Making One’s Own Wedding Dress

Four months ago yesterday, I got married.  We signed the paperwork during brunch with our families, presided over by a dear friend who jumped through a hoop or two to be recognized by the state for the day.  It was charming and lovely, and the waitstaff were a little flabbergasted by the fact that we were getting married RIGHT NOW.  They gave us a wedding present.

P1030849 P1030850

The day before, however, we held the extravaganza.

It was tons of fun, lasted too long, and had an awful lot of people.  I actually can’t tell you how many people, because it was so causal that less than a week before the wedding, I invited everyone at dance practice, just because.  Some of them even came.  We had medieval dancing, swing dancing, board games, cake and way too much potluck food, and lots and lots of talking and hugging and having a good time.  In the middle of it, for about twenty minutes, we had a ceremony.  The on-site janitor and minister were bemused that we didn’t want to use the sanctuary  of the UU church we were in, but they went along with it.  Oh, and He filked one of our favorite songs and sang it to me in front of everyone.  I cried.

A good time was had by all.  Thank you to everyone who helped that be so.

However, this is a fiber blog, so let’s move on to the fiber.

Some of the back story already has a post, about the practice wedding dress I made over here.  During this time, I was dealing with some fairly serious depression, so things didn’t move as fast as I might have hoped they would.  However, my naturopath suggested some over-the-counter options, and about two weeks later, and still three months before the wedding, my brain clicked back on and I started sewing.

One of my dear friends, who’s sweetheart signed our marriage license, hosts Sewing Circloid most months.  She has several tables to use, and on one of them I put her cardboard cutting board.  It’s covered with a graph, so one can tell that the fabric is perfectly square.  Then you pin the fabric to a fare-thee-well, lay out the pattern, and start cutting.  By the way, after this episode at her house, my friend has renamed that cutting board Fare Thee Well, so one really can pin the fabric to a ‘Fare Thee Well.’


Cutting out one’s own wedding dress, from silk charmuse fabric that costs almost as much as I make in a week, is really scary!  But I distracted the sewing demons by SWEARING I was going to ruin everything and cut into it.

The practice dress was a really good idea, because I learned things like the fact that the pattern was designed for someone much narrower in the hips than I am.  The way the pattern dealt with this was to make the line of the skirt slightly concave from the waist to the hem.  Straightening out that line made a huge difference.


You can see the curve of the pattern piece and then the straight line of the lining.

With most dresses that have a waist line, I usually lap the skirt pieces over the bodice pieces, and cut them out as one long piece.  The bodice of this dress, however, did not allow that, so I had to do it the slow way.  There are tiny darts just below the shoulders to make the cowl neck fold over and drape properly, which is lovely until it comes time to iron that section of the dress!  Not fun.

Photo on 2012-09-17 at 22.33

But I did get to use the wonder construction of sewing the front and back of the bodice together at the shoulders, along with the sleeves and the facing, and then inverting everything to get perfect shoulder seams, without any visible sewing lines!

Photo on 2012-09-17 at 22.32 #2

I stole the sleeves from another dress pattern entirely, and the ruffles were so lovely!  The rest of the dress was sleek and flowing, but the ruffles on the sleeves made me happy!  Also, I learned a new way of hemming to the sleeve edge hang right.  Usually, to hem something, one turns it over, and pins it, and then sews all the way round.  Or else one puts in lining to hide the raw edges.  I tried the lining, but completely lost the drape of the fabric, so that was out.  And any hem I could put in with my own fingers was too wide.  But the pattern had a solution.  Baste a line of stitches right next to the edge of the fabric, as narrow as you want the hem to be.  Then turn the edge and press it, using the line of stitches as the folding line.  Baste a second line of stitches, next to the raw edge that has now been turned in but not on it.  Turn the new edge and press it, using the second line of stitches as the folding line.  Clear?  You should now have two basted lines, and turned over the hem twice on those lines.  Finally, sew a line of stitches right at the edge of the turned hem to hold everything in place.  If you want to, you can now remove the second basted line, which runs down the bottom fold of your hem.  I never did figure out how to remove the first basted line, but if you can get to it, you can take that out, too.

narrow hem

In my very crude drawing, the green line is the fabric, the two red lines are the lines of basting, and the blue line in the final seam for the hem.  It works really well, although it’s a horrible waste of thread and time!

By the time the bodice was done, and the bust darts had been fussed with by most of my local female relatives who sew, the skirt was easy.  It was a little tricky figuring out that the skirt lining and the outer layer got sewn to their respective bodice layers only, but it all worked out.


Photo on 2012-09-22 at 16.43 #3

I kind of liked that the back of the dress showed off my tattoo.

My mother came to visit, and hem the dress.  And then it was done.

Just in time for me to finish off His vest, with buttons to match!

Photo on 2012-08-04 at 14.56

And real vest:

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 10.41.29 AM

The buttons are made of scrap fabric from my dress, which you can’t tell because his hair is in the way.  I’ll post later about making those buttons.  Try this picture, from our dressing room.  Where, by the way, we retreated for about half an hour midway through the party to read our books.  Yes, we are geeky enough that we read our books at our own wedding.


And then we got dressed.  He made all of my jewelry himself.

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 4.13.46 PM

And then we got married.  Well, except for the paperwork the next morning.

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 10.46.58 AM



Filed under sewing

4 responses to “Making One’s Own Wedding Dress

  1. It was a glorious dress, I especially loved the cowl neck and the ruffled sleeves. Happy 4-month anniversary!

  2. Anonymous

    Beautiful! And effective.

  3. Anonymous

    Hi Roza– you write so well! And the dress is lovely. Best wishes for your blog. Aunt Jackie

  4. Roza I didn’t know Chaz made your jewlery. Gorgeous! I”d love to give him some of my huge bead collection that I never do anything with if he’s interested.

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