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Know How: Make your own wedding dress

By Andrea Petrou on September 9th, 2009 0 comments yet. Be the First

dress.jpgYesterday we told you about some gorgeous vintage wedding dress patterns for those brave enough to make their own dress. However, we feel as though we may have left you a little bit stranded as a pattern is no use without any other advice is it? We’ve therefore put together a few tips on how to make your own wedding dress.

Now I’m not completely green on this subject, I did a textiles A Level and a year Fashion degree, and I have made a wedding corset before, but I do recommend you also enlist the help or an alterations lady or dress maker too.

You will also need a sewing machine and a lot of patience. I also recommend you start this project at least a year before the big day. It’s not only time consuming, but also means you have time to find another dress in case it all goes wrong (I’m sure it won’t.)

Read on for how to make your wedding dress.

Step one. Choose your pattern.
As we said yesterday, there are many websites that offer vintage or contemporary wedding dress patterns with prices ranging from £10 to £200. The pattern has to obviously resemble a dress you like, but if you’re a novice then you may also want to go for something without too much detail. For example, a corset style dress that requires boning is extremely fiddly and time consuming (believe me, I tried to make a corset during my Textile A Levels and it wasn’t pretty.)

Step 2. Choose your fabric
After the pattern the fabric of the dress is the second most important factor here. The beauty about making your own dress is that you can basically have anything you want as long as you’re willing to pay for it. However, do make sure you find something that will match the style of the dress too. There are a range of fabric shops online but before ordering from them, always ask for a sample to be sent to you, as fabrics range in weight and quality. If you live in London then head up to Soho where you will find a range of fabric shops. Alternatively John Lewis has a good range of fabrics in stock but they may be a little bit more expensive.

Step 3. Modifications to the pattern
This is the time to decide what small tweaks you want to make to the pattern. For example taking off straps or lowering the neckline (not too much girls, we don’t want Aunty Mabel to mutter about the youth of today). Doing this now will mean you don’t have to be making changes to the final piece later on.

Step 4. Muslin Mock Up
If you have a friend or sister that has chosen a couture dress then you may be familiar with the muslin mock up process and what it is.
For those that aren’t sure, a muslin mock up is a practice run of the real dress, which can be made from cheap material. At this point, you take your measurements, get the pattern out, cut and mark the fabric, and sew up the dress. It may seem like a lot of hard work but this step is crucial to getting the real dress perfect as it will let you see what needs to be changed and if the measurements are correct. Because its going to be made quickly and out of the cheapest material you can find, it will look like a potato sack, but don’t panic, we promise your real dress won’t look like that.

Step 5. Enlist some help
Ask your friend to assist you with fitting the muslin to your body using pins. Special attention should be paid to the bust seam lines and to maintaining a center back seam on the straight of grain. Once you are happy with the size and fit take the dress off with the pins still intact. Tack around the pins to create the size you want.

Step 6. Altering The Paper Pattern
Now this bit is tricky, and brings back bad memories of my Textiles A level and first year fashion degree. carefully cut the muslim dress apart, cutting around the tacking (this will make sure the finished dress is the right size) and place it onto some draft paper. Draw around the muslin to create a new pattern with your alterations.

Step 7. Cut And Mark Your Fabric
Now this is the scary bit. Get your dress fabric ready and place the new pattern on it. Here make sure you place the pattern against the grain of the material. The grain dictates how your fabric falls and stretches so you need to make sure you get everything in the right place. I strongly recommend using an alterations lady here to help you. Once this is done you need to carefully cut around the fabric, leaving at least an inch and a half around the end of the pattern for stitching.

Step 8. Tedious tacking
You may be tempted to just get on with sewing the dress but it’s really important to make another mock up here. Tack the dress together using a fine needle and thread – you don’t have to do tiny stitches here, an inch apart is fine -to make sure it all fits together and put in the zip. This may seem time consuming but it will mean you have a good guideline when you actually start to sew the dress. Try it on again to make sure it fits.

Final step (phew)
You should now have a mock up dress with a good outline for stitching. Thread your machine with the colour thread you require and start sewing. Once this is done you can add crystals and any other decoration.




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