15 hot tips to make you own wedding dress!

Tips to make your own wedding dress
Tips to make your own wedding dress

A couple of years ago I got married, YAY! and I wanted to make my own wedding dress.  I looked around and couldn’t find the exact pattern that I wanted, so I knew I would have to make the pattern and the dress…. A little daunting! And then a good friend told me how her grandma had made her own dress and hadn’t finished it so she wore it down the aisle with pins in it!  This story I knew was going to be me!  So I by a stroke of luck found a very similar dress I wanted in a store closing down in Melbourne after they had been on Project Runway Australia! So I bagged a eBay bargain and altered it to become my dream dress :-)

However I always was a little miffed i didn’t get to make my own dress – however my time has come!  Kind of… My brother is getting married and the always amazing JESS has let me make her dress!  So this is my guide to making your own wedding dress at home.  Even if your aren’t a pro, which I am definitely not!

1.  Find a pattern that is close to what you want.  You may need to use your imagination on how it will look in the white lace number you are wanting, I used a very attractive McCalls bridesmaids pattern from the the 90’s, and both the bride and I are pretty happy with the results.  I brought the pattern off eBay in a bulk pack of a nice older lady Ethel who couldn’t sew anymore.  I got 20+ patterns for $15 and Ethel the dear sent her husband round to hand deliver the goods on the same day! Talk about service, I even got a postage refund!

2.  Make yourself a toile.  A practice run out of cheap fabric, if you are really on a strict budget you could even make it out of your lining.  Cut it out, sew it up (no overlocking), try it on.  Make alterations until it is your dream dress and them unpick it and use that as your pattern when you are cutting out your expensive fabric.  It will take your blood pressure down a bit when you know for sure it is going to fit!  Traditionally the toile would be make out of calico or 100% cotton but I made mine out of poly cotton as it was cheaper and that was the reason we were doing this!  My mum came up with a great idea afterwards, a bed sheet would work well and be cheap!  THIS BY FAR WAS THE BEST THING THAT I DID – DONT SKIP THIS STEP!

3. Be realistic – don’t think you are going to make a dress in a weekend!  You will snap a needle or run out of thread or a million other things, give yourself heaps and heaps of time.  It has taken me about 4 weekends of about 10 hours sewing from start to finish.  You don’t want to be my friends grandma!

4. Buy yourself new machine needles and change them before start sewing so you know they are sharp!  Not sure which ones would be best?  Check this out first – http://www.feathersflights.com/2012/09/sewing-101-sewing-machine-needles.html

5. Buy yourself new pins so you don’t accidentally create a run in the $50m satin or worse silk!

6.  Take off your engagement ring if you are using delicate fabric and/or lace.  We don’t want you to become distracted by the amazing rock and dreaming about how much better it will look with your wedding ring BUT also you really don’t want it to snag the fabric or lace, trust me I know the horror!

7. Practice on the fabric before hand. My tension wasn’t right for lace and it looked terrible, I little turn of the dial and it looked pro!  Its worth reading your book or googling it! Mine went from a 2 to a 1 and it made all the difference. (I have a Janome.)

8.  Learn and practice french seams!  A french seam is when you sew you fabric wrong sides together, then trim the fabric seam and turn it again and sew so that the seams are on the inside, but incased.  A great technique if you are using sheer fabrics and don’t want a nice bulky overlocked seam running down the middle of your gown.  It looks great but also makes to more durable and doesn’t rub on the person wearing it – so very popular with babies clothes.  My mum made her wedding dress back in the 1960’s and used french seams on the whole gown, no overlocker in sight.  Even now that dress is still looking like it has another 40 years left in it and mama can still fit into it!

9. Buy your thread and then fill up at least two bobbins – you do not want to run out and not realise.  Then have to unthread your machine to fill a bobbin! A nightmare – be a girl scout and be prepared!!!

10.  Go crazy and use the good scissors – the sharper the better.  If you have to get them sharpened than do that – this is your dream dress and deserved to be treated with respect.

11.  Try it on and then try it on and try it on again.  If I have Jess with me everyday I think she would be trying it on every half an hour – better to try it on too many times and it fits.  Than think you don’t have time, sew it together and it doesn’t fit so you have to make besties with you unpicker.  Or if your lucky enough use a dress model, if your trying to keep costs down – you can make one like here – http://personalizedfashion.blogspot.se/2010/02/how-to-make-your-own-dress-form.html?m=1

12.  Clear out the sewing room/office/laundry/garage where ever you sew.  Don’t take on any other jobs like hemming you husbands jeans.  I don’t care that you have had them for 3 months – you have worn them un-hemmed for that long one more weekend won’t kill you!  Have full concentration on the dress, changing tension and thread and foot etc is unnecessary things that you could forget to change back!

13.  Enjoy it!  It is suppose to be fun, don’t stress, people will think that you are beautiful even if you turn up in a brown paper bag with a safety pinned hem!  Just give yourself a cut off – mine is 4 weeks before the wedding to have it finished by.  That way you can finish it and enjoy everything else without constantly feeling guilty for not hemming this or unpicking that!

14.  Keep your scraps!  Wedding dress fabric scraps make awesome christening gowns or ring pillows.

15. Ask for help!  Don’t think that you have to come up with all the answers.  I have asked all the girls I work with and my mum heaps of questions of what they would do when this or that happens.  Even if they aren’t big sewers a different approach is sometimes all you need.  When in doubt google it!

16. BONUS ADVICE – when your finished put it away.  You don’t want to be staring at it for the following weeks and either get sick of the sight of it or find all the faults in it.  You did the best you could and you will look amazing on the day – trust me!  Every bride does.  Or make yourself a garment bag to store it in (plastic ones aren’t great for long term storage as the fabric doesn’t breathe) out of sight out of mind! Here is one that I made for Jess if your interested in making your own http://wp.me/p3WXOW-44

Keep on the look out for the dress – coming after the big day on the 26 October!  Wish us luck now I have to make my own dress!  Good Luck if you are making your own dress – let me know how it goes!
Check out how I made the dress here – http://wp.me/p3WXOW-5M


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