Before I had a ring on my finger, I had a pretty good hunch that I’d sew my wedding dress. An avid sewer, my Mom made her wedding dress in the early ’70s when she married my Dad, and I always admired her choice to do so instead of buying something from a boutique. Granted, the wedding scene is a bit different today than it was almost 40 years ago, and mermaid style dresses with corseted backs didn’t exist — dress styles were simpler, and having a reception with only punch and cake was considered the norm (oh, how I wish this was the case today). Come to think of it, my mom was definitely an O.G. Broke-Ass Bride!
When the day came and I said yes to my now-fiance, and the initial blur of emotions and excitement calmed down, my thoughts turned to what kind of dress I wanted to wear. I already had a secret Pinterest board of dress ideas before we were engaged (I’m not the only one who did this, right??) to get an idea of current styles and to try to piece together elements of dresses that I liked. What was most discouraging about these dresses, other than the fact that they were significantly more than I wanted to spend, was that the majority of them were made out of polyester. As if! There was absolutely no way I was going to spend $1k (or more in some instances) on a dress made out of cheap polyester. To me, on my wedding day, silk was a non-negotiable, especially after trying on a few itchy dresses at David’s Bridal that made me hot and sweaty. After considering what I would be getting out of my hard-earned money if I bought a wedding dress, I made the firm decision that I would follow in my Mom’s footsteps and make my wedding dress instead.
If you’re on the fence about sewing your wedding dress, definitely take into consideration the following:
- How much time you’re willing to devote to this HUGE project? Of all of my DIY ideas for my wedding, this one is hands down the most important to me. If I end up needing to farm out some projects to my bridesmaids, or if it looks like I can’t make that giant photo booth backdrop of white paper flowers, I need to be OK with that because my dress trumps all. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it’s going to take to make your dress — I’m starting mine now, nine months out from the big day, to give myself enough time so I’m not sewing under (too much) pressure.
- Understand Your Dress Style. It wasn’t until I tried on dresses at David’s Bridal (that’s where my bridesmaids took the above photo) that I felt confident in the wedding dress I wanted to create. It’s one thing to picture how something will look on you in your head, it’s another to actually put the dress on and really see how the silhouette looks on your body in the mirror, how the train moves, etc. From this appointment, I learned that a sweetheart neckline and cap sleeves were something I wanted to recreate in my dress, but didn’t feel comfortable in a sheath-type of fit. Bring on the empire waist!
- Respect Your Sewing Limitations. How confident you feel in your sewing capabilities will ultimately determine the type of dress that you’ll sew and wear for the big day. If you’re relatively new to sewing, it may be beyond your skill level to recreate a fitted strapless ballgown complete with boning, a crinoline and layers of poofy tulle. If you’ve been sewing for a while, maybe you can tackle a dress with couture handwork and intricate draping. Sewing with silk and chiffon also present their own fair share of sewing challenges. At the end of the day, make sure you set yourself up for success with choosing a sewing pattern as well as fabric that will allow you to achieve beautiful results with your current skill set. It’s going to look great!
The thing is, if you have the sewing skills and the determination, a beautiful wedding dress is completely in your reach. Over Labor Day weekend, I found all of my fabric in the Garment District in NYC: designer lace and silk for a fraction of the cost of the dresses on my Pinterest board. I can’t wait to start sewing!