Introduction: Upcycled Dream Wedding Dress & Accessories
A thousand dollar wedding dress any modern Cinderella would be proud to wear- semi-homemade, simple yet elegant, green (recycled) and free...wait did I say free? Stay with me folks and I'll show you how to turn thin air into your dream dress like magic. All you need is this instructable and a bit of magic. Follow these steps and you can turn a free outa fashion dress into the dress of your dreams!
Step 1: Find the Dress
So after you've found the man that loves you it's time to find the dress you love. There are thousands of shops that sell last year's fashion at rock bottom prices. However, I think saving a really doomed dress kinda poetic. Check out craigslist.com or freecyle.com and post that you'd take any dress. I ended up with this one from the 80's.
The poor little dress was thrown into the garbage when a kind woman came across it and decided it was too beautiful to end up in a landfill. When I posted I wanted an old dress on www.freecycle.com she responded. About five sizes too small and the polar opposite of what I imagine my wedding dress, I took it anyway. It's a beautiful silk dress with yards and yard of fabric, nearly 50 pounds of silk and pearls! Next step designing the perfect dress.
Step 2: Design Perfection
An older dress has many flaws but also character that can give you ideas. I imagine crisp clean lines with just a hint of embellishment. I also dream of a billowy gown that grazes the ground as I walk down the aisle. How romantic! That simply wasn't the 1980's high shoulders full length sleeves encased in beads. So I went to work drawing a very simple picture of what I did want.
My sketch isn't pretty but it's just a reference. It gave me an idea of what I wanted and what I had. I needed to turn this dress into a slimmer gown with a corset top and no long train.
Step 3: So What's the Plan?
Once you have your dress laying in front of you think of how you could alter it. Measure and buy patterns if you are new to sewing. Even if you've never used a needle before you can make your own wedding dress this way!!!
Figure out what needs to change. For me I had three main jobs (See next step for how I did it)
1) The old bedazzled with pearls top needed to be removed completely.
2) The long train needed to be carefully cut off and the extra lace sewn on the back of the dress.
3) A new corset top need to be made from the discarded train.
In order to do this I needed a pattern for the corset top. Patterns can be found online or in fabric stores. Once a year Joann's has a sale for $1 patterns. My corset pattern was originally $16 but since it was on-sale I paid a dollar to make a top for another dress. Patterns are reusable so ask your friends if they have some or your library. You can find a pattern for free easy! I just happened to have one in my closet.
Step 4: Sizing Up the Dress
The first thing I decided to do was cut off that long train. But for the life of me I couldn't figure out where to cut. My friend literally stepped in for me. As she wore the dress I pinned where the dress touched the floor. Afterword I spread the dress on the floor and measured from where I pinned to the waist to make sure it was even.
Step 5: Cutting Up Someone's Wedding Dress
There is something odd about cutting a beautiful old dress. I thought about donating it somewhere but honestly no one wants it. I saved it from the landfill. If I didn't use it now it'd just stay in my closet till I threw it out. I imagined how it'd look finished and-snip-snip-snip. There was no turning back. Side note: You only get one shot at this so measure and check twice!
First I cut the top off and discarded it into a limbo bag (in case I needed something from it later).
Then I cut off the train. I pulled out my pattern and placed the pieces on the train. I cut out my pieces and put them aside.
Afterword, I cut the extra lace from the leftover train. I pinned the lace to the bottom of the gown (where I cut it originally). You may not need to do this but I did since it has lace. Your pattern will outline exactly where to cut.
Step 6: Putting Back the Pieces
Now I had a mess of beads and silk that looked like a wolf got into it. It looks chaotic but one little step at a time!
1) I pinned the corset together as my pattern suggested. I tried it on and repined where it didn't fit just right. Then I sewed it together.
2) I sewed on the extra lace to the bottom of the dress where I originally cut it.
3) I sewed the corset top on the gown.
Step 7: Bonus: Clutch, Veil & Shoes
Now a great bonus is the extra fabric.
Cut a square piece of the tool (the netting material under the silk) and add a few flowers (mine were from the original huge veil) and pin onto your hair.
I searched my closet for a pair of shoes I love. Why buy white shoes for just one day? Instead I added a cluster of pearls from the discarded beaded sleeves onto my old shoes. If you want you could splurge on some nice shoes! After all, your dress is free!
For inexpensive favors I whipped up eight photo clutches for family and friends. Google "Clamshell" purse kit and purchase printable photo fabric from any craft store.
1) Select two photos per clutch and print on fabric paper.
2) Glue extra dress fabric to outside of clutch. On the inside glue the fabric photos.
3) After allowing fabric to dry, glue the sides to the frame.
4) Add embellishments such as ribbon flowers, etc.
TIP: For photos ask your bridesmaids for photos of their wedding/family/etc. That way they'll be able to reuse the clutch as a special occasion purse or treasure it as a memento.
Step 8: A Dream Come True!
Like magic the dress was done! While I did my dress in little steps, an hour here or there, you could probably do it in a day if you wanted. Without spending a penny I have my dream dress.
And if you really want to be Cinderella consider donating your dress to charity after you wear it. The Bridal Garden takes one-of-a-kind dresses and raises money for needy kids in New York. Walk down the aisle in your one-of-a-kind designed creation, tailored to perfection and the inner beauty of charity shinning through!
Talk about leaving your spouse speechless! With the money we saved we put that toward sponsoring a child through Child-fund International. She is fifteen and a huge joy to have in our married life (our penpal overseas). https://www.childfund.org/
This dress can be tailored to fit any person regardless of age, size, gender or type of event. My husband was pleased and three years later I often pull out photos. He always tells new people about the creation of the dress. Please leave a comment if you create a dress for your life-partner, bride or groom. A dress can be tailored to fit anybody and your special day awaits. Thank you.
If you have a Prom dress in the back of your closet please consider donating your dress to:
Also consider donating your wedding dress to: