Last week, I promised to let you know just a little bit more about the spellbinding subject which is sewing my wedding dress. Well, today is the day, kids!
I chose to sew my own wedding dress, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. I, myself, was plagued by moments of doubt, and wedding magazines normally started that terrible downward spiral. “What if blush pink really is the color of the season, and I’m going to look like Moby Dick because mine is the only white one?” “What if I forget to clip my threads, and my Aunt, who taught me to sew, chases me down the aisle with a pair of scissors.” “What if she trips on the scissors ,and we have to go the hospital and we never ever get married!” GASP! Anyway, the moral of the story is, don’t let all of your crazy fears hold you back from making your dream dress, but there are several things you should do before you really do take the plunge .(Get it? Marriage metaphors? huh, huh? I crack myself up..sigh….)
Without further ado,
Seven things you should do before you sew your own wedding dress:
1. Try on dresses ,as many as you can get your greedy hands on! You’ve been dressing yourself for the majority of your life, except for that one trip when you were four to the tulip festival , when your mom forced you to wear an evil spawn-of-satan turtleneck under your pretty pink smocked dress, so you should know what you like to wear and feel confident in. With that said, while trying on dresses, feel free to try on something you normally wouldn’t choose, you don’t have to buy it, you know. I went to David’s Bridal, and Xtabay Vintage (A gorgeous boutique in Portland, with dozens of exquisite retro dresses, and a Bridal Salon upstairs,we ended up getting Niki’s bridesmaid dress here, actually) to try on dresses. I think I tried on 6 dresses total, from a giant designer ballgown to a slinky, bias-cut, 1930’s slip type dress. Honestly, I was a bit terrified that I was going to fall in love with a gown I couldn’t/didn’t want to afford, and forever be disappointed with my homemade creation, but that’s not what happened. After trying on all those dresses, I walked away finally feeling confident that I could make my dream dress, because I know what I look and feel good in!
2. Be willing to ask for help! No matter how long you’ve been sewing, there is always something you can improve on or learn more about. Therefore, be humble and know when you are in over your giddy head. I got desperately stuck on making the perfect cap sleeve. I tried half a dozen times to get it right before I went crawling to my extremely talented cousin, who sews for a living like the beautiful genius she is, and begged for her to take pity on me and my pathetic, warped excuse for a sleeve. If you don’t have a Grandmother who sews, genius cousin, or tailor in your back pocket, look up youtube videos, or take your question to a local fabric store, and find the oldest employee with the most arthritic hands you can. You can bet she knows her way around a pair of scissors and a sewing machine!
3. Sketch your dream dress. It doesn’t matter if you can draw or not, just get your ideas down on paper. Do several different dresses if you have to. Once you can actually look at your dress, even if its just a picture, it’s so much easier to imagine yourself wearing it. Plus, it really forces you to focus on the details, like, do you want a train, for your shoes to show, or where do you want your veil to hit?
4. Create a Pinterest board and buy Bridal magazines. Pin dresses, not just wedding dresses, but anything with a feature that you like. Notice the dresses you gravitate towards. If you find yourself consistently liking the same thing, like strapless, or buttons, do it!
5. Choose your pattern. If you are one of those talented people who put the effort into learning how to draft your own sewing pattern, I bow down in awe and homage to you, just ignore #5, but if you are just an average sewer like me, proceed. You don’t have to use just one pattern, I, for example, used three! I wanted a scoopneck, with a full circle skirt, and cap sleeves, but I couldn’t find those three together, even if it is a very classic silhouette. Be brave, and work off of your drawing. Find the pieces you like in multiple patterns, and put them together, as long as it makes sense, in a technical way. Like, you can’t sew a sleeve onto a strapless pattern.
6. Make a practice version. This is the single most important step in making your dress. You want this dress of yours to fit, right? You want to look fantastic on your wedding day, right? You want every female to ever stumble across your aforementioned pinterest board to cry with envy when she sees the proffesional wedding pictures of your dress you turned in to pins, right? Right!!!!! So lets grab our kilts, and show that dirty king of England what he can do with his laws….oh wait, that’s Braveheart….pardon. My point is, you don’t want to be tweaking with the size or fit of your dress when you are cutting out your $35 a yard silk that you handwashed and then spent two hours drying with an iron, (also the correct way to wash antique Indian saris!) do you? No! So take my advice, buy some cheap white cotton, and cut out a practice version of your dress. Sew the entire dress together, altering while you go. Make notes of what needs changed, and keep in a safe place. Finally, I shouldn’t have to say this…. wear the underwear you plan on wearing under your dress when you try on the practice one. It’s just smart . And for the love of all that is holy, please wear skin-colored underwear, if you care about your guests or the dignity of future generations. Enough said.
7. Choose your fabric wisely. First off, read the back of your chosen pattern(s), what does it suggest? Cotton? Silk? Satin? Go back to your favorite dresses you pinned, or found in magazines, and see what fabric it is made of, most ads will tell you. Next, head to the fabric store, and plunge head first into the bridal section! Touch everything. Even though you will most likely only be wearing this dress once, you still need to be comfortable. If you don’t like how something feels against your skin, don’t buy it. If you aren’t comfortable, you won’t look pretty. Okay, that’s a little harsh…but I regret nothing, for the people of California!!!!!!!! And that would be my Dad’s Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions coming back to haunt me. Fabric will probably be the most expensive purchase toward your wedding dress, unless you are dusting this thing in real diamond dust or something, so don’t be scared, and bring a coupon!
There you have it, my advice, go forth into the world and multiply…wedding dresses, that is.