A couple of months ago, when I helped my friend Daniela with her beautiful handmade wedding dress and the various little crisis involved in such a massive project, I had absolutely no idea that I might face the same questions a few weeks later! Well, here I am and having said YES (and being a sewing addict) I’m faced with a bunch of decisions to be made.
The first big question:
WILL I MAKE MY OWN DRESS?
For me it was a definitive yes from the beginning. Here’s why:
- Sewing my own clothes has made me super picky in regards to fit, style, fabric quality and finishes. How will I possibly manage to find a ready-made dress that ticks off all these criteria and doesn’t cost a fortune? It’s hard to control all these factors and stay within the budget if you buy a dress of the rack.
- I’m a big fan of couture and try to use as many techniques as possible when making garments. Having the opportunity at trying my hand at making a full on couture gown is just too tempting. It’s the perfect excuse to buy all the lovely, expensive fabrics I wouldn’t buy otherwise.
- The thought of having a super unique dress that is 100% my style and then being able to say: ‘I’ve made this’!
Looking at it realistically, it is simply sewing a dress. I’ve sewn many dresses and most of them were pretty wearable. So why not?
The next step:
PLANNING THE DESIGN
Every sewing projects involves quite a few decisions you have to make before you start. What garment to you want to make? What style and pattern? Fabric? Colours and prints? Embellishments?
I started by looking at loads of dresses, especially the ones by my favourtie designers. Pinterest is a big help. I basically pinned everything I liked. At this point I thought I’m never going to make it. I just couldn’t make up my mind.
Silk taffeta, silk chiffon, tulle, lace, satin? Embellishments? Sleeves or straps or neither? Ballgown, A-line, mermaid, empire? Short, long, tea-length? Oh, and then there’s not only simply white dresses! This struggle is real, people!
It took me about a month to realise that you really have to narrow it down to “the one” before you can start. This is the hardest, but most necessary part I think. After looking at dresses for over a month I had formed a pretty clear idea of what I liked and what I didn’t like. I dismissed some old ideas and picked quite a few of my favourite dresses.
Some of you might disagree with the idea, but I sat down with the Mr himself and tried to narrow it down to a few styles that we both liked. In the end this was the most helpful thing to do. Seriously! I wouldn’t want to spend months making something that he might hate in the end. Our tastes are quite different and in the end there was only one that we both loved. (Yes, loved, not liked! Liking, in this case, just isn’t enough!)
So we took all that we liked most of the design we picked and added some of our own touches and details we liked on other dresses. We made definite decisions on fabrics, colours and so on. The Mr is really good with making final decisions, which helps a lot. Nothing is worse than making a decision and starting to question it again and again. Make it, stick to it. The sewing process is flexible enough to change little detail here and there if something doesn’t work out the way you planned it.
SHOPPING FOR FABRICS
First, I set a budget. The budget will also guide you when shopping for fabrics. Chiffon or silk chiffon? Satin or silk satin? Tulle or lace? This is not only a design question but also a question of costs.
If it comes down to the pennies, you might want to sew a muslin first, to see how much fabric you really need.
Also, go with your guts. When I went fabric shopping, I only wanted to get fabric for the muslin. I found the most gorgeous, perfect fabric in the end. I knew that I would regret not buying it and then spend loads of time finding something similar later on. The fabric was just within my budget and I went ahead and got it that day. It’s super scary but a relief at the same time.
Apart from buying the fabric and fabric for making a toile, I haven’t progressed any further yet. We’re moving into a new flat soon (finally!) and I’ll wait until I have my dedicated sewing space back before I start working on the pattern.
Have any of you made your own dresses? Any advice you’d like to share? And those of you who decided against it, I’d love to hear why!
Stay in touch!