Sewing your own wedding dress
Today we are excited to interview Amy, editor of Love Sewing magazine about her Dior inspired wedding dress using Simplicity Amazing fit dress 1606. Amy shares the story of her handmade wedding dress and offers advice to future bridal sewists.
How did it feel to wear a handmade dress for your wedding?
As you may know, I recently married to my favourite person in the world. We had unbelievably good weather, exchanged sweet and slightly soppy vows, laughed with all our friends and family, and danced the night away. It was a joy to wear my handmade dress and see the mix of reactions from people who finally saw it finished as well as people who learnt during the day that I’d made it myself. Made of organza layers over duchesse satin it was floaty, romantic and a dream to wear. I wanted to feel like I’d stepped out of a vintage Dior photo shoot and it really felt that way when I stepped into the ceremony room.
What pattern and fabric did you use?
I started working on my frock before Christmas, testing toiles, deciding on Simplicity 1606 as the base, and draping a test dress to see how I could create the bodice effect I wanted. I practiced seam finishes and stitch settings and agonised over fabric choices for each layer. The bulk of my fabrics were ordered from Platinum Bridal Fabrics, a website with excellent customer service, swatch policy and amazing range of fabric. Plus a sneaky internet purchase for that lovely floral layer! I used an ivory satin base, rose print organza in between, and soft organza with subtle twinkle on top.
How did you sew up your dress?
I started by mounting the rose print on top of each silk that was interfaced with my luxury weft interfacing from Alison Smith’s bridal sewing course. I agonized over the rose placement but in reality, I didn’t need to bother as it’s just fuzzy pink underneath the finished bodice. I assembled the bodice and got ready to add my organza draping!
I draped the left side first and trimmed down the excess into a tiny under bust seam to create a faux wrap effect and avoid bulk. Draping the right side over the top was much harder. I had to create a neat fold that started at the centre front point and then swooped aggressively to cover the seam line. On both sides the most difficult areas were just under the bust point where a dart would easily absorb the curve. The organza was very difficult to position and I must have tried 15 times or more until I found success. Finally, I had to drape several pleats over the top of each other at the left side seam to create an even number of pleats across the centre back.
To secure the pleats I used tiny prick stitches at the top edge of the pleat (at the seam point), so tiny they weren’t really visible. Then prick stitches at the bottom edge of the pleat, inside the fold (with the stitches scattered around the bodice). All that was left to do on the bodice then, was to create a boned muslin layer for support, and a satin bodice lining, handstitched into place.
The skirt is a 3/4 circle and each layer is constructed individually. I drafted the pattern myself but you could slash the existing skirt to add flare or use Simplicity 1200. The base is silk satin, then rose print, then organza. There’s also a lining layer facing inwards in liquid satin. All were constructed with tiny French seams and finished with a tiny overlocked rolled hem. Every layer required an adjustment of my overlocker settings but the finish was so neat. You might ask if the lining was necessary when I had a crinoline petticoat on underneath. Well I thought in case I took the petticoat off for the evening (which I did) or if I wear it again (which I might) it would be nice against my legs!
Was it worth all the effort?
It has been a strange roller coaster ride: I found what was labelled rose voile curtain fabric online but what I actually think is the exact poly-organza fabric from my inspiration dress. Ordered 5m too much silk organza and currently have no use for the excess. Made four toiles for fit and a wearable test. Nearly cried over the hem. Nearly cried over the zipper. And stabbed my fingers countless times. But I couldn’t be happier with the finished result so it really was worth it.
Do you have any tips for other sewists who are thinking of making their own wedding dress?
Making your own wedding dress is a scary but thrilling experience and I have some tips to share before you get started. Don’t be afraid to try on dresses in a shop before committing to a style, you’ll learn a lot about what suits you. Consider using a pattern you have made before but in extra special fabrics. Be realistic about your time, especially if you’re trying new techniques. Invest in good quality pins and machine needles, get your scissors sharpened and make sure your worktop is clean. Finally, when you start to get frustrated with your dress, take a break for a day or two as you don’t want to end up hating the process.
You can follow Amy’s sewing adventures on social media @almondrock_sews