Wedding Dress: Part 1 (Inspiration)

Hello Everyone. I want to talk to you about my wedding dress!

As you may or may not have heard, I got married a few months ago, and yes, I made my own dress! It’s been an absolutely epic project taking the best part of 6 months continuous work (free time and weekends only). I want to share the whole process with you in a series of posts, as it’s really too epic for one post alone. I’ll start from the beginning and take you through all the interesting (and the mundane) sewing details over the coming days. Note that this is obviously not a refashion but it’s a personal sewing project that’s been very important to me, so I hope you’ll indulge me. I’m not going to reveal final pictures until the end, so you can enjoy the journey as I did from start to finish in chronological order, I hope that’s not too frustrating.

Where does one start when making a wedding dress? When you’re making your own, you can have literally any shape imaginable. You can use literally any fabric and have as much or as little detail as you like. So narrowing it down was tough. The main criteria for me were that I wanted something that suited my personal style (which I think of as classic, elegant and with a slight ‘fashion’ edge – at least, that’s what I aspire to) as well as a figure flattering shape (which for me means exposed shoulders, fitted waist, not strapless). I briefly considered a fitted skirt before coming to my senses and realising there are hardly any opportunities to wear something ball-gown like, and came up with my design motto, “Go Big Or Go Home”…

I looked at lots of designers, lots of bridal sites and even tried some dresses on to get a feel for the shapes. Here are some of the images I was working from.

dior2

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior.

dior3

Lily James in Dior.

Posen1

Rihanna in Zac Posen.

unknown

[Unknown designer]

posen3

Naomi Campbell in Zac Posen.

dior

Marion Cotillard in Dior. In terms of shape, this is probably the most similar to the final dress.

If you want to see more dress inspiration pictures that I was considering, I made my wedding Pinterest board public, and you can find it here.

Construction-wise, I wanted to build the full couture style corselette, and used the following images as inspiration:

posen2

Zac Posen.

dior1

Vintage Dior.

OdR

Vintage Oscar de la Renta.

Fabric-wise, there was one thing I was sure about, and that’s that I didn’t want lace. In fact, nothing floral. I wanted to keep a ‘fashion’ edge to it rather than making it really romantic. My wedding colours were white, navy and silver (and my wedding motif was a star! – no hearts or flowers), with a vague art deco/1930s feel to the venue/decor. I considered all manner of different fabrics, starting with plain silk taffettas – and I looked at some beautiful ones. I had the idea to cover the bodice in embroidery or goldwork but eventually gave up due to the time it would have taken. I eventually came up with the idea of white and silver metallic brocade as a compromise between embellishment and time pressure. Here are some of the fabrics I considered.

bandj1

“Metallic Brocade” available at B & J fabrics here.

bandj2

“Metallic Silk and Cotton Blend Damask” available at B & J fabrics here.

bandj3

“Cracked Ice on Satin” available at B & J Fabrics here.

gorgeous fabrics

“NY Designer Cloque Jacquard – White/Silver” available at Gorgeous Fabrics here (on sale!!).

The bottom one is probably the best, although that’s not what I ended up with (more on that later). In the end I decided I wanted something whiter… like metallic white on white. Let’s just say it was tricky to find.

And finally, after several months of deliberating, I started sketching. (Don’t laugh at my sketches OK; I know they are terrible). You can see the kind of shape I was leaning towards.

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

That final picture above is probably the closest to the final shape. Note the cutaway arm holes, the huge bell shaped skirt and the veil with embroidered stars on it. The v-neck and v-armholes are supposed to look like a star shape on the bodice, but it’s quite subtle.

At this point I decided a muslin would be helpful so that’s what I did. Tune in to the next post in this series to see what happened!

 

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41 comments

  1. Kezzie

    AHHHHHHHHHH, I am sooo excited to see the finished product. Your sketches are GOOD!!! What is there to apologise for???Xx

    • charityshopchic

      Congrats Charlie!! So great that you are making your own dress, I loved doing mine and it’s so satisfying when it’s done and you are wearing it on the day :)

  2. tomatoesandjasmine

    Congratulations! I am amazed at all the planning which was involved and cannot wait to see the next post… I am sure it looks chic and amazing like the other things you made!

  3. Fadanista

    Congratulations Sally and thank you so much for sharing this whole process. It is so interesting and makes your followers feel as though we are along for the ride!

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks Sue! I’m glad you’re interested in seeing behind the scenes. There is so much to tell and (spoiler alert) literally hundreds of in-progress photos! I’m sure you’ll be sick of reading about it by post 8….

  4. Alex

    Sally, this makes me relive the stress of it all! Though it sure looks like a bigger endeavour than mine. I love the fabric options!! and I can’t wait to hear about the construction!

  5. Cynthia

    I’m so excited to see the next post, I’m getting married in October and am making my own wedding dress. I’m pretty nervous but also very excited to work on it. This is my biggest project so far. I am always looking forward to your post but especially this one!

    • charityshopchic

      Congratulations, Cynthia! It was so important to me to make my own dress – I am glad you have decided to go for it. It’s a lot of fun and so satisfying when it’s done. My advice is to start ASAP so you have enough time just in case anything goes wrong at all – you don’t want to be stressed in the run up to the big day! Good luck with it!

  6. liochka

    F√©licitations ! I √† si exited tout see net step. …Andr√© see your joy and hapinesss.

    • charityshopchic

      Thanks Jo, I’m excited to show it to you! I SO need to practice my sketches though… seeing them in high res scans like this, I’m like ‘why didn’t I sharpen my pencil’?!!

    • charityshopchic

      I was originally looking at bridal silk taffettas and there are lots of of UK suppliers online for those. When I decided to go for something fancier – metallic cloque jacqard – it was harder to find that online. I was looking around on Pinterest and googling it and this is just what came up that I liked, I wanted to show you the pictures I used for inspiration purposes. I actually did end up getting my final fabric from a shop in Soho (London) in the end (spoiler! It’s not one of those pictured here).

  7. Joss plane

    How lovely to lead us through your journey from inspiration onwards. I’m so excited to see all the stages, thank you!!

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