I was lucky enough to have my wedding dress handmade for me by the hugely talented mother of the groom, who offered to sew the dress when Will first proposed. I can honestly say that the finished dress was so much lovelier than any of the wedding dresses I tried on in bridal shops.
I know a few people whose wedding dresses were either made by clever family members or who paid a dressmaker to make something. I don’t think it’s considered that often but really is a brilliant way to get a dress that is totally unique and perfect for you, and cuts down costs considerably, which is always a positive with weddings if we’re honest isn’t it?
Finding a pattern was the biggest challenge of the whole thing, well for me it was, I think making the dress was a little bit harder for Will’s Mum! For this actually trying on wedding dresses was useful, as I ruled out a number of styles. The only thing I was really sure of before we started was that I didn’t want strapless, didn’t want anything too big, but did want a floor length dress. After lots of Pinterest searching and looking at my everyday dresses that I love the shape and style of, I started to get a clearer picture. I also quickly realised that I didn’t have to buy a specific wedding dress pattern, but many evening gowns would look bridal when made in white or ivory and suitable fabric.
This is how we ended up with the Simplicity 2442 I actually really don’t like the look of the dress on the front, but could see that the shape was pretty much perfect. Will’s Mum suggested she make up a short version of the dress in some old silk, both to see how the dress fitted and also to make sure it suited me. It was a bit more than a toile as it was a fully finished and ready to wear dress, and it did confirm that this was the right pattern. I couldn’t wear it initially of course, as Will might have had suspicions, but I am looking forward to wearing it this summer as it is a little like getting to wear my wedding dress again!
We found the fabric really easily in the end. I know a few people who have gone to specific bridal fabric shops, but we wandered into John Lewis in Cambridge and managed to find fabric I really liked – a satin type fabric that wasn’t too shiny and was the right weight. I had a bit of an obsession about not having a shiny wedding dress! I also fell in love with some daisy patterned lace, so much so that Will’s Mum started thinking about how we could incorporate it into the dress.
After lots of discussion between myself, my Mum and Will’s Mum (in the middle of the haberdashery department of course), we eventually got the idea that we could cover the straps and middle sections of the dress with this lace, to add a bit of detail. I also feel the cold, so thought the matching jacket that came with the pattern might be a good idea, especially after it was suggested the sleeves could be made up in this lace, incorporating the pretty scalloped edging of the material into the ends of the sleeves. I did get chilly on the day, so was really pleased I had it to slip on at various points.
By buying it from John Lewis, we could also get fabric in a different weight to match, for my little flower girls’ dresses. Did I mention Will’s Mum was making them as well?! Well yes, she did! We used the sleeveless version of Butterick B5705 for them, with a light green ribbon (rather than making the sash which was in the pattern) round the middle to match the older bridesmaid’s dress.
Did you have a handmade wedding dress, or are you thinking about it? I would love to hear your experiences!
All the photos of our wedding in this post were taken by our wonderful official photographer Stephen Bunn.