Sewing A Wedding Dress

cutting out with engagement ring

Does anyone remember my recent blog post about helping a friend cut out her wedding outfit?

Someone I hold dear (let’s call her Amy, for the sake of argument) was getting married. She’d bought silver silk jersey and satin. We set to with silk pins and shears, and the cutting out went swimmingly.

silver satin

But from then, she was on her own. I’ve never sewn a wedding dress, but that’s beside the point. Amy wanted to make this dress herself. It was her dress and her wedding. In particular, it was her vision. Could she pull it off?

wedding dress rear detail

Over the following weeks, I kept my mobile phone close to my side at all times. My fingers drummed on the table top as I waited for the urgent plea for help. I’d check for texts in the middle of the night. Where were the distraught messages and teary phone calls? They never came.

wedding flowers

The next time I saw Amy’s outfit was on her wedding day. The silk jersey was accessorised by flowers she’d plucked from a florist that morning. A low bun sat at the base of her neck, hair pins eased into place by a loving best friend. A silver charm nestled against her clavicle. How could I ever have doubted this bride’s ability to sew a true vision of herself?

Wedding Photos CollageBut this outfit  wasn’t created through magic and hope alone. It was created using the Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and a top pattern I’m too excited to wait for a reference to but will provide.

The main message here is that Amy was clever enough to tick a few essential sewing boxes, despite the fact that she’s only been sewing for two years.

Amy’s Rules Of Sewing A Wedding Dress Without Having A Nervous Breakdown

Practice. Amy sewed each item twice before setting to on the wedding dress. By the time she began sewing the most important dress of her life, she knew the construction inside out.

Time. Lots of it. Amy started in plenty of time and gave herself achievable tasks on a weekly schedule. All she had to do was keep swimming, and she knew she could do that.

Quality. I strongly believe that spending the most Amy’s budget allowed went a long way towards easing the pain of this journey. Good fabric rewards you with good behaviour.

Simplicity. Nary a waist stay, boned bodice, sleeve head, flounce, or trailing veil in view. Amy kept her ambition focussed and simple and this allowed the execution to be far less challenging than trying to cram learn a load of couture techniques. I’m a firm believer in simple sewing executed to the highest possible standard.

Imagination. The sewing patterns Amy used were both aimed at day wear makes, but she had the imagination to transform these ‘normal’ patterns into something stunning.

Separates. A wedding dress doesn’t need to be a dress. Revolutionary! Now Amy owns two beautiful items that she’ll be able to wear again and again. (If I was Amy I’d love to wear one of these items to someone else’s wedding – the big circle of weddingness!)

Inspiration. Amy knew what she wanted to feel like on her big day. Not like a bride, but like a film star. And boy, did she pull it off. Keep that picture in your head, peeps, and colour it in.

wedding dress ii

As for myself? I broke all the rules and only allowed myself a weekend to sew something. Which meant I totally failed to create anything successful and dragged a shop-bought dress out of the wardrobe. Whilst licking my wounds, I took sanctuary in the details. Can’t beat vintage accessories for a wedding!

Wedding CollageWhat are my final thoughts? I’ve found this to be a very grounding weekend. There are lots and lots of reasons to sew, but one of the most important reasons that I can’t help coming back to is … am I allowed to say love? The tug of thread. Needle piercing fabric. A mind that blanks and a heart that fills. A face that splits into a grin as someone looks up from their sewing, to gaze at the person they love. Memories tucked away into tissue paper.

It’s my privilege to have shared this journey and it’s my greater privilege that Amy has allowed me to share that journey here. And the next time I sit down to sew, I’ll remember a sunny day in the heart of England and I’ll send a silent kiss through the air to two people I love dearly.

Reader, my darling girl married him.

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33 Responses to Sewing A Wedding Dress

  1. What a beautiful post. Amy is luminescent and her dress is perfect, they look radiantly happy. There are many good memories woven here that you cherish. The best weddings I’ve attended have been understated celebrations and the more authentic for all that.

  2. jujuvail says:

    Silk jersey is a perfect fabric choice! It looks elegant, lush and relaxed. What a success. Congratulations to her and you!

  3. Lovely post Karen. Amy’s dress is beautiful and so is she. I’m sure wearing her own dress in her own unique way helped make a very special day even more so.

  4. This is stunning and its so lovely that you got to be a part of it! x

  5. Nedoux says:

    Lol. @ “the big circle of weddingness!”

    Amy did great, the fabric looks so rich and the 2-piece dress fits her beautifully. There’s beauty is simplicity. 🙂

  6. Amy sounds like someone who really knows her own style – very nicely done and she looks so happy:) I made my friend her wedding outfit and it was a very similar colour – and on my wedding day she wore the skirt again but with a different top, it was very touching to see it worn with love and pride again:)

  7. That is one classy wedding outfit. It looks stunning. I’ve made bridesmaids dresses but never the bride! Jo x

  8. esewing says:

    Lovely post and a beautiful dress , Amy is to congratulated on not only her marriage but also her approach to the making of the lovely dress , made with love and care for her special day – thank you for sharing .

  9. Kathy Lynch says:

    So beautifully written Karen; your affection & love (& yes! you’re definitely allowed to say “love”!) for these 2 friends comes through clearly in every line.
    And “simple sewing executed to the highest possible standard”? I couldn’t agree more! Quality fabric, simple design, beautifully made…perfection! Glad you had a lovely time. 🙂

  10. Danielle says:

    Turned out lovely, good for her! And she and her husband look so happy… which is what matters most.

    (Also I absolutely love the Jane Eyre reference)

  11. Liza Jane says:

    She looks so fabulous! Well done to your friend!!

  12. Tanya says:

    Enjoyed reading your article about your friend’s nuptials, particularly her beautiful dress and the colour is stunning.
    I have to say I agree with you and I quote “….Good fabric rewards you with good behaviour…” Absolutely true. I remember when re-starting my sewing journey back in 2009, my mother told words similar to those. Maybe it’s because she trained as a tailor at the London College of Fashion in the 70’s and she knew what she was talking about… although I didn’t always listen to her, as thought I knew better and subsequently learned the hard way…..buying decent fabric was one of those lessons…besides if you are sewing your own wedding dress…only the best fabric will do….!!!!

  13. KnitNell says:

    I so enjoyed reading this Post. And the photos are delightful.

  14. I love the outfit! I think it is modern, sensible and beautiful. Luxurious fabric sewn by her own hand, she looks true to herself. Perfect!

  15. Mem says:

    What a great post . The wedding ensemble is indeed beautiful. If has a 30 s vibe . It’s a really beautiful look and she obviously felt great in it . Well done everyone.

  16. Melanie says:

    Silk jersey and Jane Eyre in the same post? I’m in love. And that dress is simply beautiful.

  17. oonaballoona says:

    I have all of the hearts.

  18. Robin says:

    lovely lovely lovely!
    -the bride
    -her ensemble
    -your post

  19. PsychicKathleen says:

    I just loved your post – it’s hard to find the words (which you excel at!) to express how romantic and delicious this was to read on a leisurely Sunday morning. Hats off to Amy for such a beautiful and truly “film star” effect she aimed at and successfully achieved. Congratulations to you too for supporting her determination to sew her very OWN wedding dress – there to help when asked but lots of space to do her own thing when that’s clearly what she wanted. Thank you for taking the time to share this experience in such a delightful narrative.

  20. It’s simply stunning!

  21. Anne-Marie says:

    thank you for this beautiful post, Karen.

  22. you haven’t posted in a few days, hope all is well.
    love,
    a devoted follower

    • Hi Robyn – thank you for your concern. It’s the busiest time in my work calendar at this time of year, which means no sewing and plenty of exhaustion! Looking forward to sewing this weekend so hopefully something to share soon! (I tend to stay in touch via Instagram at times like this. My user name is @didyoumakethat.) Hope you’re well!

  23. Poignant post. Love. Sorrow. Give both words “(…) the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids its break.”

  24. What a magical post! Could I ask which top pattern was used in the construction?

  25. Jenny says:

    What a glorious dress! And what a motto for a wedding day – “feel like a film star, not a bride” Love it! Thanks for sharing. I’m always encouraged by your posts. I still haven’t broken the moz on my sewing and got back into it. I’m sure I”ve whined here about losing the mo and the jo and not having the courage to sew any more. Sigh. But I love reading about others’ sewing adventures.

  26. JustGail says:

    I’ve thought for a long time that garments with simple clean lines can be harder to do well than those with ruffles, beads, and other eye-distracting frippery.

    Please pass my congratulations on to your friend on the wedding and the dress.

  27. Gail says:

    Such a beautiful post – a tribute to friendship, personal style and of course…handmade clothes.

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