Making My Wedding Dress Part I: Research

Ever since getting engaged in September of last year, a swarm of questions have been buzzing around in my brain related to wedding planning. When would we get married? Where would we get married? Who would be in our bridal party? What should our color scheme be? How are we going to eat keto at our own wedding? There were so many decisions that needed to be made but one—okay, scratch that, two—were certain: 1) I would be marrying the man of my dreams 2) I would make my wedding dress.

My Limited Sewing Background

Despite cosplaying for over ten years, I didn’t start sewing in earnest until last year. I’ve had a sewing machine since 2010, but only made a few minor things with it like plushies, my Blake Belladonna vest, and a witch hat. 2016 was when I really started learning. I learned the basics like: how to read and use a pattern, what all the different settings on my sewing machine were, and how to use bias tape, velcro, zippers, snaps, and other notions. I even ventured into pattern-drafting, designing my own pattern based on a t-shirt for Korra. I slowly started accruing more and more sewing supplies that have made it much easier. With all this in mind, I felt confident enough to make my wedding dress.

Well, I say “confident,” but I’ve already accepted that it’s not going to be perfect. Nothing I make is perfect. I can point out every mistake and flaw with any article of clothing I’ve made. I can tell you that it will not have designer-level fabric or techniques; I’m working within a budget and have a limited amount of time to learn new techniques. However, I’m still certain that the cost I spend on supplies for this dress will be nothing compared to how much it could cost me to buy a brand new designer dress. In fact, I’ll be using fabric from an old wedding dress I got from a thrift store for $25 as part of my dress. I’ve since changed the design a bit, so I had to go ahead and buy more fabric, but that $25 dress will still come in handy. But, as of today, after buying fabric, notions, and patterns, I’ve only spent about $200. Not bad!

First Steps: Research

The first step in any project is research. Let me tell you: bridal gown research is the best, most fun research I could ask for. (Aside from, maybe, puppy research.) I checked out pinterest, instagram, and bridal boutiques online to find inspiration. I looked at dress guides that showed what dress silhouettes worked with what body type. I researched fabric, pattern drafting techniques such as draping, and scoured craft store sites for dress patterns. I looked at pictures of weddings I had previously attended. I started a pinterest board, an instagram collection, a google spreadsheet, and a dropbox folder that’s dedicated to this project. This dress has entirely taken over my brain.

Below are some examples of dresses I looked at. You may notice a theme, specifically the neckline.

The beauty of this is that not one of these dresses looks exactly like what I have in mind for my dress. But I can tell you that every single one of them have inspired me in some form or fashion.

Handy Tips

I also found some helpful sewing tips that could come in handy during the process.

(I did a lot of horsehair braid research, which is funny considering I don’t think I’m going to end up using it.)

I’m So Excited (And I Just Can’t Hide It)

I think the aspect I’m most excited about is how unique it’ll be. How many brides get to say they made their wedding dress? It will be literally one of a kind. I’m so excited to have something this personal incorporated into our wedding. It’ll be a labor of love and I think it’s a great way to start off our marriage. I’m willing to put in the time, money, and effort to get this done and make it work.

Up Next:

Part II: Buying Supplies & Creating the Mockup

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