Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Homemade Wedding Spectacular!

Since I began sewing at the age of four, I have wanted to sew a wedding dress--most importantly, MY wedding dress.

After a whirlwind romance in December and January, the love of my life proposed to me on Valentine's Day 2011! We planned on an August 10th wedding. I had six months to make my wedding dress, three bridesmaid's dresses, four men's vests, and four bow ties--I had plenty of time.

cutting out the muslin test dress
Soon after our engagement, put the ideas in my head onto paper--or fabric, as the case is. I combined two patterns together and cut a test dress out of muslin (pictured, right). Then, I got mono (seriously), and was too tired to do much schoolwork, let alone sew a dress. So my wedding dress was put on hold until the summer.

I spent my last spring break of college (aka March 2011) traversing Paris, France with four girls and a professor from my school, working with church planters. It was wonderful! Nicole, who lives in Paris, knew I was engaged, and took me to buy wedding satin! IN PARIS! I had an idea of the design I wanted, and I found the perfect fabric and the perfect gathered ribbon in two different stores! I was ecstatic!!! 

Fabric and ribbon purchased in Paris
The fabric and ribbon were each 24 Euros, which was about $60 total--well under by $100 goal! My mom told me she had $350 set aside for my dress and things, but she used it to help with food instead. I was so proud of my frugal and beautiful shopping!

We printed save-the-dates in April. Just before we sent them out in early May, Parker got a job offer! And some of our friends offered us the apartment above their house for a reasonable rate. My husband-to-be had a job and a place to live--what was stopping us from getting married sooner, we wondered? One of my sisters--and a bridesmaid--would be in Colorado in June and July, so the wedding had to be in August (as planned) or . . . May? (gulp) We wanted to get married sooner, but could I make everything in three or four weeks? After praying about it, we decided to try. I quickly made and sent invitations, and tried to focus on my finals--the whole time wanting to make my dress!!

As it turned out, I was catching up from being sick until the last day of finals week--two days before graduation! I intentionally left all of my sewing supplies at home during finals week, so I couldn't  work on that instead of finals. I graduated on May 14th . . . and the wedding was on May 29th--TWO WEEKS AWAY! Yikes! But, guess what? I did it.

Two of my lovely sisters--the only sisters at home, and also my bridesmaids--helped cut out the vests, bow ties, and some of the bridesmaid's dress pieces while I was taking finals. I decided to focus on my wedding dress first, before I made anything else.

Quickly, I sewed those muslin pieces together, fitted it to myself (with the help of my dressform--best purchase I ever made!!!), and cut it out of the Parisian fabric. Then I tried to figure out how to make sideways pleats (my idea). It could have been done in months, but not weeks. 
pinning the bias strips

Instead, I cut 2-inch bias strips (fabric cut on the bias doesn't fray!) of the satin and pinned those on the dress (pictured, above right). Now THAT looked good! I decided to make all the strips evenly placed diagonally, instead of gathering them in the bust and hips, as I had planned. This was much easier. 

sewing the bias strips
Then I sewed the strips on the dress (pictured, left), overlapping 1 inch over the previous strip. This was a quick process, especially since I am a fairly experienced seamstress--it took about 2 hours, maybe less. The dress still fit and looked nice. I was about halfway done, and the rest was a breeze!

middle flower at left hip
I took the pretty gathered ribbon and draped it on my dress, which was on the dressform. I used the ribbon as the right-side strap (the strips went over the left shoulder to make a one-shoulder-dress look) and pinned it diagonally across the bust and torso, ending at the left side hip. 

lower right flower
Then I brought the ribbon from the point at the left hip down across the bottom of the strips, to the lower right side. From the strap, I pulled it across the back, also meeting at the left hip. With the extra ribbon (I had the perfect amount!), I made two flowers--at the left hip and lower right side--and traced the top of the dress. 

After I sewed the ribbon to the satin, the outside of my masterpiece was done! Whew! 

The lining took about an hour, then I put in the zipper and put it on to wow my family :) They loved it!
My finished creation!

My mom--also a seamstress--said she would hem it for me, so I left it on the dress form for another week and a half.  We all ended up being so busy that she hemmed it the night before the wedding, but everything worked fine and the dress looked great!

cutting bridesmaid's dresses
Without a break, I turned my attention to dresses and vests. The sister who had started sewing a bridesmaid dress was gone for a few days, and while she was gone I made the three blue vests for the groomsmen. 

all three sisters at work
When she got back, she sewed on the vest buttons for me, as well as finishing the little bit of slip stitching. Then she finished cutting out the bridesmaid's dresses. What a trooper!

My whole family helped with this wedding :) While my older sister and I finished up the bow ties and dresses during the second week, my younger sister made up the programs (all of us pictured, right). They are so wonderful!

Several things were made the day/night before the wedding--namely, my veil and Parker's bow tie. The veil was easy, though: gathered tulle sewed to a ribbon and tied/glued to a comb. I finished Parker's bow tie around 10pm--and tied the bow ties on him and one of his groomsmen (they stayed in our guest rooms since they lived so far away) and sewed those into place (men don't know how to tie bow ties).

Though we worked to the last day, my maid of honor had her fitting two days before and got her dress at the wedding, and the programs were still being finished a few hours before, the wedding was lovely!

Was it crazy to sew a wedding in 3 weeks? 
Do I remember anything from that month? 
Not really.
Would I do it all over again? 
Maybe--I like challenges.
Was it worth it? 


  1. This is beautiful...both the end resulting dress and the story. Thanks for sharing it. I think it is lovely when a couple knows they are meant to be together and then commits through marriage sooner, rather than later.

    Wishing you many blessed years together.

  2. This is amazing! Great Job! Beautiful dress!
    Blessings to you all.

  3. Amazing! What a beautiful dress - - and to be able to make your own wedding gown...just adds that much more to an already special, special day!

    Empty On the Inside
    Dough, Dirt & Dye

  4. Thank you :) It definitely was special--in part because of all this!

  5. Amazing! What beautiful work :-)

  6. So beautiful! Ah, I hope to make my own wedding dress someday.

  7. This homemade wedding spectacular is simply beautiful. I really loved it. Thinking of making a similar one for my sister’s wedding. It will be solemnized at one of local wedding venues NYC. This is a surprise gift for her. Have to see her reaction on receiving it.


Your thoughts are precious--please share them!