Making a Wedding Dress – Some Advice (part 1)

Eight metres of crushed taffeta – €700.00

Eight metres of lilac tulle – €40.00

Making your daughter’s wedding dress – priceless!

Having spent part of this weekend making a tulle petticoat for THE dress, I thought perhaps I could share with you some of the journey we’re taking as my daughter prepares to start her married life. The wedding is in May, and we started looking at dresses last year.

If you’re planning to make your own or a daughter’s wedding dress, the best place to start is by going to shops and trying on various dresses to get an idea of what looks best. A picture in a pattern book or a magazine is not enough. You HAVE to try on the dress to judge what it will look like. Of course, you have to be reasonable as well. Don’t choose a style beyond the seamstresses abilities, or you will all be stressed and disappointed.

Once you’ve decided on a look, you can start perusing patterns. We were very lucky to discover that the fashion and sewing college in Turin would be able to prepare a custom pattern for us. It cost €70 but it was worth every cent! If you have a similar opportunity, grab it. Doing that meant that we don’t have problems with fitting and adjusting, as the pattern was made to fit her body.

By this time, we knew what fabric we wanted and what colour. For most people it will be white or cream, but for Lisa, it is lilac. We visited quite a few shops before we found just the right shade and weight of fabric. Don’t rush when you choose your fabric. Give yourself enough time to look around. And think carefully when deciding about the colour. Some people look washed out in white and far better in cream or off-white. Lisa is a singer, so she wants a dress that she can use again. It’s going to be a beautiful ball gown with a halter neck, light beading on the bodice (which she will do by hand) and a voluminous skirt pulled up in soft folds.

The next job was making a muslin. I decided to make a black gown for her muslin so that she can use that too. It’s not really the right thing to do, but it seemed a waste to spend money on a dress she couldn’t use, so we bought black taffeta for our “test” dress. The black dress is almost finished now, and we’ve learnt a lot along the way. Our original idea was to have a skirt and top, but we’ve realised that separate parts move too much and need to be anchored, so we’ll be making a dress.

Friday is D-day for cutting out the wedding dress, always my most stressful moment. I always have a horrible feeling that something will have gone wrong and there won’t be enough fabric. I think I’ll feel much happier when it’s been cut out and it’s ready to sew.

More advice in part 2, when we’ve started the real dress. Anyone else out there doing a wedding dress or a special outfit? I’d love to hear about it?