September 27, 2014

DIY Wedding: Sewing my Wedding dress & Tips for making your dress

Making this dress was a process. I know that people have said that you should never make your own wedding dress, but I would have to completely disagree. Sure there were some moments of tears and frustration, but the feeling of pride and accomplishment on the wedding day far out weigh the negatives. So here is the story of my wedding dress.........

I certainly knew that I was not going to wear white. I was largely inspired by an Ellie Saab peach dress. Mum and I went fabric shopping, looking for a non white silk chiffon, satin and lace. I would have liked to purchase eco fabrics, but unfortunately they were way out of my price range and difficult to find. So I ventured to a few fabric stores in Perth and eventually found this pink/salmon coloured fabric. It was half price as well!

There were a few key themes that I had in mind when searching for wedding inspiration
1. Everything was going to be DIY 
2. Colour theme - I just love the colours and the romantic feeling in the Sophie Coppola film "Marie Antoinette", so this film was certainly an inspiration 
3. I wanted to incorporate some element of the Art Deco style into the dress
4. The wedding was in January which is the time for  hot Australian Summer days so I needed to take this into consideration, I therefore had to be practical. e.g. no sleeves for the middle of summer!

After scouring the net for months, I decided that there were a few musts.....
1. It had to be a gown
2. Deco inspired lines within the dress. 
3. Backless.

Here are a few images that I collected. Pinterest is of course a great way to collect inspiration. Here is my wedding pinterest. 

Inspiring dresses
Light green satin evening dress, 1932. Charleston Museum.
Katie May dress
Zac Posen
Jenny Packham

I decided to use the skirt section from the Vogue 1032 pattern.


After all of the research I finally made a decision on the design and put my thoughts onto paper. I was planning on the skirt having an ombre effect at the bottom, but ended up scrapping that idea.  


I have not made a gown before and therefore opted to make a muslin version of the dress. I used a Vogue pattern V1032 for the skirt section and draped and drafted the bust section on my dress form. It was difficult fitting it on myself, so I had many versions of the bust, just to perfect it. The most difficult part of the dress to create was the low back. I didn't want straps through the back, so I needed to figure out how to have a backless dress which was practical to wear. I ended up running the straps under the bust and then around the shoulder... if that makes sense.

One thing to remember is that you need to wear your intended under garment for all fittings. I opted not wear anything underneath, in hindsight I should have had chicken fillets for the bust... oh well. 

I made the dress in a similar chiffon/satin fabric as I felt nervous working with the silk chiffon. I read some blogs which detailed different methods for working with fine silk chiffon. I opted for the tissue paper option. It kept the fabric stable and limited any warping. Once I was 90% sure on the design, I started cutting the wedding dress fabric (I was not completely certain about the back, but I just needed to get cutting). 


This part was scary! But once I got into it, it was fine. I just had to double check! I invested in a large cutting mat and made use of my rotary cutter. The cutter made the cutting process a little easier. I then hand sewed the 3 layers of silk chiffon, silk satin and tissue paper together at the edges to avoid any warping.    


I then started piecing the skirt section together and tore off the tissue paper when it was all sewn. I sewed the bodice to the skirt section.

Once it was constructed I got onto the detailing. I hemmed the layers by hand and finished off the edges.


On a trip to London, I discovered this sweet little 1920/1930 inspired store, which stocked wonderful vintage style dresses and  jewellery. I knew that I needed to get this brooch as it complimented the lines in my dress. So I attached it to the centre back.

Unfortunately the photographer did not get any good photos of the back of my dress..gggrrrr. But my cousin snapped a few images. You can see the satin section that I added to the back to hide the zip and make the look cleaner.

One important component to the dress was the reception transformation. I needed to add something which would lift the chiffon train off the floor. So I added a loop to the bottom of the train and added a tie near to the zip so that I could lift the chiffon off the floor. You can see from the middle image how it looked lifted. Perfect for dancing up a storm.

So that was the process of the wedding dress. I learnt a great deal and would love to share some tips with you. 


1. Give yourself a timeline.
I started way too late... got there in the end but in hindsight, needed a timeline.

2. Reduce the pressure that you put on yourself
Reduce the pressure by telling yourself 'this is a great dress for you, at this time in your life'. This does not need to be your 'ultimate dress' of all time.

3. Make sure you have more then enough fabric.
I only JUST made it with the fabric!

4. Collect inspiration 
On pinterest!

5. Trust your decisions and go forth 
If you are an indecisive person, just remind yourself to keep going and be confident. 

6. Be practical about the design, think about the weather and don't be too overambitious
I wanted sleeves, but the Australian summer would disagree. Also be practical about your ideas. e.g. unless your wedding is years away, you won't be able to embroider the fabric.

7. Practice. 
If you feel nervous working with the textiles, practice working with similar fabrics, so that you get a feel for it. 

8. Have fun, persevere and be confident with your decisions! 


  1. Congratulations! It's a beautiful beautiful dress. I'm attempting to make my own wedding dress too, seems relatively unusual these days!! X

  2. Oh my goodness, stunning!! Congratulations to you on your marriage and completing this beautiful gown so expertly. I love love love the colour and fabric and the 1930s style.... Bravo! Great photos.
    Funny I just blogged about my own vintage wedding dress (I didn't have the time to make my own!) Perhaps we will have to renew our vows one day so I have the chance ;)

  3. Absolutely adorable!!! You look so fabulous in this!!!

  4. The dress is beautiful! Congratulations! And very nice wedding photos!

  5. Oh my goodness! This is stunning! And congratulations! It looks like it was a beautiful, beautiful day!

    1. Thanks so much. I always enjoy reading your posts:)

  6. This is a gorgeous, gorgeous dress. The back is just stunning!

  7. oh em gee. this is so gorgeous. i would never have the patience to be able to do this. congratulations on the wedding

  8. Absolutely lovely! What a gorgeous dress. I love your color choice and the lines. Breathtaking, really!

  9. This is just so insanely gorgeous. Super inspiring & impressive work!

  10. Love your wedding dress and making the men suit: together you are amazing. I totally agree with you: it's a good thing making your own wedding dress.

    1. I really liked making my dress. Stressful... but worth it in the end

  11. Your wedding gown is stunning !!

  12. Absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing...58eveningdress.

  13. your dress is simply stunning! i am currently trawling through so many posts on different sewing websites as i plan on making my own wedding dress, the funny thing for me on reading your post in particular however is that i have bought the exact same dress pattern to base my dress on! Living in Perth, i am on the hunt for some good fabric shops, anywhere you could point me in the direction of? i would appreciate it so so much! pinning your blog post as i'm sure it will come in handy for me to refer to...about to write myself a timeline!

    1. Thanks! sorry for the delayed response, I just found your question........Unfortunately with the dominance of 'Spotlight stores' in Perth, a number of smaller stores have closed down, so there is not as many unique fabrics to find. I found my wonderful fabrics in Textile Traders, on Marmion street. There is also the Balcatta bridal store fabric shop to check out. It is rather pricey, but they have an upstairs space dedicated to wedding laces and such. I would still check out Spotlight as I found a lace (which I did not end up using) which was the right colour for my dress. There is also a store that I used to like to visit in Victoria Park, but I don't know if you would find much there. They do have printed silks, but usually they are quite brightly coloured. I hope this helps... even if it is delayed. Good Luck1

  14. What a beautiful dress! I too have the same pattern. I'm going to keep a back in mine but I do love the extra section you have falling at the back. Would you be kind enough to describe how you achieved this? Thanks

    1. Hi, Thanks for your question. I cut 2 long rectangular shapes, then attached them to the back sections. I then played with them until I had them falling perfectly. I attached a press stud to hold it in place, then I added a 1920s inspired brooch. It is kind of hard to describe, but you just have to play around with your fabrics, until they fall perfectly.... good luck, I hope this helps :)