the making of a wedding dress PART II: planning your dress and gathering your tools


When you have an idea of what you want, gather your things!

At this point in my sewing career in general, I was ready for an upgrade. What better time than right before sewing my own wedding dress? I am extremely glad I did because it made the process so much easier.

The first thing I bought was my dress form. It is a professional dressform with collapsible shoulders from The Shop Company. I mostly sew for myself, so this has been very helpful in many projects. The Shop company had good reviews and also has very reasonable prices. Their price for a professional dress form is comparable to the adjustable ones sold at craft stores like Joanns. However, the shape is way more stable, the base is extremely stable and easy to adjust, and pinning is easy with linen wrapping and helpful seams. The shapes of the professional dress forms are also truer. Always buy your dress form smaller rather than bigger than you are. To change the dimensions a little, you can pad it.


The second thing I bought was a new sewing machinea Viking Opal 670. I used to have a computerized brother that I got for $125 at Costco. It served me very well, and I have even sewed silk on it. But after using the Viking, there is so much more control, silk is a breeze…and fast. This one is also computerized, but honestly, I only use the most common stitches. By some chance, that you are thinking of getting a Viking opal, the 670 has the thread cutter, which, I have to say, is the wonderfullest (a real word?) thing in the world when you have a giant piece of fabric jammed into the neck of your machine.

top: brain storm; mid left: brainstorm some more! mid right: (mostly) final design; bottom: buy lots of swatches

Think about the construction of your dress. There are different places you can get wedding dress patterns, such as prolific brands like McCall’s, Butterwick, Vogue, Simplicity, or Burda style, but there are also beautiful indie patterns for formal dresses. Be sure to look at the special occasion dresses too. I would encourage you to also try to ignore the bad styling some of the big companies have and imagine your dress using the line drawings, because there are definitely hidden gems.

Remember, you don’t have to use the whole pattern. It’s your dress, you can mix and match elements of different patterns!

Whatever you do, I recommend researching couture sewing techniques. Some dress patterns will make a very nice casual dress, but you want to pull out all the stops for your wedding dress. Make sure to research all the techniques that will make your dress stay on you comfortably, and elegant, with an attention to detail. From the research I did at this stage, the book that most people recommend for pure information is Bridal Couture by Susan Khalje. It is no longer in print, but you can borrow it at a library or she sells a PDF version. If there is any question on how techniques are done, usually it is easy enough to youtube it.  I found it extremely helpful because it is a step by step outline for all the different parts of your dress. Again, look past the vintage styling, the techniques are the same.

In future posts, I will talk through my thinking process and some of things that stumped me the most.

Have you made you own wedding dress/formal dress? Do you have any other hints?




2 thoughts on “the making of a wedding dress PART II: planning your dress and gathering your tools

    1. Well I read a lot of blogs and I tried to watch videos on techniques that I wasn’t clear about. For an overall plan, the book was most helpful. Since no ones dress is exactly the same, it’s hard to have a tutorial per se. What was most helpful to you when you sewed Sarah’s dress?


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