So you want to design & make your own Wedding Gown? 5 steps to perfection

When two loving souls meet and decide to be one, there is almost always a wedding in the offing. And a wedding calls for a beautifully designed and well-made wedding gown.

The bride wants the most beautiful dress in the world for her special day. She is justified. A gorgeous looking wedding dress is the right of a bride. 

Whatever the nationality/religion, there are some things always in common about a wedding. The joyousness of the occasion, optimism for a better future, good food, attendance of friends and family and beautiful fabrics and custom fit of the wedding clothes

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Let us see what goes into getting one of these criteria correct –  the wedding gown.

design a wedding gown

1. Style of the wedding gown

First and foremost you will have to choose a fitting style and pattern for the dress

Start planning at least 6 weeks ( 6 months if you could ) before your wedding if you have decided to get your wedding dress custom made. You will have to get dresses for axillary functions of the wedding like maybe a reception for which you need less elaborate dresses than a wedding dress.

{Except in case it is an impromptu wedding. In which case you will have to count your luck and look for a ready-to-wear dress that meets all your criteria}

Decide on the style you want and the type of silhouette you want by looking around you. Check out the post on the 12 different dress silhouettes

If you find a particular dress in a style anywhere near you – take a photograph, cut it out from a wedding magazine, save it on your Pinterest board, or save it on your Evernote account. Create a lookbook. You can follow celebrity weddings for inspiration. Fashion shows with wedding dresses can give you real wedding gown goals

You may even choose to alter your mother’s wedding gown and make it your own.

Whatever style you decide to select you should take into account many factors. Some important things to consider are the season, the setting of the wedding, time of the day of the event, the age of the bride, her personality and last but not the least her personal taste

But the most important criterion is, of course, the body shape of the wearer. Sometimes you see a beautiful design on a magazine and on the model it may look good, but maybe you have a different shape. Save yourself the agony

You can try on some of the appealing styles and silhouettes in a ready to wear wedding gown shop to try and see which one fits your body shape best.

Check out the posts on the deciding which bodyshape you have out of the 7 basic ones and  dressing styles that suit different bodyshapes 

Do not forget convenience and ease of movement. Ensure that you can move around in the design – especially if there is going to be dancing in the wedding – you do not want to miss the fun part

The features of the wedding dress you will have to finalize are

1.The type of neckline

design wedding gown

Here is a post on the 60+ necklines you can choose from. Decide on the front neckline and back neckline.

2. The type of waistline of the Bodice

wedding gown making

Have a look at the 10 different waistlines suitable for your wedding gown.

3.The type of skirt/train

wedding gown design

4.The type of sleeves

Check out the different types of sleeves you can design for the wedding dress.

5 Other embellishments like bows, sash belts etc

You could add lace appliques, beautiful bows to your wedding dress, and change the look of the fabric you have. Pearls, sequins and beads, satin ribbons, lace trims all can be used to further enhance the gown. The edges of the gown can be decorated with satin ribbon, pearls or lace trims. 

Make a simple sketch of the final design with all these elements. This gives you and the dressmaker an idea about everything that should be included in the final wedding dress

Sketching the wedding gown

Buy a simple notebook without lines. Make simple Sketches with several different combinations of bodice, skirt & sleeve to see how they look together. Choose the style you like the most and then colour with colour pencils for different colour combinations – keep fabric swatches and trim pieces against this drawing and see if all goes together. You may have to do this multiple times to get to the look you love.

2 The Dressmaker

If you have chosen the design of the wedding gown and have the whole look figured out you have done only 1/8 of the work finished. Rest of it depends on your dressmaker. She can very well make or break your dream wedding look.

You have two choices for a custom made wedding gown. You can hire a dressmaker or be brave enough to make the wedding dress yourself

If you have decided to sew the wedding gown yourself, you will need to have a good deal of expertise in sewing. Because here we are dealing with very expensive fabrics and emotions of a thousand kinds usually associated with the weddings.

1. Always sew a muslin

2. If it is not right and not close fitting enough, make another muslin and then some more. Fitting sessions are the most important part of wedding dress designing

3. Give your sewing machine a thorough maintenance checkup before starting sewing with the real fabric. 

4.Clean oil and lint or any dirt from anywhere you plan to keep the fabric – like the ironing table, iron plate, cutting table etc

4 Change needle and keep many other spare ones. Choose the best sewing thread and all other notions should be top quality.

5 When measuring for sewing a wedding dress, strip to the underwear (the same kind you intend to wear for the wedding) – an assistant is necessary if one is making the gown for oneself. A wedding dress should be close fitting and you need correct body measurements.

Check out the post on the correct way of taking body  measurements and the sequence of measurements you should take. Do not forget to wear the heels you intend to wear for the wedding.

Choosing a dressmaker for the wedding gown

It is better that you go with a dressmaker who has been recommended to you. Meaning, the dressmaker should come with at least one good reference from someone you personally know. Just talk to people who have recently been married and you will get plenty of suggestions and recommendations.

Do not forget to look at samples of the dressmaker’s past projects. This is important because her tastes and yours has to align.

Take a swatch of the fabric you want to make the dress in and your idea book and ask the dressmaker’s opinion about the design you have in mind – maybe she can come up with something better or suggest improvements to the design you have given her.

Give her the date of the wedding – she should be able to finish the dress well ahead of the date. You will have to ensure that the dressmaker has a reputation of not delaying projects. It can be a bummer if you have to get pressurized into thinking whether you will get the dress in time for the wedding or not.

Ask for an estimate – including labour charges, notions, lining etc. If the fabric is chosen from the dressmaker, that too. Some couture houses sew only with fabric from their in-house store.

3. Choice of Gorgeous Fabric 

The fabric of the wedding gown determines everything about the way a wedding dress will look. So choosing the best fabric is of prime importance.

wedding gown making

You have so many choices in fabric stores – there are exclusive stores which stock only bridal fabrics. They can tell you a whole lot of things about the best fabric for you. Read an over view here.

Silk

This is usually the most coveted fabric for wedding dresses if you want a rich  look – silk is classic and timeless and can look classically simple or opulent.

Silk is comfortable to wear, as it is a natural fiber. It will keep for years if preserved properly.

The problem with using real silk is that it is very expensive. With the many meters of  fabric needed for a wedding dress, silk can  end up costing you a fortune. 

Choose the type of silk depending on the effect you want. There are almost 50 different types of silk fabrics. If you want a soft drapey fluid style, buy silk crepe or silk georgette. Silk organza and silk chiffon being sheer can work great for an illusion neckline. Silk organza can look good as an overlay over the gown.

For a heavier drape with a beautiful shine check out dupioni silk; silk satin has a smooth finish with a high gloss. Silk brocades are also great as a wedding fabric. Check out the post on the correct way to sew with silk.

Polyester

The advantage of polyester is that it is less costly than silk. The best thing is it doesn’t wrinkle up as easily as silk and is very easy to maintain. It is also durable. Polyester satin can be used as a substitute for silk satin.

Rayon 

Rayon is a great fabric for making dresses – the drape is very good. You will find rayon fabric in many shades and it is very inexpensive.

For a more detailed list of the best fabrics suitable for wedding dresses have a look at this post

Once you have bought the fabric you can buy other embellishments like beads and pearls, sequins and rhinestones, embroidery, metallic embroidery etc. Look out for posts on 20 different types of beads, how to sew beadshow to sew sequins, how to attach rhinestones, how to do embroidery, Metallic embroidery

Lace

You can add laces trims, lace appliques, lace yokes, bodice insets, single motifs on to your wedding dress. Alencon, Venice, Chantilly and other laces can be added to the fabric as an overlay or as sleeves or part of the bodice; They can be attached as appliques on to fabric to look like they are a part of the fabric. Check out the post on the different types of laces lace fabrics and lace trims. and the 30 different ways to add lace to your clothes

Sequinned / Beaded fabric 

These fabrics are beautiful But making clothes with them can bring a lot of challenges. They are difficult to sew. Your dressmaker may refuse to sew with these heavily worked fabrics because of the extra work involved. If you are sewing, you can have a look at this post on some tips to sew with sequinned fabric

Lining

This is an essential feature of wedding clothes and for a keeper like a wedding dress you will need the best fabric for the lining. The bodice of a wedding dress is almost always lined and the skirt always.

The lining shapes and supports the fabric of the wedding dress. A lined dress lasts longers. From the inside, it looks better with the lining as you will not see the stitching lines, seam allowances etc. It looks neater with the lining.

Cotton batiste is a very breathable fabric and you will feel comfortable if the lining is made with this fabric. You can also use china silk, as it is soft, thin enough and inexpensive. Rayon, polyester or even silk are all used for lining. The main criteria being that it should be comfortable against your skin and should be matching the outer fabric.

Keep the lining fabric with the outer fabric in good sunlight so that you can see the effect it creates. If the colour changes because of variation, look for a closer match

Underlining

This is a type of fabric lining; it is treated as one with the fabric – ie you cut and sew the underlining as one with the outer fabric. Unlike lining which is sewn separately. Underlining gives extra support to the fabric. 

Underlining is optional. If you have a sheer fabric you may want to underline the fabric to remove the transparency. 

You can choose a 100% cotton or a poly cotton blend fabric for the underlining or go for a silk organza for soft drapey fabrics. If you want good structure you can use 100% cotton organdy fabric. Batiste and broadcloth are good fabrics for underlining. Self same fabric is also used as underlining. You can also use a 100% polyester lining

Crinoline/net

You will have to add this to the lining for adding fullness to the wedding gown skirt.This can be added in a tiered way or added just to the hem as in the picture below. 

wedding gown design

Colour of the fabric

Choosing the right colour is another very important aspect. White to red to a lot of other shades – all are used to make wedding gown all over the world.

In countries like China and India red is auspicious, but for some countries like Japan white is  the bridal wear colour. Black used to be considered a proper colour for weddings in Finland. Indian weddings have a colour palette ranging from red, pink, purple, wine and maroon. In Muslim countries, bright colours like green, orange, are used.

If you are having a white wedding gown you may think you have it easy. But white is not a single color anymore.  So many shades of white in the fabric store, it is mind-boggling. The main colours are pure white, off white, blush & ivory, ofcourse.

Matching whites among the outer fabric, trims, linings is one aspect you will have to be diligent about. Do not think it is white and order online. You will end up with yards of worthless fabric pieces which are not the right shade of the white you wanted. 

Check out the post on different colour combinations for mixing and matching colours and the post “What colour do I wear?” for some tips on colour selection.

4 Couture sewing techniques

wedding dress making

Couture sewing techniques are best practiced for bridal sewing. Hand sewing and following best sewing practices look different and special.

Hand sewing is used a lot in wedding dress sewing. Delicately and finely done hand sewing can make stitching look almost invisible. You can even sew the zippers by hand stitching so that there is no visible line of stitching on the outside. Facings of hems and neckline are delicately hand stitched to the lining. A pick stitch makes minimal sewing lines on the face of the fabric.

French seams or hong kong seams are preferred for the seams as these finishes make the inside as well as outside look good. When using sheer fabrics french seams can make the seam look good from the outside as well.

You may wish to add shoulder pads or sleeve heading. Crinoline is added to give fullness to skirts (instead of petticoats which can also make the skirt look full) or add horsehair braid hems. 

Sheer fabrics like English net or organza are used for binding.

Pressing and manipulating the fabric appropriately are used to make the dress look the way you want and sometimes even shrink it to fit the body closely.

A wedding dress is always sewn close to the body without too much ease so that it looks good. You can add side zippers to ensure that the fitting is correct and the opening is invisible

Small handmade buttons and button loops are used a lot in wedding gowns because of their attractive looks.

5 Right accessories

A wedding dress is not complete in itself. A number of accessories are needed to create the special effects of being bride. The various accessories which go with a wedding gown include the head covering be it a full veil or a partial veil, the bouquet, separate sash belts, shoes and jewelry

Check out this post on the 10 different wedding veil styles and their corresponding lengths. 

Careful planning, speculation and selection are important in selecting these accessories, as we do when choosing the fabric and dressmaker

Whatever she wears a bride is beautiful. Her inner happiness and beauty is enhanced many fold by a well-made wedding dress. 

 

 

Comments 3

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Cynthia
      Wow, that is great – to be able to make your own daughters wedding gown and seeing her wearing it for her special day must have been an incredible feeling. congrats

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