DIY wedding dress – a dream or a nightmare? Anyone who has a wedding in her future and contemplating making her own wedding dress must have pondered the pitfalls of a DIY wedding dress. After all, the internet is littered with desperate bridal tears and fabric shreds of the stressed bride.
However, the internet is also filled with the success stories of determined, challenged, and frankly sometimes, lucky brides who have managed to not only make their own wedding dress but have the dream DIY wedding dress experience.
This post is for us dreamers of the DIY wedding dress – a mini how-to of making the dream from your heart into a reality for the day you will walk wearing it down the aisle of dreams, love and hope.
Ten steps to a beautiful DIY wedding dress
(1) Choose your pattern
The internet abounds with wedding dress patterns and there are also pattern books available from bookstores near you. Take advantage. Consider the season when you will be hosting your wedding, your taste and style, and the sewing skills available to you. You may want handsewn embroidery, but if you’re just a running stitch expert, then please do some rethinking.
Don’t be limited by naysayers regarding body type. There are always ways to work around minor details. What’s important is to choose the dress that you love.
(2) Choose your fabric
This is really important if you’re making a DIY wedding dress. Think about the cost of the fabric, the availability, and how it will work with your gown’s style. Soft draping fabric like silk needs a lot of sewing and detailing if you want a Star Wars Queen Amidala-type of dress. Also, considerwhether you want to wear the same dress to your reception or if you want to opt for something simpler so you can party on your wedding day.
(3) If you love yourself, don’t overdo the modifications
You have your pattern and you know your fabric, but you’d rather shorten the sleeves and deepen the neckline. That’s good. Minor modifications like that are doable. But if you’re going to overhaul a lot of things, just look for a different pattern. In sewing, you move an inch of seam and it will affec tmany other things.
(4) Sew a mock-up
A mock-up is your test-dress. Using really cheap fabric, sew the dress for a proper fitting. Usually people would use muslin, but if your actual dress is made of bias-cut silk charmeuse, then a muslin will not work because it won’t show the drapes and folds of the dress. Go for a cheap slinky polyester that will mimic the actual dress.
(5) Alterations! More alterations! Lots of alterations!
This is a hard part. Drink a shot or two or maybe a glass of wine glass (you can procrastinate and do some of these great DIY wine glasses). This might cause a lot of stress so I suggest not to do this when your stress-levels are alreaady gut-busting or iif you just got into a fight with your significant other.
Have a friend along to help you when you wear the mock-up. Better yet, bring along another seamstress who knows where to pin the dress for a proper fitting. You should also by now see the look of the dress and so any major changes in the design and fabric should be done now. Maybe the long-sleeves don’t quite work out, go change them. If you need to let off a seam, then do it. Don’t delude yourself into thinking you are going to lose those last ten pounds.
Some people do the stitches themselves while the bride-to-be is wearing the test dress. If your friend is a good seamstress, then do it – whatever helps you get a really good fitting.
Take off the dress carefully (mind those pins!) and then it’s time for the major work to begin. Don’t stress yourself yet, we are not there yet.
(6) Paper pattern alterations
Take apart the dress and, if your friend who helped you with the fitting is around, let them help you. Literally put the dress on the paper pattern and then adjust it. All of it. Some of us get lucky and have a friend helping along who is of professional-level, but whoever you have to help will bring peace of mind.
(7) Carefully and with confidence – mark and cut
The first mini-hurdle has been surmounted with the alterations done. I know it’s a lot of detailing and tweaking, but it will be worth it. Now, do this next step stone-cold sober. After the paper pattern has been altered and finalized, this is the point of no return.
When you lay the pattern on your wedding gown fabric, you want to be PRECISE – there wil be no do-over unless you buy new fabric. Remember to lay the pattern the exact way that the grain of the fabric will fall when you are actually wearing your DIY wedding dress. Take a deep breath. Go mark and cut now.
Then, mark the fabric for all the sewing points – the seams, the tucks, the little details that matter so much.
(8) Tacking/basting the dress
You might over-indulge yourself and decide to hand sew your wedding dress but try to resist the temptation. Baste or tack the dress first buy remember not to stitch where the machine stitches will go. You will need to remove these temporary stitches later.
Once the dress has been tacked together, do the final fitting and the last alterations for the dress. Celebrate with coffee or tea afterwards and remember to send out all the wedding invitations. Enjoy the quiet time as you go to the sewing part.
(9) Sweetly lovingly sewing
Like the days of old when sisters or friends enjoy the quiet moments leading up to a wedding – this is this part. Talking about life and love, the wedding and the family. Reminiscing through the years of growing up and finding love or ranting about the stress of preparations. Choosing the menu and finalizing reception plans. Waxing poetic over the lovely colors of your bridal bouquet. These topics are perfect for this sewing time when the love is poured into this labor.
(10) Finesse and details
The finer details will also add more time. A little embroidery, the buttons, the zippers and even the crinolines and underskirts – they will take time. This is also the time when stress mounts as the wedding day gets nearer and nearer. Maybe you need that bottle of red, that tequila or just some alone time with your fiance.
Take your break, but make time for the finer details of the dress. You will have to do a lot of the finishing now and most of it will have to be done by hand. Good luck! Enjoy the wedding and have a happy fulfilling marriage and family life.
11 Real-life brides and their DIY wedding dress
(1) Weightless Wonder
Prudence decided that she was going to make her own diy wedding dress because she wasn’t going to break her back carrying all that weight. Especially as she literally broke hers with a spinal injury a few years before her wedding. Her delightful plan? A full on regalia of a wedding dress for her wedding ceremony, and then taking off some parts of the dress so she could enjoy her recption with less weight. Love can make you float; Prudence’s prudent practicallity made her party a weightless and enjoyable affair.
(2) Crochet Wedding Dress
It may have taken her five months, but Chi Krneta walked down the aisle in her own crocheted wedding dress. What began as a way to pass the time for her daily one hour commute turned into a wedding dress project by chance. For the finishing touches, her husband’s great aunt lent her a loving hand. It’s truly a labor of love and family.
(3) Knitted and Knotted
This hand-knitted wedding dress was born merely hours after Laura accepted her future husband’s marriage proposal. On the ride home, she decided that she wanted to knit her own dress. And why not? Laura afterall is the brains and the knitting hands behind Nocturnal Knits. A lot of thought and help make her wedding dress possible especially from her dude-in-waiting (her brother) and his wife. who helped with other wedding matters while she finished and then re-worked her dress. All in all, it was a stunning success.
(4) Love Story
Imagine depicting your love story on your own wedding dress – that was exactly what designer Kresha Bajaj did. Her traditional Indian wedding dress had panels showing the different milestones of her and her husband’s relationship as a couple. It’s a romantic story embroidered in silk and beautifully depicted in Kresha’s truly artistic wedding dress.
(5) Fairytale Gown
The wedding goal was to NOT buy anything new except for the food and flowers. With a lot of help from family and friends, dancer and clothes-designer Melissa Castaneda recycled a dress she found in a dumpster. Her bestfriend found the coral colored dress and, with her personal touch, Melissa truly made the dress her own with intricate details of lace and appliqué beaded by hand. The addition of piping and hand-sewn rhinestones, and she had turned her dumpster dress into a fairytale wedding dress worthy of news.
(6) Lovely Lace
It took a thousand hours to crochet and put together this Irish lace-inspired diy wedding dress! The silver satin underdress was made by her husband’s friend while our calm bride crocheted the lace blocks that seemed to be unending. With an increasingly fretful wedding entourage and worried family members, our bride kept her cool because, after all, crocheting was something she did to relax and soothe her mind. “I just had to smile and keep going, knowing that the dress would tell me when it was ready.”
(7) Love and Art
Inspired by the sunset, this truly stunning discount-store wedding dress was made possible by the artistic eye and heart of Taylor Ann. She colored the dress so beautifully that she created her very own work of art.
(8) Love Heals
Emily Wharton learned to knit during her first husband’s illness. Fast forward a few years after his passing showed that time truly heals and love is indeed sweeter and more meaningful the second time around. For the first time, her knitting was for something joyous and wondrous – her wedding dress.
(9) Lovely Way
Brooks Ann made a couple of wedding dresses for her (then) future sisters-in-law before making her own. Being a seasoned DIY wedding dressmaker, she knew exactly what she wanted – something simple and knee-length with a touch of vintage. It’s quite easier to be your own client, it turns out!
(10) Love and Family
Abbey took eight months to crochet her unique wedding dress. But guess what? She didn’t do it alone. Her aunt, Jennifer Wollard, who had taught her to crochet when she was 3 years old assisted her in making her wedding dress. It was a true labor of love between aunt and niece, not to mention truly budget-friendly with a $170 total dress cost.
(11) A Style of Her Own
Being a clothes designer helps when you are planning to make your own wedding dress. With 50 hours under her belt, the beautiful dress is as laidback as our bride. After all, being a designer, Dominique already knew she would be making her own dress.
DIY wedding dress tips
Set a budget. Remember, you are not only making your own wedding dress as a labor of love, but to help with the wedding budget. Give yourself an allowance in case expenses escalate, but you have to set the hard limit.
Time it right. Even if you are a genius with a needle, a deadline is a deadline. As the wedding day approaches, the stress levels will increase, so be good to yourself. Give yourself a lot of time to sew your wedding dress because, in the end, love begins with you.
Know yourself. What are your skills right now, not the skills you plan to learn sometime soon. What are your limits? Don’t set unreachable goals. Be honest with what you can and cannot do.