To think I can make my own wedding dress?

(80 Posts)
nastymrsvicar Fri 04-Apr-14 12:05:02

...when I've never even used a sewing machine before?

The facts:
- wedding is in over a year's time so I've got time to learn
- I refuse to pay something like £1000 for a dress I will wear for max 4 hours but have not been able to find anything suitable in the shops (see below).
- I don't want a huge Kate Middleton-esque creation, as it is not a big grand wedding. I want it to be a day dress with a little something extra in ivory silk.

I've just bought a sewing machine on a whim, so that's one step taken. I now need to practice using it and to find a pattern for the dress...

So am I insane? Has anyone else done this? Will I just end up collapsing in a small heap and reaching for my credit card?

Any tips would be much appreciated!

My mum made her own wedding dress. It was just a plain silk one but it looked lovely.
Before she did her dress, she went to a dressmakers class at night school (before she was even thinking about getting married, normally just made pants there!) but when she did start her dress, the woman who ran the class was glad to help. Is there anything like this around where you live?

FWIW, dress making isn't really that difficult, you just follow a pattern. Could you make a smaller practice one first? For a DD? Niece?

Watching because I'm at this point ATM! Dps mum has offered to knit me anything so I may ask for her help to knit a lace bodice and sleeves and just do a really simple dress.

I have just seen on This Morning that H&M are selling 1 style of wedding dress £59. Its a very simple style.

I wouldn't make a wedding dress without first knowing the basics of dressmaking, find a dressmaking course you can do.

MarvellousMabel Fri 04-Apr-14 12:18:15

Good on you; but isn't the material going to be the major outlay anyway?

So you're saving on labour costs, but the material would still be expensive.

Love the idea of it being unique though

Fwiw I'm getting married in a dress from John Lewis. Think it was about £100 - marked down in the sale. It's actually an evening dress.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Fri 04-Apr-14 12:22:51

Well, I went from sewing straight lines on curtains (made one pair of curtains) to making DD a Belle dress (ball gown) for a party, so I say it is possible.
I would suggest making a few fancy dress / party dresses for practice. They help you learn the techniques that you can use to make a lovely wedding dress.
I would look for tutorials online to give you step by step guides on how to make a dress in a style that you like.
Good Luck!

GemmaTeller Fri 04-Apr-14 12:22:53

I had my wedding dress made - beautiful embroidered silk cocktail dress, fully lined - I bought the fabric and a wedding dress maker charged me £80.00 to make it up.

Even though I'm handy with a sewing machine I thought the £80 was well worth it and she did a far better job than I would have done.

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Fri 04-Apr-14 12:23:23

I think it depends how practical and creative you are, if you don't have any sewing experience, as that will stand you in good stead.

Buy some cheaper fabric and do a trial run. I think trying to follow a pattern with no experience could be tricky.

You've got plenty of time to practice and hone your skills, good luck!

nastymrsvicar Fri 04-Apr-14 12:25:06

Yes the material will be expensive, but I think the labour costs will be bigger as a talented dressmaker's time is bound to be quite pricey. Tbh cost is not the big problem (within reason), I don't mind paying for good silk, and as it is not going to be full length or swishy I will save a bit there.

I'm quite restricted in choice from shops because I want a knee-length dress, real silk, with sleeves or at least shoulders covered (due to getting married in a Catholic church). I am also small and always need things altering anyway.

Doing a dress-making course is a great idea - I'll have a Google.

WhatsTheWordHummingbird Fri 04-Apr-14 12:25:38

If you are doing it to save cash then YABU - it will be relatively costly and time consuming, in your words "for something you will only be in for four hours" and more hassle imo than walking into Coast or Monsoon etc and picking something that suits.

If you are doing it because you have a desire to create your own dress, love a challenge, and think you will enjoy the process then go for it!

nastymrsvicar Fri 04-Apr-14 12:26:04

Gosh £80, that is a lot cheaper than I would have thought!

EBee57 Fri 04-Apr-14 12:27:09

I made mine 20+ years ago using a simple Vogue pattern and an old book of my Mother's called The Big Book of Needlecraft, but I think Everythings suggestion of an evening class is a great idea. Practice with some cheap cotton first - making things that practice the skills you will need for the big dress - gathering, darts, lining, setting sleeves. You've got lots of time and the sense of achievement will be fantastic!

sooperdooper Fri 04-Apr-14 12:28:29

Start with some smaller projects and see how you get on, but if it's a money decision you don't have to spend £££ on a wedding dress, mine was from the bridal section at house of Fraser and you can pick up real bargains pre loved, wedding dresses rarely sell for anything near what people pay new

Nanny0gg Fri 04-Apr-14 12:29:35

I had a friend who made my wedding outfit. Her mother was a couturier and taught her everything, it was beautiful.

She said that anyone can learn to sew and she would teach me, so we got a pattern for a very simple skirt.

After three attempts, she threw in the towel and finished it for me!

I would not attempt my wedding dress as the first thing to make! If you don't want it to look 'home made' (and silk isn't forgiving or cheap) I would get myself to a really good class proto.

Or buy off the peg...

jeee Fri 04-Apr-14 12:30:10

Monsoon always have lovely dresses (including knee length numbers) and I'm sure they'll be cheaper than trying to buy the raw ingredients - pattern, material, trimmings, etc. And that's not including the time, effort and probably blood from pricked fingers that making your own dress will undoubtedly cost you.

But if you do make your own dress, I think the sense of satisfaction would be enormous.

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 04-Apr-14 12:30:13

I made a ball gown for the Uni summer ball as I didn't want to spend £££ on a dress. You can buy patterns online and a roll of fabric will be about £50 (depends on the type). It's not difficult to do, I just had to get a hand with the hem. Remember to add on a 1.5 inch seam allowance around the edges (this is where you stitch the fabric together). I used to make children's clothes and do clothing repairs but I have another job now.

I'm happy to give you a hand on here if you get stuck. You really should get some fabric scraps and stitch them together with your machine so that you get use to the tension etc.

littlewhitebag Fri 04-Apr-14 12:31:34

Sleeves are very tricky to get right. A sleeveless shift type dress would be the easiest to make and maybe you could buy a little lacy bolero/shrug to go over it?

higgle Fri 04-Apr-14 12:33:32

If your m/m-I-l is good at knitting - or even better, crochet you could have a very simple dress with a fantastic crop or asymmetrical top over it. Imagine something with a low scoop neck at the back with flowers around a drape neckline.

Are you good at needlework or knitting generally? Do you have any relevant experience in making things which leads you to think you'll be successful here? Does everything you touch usually turn to gold? (No sarcasm intended, some people are naturally shit hot at whatever they turn their hand to).

I can't sew on a button. I am a bit in awe but also highly skeptical of someone with no sewing machine experience contemplating fashioning a dress from scratch.

Sorry to be so brutal but if you pay a lot a dress - and you don't have to pay a lot - you can always sell it afterwards. But you will never be able to get back the time and effort wasted on making a dress if it doesn't come off.

x2boys Fri 04-Apr-14 12:34:23

My mums friend made my wedding dress and my sisters mine was very simple ivory satin , long and sleeveless with a little bit of detail we bought the material from the market for fifty pounds.

ProlificPenguin Fri 04-Apr-14 12:37:12

By the time you add the cost for the sewing machine and fabric, I doubt that you would be much better off than going to a sale or charity shop. There are charity shops that specialise in wedding gowns (a fab one in Oswestry btw) and a local seamstress would only charge you about £20 to alter it.
Or BHS, H&M and Debenhams do gowns for less than £100.

If you still want to it then don't start on the actual expensive fabric, first practis on old clothes or cheap curtain fabric from shops, (£2 ish). Maybe start on making some curtains or a dress for you?

Laquila Fri 04-Apr-14 12:37:28

Totally agree with Hummingbird. A wedding dress of any kind is a rather unforgiving first project, even if it's short and simple. Silk has to be perfectly fitted (and it's hard to fit something to yourself, especially if you've never sewn before), cut, sewn and hemmed, otherwise it can look amateurish and cheap. Remember that everyone will be staying at "the dress" all day, even if you don't want them to! I would definitely advise finding a reputable dressmaker who can sketch out and design exactly what you want -aas PPs have pointed out, this doesn't have to be expensive and that way you get exactly what you want and have a hand in the creative process!

nastymrsvicar Fri 04-Apr-14 12:38:44

Yes I was thinking of that option, littlewhitebag.

Thanks for the advice everyone - I do still want to make it myself, as I would love to be able to make dresses and clothes for every day, as I find it hard to find things in the shops that I like or that fit me. A dressmaking course might be the way, I think.

nastymrsvicar Fri 04-Apr-14 12:40:16

oops x posts with lots. No I wouldn't try it as a first project, will try some easier things first. If it doesn't click then I'll have to think again...

LadyMaryLikesCake Fri 04-Apr-14 12:42:22

Silk is a pain to sew as you have to keep replacing the needles. Any snag or slip will damage the silk.

Good luck with the course smile

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