Sometimes I think I wanted to get married just so I could make my wedding dress… And, because we eloped to the Caribbean and the whole planning was ridiculously easy, I thought I would make things hard for myself – not just designing, pattern cutting and sewing THE DRESS, but also making it 100% sustainable: reclaimed from an existing garment and not allowing myself to use any new, purpose bought materials at all. And all of that with a month to go before we were flying out to St. Vincent. Incoming stress and hair pulling!
Obviously, it did come together, with a week to spare, and I LOVED IT! It was perfect for the occasion, a very casual beach wedding, it was exactly as I pictured it in my mind, it was made to measure for me and above all, it was in accordance with my sustainability principles. And not to mention, a hundredth of the price of a new wedding dress!
I started with a perfectly nice polyester champagne taffeta wedding dress, which had a duchesse satin lining. The hard part was that everything was panelled or cut on the bias and I had to do a lot of puzzle piece matching to get my pattern pieces to fit the resulting fabric correctly.
After I unpicked the whole thing, I had a lot of taffeta, a long train of duchesse satin, a thinner lining, loads of tulle and some trims (a zipper, hook and eye and some boning). I decided that the medium weight, firmer satin would work better with what I wanted to achieve, so I made it my main fabric.
You can read about the construction on my blog, but suffice to say that absolutely everything got used. There was hardly anything left of the duchesse and I also used all the trims and the lining as well as the cups and wires from an old bra, as my dress has cups and the original one just a bustier.
There were a few times where I was close to cracking and buying some better materials (the lining was super flimsy and I would have preferred some cupro or bemberg instead), but I stuck to my guns. Also, the regular zipper was a pain and it took me a really long time to put in, when I could have whizzed through an invisible one. But it was all worth it! And I still have enough fabric to make another dress at some point from the taffeta.
Even though refashioning is all the rage now, I would recommend thinking about the charity shop or even items already in your wardrobe as a source of fabric and trims. And even without being a hardcore ‘make do and mender’, it’s perfectly possible to merge principles, hobbies and fashion, even on the most important day of your life!
Alex believes in 'sewing for good': to cut, stitch, refashion, make, learn, teach, ditch fast-fashion and save the planet one lovely handmade project at a time. She blogs at sewrendipity.com.