Making my own wedding dress

Wellyboots6 Posts: 2,735 Forumite
edited 29 August 2023 at 4:40PM in Weddings & anniversaries
I think I may have slightly lost my marbles!

I have decided to make my own wedding dress as I can't find anything anywhere that I like. Only I can't sew!

I have signed up some private dress-making tuition, and she is going to help me design and make the dress.

I am hoping that in the long run it saves me money as I can then make my own clothes with my new skills.
We are also going to be using recycled, second hand clothes for the fabric etc.

Is this a really bad idea?!


  • gardengull
    gardengull Posts: 117 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I think it sounds like a great idea, if you have sufficient time with everything else you want to do. If you have the funds, you can always as for more dress making tuition as you go along.
    Good luck!
    Whoops there goes another year, there goes another pint of :beer:
  • Bean83
    Bean83 Posts: 248 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I think it sounds like a lovely idea, as long as you have left yourself enough time! If it were me, I would want to aim to have dress finished and ready months before the wedding, so that I had time to sort out a plan B if it all went horribly wrong!

    I decided to make my own jewellery for my wedding, having never made any before, and it worked out fine - I have made a tiara for me, and earrings, necklaces and bracelets for me and my bridesmaids. Not quite on the same scale as making a wedding dress, but I really enjoyed learning a new skill and I think it adds that extra personal touch to the wedding.

    Best of luck!
  • redsunglasses
    I think it sounds like a really lovely idea but it's great that you have someone to help you if you've never sewn before!
  • Evil_Olive
    Evil_Olive Posts: 322 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 17 July 2014 at 3:46PM
    Hi Katy721,
    I'm making my own dress too. :)
    I'm quite an experienced dressmaker and have made things like prom dresses and a friends (fairly simple) wedding dress before but have still found it a big challenge compared to anything I've done in the past. Not to mention more nerve-wracking!

    But with the help of your tutor I can't see any reason why you can't do it! You definitely will need that tutor though on a project like this. And, as others have said - aim to have it completely finished several months before the wedding just in case. I would also allow 2-3 months minimum for making it so that you can go easy.

    Keep your nerve, but be prepared to recognise if it just isn't working and you need to go to plan B - You can always try again after the wedding with a project that doesn't have so much emotional investment. Also sewing is a bit like being a musician - some people just don't have that thing, whatever it is, that makes them good at it.

    Thinking back to when I was a beginner, I have some tips for you.....

    Choose a really simple design with few darts/fitting lines/constructional details and make it fabulous by using a gorgeous fabric or embellishments rather than a complicated cut. It's more likely to be flattering and fit well then too. Designs with sleeves set in to an armhole are more difficult than sleeveless designs or designs with cap or raglan/dolman sleeves

    For the main body of the dress, choose a sturdy fabric with a stable weave and good 'body' that keeps it's grainline well and doesn't fray too easily. Also one that isn't too 'slippy' (like velvet or thin shiny satin)

    (your tutor can probably help with suggestions for the above)

    A couple of things I learned with my own dress...
    I chose an all-over beaded taffeta, and, while it looks beautiful, I cannot overstate how the beading racked up the difficulty level and added many more fiddly preparation tasks just to get it to feed through the sewing machine - So I would suggest you avoid all-over beading for the main body of the dress at least.

    Taffeta also has no 'give' whatsoever so the fitting had to be A1 perfect to avoid ugly wrinkles - not a task for a beginner and quite difficult even for me. Even with my 30 years of experience, I almost gave up & bought a dress and there was a lot of stress and panicking! so I'd avoid taffeta too :D.

    Get more fabric than you need - at least by a yard, then, if you completely f**k up you can cut new pieces if necessary (if I hadn't done this I would have had to abandon my own dress as the fabric I used was discontinued and I had to cut 3 completely new skirt panels due to me being dumb!)
    Which segues nicely into...

    Check, check, and re-check that everything is correctly laid out/matched up etc before cutting or starting to stitch.

    The bust is the most difficult area to alter/fit so, if you are different sizes top and bottom, use a pattern that fits your bust properly and alter the waist/hips if necessary.

    A boned bodice hides a multitude of fitting sins and putting the boning in is quite easy to do.

    Don't skimp on the preparation stages, fitting, marking, tacking/pinning, staystitching or between sewing pressing - this will often take up more of the making time than the actual cutting and sewing and can be tedious, but will make it so much easier to sew and give a much better finish. A good dressmaker needs oodles of patience and concentration.

    There's nothing wrong with feeding the fabric through the sewing machine slowly if you get a more accurate sewing line that way.

    No matter how careful you are you will still probably end up having to rip out and redo some of your seams - I still do this all the time :D

    Use decent equipment - Poundland stuff won't 'cut it' (did you see what I did there ;)

    Use beginners 'cheats' to get difficult or time consuming effects. For instance, if you want buttons all down the back - put in a zip (easier and quicker than buttonholes or loops) and then sew buttons on top that don't actually do anything. There are lots of things like this - tell your tutor what you want to do, and she may be able to suggest easier ways of achieving that effect.

    Lastly, at some point, you will probably go through a stage where you hate the sight of the damn thing, wish you'd never started, question your choice of design/fabric/colour and think that it looks/will look awful on you. This can even happen when you've finished it - a bit like you sometimes don't enjoy a meal as much everyone else because it was you who had the hassle of cooking it.
    This is completely normal, either power through this stage, or leave the dress alone for a while before going back to it. If it's finished, hang it out of sight for a week or two and then try it on again - you'll probably love it again :)

    and feel free to PM me if you think I can help.
    Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. They are broke!
  • bellakitten
    bellakitten Posts: 11 Forumite
    This is really brave! If I could sew I would love to design my own wedding dress. As others have said, make sure you have enough time and guidance and I'm sure it'll be beautiful!
  • Wellyboots6
    Wellyboots6 Posts: 2,735 Forumite
    Wow Olive, thats awesome thank you!

    I wanted something really plain and simple, and thats why I decided to make my own as everything I have seen so far is too 'weddingy'! I am hoping that will mean it is easier to make, although I suspect it will also mean that mistakes show up a lot more...
  • Evil_Olive
    Evil_Olive Posts: 322 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    katy721 wrote: »
    I am hoping that will mean it is easier to make, although I suspect it will also mean that mistakes show up a lot more...

    Possibly.... but on the other hand mistakes will be a lot easier and less fiddly to correct on a simple cut, you'll be less likely to make them in the first place and any you do make are likely to be less serious.

    One thing that will make a difference on a simple cut - especially on a long skirt with straight seams - is that beginners often find it difficult not to get crooked or wiggly stitching lines.
    Use scrap fabric of a similar weight and texture to do a lot of practising on getting your seams straight (or smoothly curved where there are curves)

    When I first started I actually used to spend ages measuring in from the cut edge and actually drawing in the stitching line on the wrong side with a soft (7B) lead pencil (and a ruler on straight seams). Took ages but gave me a definite line to follow with the needle and it really worked. If you try this, be sure the marks won't show when finished though.
    Don’t try to keep up with the Jones’s. They are broke!
  • Modgepodge
    Modgepodge Posts: 64 Forumite
    You're very brave...I do sew and haven't considered sewing my own dress for even a minute. I have made many dresses and tops, and they've been simple snd made of easy to sew fabric like cotton. It's not easy. Also wedding dresses tend to be made of harder to sew fabrics like chiffon, silk, satin etc...have you told your tutor your plan? Expect it to take far longer than you expect, and cost far more than you expect too!!

    When is your wedding? I've been sewing just over a year and have made 20+ garments (a lot I think for the time scale) and I wouldn't touch this project with a barge pole. If your wedding is any less than a year away, or you don't have a job so can spend ages perfecting your skills....I'd advise against it! Unless you literally want a simple cotton dress I guess.

    Sorry this is so negative, it's lovely that other people have been supportive but they either don't sew or are clearly experienced. I'm in your situation but a year on hence I thought I'd comment...
  • Wellyboots6
    Wellyboots6 Posts: 2,735 Forumite
    Wedding is in March next year.
    We did some designing yesterday, and she is helping me choose the easiest ways of doing things.
    I'm not overly panicked, as if it doesn't really work then I can always buy one. I'm not looking for anything huge or fancy as I am not really a 'dress' person!
    Mr Me also works away quite a bit, so its a nice project to be getting on with whilst he is away.
  • atolaas
    atolaas Posts: 1,143 Forumite
    Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    It would be lovely to see it when its finished...would you be able to post a pic? (I do realise that its a long way off finished...or even started just yet!) I think that's its a fab idea to make your own dress..good luck to you xx
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