical upper part?



  16. Do a halter with sort of an a-line dress. I like the shape of the butterick 5317 but then turn it into a halter dress.

  17. You gave so many choices there but I suggest the designs from Antro. Like the design of the yellow dress. You can change the color.

  18. I love the "marilyn" style one- 2nd row first pic.

  19. I really like the second one from anthro. Maybe add something to the bodice for some interest.

  20. wow you are all going to look SO different, but I think that's awesome :)
    I REALLY REALLY love the teal one from Modcloth with the ruffles and layered skirt. I think it would take your classic/vintage wants and make them a bit more modern to match the others. :)

    Good luck!!

  21. Oh my god, that black dress is...amazing. :-) I wish I could wear a halter dress, I'm a little too flat for that, lol. How about Simplicity 3878? Or one of the Colette patterns? I made the Eclair dress, it's really really cute!

  22. I love the yellow Anthro one, but I've also seen this dress recently, and think it's adorable. http://www.peopletree.co.uk/products/sash-prom-dress/?awc=2382_1308279351_e88ee662ea0e9a57a29610932488e607
    However, it has the same full skirt that you might be trying to avoid.

  23. Anonymous6/17/2011

    I like the Mod Cloth dresses, how about a vintage butterick pattern B5603? http://butterick.mccall.com/b5603-products-13745.php?page_id=371&search_control=display&list=search

  24. I love the retro Butterick 4792. My daughter made it one year in an acid green taffeta and wore it to death. The neckline is so flattering, and the low cut back is sexy.

  25. Simplicity 2444 is so easy to make. I made it last year in cotton for an everyday dress, it fits perfectly. But for a bridesmaids dress you might feel a bit more covered up than the others in that!! Butterick 4792 looks so flattering though. I made a red dress last year from crepe with a cotton lining, strappy with a draped bit at the front and a princess line fit. I might work in the cotton sateen if I could find the pattern for you...

  26. I think if you went with the red ruffled-hem line dress, it would actually pull together all the other dresses the other women chose. I'd go for that one!

  27. Ooh ooh ooh! The blue modcloth one! I LOVE that ruffley top.

  28. I would say you should take some of the elements in the other bridesmaids dresses to keep all of you unified (but unique...is that an oxymoron?). So use the v-neck that the two dresses have, along with the self-belt. As for the last one-which is totally out there, by the way-bring in the unique elements of your dress: the full skirt, the classic look. And maybe so the last bridesmaid isn't completely left out, add a cap sleeve to your dress, so she isn't the only one not bearing her shoulders.

  29. I like the idea of keeping to the v-neck trend since the other 3 (more or less) have one. Someone earlier mentioned Butterick 5603, which has that vintage aesthetic and a v-neck. Shows your style but keeps one similar neckline.

    I can't wait to see what you end up making!

  30. Anonymous6/20/2011

    Two cents here:
    I love the look of a full retro skirt and a fitted sweetheart halter. Lovely, and flattering.

    I can just see it in Lipstick Red. Gorgeous!

  31. I second the simplicity project runway dress with the green bow. But the vintage butterick is pretty spectacular too...

  32. Stephanie6/22/2011

    What about the skirt from your Cynthia Rowley pattern (the one that's kind of like bridesmaid dress #2 from marshall's) with either a sweetheart neckline or the kind of inverted vee like red dress on the vintage Butterick pattern? That way it's still a little bit vintage and you but without too much crazy detail to compete with all the other bridesmaid-ness going on.



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