Making my own wedding dress
This time two years ago I was frantically working on my wedding dress. It was such a joyful but equally stressful process. As much as I am proud of the dress that came out of it, I’m glad I won’t have to do it again.
As spring/summer weddings are coming up and some of you lucky soon-to-be brides are making their own dresses, I thought I’d share some (hopefully) helpful advice.
As helpful as some couture sewing books might proof to be, they do not give much insight into the whole shebang of planning and scheduling and of course, the emotional stress that interferes with every single step on the way.
I had just under a year to prepare our wedding and create the dress. I spend the first half planning and organising before getting down to the nitty-gritty of actually making things. All romance aside, it’s quite a tedious, sometimes boring, sometimes frustrating process.
Here’s a quick overview of my rough “schedule” to illustrate this:
10 months left.
Deciding on making my own dress.
Getting inspired (Pinterest helps!)
Narrowing down the designs I liked.
9 months left.
Deciding on silhouette & colour.
Deciding on a pattern to base the dress on & sketching a rough draft.
8 month left.
Going fabric-shopping (probably the hardest part, constant panic).
Actually deciding on making my own dress as I had spend so much money on fabric already.
***Long panicky break of procrastinating with wedding decor projects ***
5 months left.
Drafting, draping, making a pattern. Spending a couple of weeks on making a corset I swapped for a cheap stick-on bra in the end.
4 months left.
Fitting to perfection.
3 months left.
The actual construction of a dress starts.
8 weeks left.
Adding embroidery details.
(Dress finished 3 weeks before the wedding. Phew.)
As you can see, the actual “fun” of sewing together the dress was not happening until 3 months before the big day. My nerves! Imagine not having seen yourself in a dress and it’s already 8 weeks before the wedding. I probably could’ve finished much earlier had I not procrastinated all these months, but don’t forget there’s life that gets in between.
So should you find yourself in a similar position, here’s some advice you might find helpful.
Advice on sewing your own wedding dress:
- Give yourself enough time. Plan for unexpected breaks or getting stuck somewhere in the process or extra trips to the fabric shop, just to name a few!
- Decide on a design early on and try not to change your mind (unless you have huge amounts of extra time, fabric, money and motivation). There will be times of doubt, but they go away again, too.
- Really think about and be reasonable about shapes and textures. Certain silhouettes require certain types of fabrics. Find out as much as you can before you start spending money.
- Stop comparing your dress to others once you start on your project. This is unhelpful, believe me.
- Buy plenty of fabric and then get some extra. This not only helps if things go wrong, but keeps the suspension of cutting into the fabric low.
- Muslin till you drop. Get the fit perfect before cutting into expensive fabric. This saves a lot of time and money.
- Don’t ask others for their opinion (unless you are willing to change your design constantly or you’re able to live with someone saying they don’t like it even before it’s finished). This is important. Trust your style and gut-feeling. You will wear this dress, so first and foremost you are the person that needs to like it.
- Take the time to practice sewing techniques. You will feel much more confident once you start constructing!
- Before you start constructing the dress, make a rough step-by-step plan – especially if you’re not following a pattern with instructions. Structure prevents panic.
- Sew as much by hand as possible. It just looks so much better and gives yourself more control (especially when working with difficult fabrics!)
- Keep your hands and floor clean at all times. No chocolate, no coffee nor red wine anywhere near your fabrics or working surfaces. RULE.
- You can skip pre-washing if you’re working with delicate fabrics you do not feel too confident about (and if you’re planning on wearing your dress only once).
- Find the perfect iron setting using small fabric scraps and mark the setting with a sharpie. Don’t use water/steam when working with silk (= water stains) and make sure the iron is clean (=limestone stains etc).
- Put some fabric scraps in your bag or wallet so you have them with you when shopping for matching shoes, accessories, ties, make-up etc. Take scraps of the lining, too an layer the pieces on top of each other, just as they will be when your dress is done. Adding lining and layers might change the appearance of the colour.
- Do not put pressure on yourself by telling everyone that you’re making your own dress. Do not eliminate the option of buying a dress, should you start to feel uncomfortable with making one. That’s fine, too. But you have to allow yourself to keep that option in mind. Just because you like to sew, doesn’t mean you have to make your dress yourself!
I hope you find this helpful! Is there some really important advice that I missed? Let me know in the comments. Also, I’d love to hear about your process of making a wedding dress.
If you want to read more about my dress and all the work that went into our DIY wedding, check out the DIY Wedding category on the right sidebar. There you’ll find a blog series about my wedding dress process.
Stay in touch!
5 thoughts on “Tips on sewing your wedding dress”
Thanks so much for sharing these tips! I’m getting married in November and a heavy into procrastination mode right now. I’ve been sewing since I was tiny so I’ve always known if be making my wedding dress– now it’s just a matter of doing it!
My husband and I decided to get married quite suddenly (to avoid all kinds of family drama). I had six weeks. Then I got sick. Do I wish I had bought my dress? Never. Do I wish I had some extra time for finishes? Definitely. Did I still look like a fairy princess? Damn right I did. I cannot believe I made that dress, knowing what I know now about sewing and couture techniques. I really just made it up as I went along. I think my lack of research actually gave me more confidence, because I didn’t know about all the things that could go wrong Having said that, I did use the wrong interfacing and that was a big mistake. But the moral of the story is: stick to your strengths, ask for help, and ask questions. But it can be done! Even in six weeks.
$800.00 and 6 months and lots of late nights and full Saturdays working on the wedding dress the last two weeks before the wedding: Things I did not get finished: wanted covered buttons to from wrist to elbow and back neck to waistline -not enough time! Got no buttons on the sleeves and a hidden zipper. Would have liked to have done better: fit the princess seam bodice tighter, it was a little loose. Most time consuming: hand sewing the lace from the waist up – covered the entire torso and full length sleeves and then adding pearl accents. It was full-on princess fairy. The complete disaster that wasn’t: at the photography session the day before the wedding I spilled clear nail polish on the satin skirt. Thinking about my makeup! I resolved to break down later. We hid it in fold for the pictures. Stayed up half the night before the wedding sewing lace over the stain – not planned, but it worked just fine. So, no matter what happens you can probably work it out/fix it/rip it out, be creative and compromise. Would I do it again? absolutely! Good luck to everyone who tries! And keep the nail polish well away from the dress at all times.
Most women today prefer to get a readymade wedding gown. However, there can be nothing better than a wedding gown you create yourself. You have shared this blog to inspire women to come up with their own unique designs for bridal wear. I really enjoyed seeing the step by step progress through pictures you have shared.
What a nice wedding dresses , a great job indeed. Thanks and appreciates your work. Well done.