My daughter planned her wedding with only six weeks notice from her fiancé proposing till the actual wedding day. Not much notice at all! She wanted a homemade wedding from invitations through to table decorations and favours, this would have been a tall order under normal circumstances but with only six weeks notice we had to get to work. Then she dropped the bombshell that she wanted me to make her wedding dress. I am not a dress maker with mostly my skills laying in hobby sewing. I had never made any kind of formal attire let alone something as important as a wedding dress. I have some sewing experience making fancy dress outfits for my kids when they were little. She assured me it would be fine. She wanted a kind of woodland fairy dress so decided to give it a go.
The dress, shoes and wings all had to come in on a budget of £200 so a very tight budget.
My daughter looked at lots of patterns for wedding dresses but was not keen on any of them, lucky really as I have never used a proper pattern.
The fabric for dress:
top of dress - silk
skirt - satin and voile
lining - silk
ruffles at back - netting
Items for the wings:
swarovsky crystal beads
two 1 inch washers
two round strong magnets
Items for shoes:
pair of ballet shoes
I used a basic mechanical brother sewing machine, scissors, stitch ripper (essential in this case!), marking pen and chalk,
As I made the dress some time ago I will add information on how to make the whole outfit.
Step 1: The Bodice
Note that in all pictures the dress is a little twisted as it was raining heavily on the day and had to be held off the floor :)
Please remember I did not have a pattern or skills in dressmaking so I made up the method of making this myself. I am a novice!
I started with the bodice of the dress. I cut a square that was large enough for the front of the bodice. I held it up against her front and sketched out using the marking chalk where I would have to cut the silk into shape. This was quite hair-raising as the silk was the most expensive part of the dress.
She wanted a particular shape to the front of the bodice which I thought was going to be a challenge but actually was quite straight forward. She is quite busty and the shape she chose helped with the fitting I am sure.
I cut out the shape indicated by my chalk marks and held it up again to check that it was correct.
I pinned in some darts at each outside edge of the breast as this would give it a nice shape. I then cut out a lining to match.
In hindsight I should have made the lining first, or better still a toile, I think they are called, where you make one out of a cheaper fabric first.
I made the back of the bodice in two parts as the dress was going to be zipped up the back. I did the same as with the front bodice and then cut a lining the same.
I sewed the relevant pieces together then top stitched (sew a line of stitches on the front) all along the neck. Then put this to one side.
Step 2: The Skirt
I then made the skirt by wrapping the fabric around my daughter and cutting it down the side. This I then sewed up the side leaving a gap ready for the zip. I made a lining the same size. I basted in the lining fabric to the outer skirt.
I pinned the skirt onto the bodice making sure the gap I left for the zip matched the two sides of the bodice. Then sewed around to attach the skirt to the bodice.
Step 3: The Ruffles on the Back of the Dress
My daughter wanted net ruffles on the back of the dress so I took lengths of net and cut them to size, I pinned them in place and sewed them on. She wanted them to look wavy and snippy rather than straight so we snipped into each ruffle.
Step 4: Sleeves
I then felt ready to try the sleeves. My daughter wanted them so that they had a flared out bit that was reminiscent of a mushroom. I had no idea how we were going to achieve this.
I cut a shape out which is illustrated by the photo.
1. Cut on fold
2. Shape this side to fit with your armholes on your bodice.
For some lucky reason this achieved exactly what my daughter had been aiming for.
Step 5: The Zip
I had been dreading the zip, I had inserted a zip into a pencil case before so I had fortunately left enough fabric to make the folded back edging for the zip.
This was the part where the stitch ripper was really brought into play! I put the zip in around 5 times and had to remove it as it was not quite straight. Gladly I got better at doing it each time. I was not quite happy with it in the end but my daughter said it was fine.
The amount of stress that the dress caused to me was immeasurable. But I am glad that I did it, my daughter was so laid back about it, I am so thankful for that.
Step 6: The Wings
All guests were invited to wear wings, the green wings are the ones we made for the small bridesmaids. For the brides wings I formed a double wing shape from wire, this took a bit of time getting it exactly right. Then stretched white tights over each wing in turn. The bulk of the tights that was formed at the centre of the wings was cut smaller and formed into a small ball which was wrapped with wire. We used epoxy glue to add all of the dried moss, flowers and all extras.
Then I made a small set of silver wings to add another layer onto the wings. I formed the wings with wire, then used jewellery wire and swarovski beads to wrap around the wire. These were attached to the first set using wire.
To attach the wings to the dress I sewed a large washer on the back of each wing, then sewed a magnet onto the inside of the dress in the corresponding place so that they could be removed quickly if needed.
Sadly we do not have a great picture of the finished wings.
The bridesmaid wings were made using net which was painted with acrylic paint and small flowers glued on with epoxy glue.
Step 7: The Shoes
My daughter bought a pair of ballet slippers in her size. As with the wings, we used epoxy glue to attach the fabric flowers, dried moss etc to the shoes to match.