Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Handmade Wedding Dress

Can we talk about wedding planning real quick here? That nonsense is a LOT of work. Especially if you happen to be the kind of person who likes to make things. Or the kind of person who procrastinates. Or, you know, both of those things.

This has been a long time coming: I'm making my wedding dress. Scratch that. I MADE my wedding dress. I never was the little girl who dreamt about her wedding and planned it all out in advance, but I had always kind of figured I would make my dress. That was cemented when Mike and I got engaged and I actually started looking at dresses. How much? For polyester?! Criminy! 

So it was decided: I would make my dress. I knew I loved lace, didn't want anything princess-y (more of a boho girl at heart), and that I wanted to be comfortable and able to dance. (And dance and dance and dance.) I even toyed with knitting it before abandoning that half-baked idea: our wedding is in June, and I hate knitting anything that's not wool. Early on, I decided that I would make separates, because it's much easier to convince yourself to make a skirt and a top than it is to make a *gown*. I've made outfits in a weekend, what's the big deal with one more skirt and top?

It's a Big. Deal.

When it's gonna be probably the most photographed outfit of your life, it's hard not to feel the pressure. When you buy the most perfect fabric for an unjustifiable amount (justification: IT WAS 20% OFF), the idea of cutting into it kind of makes ya sweat a little. When you have to make something absolutely perfectly fitted and you can't even pretzel your arms around to your back to button the darn thing up by yourself -- (Do you ask for help from a neighbor you've only seen in the hall? Do you bring it to work to fit in a bathroom stall with a friend? These are the questions.) -- well, in these cases, one might find themselves in just a mild sort of panic.

Obviously, those are the kind of moments that call for a superhero. 


The kind of superhero, or should I say superHUMAN, who has been teaching you how to deal for all of your life. MOM!

I'm not sure I can even quantify everything we got done the weekend she visited. We finished fitting so I could finalize the pattern. We built an arch for the ceremony. We bought trees. We planned decorations. We picked up supplies for the guestbook. We practiced embroidery techniques for the dress. She made me silk crepe bias tape (she's a saint, I tell ya). And probably biggest of all? We moved the furniture, washed the wood flooring, laid out the fabric, and cut everything out. And then I sewed 4.87 miles of french seams and told my mom she could never ever ever leave.

So that was beginning of April. Over the following month and a half, I stitched away, sewing the bodice almost entirely by hand, because it's lace, and that's what you do with lace. 

I learned that this isn't actually how you sew loops in for a button placket. I learned this after I sewed the loops in for a button placket. My loops are not all the same size and I did not for half a second even consider redoing this nonsense.

One evening I sat down to sew the buttons onto my dress. I counted and realized that I had inexplicably made 33 loops down the back - what a strange, uneven number. I had planned to use the buttons from my mom's dress, which had also been worn by her sister, and was originally her mother's gown from the 1950's. 33 is a lot of button loops, and I was struck with the thought that I probably should have counted the buttons on my mom's dress before making such an odd number of loops.

So I pulled out the dress and began to count the buttons. 25 down the back. 4 on each sleeve. No more, no less. I hadn't gotten emotional about the dress until this very moment, but I texted my mom as I started to tear up, and then went about the business of sewing 33 buttons onto my bodice, thinking of the happy days they had been buttoned up in years past.

And I also hemmed the thing by hand.

Because wedding planning, and sewing your own dress, my friends?

It is not for the faint of heart.

Realistically, I won't post again til sometime in July when we are back from our honeymoon. Stay tuned for the big reveal - our wedding is in just a few weeks!


  1. What a wonderful story Addie - I've always known Barb was a superhero! My mom made my wedding dress; I lived 2,000 miles away at the time, told her what I wanted, sent material and arrived two days ahead of the wedding to try it on for the first time. Thanks to your blog, I'm finally realizing (almost 28 years later) what she must have gone through. It was a gorgeous dress and didn't require a single alteration by the way! My mom gave me one piece of advice which I will pass on: "no one's ever had a perfect wedding, and you won't be the first." It was her way of saying to not get caught up in the event and forget the reason. Have a wonderful time and best wishes!

  2. Great post, Addie! Can't wait to see the dress but most of all, can't wait to celebrate with you.

  3. This is so awesome! You and your mom are so awesome. :) Can't wait to see finished pictures of your dress.

    I'm getting married in October and for the briefest of moments, it crossed my mind to try to make my dress. But sadly I'm not confident enough about my sewing abilities to attempt it. Thankfully there was a good alternative to the $700 dress I tried on and loved...we have a local dressmaker who will sew exactly what I want for about half of that. We're going Saturday to pick out fabric!

  4. Congratulations on all fronts - for taking the plunge to commit to your love AND making your own wedding dress! The peeks you're offering are enticing! I can't wait to see the finished creation :)

  5. Oh, the 33 buttons exactly is so sweet. Kind of meant to be. Congrats!

  6. Congratulations! I'm so excited to see your dress!
    When I got engaged a few years ago, I knew I wasn't going to be able to buy a dress off the rack only because I liked a little bit of lots of different dresses, and I couldn't justify the price of ANY of them. My sewing skills are still beginner, so I knew making my own wasn't going to be an option, but I found a local seamstress who worked with my budget to help me build my dress - which, I can relate, boho and lace, simplicity. Shopping for fabric with my grandma (and choking at the price of the Chantilly I fell in love with) is one of my best wedding planning memories. Treasure every moment! Such a fun time! Congrats again!

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