I made my sister’s wedding dress this summer. Feel free to ignore the text of this post and just scroll through pictures- lots at the end. The wedding was over Labor Day weekend, and what was forecast as a warm, cloudy day at the beginning of September turned into a 50-degree and rainy day. Despite the rain, the wedding was incredibly fun (and she looked fantastic, of course). This is the sewing project I am most proud of to date. Yay DIY wedding dress!
When Jill formally got engaged she asked me to make her dress (I’ve made other things for her). I was beyond honored that she would entrust me with such a special project. I was also happy to give her exactly the gift she deserved to celebrate her marriage. We are both so pleased with how it turned out – it is very much her style – classic and streamlined.
We sat down a few times to scroll through Pinterest and some dress sites before I drew up a design. She quickly decided she wanted a two-piece ensemble, combining different fabrics and textures. We planned for the top to either be a tube top or sleeveless, tailored, boat neck top. The skirt idea started as a floor-length a-line tulle skirt and evolved to a more tailored mermaid silhouette.
I also don’t think I’ve had a project go more smoothly than this one- goes to show what planning does for the sewing process.
The top I copied from an old Gap top with built-in bra. After seam ripping it apart and using it to make a pattern, I first made a muslin in black jersey, which turned out great the first time! I ordered special 5/8″ elastic from Tailor Made shop that I sewed in two rows with a straight stitch while stretching it under my walking foot. Tricky, but after a couple tries I got the hang of it. She liked the “muslin” so we decided on the tube top with built-in bra for the wedding.
The skirt I drafted from her measurements and then made out of an old bed sheet. I did this by making a pencil skirt sloper from her measurements, then slashed and opened starting at the knees. Here’s the muslin next to the pattern:
It was a little snug, so I added some ease on the final version. I also marked where the zipper and darts would go. I started crying when she put it on – things were coming together! She laughed at me and told me to save my tears for the wedding.
After that, we took a trip to Jo Ann fabrics (they rarely have the fabric I’m looking for, but in this case, they have a gigantic selection of bridal fabrics) to compare shades of ivory, cream, blush, and eggnog until we found a fabric combination she liked. In the end we decided on ivory stretch crepe for the top and and white swiss dot lace with flowy eggnog rayon underneath. Here is a closeup of the fabrics all together:
There was about a month of procrastination before I actually sat down to make the thing. The top took a couple evenings. Then the skirt I made in almost a day (the whole day, with a break for lunch). The skirt is french-seamed and the top is sewed on the serger.
I didn’t actually finish the skirt until three hours before the wedding ceremony because we didn’t know what shoes she was going to wear! It took me an hour to hem the under layer, and then I trimmed the lace layer to match the length. Then I braided her hair and put baby’s breath flowers in it. She also wore our mom’s pearls and a vintage fur coat.
The whole wedding was a blast. Our third sister, the groom’s sister, and I were bridesmaids. We moved the festivities inside because of the rain. The living room became the dance floor and people ate at high-top tables scattered around the first floor. 100 people in my parents’ house made it a very cozy and intimate wedding. Eventually the rain stopped and many of the guests (myself included) jumped in the pool to cool off from dancing and drinking. We partied until very, very early in the morning. And the dress did what dresses do the entire night (although it did get a good soak in oxyclean the next morning to try to remove some of the mud stains).