Introduction: Daughters Fairy Wedding Dress

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:

Wire

white tights

fabric flowers

epoxy glue

dried moss

fabric butterflies

Fabric ivy

swarovsky crystal beads

Jewellery wire

two 1 inch washers

two round strong magnets

Items for shoes:

pair of ballet shoes

fabric flowers

dried moss

fabric butterfly

epoxy glue

jewellery wire

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.

Comments

author
shelle812 (author)2017-01-21

I think your daughters face says it all! She is glowing! What an amazing experience you all shared, making her dress from scratch...I think everything is perfect... I wish though you had included a picture of her invitations...and the bridesmaids with their wings...you left us hanging..hehe

I wish the happy couple a lifetime of love and happiness!

Have an amazing day!

author
LyndaV4 (author)2016-04-14

What you were thinking of the cheaper fabric practice piece is usually made out of muslin and called a sloper. Toile is a type of repeating print in a single color usually against a white background.

Your daughter's dress looks lovely and I know she was thrilled.

author
alisonb (author)LyndaV42016-04-16

Thank you for your kind words.

I just looked up the terms 'sloper' and 'toile' and found some interesting stuff. This is the definition of sloper which I had never heard of before. I quite like the name and I reckon I am going to use it from now. http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2014/03/making-a-slop...

I also found this http://www.burdastyle.com/blog/toile-anyone which explains about toile patterning. I wonder how the word toile became known for a pattern made up in muslin and also for the single colour printed fabric. Interesting stuff.

author

You did such an amazing job and your daughter clearly loves it! Thank you so much for sharing it!

author

Thank you, much appreciated.

author
TwinkletoesKat (author)2016-04-06

Personally not my taste, but you look happy and that's all that matters. Good job for a small budget!

author
alisonb (author)TwinkletoesKat2016-04-06

Not my taste either, but it is what my daughter wanted :) and I tried my best to make it happen, we had fun putting the whole of the hand made wedding together.

author
EvaO (author)2016-04-05

Your daughter looks happy and the dress is beautiful on her. The memories you helped make will be cherished. Good for all of you!

author
alisonb (author)EvaO2016-04-06

Thank you so much, Very nice of you to say :)

author
Pavlovafowl (author)2016-04-04

I think you did brilliantly. Sometimes you just have to throw yourself into these things and often, they are the designs that work out the best. As for the zip, I have three options for this, just in case you get asked to do this again and at short notice! One is that you sew the zip in by hand, often if you look at vintage or older dresses the zips are hand-sewn even when the rest is machined. Two is that you get a zipper foot guide, a really good one, there are a lot of different designs but the simple metal arm which guides your eye to sewing in line with the centre of the zip is really the best in my experience. Furthermore, that you really secure the zip well by hand, so tacking it in down both sides and tacking small stitches that pull the edges of the material together over the zip opening so the whole zip is held tightly in position before you machine sew. On slippery silk I sometimes even sew another set of stitching at diagonals right across the zip as well. Thirdly, even if you think you haven't done as good as job as you would like but the zip functions perfectly well, then you can disguise the wonky stitches with thin ribbon and beads, and make a feature of the back of the dress. I had to do this with my ball gown because it was in a film and I didn't want the fastenings to look modern but this is a simple hack that covers a multitude of 'sins'.

I love your magnet idea for the wings, good thinking!

All the very best from France,

Sue

author
alisonb (author)Pavlovafowl2016-04-04

Thank you for all the zip knowledge, I should have thought of hand stitching in the zip, all I can say is thank goodness for my trusty thread ripper! It would have helped for me to look at other wedding dresses I suppose for me to have picked up ideas like the beading and ribbons to hide stuff :)

I think if I was asked to do this again I would kindly decline, short notice or not, it was streeeeeeesful!

Thanks for your lovely comment.

author
notconvincedgranny (author)2016-04-04

Wait a minute...no pattern, limited experience, and you did THIS???!!!! Madame, I bow to your skill and initiative.

author

Thank you so much, I have always been able to bodge things together, my mum and dad were both skilled makers and I learned at their knee :)

Thanks for your lovely comment.

author
parisusa (author)2016-04-02

Beautiful job! Mom's can do anything! But 6 weeks? What was the rush! Haha. I bet it was the perfect date! Sometimes that is better than waiting a whole year! I hope the couple is happy and thank you for sharing a special part of your daughter's day!

author
alisonb (author)parisusa2016-04-02

They wanted a September wedding and were too excited to wait a year, so we all pulled together as a family to make everything. It was so lovely to have six family and friends sitting around a table making and printing invitations.

author
Thejesterqueen (author)2016-04-02

Very nice job. I thought I had a challenge when my daughter asked me to make her into Snow White 2 weeks before Halloween because like you, I am a hobby seamstress. I couldn't imagine making anyone's wedding dress, but your daughter was great about it and you did a wonderful job. The dress turned out beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing.

author
alisonb (author)Thejesterqueen2016-04-02

There is nothing like a quick deadline to get the creative juices flowing :) Thank you for your lovely comments.

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