Self Assembly Required

DIY dressmaking + crafts with Emily

A self drafted wedding dress

Many years ago I promised my sisters that should they ever get married, I’d make them their wedding dresses. I don’t think I ever quite imagined actually making them though! But when my little sister got engaged I knew I had to get my wedding dress designer/ maker hat on and get on with it!

To get a starting point for the dress, we went to a bridal store and tried on a ton of dresses. (I acted as the bridal consultant and had my “Say yes to the dress” moment… 😂). We wanted to see what kind of style would work, as well as if she was a lace/ sequin kind of gal.

We found one we all loved – a high neck White by Vera Wang gown with a dramatic racer back. It reminded us of this Stella McCartney dress that Megan Markle wore for her reception…

So we took that as our base and I went to sketch out a few ideas! And this is what we came out with…

We were umm-ing and ah-ing over whether to make it a two piece (like the sketch) or not. In the end, Jess decided on a proper dress – she’s a lot more traditional than we’d thought!

With that shape in mind I got to drafting!

We’d sent Jess on a personalised dress block making class about a year ago (it was this one at Ray Stitch) with the idea that that would be used for her wedding dress as well as for her own personal use. She’s a dressmaker too so I knew it would be useful regardless! She came out of that class with a dress block that fitted well and would be the perfect starting point for her wedding dress.

I made three toiles of the dress before deciding it was ready. Each one was tweaked a little more to get the fit just right.

(This was toile 2 – almost there but not quite!)

Once I was happy with the style lines and fit, it was time to make it!

I then spent some time deciding on fabrics and we went with:

– a silk-viscose velvet for the bodice (picked up from the DP Studio Open Day sample sale…)

– lined with a cotton

– a polyester crepe for the skirt

– lined with a bemberg cupro lining

The different linings were to help balance the colours of the main fabrics. Though both “white”, the velvet had a slightly more yellow tone to it.

I debated whether to splurge on a silk crepe for the skirt but in the end decided against it. All the samples I got were really lightweight and I wanted something heavier so the train would fan out nicely. (Also I didn’t think it was worth the expense for a dress that would be worn once!)

The next step was to sew the dress and it was a complete nightmare!

I didn’t expect the velvet to be quite as shifty as it was. Cutting and sewing it was much more difficult than imagined. I tried all the tricks I could think of: backing it with silk organza, hand basting all the seams, using loads of pins/ using no pins, sewing through backing paper. I ended up just using a walking foot and going very slowing but it was a very frustrating process.

Once that part was done though the rest came together pretty smoothly!

I hand stitched a beaded belt over the waist seam to finish it off and with a good steam it was done!

I think it turned out pretty well and very close to what we had envisaged.

I don’t think it was perfect – I hope it’s just me that noticed the flaws though! – but Jess looked amazing on the day and I’m so glad I got to make this for her!

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