Sunday, 2 January 2011

My self-made wedding gown

I'm married since more than 2 years, but I never had the opportunity to show the pictures of my wedding dress. Why should that be so important you may ask... Well, it is to me, as I made my weeding dress all by my self. I'm not a professional seamstress, and I never had a particular sewing education, so this project was really something special. And it was a lot of work.

The whole thing started when I tried on a wedding dress in a bridal shop. I liked it a lot, but it was not comfortable, and the seller tried to hurry and made a lot of pressure, as it was the last piece. But I needed more time, and I was not really sure about it, so a real odyssey on the search of the perfect dress began. I don't know how many gowns I tried on. And I guess I lost a lot of weight trying them on. In my head I had the picture of my wedding gown, but no dress came close to it. In the end, I was so desperate that I started to search the internet for an older Vogue wedding gown pattern I once saw, probably in the later 90s. Of course, if you don't have a pattern number, it's impossible to find it.

But I found something else: pages and pages with the most beautiful vintage patterns from the 30s, 40s and 50s - and they all were much closer to what I had in mind than any dress I had tried on before. So I bought some of these patterns and thought that each of the designs, without sleeves and with some accessories, would make the perfect wedding gown for me. I soon realised that I would have to make it myself, as there are not so many professional seamstresses here in Switzerland, but I thought it would be possible. I had made some fitting garments for me before, and I was confident to make it in time. My choice was this vintage pattern from about 1956, Butterick 7708. As many other patterns, I bought it on Etsy.

Finding the perfect fabric was sheer luck. There are only two fabric stores left in Zurich, and I was so lucky to find in one of them the most beautiful Duiponi silk in champagne colour. As I knew already from the beginning that I would add some fabric rose accessories, I was lucky again that they had the same fabric in a shade of pink. I felt so happy when I came home with my big bag full of this wonderful silk. I love silk, and I love roses, and therefore I had to have roses on wedding gown!

First I made the ring-cushion, just to get an idea of the fabric, how it felt to work with this silk. The I made some kind of test-bodice from a cotton-fabric to make all necessary alterations. I don't tell you how many times I had to alter the pattern (I guess women in the 50s had different body measurements, and I have a rather small bust), how many times I had to change this and that, as I wanted the dress to be sleeve-less and with some boning added to the bodice. You really don't want to know that I had to re-make the bodice again as I made a terrible mistake... At a certain point my DH and me had some sleepless nights as it seemed my sewing-machine didn't work properly, and we were afraid it was broken. I always was afraid to run out of fabric (I still have some left!), and of course, I always was afraid to run out of time. Of course, it's a nightmare for a bride to add such a project to all the other, regular wedding preparations. I had so many sleepless nights, and in those hours in my mind I was always trying to find the perfect solution for the boning, for the under-skirt, for the straps, for the fabric roses etc... I was mentally sewing, even when I was at work in my office. And, in addition to all, we were expecting our child (I was in the 2nd month of my pregnancy at the wedding). This was such a special time, and my husband and I still look back from time to time and lough about it - especially remembering all the many times when he had to assist and close the zipper of the almost finished bodice with his eyes closed...

My adaption of Vogue V7009 in two different shades

Of course, at a certain point, he couldn't help me anymore, and I'm glad I had a dress-form/dummy. Of course, I put an lot of work and time and nerves in this dress, but the more the dress advanced, the more I enjoyed it. In the end, making a pompadour and the rose accessories was just like having a delicious desert. The roses were made after a Vogue pattern (Bridal accents V7009), as well as the ring-cushion. The pompadour was made after a pattern from a 90s Burda magazine, and, the day before the wedding, I even had to make a bolero, as the weather was not so good as expected.

I was so proud when I put my dress on on my wedding day, so proud. You can't imagine the feeling, and it made me feel even more special on this special day. And my husbands smile and look when I entered the church - I was so happy, and it was worth all the labour and the fears and the troubles.
This snapshot (we were discussing wether our friend could close his jacket or not) shows perfectly the one long center piece of the dress that goes from top of the bodice down to the hem.
Today, when I look back and especially look at my pictures, I don't regret it at all. Of course, some people looked down their noses at my "homemade" wedding gown, the probably thought it was not chic enough or not as posh as this or that designer dress. But I don't care - this is a one-of-a-kind wedding gown, as unique as I wanted to feel on that wonderful day, and nobody ever could take that away from me and from my and my husband's memories. I certainly would make SOME things in a different way, and definitely I would start earlier. But this dress really makes part of our wedding, and I would do it again. 

I hope you like this post!


  1. Thank you for sharing your wedding dress story. You did a magnificent job and made a beautiful bride. As a sewer, I know the frustrations of trying to find what you want and then to make it. Perfect...that is what you looked like.

  2. Your dress is lovley! You look beautiful in it! I,too, made my wedding gown 33 years ago. When you are able to create your own dream wedding gown, there is a sense of internal bliss and pride that has no equal.

  3. Candice, you're so right. And I still feel it when I look at my dress...

  4. Beautiful dress!!You look so nice!


  5. Gasp! This is absolutely gorgeous! We are still "living in sin", but if we ever go ahead and tie the knot, this is how I want my dress to look like!

  6. Thanks! I was never someone who dreamed all my life of a white wedding with hundreds of guests and lots of glamour etc... But I always wanted to say "yes" to the man I love. And the champagne colour was perfect for a bride beyond 30... :-)
    The gown would also look great in a shorter length and with a real pettycoat.


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