I love how my wedding dress turned out and I even loved the process of creating it. When it comes to your wedding, you’ll most likely spend more hours planning than the wedding itself so you have to enjoy the process along the way. Same for the dress. You’ll probably spend more hours dress/fabric shopping, driving, and alterations than you’ll spend actually wearing the dress, so just learn to enjoy the process whether you decide to make it or buy it. I decided to write out the process I took to design my own wedding dress in hopes to inspire others to do the same. I don’t know anyone else who’s designed their own dress and I haven’t found any blogs on the subject so hopefully, this blog will help another girl get an idea of what it’s like to design your own dress.
Pros and Cons of Making Your Wedding Dress vs. Buying One:
Before I go into the process, I wanted to list out some pros and cons of making a wedding dress versus buying one. For me, the pros of making my dress way outweighed the cons but it really depends on what you’re looking for and what kind of effort you’re willing to give. Like most things in life, the price is cheaper to do it yourself, but you’ll have to put in more work. For me, this was the biggest reason I decided to make my own dress, the price. Making it was the only way I could afford to get the dress I wanted.
- Cheaper- making your own dress is almost always cheaper than buying one
- Fit- the dress you have made will be made to fit you, no alterations needed.
- No Limits- You can literally make anything so you can MAKE YOUR DREAM DRESS. There’s no limitations, if you can dream it, you can make it.
- Time-Consuming- In addition to fabric shopping, sketching, etc. I also met with my seamstress 7 or 8 times when regular alterations appointments would be probably half of that.
- Not a Glamorous Experience- Most likely, your seamstress won’t have a fancy studio with lighting and fancy mirrors, and pedestals and champagne. In my case, my seamstress operated out of her garage so I was a few steps away from a lawnmower. for me this didn’t matter, but it depends on the experience you’re looking for.
Get an Idea of What Style You Like:
I started off my wedding dress hunt just like most girls do: I went shopping! I went in with a very open mind though. I didn’t bring a list of styles I liked or pictures from Pinterest. I just went out shopping and grabbed dresses of all different styles. I purposely didn’t let the attendant know what a price range was so that I could have the opportunity to try on any dress I wanted. My mom and I went to three places and by the end of “shopping”, I knew that style I liked. I liked the A-line silhouette, delicate straps vs. thick straps, and a sweetheart top. As far as fabrics go, I gravitated toward traditional lace (versus modern boho lace designs) and also loved the flowy look of tulle.
Sketch it Out:
Now that I had an idea of what I liked, I put together my ideal dress. I put took pencil to paper, and I’m no artist, but I sketched together what I was wanting. I had one drawing for the front, and one drawing for the back. I labeled everything too. Pointing out what parts were lace, what parts were tulle, etc. For my specific dress, I wanted to be able to remove the flowy skirt after the ceremony so I could dance freely. I had a separate drawing of how I wanted it to look once it was removed.
Find a Seamstress:
This is probably my most asked question, “how did you find your seamstress?” What I did was call our local sewing store (ours is called McDougals) and ask if they had recommendations for a seamstress. If someone is really into sewing and running a seamstress business, they’ll likely be a regular to the sewing stores and the employees will know their contact information.
Price, Measurements, and Materials:
I met up with my seamstress who worked out of her garage which she converted into her studio. I asked for examples of her work (which was hanging all around her.) I loved her pieces and could see she put a lot of thought and effort into her work. Outside of validating that she is a great seamstress, I was meeting with her for 3 things: price, measurements, and materials. I showed her my ideas of what I was wanting. She took all of my measurements here as well. I was quoted a price of $475 for the construction of the dress and was told to get 1 yard of lace, 3 yards of lining, 3 yards of satin, and 15 yards of tulle. As well as the button, pearl beads, cups, and hooks I was wanting for the removable skirt. The meeting took about an hour and a half but we were chatting in between work.
Buying Your Fabric & Notions:
When it comes to buying fabric, there’s some fabric that’s more important than others. The lining won’t be seen so you can pretty much buy whatever lining you’d like, and tulle is all the same, no matter if it’s $1/yard or $15/yard. For me wanting a traditional lace on the sweetheart top, I wanted to make sure I got exactly what I wanted. I took a trip to downtown Houston to go to our fancy fabric store called, High Fashion Fabrics. It was so fun to look at the aisles of beautiful laces and I think I pulled almost every blot out to examine the designs. The lace with the beading was very expensive, around $200/yard, while the lace without beading could be around $80-$150/yard depending on the detail. After hours (thank goodness for my patient mom) I picked out THE lace seen on my dress. For the remaining fabric, I actually ordered the tulle off Amazon, got the lining from Joann Fabrics, and then ordered a beautiful satin/silk material online.
Update: thanks to COVID, the beautiful satin/silk material did not ship from overseas on time and I ended up purchasing plain satin from Joann Fabrics as a last-minute necessity. Looking back, I wish I had sourced a better silk material instead of settling for cheap satin but it is what it is.
Update #2: I decided to purchase 2 more yards of lace and put it under the tulle for an added texture. I think that’s the cool part about making your dress. You can make it whatever you want it to be and you can change it as you go.
Depending on your dress style, what you “try on” during your first fitting will look different, but no matter what your style, the first fitting will not be very exciting. For me, it was literally just the sweetheart top, almost like a crop-top down to my belly button. There were no straps, no dress, and even no lining. Just the top. For my style, it was important to get that part correct before adding anything else. In all honestly, you need to have low expectations for your first fitting to this blog. I don’t want anyone to get to this step and think they’ve made a mistake and panic. This was a fairly quick meeting in which I paid a deposit (I paid 50% down) and gave her all the remaining fabric that I had to get from Joann Fabrics.
The remaining fittings get more exciting with each visit. The next visit I had straps and lining, then the third I had the satin dress and removable skirt, the fourth we put the pieces all together and figured out the hooks, and the fifth included the finishing details: the pearl beading on the straps and the fabric-covered buttons on the back. It’s so exciting when you finally get to bring it home. And it’s yours to keep and perfectly made to fit you!
There is a lot you can do with the scraps of your dress. I had enough to do a flower girl dress with my scraps which was so cool to have basically a mini dress for my flower girl, Livey. I also had a mask (thanks COVID) made with the scraps. There’s a lot you can do so get creative and ask for quotes.
My Detachable Skirt:
I’ve received a few requests for photos of the dress both with and without the detachable skirt so I’m adding them below!