wardrobe wedding dress

Me Made Wedding Dress Series – 1

I got my start with sewing garments as a hobby in high school, by way of finding an inexpensive solution to having a new dress for every formal dance. I fell in love with making gowns, even feverishly making dresses for friends of mine who would supply me with fabric. Back then, in the years when the idea of marriage was more synonymous with a fancy wedding than with a lifelong commitment and partnership (the idea of getting married vs being married), I would get asked pretty frequently about whether I was going to make my wedding dress in the far away future. My answer had always been yes.

I mean, why wouldn’t I? I already had plenty of experience sewing gowns at that point, albeit mostly working in cheap poly satin from Joann Fabric. But there had never been a doubt in my mind about whether or not I’d make the dress I’d get married in.

The wedding dress I made for Carly — self-drafted pattern made in an ivory silk gabardine.

Fast forward several years later, and I’d find myself interning for Claire La Faye, a bridal designer who’s work I had admired in complete awe for over a decade. By then I had already made one wedding gown for my dear friend Carly, and I had the notion that if I wanted to make sewing into a career, wedding dresses was one of the only financially viable ways to do so. So for six months, I was Claire’s part time assistant with social media, correspondence, and most importantly, dress construction. Claire’s dresses are made to order and made by hand in luxurious fabrics at her home studio. She had admitted that she usually didn’t let interns do any real construction work, but with my previous experience and skill, she felt confident in having me assist her in constructing her beautiful gowns. She even thanked me at the end of my internship by generously gifting me with one of her samples!

The wedding dress sample Claire gifted to me at the end of my internship, circa 2013

Before my internship, I would have felt confident in sewing a wedding dress just as I’d done before, and it would have come out fine. It would have been a simple corset style dress with a circle skirt, horsehair braid and crinoline— undeniably a beautiful silhouette but also a simple variation on many of the dress patterns readily available to us via the pattern industry. After all, most dresses you see (bridal or not) are just variations of the same thing in different fabric. But I wouldn’t have had the confidence to veer away from what was being offered to me in the home sewing community and instead plan a more elaborate gown and to the exact specifications that I dreamed up.

And, surprisingly, it’s not the skills I learned during the internship that gave me the confidence to dream bigger. It’s that, sometimes, all we need to gain confidence in ourselves is to take a peek behind someone else’s magic curtain. And for me, I needed to see that there was no magic voodoo behind Claire making her other-worldly gowns; just a woman and her sewing machine, and feathers and flowers and silk. Ok, ok — and also some technical details.

The skirt muslin I shared on Instagram

After the overwhelmingly positive response I got from sharing the muslin of my wedding dress on Instagram, I realized that some of my readers might benefit from a similar revelation. So, in the coming months before my wedding, I’d like to share with you all the process of making my wedding dress, to pull back my own magic curtain, so to speak. I originally intended to share it on the blog after the entire thing was completed and debuted at the wedding, but I know myself well enough to know that after the wedding, I’d lost steam in my desire to share my process and I’d likely end up not sharing it at all. Additionally, neither John nor I are superstitious, and he is usually pretty involved in my design process. He’s already seen my muslin, my fabrics, and my design, so I’m not afraid of him seeing the dress before the wedding.

I plan on documenting and sharing this journey over the next few months as I make progress on my Me Made Wedding Dress, but you should expect the next few installments to cover inspiration photos, sketches, dimensions of the pattern pieces I’ve drafted or the pattern numbers I’m using, a tour of the fabrics I’m using and where I got them, and how I’m creating the surface texture of the skirt and bodice. If there’s anything else you’d like to see explained, leave me a note in the comments and I’ll see what I can do!

I’m starting an intensive German language course this week (24 hours a week), so it’s entirely possible I’m biting off more than I can chew in regards to sharing my process, but I promise to do my best. I also, sheepishly, have some catching up to do here on the blog. I mean, August is a perfect time to share thoughts on Me Made May, amirite?

Regardless, thanks for reading through, and I hope you all have a wonderful week. xxoo

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