A Guide To Making Your Own Wedding Dress

Would you consider making your own wedding dress and bridesmaid dress? 

Only a few years ago, this type of ambitious project only tended to be undertaken by professional seamstresses. But recently we have seen an increase in the number of intermediate dressmakers looking to create their own fabulous one-off couture wedding dresses. And why not? What could be more beautiful and meaningful than a wedding dress that you have made yourself – and could potentially hand down as a keepsake one day.

Even better, a custom wedding dress that you have made yourself really will be the ‘perfect’ dress for your special day. Not only will it fit exactly as it should, but it will be the style, fabric, colour and finish that you have always dreamed of, and have all the embellishments that you desire – or perhaps none at all if you adore simplicity. The possibilities are endless and the artistic potential truly exciting.

Tips for success

1. Allow a good year to prepare

If you have decided to make your own wedding and bridesmaid dresses, then spend a few solid months developing the skills that you will need, from pattern-reading through to cutting and finishing. There are plenty of excellent tutorials online, books, local classes and groups available. We even run our own dressmaking courses led by experienced and friendly experts with a real passion for making dresses by hand.

Once those skills are in place, buy the fabric and allow around 4-5 months before your big day to work on the project bit by bit. You don’t want to feel rushed or stressed; this should be a project to savour and remember in years ahead. If you are considering making bridesmaid dresses too than adjust your timings accordingly. 

2. Express yourself

Find a pattern that you love and then customise it to your own dream dress vision. You could change up the colours, use unusual fabrics and consider embellishments to really express your unique style and personality. Remember to look at vintage patterns too which can often be wonderful in their couture-like shapes.

3. Keep practising

If your wedding dress will be fitted, then you must practice your measuring, cutting and sewing carefully. Make a muslin or toile mock-up in a low-cost fabric so you can see how it fits before you move onto the actual fabric. Unbleached, cheap cotton is popular with our customers for this purpose. If your dress design is complex, you might want to do this a few times until you are really happy. Remember, this might seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it when you come to make your final dress.

4. Be confident

This project can seem quite daunting initially, but you can do it! The trick lies in breaking down every component part of the dress. For example, it might be a strapless bodice, a full circle skirt and perhaps a lace top to overlay. Try making lists with every step that you need to take so that you remain organised. For any techniques that you aren’t sure about, find books or online tutorials for guidance. You’ll also find forums where experienced dressmakers are ready and willing to share their precious knowledge.

5. Enjoy it!

Yes, the project will be challenging, but you should really enjoy making your wedding dress. Make an enjoyable ritual or habit of it when you have quiet time, and create a space where you can spread out your sewing equipment and work without too much interruption. A word to the wise though – don’t attempt to work on your dress while you are watching TV unless it really is a simple task that doesn’t require concentration! Try a podcast if you like background noise instead – as our Grandmothers did with their kitchen radios!

Looking for inspiration

The world of creative opportunity really opens up when you decide to make your own wedding dress. For example, you don’t need to be bound by white tradition. Yes, in the West many brides go for voluminous dresses in white or ivory, but in the East, wedding dresses are red! History also provides inspiration. For example, in ancient Rome, the brides wore long deep yellow veils over complex hairstyles – designed to resemble flames and signify the warmth and light that the bride brought to the marital home. In the Japanese Shinto tradition, brides wear a series of coloured kimonos – often in red, yellow and green. And, of course, you don’t even need to wear a dress at all; a beautifully draped silk trouser suit would look stunning.

Our team at Fabric Direct can also help with inspiration and advice as you begin your projects. Whether you have queries about hoops and underskirts, need a new sewing machine or want to find the right sized seed pearls, we are here for you! Our Aladdin’s Cave of fabrics is a joy for dressmakers and we still sell our silks, satins, taffetas and organzas by the metre. See our huge range of fabrics and colours and fantastic haberdashery department with everything you could possibly desire. You’ll love the excellent prices too!

One final tip? Don’t forget to sign up to our social channels for the latest offers and news – and please do share pictures of your beautiful final creation; we love to see what our customers achieve!

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