Would you ever sew a wedding dress for someone?

Sometimes, I forget how few people actually sew these days – at least, in comparison to those who regularly buy from the high street.

Unsurprisingly, it often leads to a request or two from friends and acquaintances to fix a pocket here, hem some trousers there or just sew on a button. I’m more than happy to help out with a loose notion or two, but there are some projects just too big for my sewing machine alone to handle.

Picture by Beamillion

Hands up who’s had the wedding dress conversation? You know the one, where a friend jokes they’d like you, you stitchery type, to whip up a beautiful gown for their special day. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily undertake such a project for any of my close friends – so long as they don’t go Bridezilla on me when they realise sometimes I have a hard time sewing in a straight line.

But, every now and then, the “joke” comes from an acquaintance and you think… oh wait. They’re being serious, aren’t they?

I can see why it’s tempting. Wedding dresses are bloody expensive. With a talented pal and a sewing machine on your side, you can cut costs and spend that money on more wine at the reception. And I am always, ALWAYS, in favour of more wine.

But this is a task so phenomenally huge – what if you were to get it wrong? I’m not sure I could handle the weight of one bride’s expectations on my amateur sewing. I suck with slippery fabrics, I don’t *do* buttonholes and me and lace aren’t talking at the moment. I would be the WORST wedding-dress-maker candidate, really.

The only serious wedding-related request I’ve ever had came during a curious conversation with a friend from school who’ll be getting married soon enough. Up she popped on my Facebook chat, asking if I still made my own dresses, then how expensive it was… and then how expensive it would potentially be to make say two or three bridesmaid’s dresses.

Perhaps she was genuinely curious about if it would be cheaper to buy fabric and get them made, but she fell silent as soon as I asked her if she was trying to hint she wanted me to make them for her.

Long to the short, I won’t be taking any wedding commissions anytime soon. That is, unless some fella manages to keep me still for long enough to put a ring on it (not bloody likely) – then I’ll probably nab some lace curtains from a charity shop to make my wedding dress for the princely sum of Β£5. It does mean more money for cake and wine, after all.

90 thoughts on “Would you ever sew a wedding dress for someone?

  1. gingermakes says:

    Haha, I can’t imagine anything scarier than making a wedding dress! I was mega-stressed just making bridesmaid dresses! I would do it for a really close friend, but only if I had a craaaaaaaaaazy long time to get it done (and muslin, muslin, muslin!).

    • giovanna says:

      Muslin, lol. I have muslin rags all over the place from left over scraps from making patterns for pants, tops, swimwear.

  2. Molly says:

    I don’t think I’d ever make a wedding dress for someone else, *maybe* a sister. I made my own wedding dress, but that’s different, cause if I mess up it’s my own fault (and I’m not a perfectionist)! I made one of my bridesmaid dresses too, but it was fairly loose fitting so not too hard.

  3. Joelle St-Laurent says:

    In all honesty, I am quite the selfish sewer. I don’t think I would even sew a everyday-dress for someone else than me, even less a wedding dress! But I would teach someone to sew without hesitation. So she can sew her own wedding dress, haha. (I’m such evil…)

  4. Ursula Glitch says:

    My mum and I made my wedding dress. It was a cut n’ shut, using two different patterns, new top, vintage skirt. I even hand embroidered mine and my husband’s name on the skirt. It was a little stressful but it also bought my mum and I closer in the run up to my wedding. Since then we’ve had one or two requests. My mum made my aunty’s wedding dress recently and the results were fab. I think the most important factors are that your bride completely understands the limit of your expertise, and that they are willing to spend money on great foundation garments – especially if, like mine, it’s fifties inspired.

  5. IngeMaakt says:

    That is a lovely story Ursula about your dress and your mum πŸ™‚

    I probaly wouldn’t make a wedding dress since I don’t have nearly enough experience sewing, I have no idea how I would have to do it. That said, I rarely get asked seriously to make something for someone else. So that’s easy, I read about how annoying it can be all the time. But every time I read about it it also makes me a little insecure about the quality of my ‘work’ πŸ™‚

  6. Melody says:

    I was asked to make a friend’s wedding dress.

    She told me she’d pay me Β£2000.

    So I said yes.

    Then they broke off the engagement πŸ˜₯

    But honestly, my sewing skills aren’t up to par when it comes to that sort of thing. I don’t have the professional edge needed to pull off a wedding dress!

  7. Suzie says:

    Ooo – this is a timely post! I recently got engaged so wedding dresses are on my mind big time at the moment! I definitely would not undertake making someone elses wedding dress…or even bridesmaids dresses. I think one of the reasons being that quite often people who don’t sew don’t know just HOW much work goes into making even a simple dress, let alone THE most important dress they will ever wear! Saying that though, I am seriously thinking about making my own….still at the thinking stage though! lol

  8. Claire Cooper says:

    I’m on a mega wedding sewing plan at the moment. I’ve made a wedding dress for my friend,who got married in June; Bridesmaid dresses that were worn last Saturday (pics on my blog) and am just starting the wedding dress and grooms coat and trousers for a couple that are getting married in September. All the toiles have been made so it’s just a case of making the real thing now. So my summer holiday will be mostly sewing!

  9. Aniko says:

    Your post made me giggle, your writing style is great!

    I made a wedding dress for a friend once. Plus matching silk chiffon hair roses and a faux fur capelette…I was fresh out of fashion uni, armed with killer skills but very little experience of bridal outfit making… needless to say it turned into a bit of a nightmare… I was stitching on the last handmade chiffon rose when the brother of the bride came to pick the outfit up to fly it to the US…
    She loved it, but I had stressful dreams about it even after that.

    If I could do it again, I would not do it alone, that’s for sure. And I would probably buy a pattern and alter it slightly instead of drafting my own design from scratch.

  10. Beth says:

    I made my sister-in-law’s wedding dress. I was apprehensive at first that she’d want something very complicated and beyond my sewing skills. But she wanted a simple sheath with cap sleeves and it all worked out well in the end. It is a HUGE undertaking though and I’d be really nervous to do it for anyone else.

  11. adaisygarden says:

    I made my daughter’s wedding dress…we made that decision after we went to a bridal store and she tried on many different styles and chose the one she really liked. It was an “antique” style and was priced on sale at $950! We had a great time shopping for the fabric. Making the dress was a huge undertaking and I don’t know if I’ll do it again for someone else (my daughter is easy to please and not picky), but it was fun and I’m so glad I did it! The dress turned out very nice and she loved it! My Mom made my wedding dress and I had always wanted to do the same for my daughter.

  12. carolyncholland says:

    I not only made a wedding dress for one friend, I made her piano recital dress. Then I went on and made the bridesmaids dresses—and my dress—for my daughter’s wedding. What an experience! But it was rewarding seeing them wear them down the aisle.

  13. Jean says:

    I have made a wedding dress for a a good friend. She didn’t want the typical floor length white gown. The dress was light floral design and came down below her knees. I also made her hubby’s top — a medieval Frenchman’s peasant loose top with a fine raw cotton material. They both enjoyed their garments. And the wedding (over 25 yrs. ago) was unique with some dyi accessories.

    Doing something like this for a bride who wishes not to spend a pile of money but with some creativity is good thing. Consider it.

  14. SighYuki says:

    That’s crazy! The only person I know who has made a wedding dress for someone else was my aunty, and she made it for her daughter, whose pregnant belly was ever-growing. Wedding dresses are expensive for a reason – there’s a lot of skill and probably expensive and/or lots of material involved. How much you could save in the end would vary…

  15. Mikalee Byerman says:

    So…I’m getting married. Seriously. But nope, I won’t ask you to make me a dress! In fact, I recently told my daughter that there’s a possibility I won’t even wear a dress. I’m unconventional like that. πŸ˜‰

    Fun post — love the pic!

  16. pezcita says:

    So many great stories here! You were smart to say no. I’ve always admired people who have the skill (and time) to make wedding and prom dresses, but it is a lot of work for just one wearing. I used to sew, but have taken up knitting since the sewing machine broke 8 years ago. Of course, knitting a wedding dress is out of the question.

  17. Captain Momma says:

    I would LOVE to do that! I really want to learn the finer art of sewing and couture sewing so that would be up my alley, as long as I had like a YEAR to make it! LOL!

  18. giovanna says:

    I made my own wedding dress for myself years ago, I loved it and so did everyone else. I love to create, so yes i would make a wedding dress for someone else. I have also made bridesmaid dresses too. It is an honor to be part of such a celebration of life and to offer my gift of sewing. πŸ™‚

  19. trojanmatrix says:

    I would and could if I had the space. Yes I’m a window cleaner now and have been for about 15 years but once was a very low paid tailor, for ten years or so; in fact I loved the job but I was young and needed to get out side….anyway I often think of starting small projects and I do still have a working Brother flat bed fixed on an industrial pedal table but I do not have room for a realistic cutting table or the space to lay material…It would be wonderful to have the space and indeed the time to make any dress for my daughter or one day to make her wedding dress and I do not think my 6 foot dining table would ever be up to the job of cutting a wedding dress. Having worked with slippery expensive materials I know how crucial it is to get your cutting right, well by the time Katey is ready to get married I will be around 60 so if things change I will consider it if she asks….

  20. Cherrie Zell says:

    It is one of those events that is both daunting and exciting. I made the dresses for a friend/work colleague. She wanted something medieval and I’d always wanted to try costume design. The tricks are: 1. Make sure the bride realises that choosing a home sewer with limited skills will mean cutting back on the dream. There were a couple of features that just didn’t happen because I couldn’t work out how to make it happen. 2. You have to be able to hand sew. Sewing machines and overlockers are wonderful for lots of stuff, but wedding dresses and the like call for lots of old-fashioned needle and thread. After the wedding, one of the guests squeeled with astonishment when she noticed that the hems on the massive bell sleeves had been delicately stitched by hand.

  21. Erin F. says:

    I’ve made 4 wedding dresses – best friend’s, (ex) sister-in-law’s, super close friend’s, and sister’s. I offered (insisted, really) to make all but the sister-in-law’s. I loved them all and can’t wait to make my own.

    • Elena Cresci says:

      Personally, I’m not really bothered by the idea of a wedding because, like you, I think putting so much pressure on one day being THE BEST EVER is just asking for trouble πŸ˜‰ hence why I’m not too bothered to make a haphazard effort at sewing my own wedding dress if that day comes around. But as other people aren’t as nonchalant as I am when it comes to weddings, I’d find it pretty difficult to take the same route with their dress… thanks for popping by!

  22. antarabesque says:

    I sewed my own wedding dress. It turned out lovely, even when I had to entirely rework the pattern for the skirt because the fabric didn’t lend itself to the actual pattern. So happy I had.
    Congrats on the FP.

  23. Ellie at Emerald Pie says:

    I made my sister’s bridesmaids dresses. All three of them. And I was one of her bridesmaids. By the time we actually got to the wedding day and I was wearing the dress I made, I was sick of the dresses and the colour!! Never again!!! πŸ˜€

  24. Linda J. says:

    I would have to say…no. I have a hard enough time designing dog collars for weddings. If I had to do that for a person…”There will be blood.” LOL!! But seriously, no. I would recommend someone for anyone that would ask.

  25. Inese Poga Art Gallery says:

    I made a wedding dress for my sister, and have sewn about 10 of them for some friends. There’s nothing to be scared about. If you have experience, design ideas and known how to implement them in your pattern, the result is better than buying a dress. First of all, the specifically made dress is better fit, it will have the features no ready made dress would, regardless of its cost. My experience shows such dresses come out nice, even though you will have a mess for a while because of all kinds of fabrics and finishings all around.

  26. Stormhund says:

    Love this post, good to here from so many about the actual difficulties of making a wedding dress. Having my company Stormhund IΒ΄v done a few of them myself and it is alway plenty more nerve racing then other projects.

    Have a nice summer πŸ™‚
    IΒ΄ll reblog it on my blog

  27. Author of Faith Ministries says:

    I would not make a wedding dress unless I was as popular and respected as Vera Wang. Now, the bridesmaids dresses…all day any day. Get a simple pattern and the right fabric and I’m on it…and all I would ask for is references for my “portfolio”.

  28. prevailingstyle says:

    Loved this blog post! From a fellow “sewer” — I know what it’s like! I’m currently working on a few wedding wedding projects. But, here’s an option to think about! I do the designs & hire a seamstress to do the sewing! With something like a wedding dress or bridesmaid dress, there’s a lot of pressure to have it perfect for the big day! So, if people like what you do, do the designs & let someone else to the stressful part!

    & congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    http://prevailingstyle.wordpress.com/

    • Elena Cresci says:

      I nearly did this for my prom dress (this was before I could sew) and it’s a pretty good idea! I’ll be sure to mention it to the next person who hints about it πŸ˜‰

  29. The Tweezers says:

    My mother did her whole wedding dress for her self long time ago (27 years ago). 2 years ago she has sewed literally 5 brides maids amazing red dresses for my friend’s wedding. I agree its crazy buying a wedding dress. But I think my mom wouldn’t mind sewing another for her daughter ;). First I would get what I EXACTLY want in terms of size and style, second it’s gonna be so precious to keep for life! right?!

  30. juliebrowning18 says:

    I got married for the second time just this May, and I made my own wedding dress, and it didn’t turn too awful, actually. It took many months, and now I fear-having six adult children, all unmarried, that someone is going to ask me to make another one. To me, it was like refinishing a hardwood floor. Glad to have finished, learned some new skills, but no way I will ever do it again.

  31. Jennifer Hernandez says:

    Sew a wedding dress? Just this summer I learned how to take in a waist and back seam so my own pants and shorts fit better. I’ve been successful with three garments so far. Definitely not ready to tackle a wedding dress. Congrats on Freshly Pressed. Nice post!

  32. Kathryn Kane says:

    I love your comment about how people think you can just whip something up. My theory is that too many people got their idea of sewing from watching the mice make Cinderella’s dress in the Disney movie. πŸ˜‰

    I sew myself, and so many people think that since I have that skill, I should devote it to their purpose with no regard for how I might like to use my free time. So, I only sew for close friends who actually appreciate the effort that goes into it. Even so, I would most definitely draw the line at a wedding dress!

    Regards,
    Kat

    • Elena Cresci says:

      YES this is so true! They can’t help it though – after all, the high street fairies churn out hundreds and hundreds of garments on a rotating basis, people who don’t sew won’t realise how long it can take sometimes. I bloody wish I had some of Cinderella’s little helpers… thanks for popping by!

  33. Vicki Kate says:

    Gulp! I can’t think of anything more terrifying! There’s a reason they cost so much… I’ll be making my bridesmaids dress for my sisters weddings but I’m not going near the ‘dress’!

  34. photog says:

    Yikes! It’s hard to imagine anything more terrifying than taking on the responsibility for how a friend will look on her Big Day. Effort aside, it just seems like so much pressure — and weddings already have more than enough of that to go around. I’d definitely agree with leaving the bodicework to the professionals, and just enjoying the cake and wine!

  35. Northern Narratives says:

    Congrats on FB. I have been sewing more than 25 years but have never made a wedding dress. I have several friends who made their own dresses. I did not. I was too busy. Yes, I would make a dress for a close friend or relative πŸ™‚

  36. aviewintomyworld says:

    Whoop Whoop on the “Freshly Pressed” Len πŸ™‚
    brilliant post, lovely to see you flexing those writing muscles!!! I’m with you though, close friends only considered… I had a workmate messing-but-seriously inquire about maternity wear!

    • Elena Cresci says:

      Haha thank you! I didn’t expect all the extra comments, my phone has been buzzing with emails all day! I don’t really mind people asking but it’s when you’re seen as a cheaper alternative to store-bought which gets me, especially when anything I make for anyone else will take twice as long as anything I made for myself.

  37. Loulou says:

    My Montreal city hall wedding dress (pale brown raw silk with beautiful embroidery) was sewn by a woman who was a close friend for 15 important years. Another dress, this one white, was sewn for a later Toronto reception by the mother of another like-a-sister close friend.
    Though these women aren’t involved in my life anymore (lives grow apart for one reason or another, sadly) I still feel profoundly emotionally and spiritually honoured by their handiwork and their contributions to such an important moment in my life.
    [NB I sew, but I’m not good enough to make a good garment from scratch!]

    • Elena Cresci says:

      That’s amazing – it makes sense these two people ended up making your dresses for you as they were so important to you at the time. I think, given a loooot of time, I probably would make one for a very close friend but only if they can deal with my haphazard techniques πŸ˜‰

  38. clubschadenfreude says:

    make a wedding dress for someone, no. make insanely complicated Elizabethan for myself, well, yes. πŸ™‚ I’m all for no wedding dress and more wine. Ended up with a wedding dress myself, a accomodation for my parents. but what a waste of money.

  39. Christmas Place says:

    I made a wedding dress for a friend – two pieces, and I covered the top in a beautiful lace and added extra pearls wherever I could – it was really lovely, though I swear the hem of the top was not even on the hanger! It worked perfectly on the bride, so must have been her hips that were a little uneven .. right? It was a labor of love, and I would do it again for a good friend.

  40. montanadesigns says:

    I’ve been asked to make a wedding dress, the first thing I said was “WHAT?” It was my cousin asking so it wasn’t too bad. I thought I was the only one that won’t sew button holes amongst other things.

  41. kelleyboothe says:

    My grandmother and great-grand mother made my mother’s wedding dress. I’d like to wear it on my wedding day. It’s so beautiful to have something like that. However, even if I had that type of sewing skills, I can’t say I’d do it for someone I didn’t know very well. It would be too stressful. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Elena Cresci says:

      My Great-Auntie made my Mum’s wedding dress – it’s a gloriously 80s creation with huge puff sleeves and stitched to perfection. Not my style, but it’s so well made. Thanks for popping by!

  42. fatima says:

    I get asked a lot to fix friends clothing, but I’m with you on the wedding dress issue. It’s a pretty big responsibility, no wonder people charge so much freaking much for them.

  43. kaiyasworld says:

    I was asked by a close friend to design & make a wedding dress for her. I designed 4 options, keeping in mind the work it would take to construct each. Of course, she liked the top front one and the bottom from another- the 2 most complicated pieces. I’m a sucker and felt bad if I said no, so I agreed. It was hell. Hell, hell, hell! The skirt was layers & layers of asymmetrical gathered tiers and the bodice had tons of hand sewn flowers. Not to mention she went on a crash diet, so everytime I fit her I had to take the dress in. She lost so much I needed to cut new bodice pieces because I couldn’t alter them any more. I did get paid a decent amount, but it wasn’t worth it. I had to take numerous days off from work and missed out on precious time with my then 1 yr old. The stress did a number on me. I was so worried that she wouldn’t be happy with it. Here’s my advice…. Don’t do it!

  44. freshfrippery says:

    My friend made my wedding dress for me, but she said she only did it because I also had sewing experience and would understand the effort it took. I wouldn’t be asking for any crazy fabrics, either!

  45. allworldissues says:

    There was a while there where i was really into cake decorating (still am just dont do it at the moment) and i had a friend asking if i could make her wedding cake… while i would love to… i think she would find better skills in a professional store rather than me. So i know how you feel right now. Congratulations on getting freshly pressed

  46. kimi encarnacion says:

    Ok, but what if it’s a creative friend who wants you to take an old dress and transform it for her…and she’s non fussy! That’s a win-win!! I’ve done it. FUN! You seem cool! Congrats with the pressing and all! YAY!

    kimi @ CaliforniaPixie.com

  47. Anna Hergert says:

    I so enjoyed your post… Congrats on being freshly pressed!!!
    And to weigh in on the “making a wedding dress challenge”: I am so glad that my daughter changed her plans and settled on a dress found in a previously loved designer wear store. The wedding is about to take place – and I am that much more calm as I didn’t have to create the dress!

  48. righterskramp says:

    I would sew a wedding dress for someone I didn’t like, I guess. Because there is no way I would let someone I liked walk down the aisle in a dress I made. I like your blog, because it makes me realize there are people out there who actually know how to sew, and do it! My mother sewed clothes for me growing up, so I think she was tired of it and never thought to teach me. I, in turn, never asked to learn.

  49. natasiarose says:

    I would never sew a wedding dress for a friend! I did sew my own chuppah though, and Ive offered to do that for others. Hemming and
    Decorating a chuppah is sooo much fun.

  50. raynebair says:

    I think the same happens with knitters. They learn you can knit and suddenly think its no big deal for you to just knot something for them. Uhm, no. Just because I knit doesn’t mean I will knit a hat for you to give away as a gift. Willpower to say No is key! Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  51. littlecitybot says:

    hahaha ” I don’t *do* buttonholes and me and lace aren’t talking at the moment ”

    brilliant read! and in answer to your question..never, i would never sew a wedding dress for a friend unless i was a certified bridal couturier. too risky!

  52. claireokc says:

    You know this is a tough deal. This is an extra, EXTRA special day, and to have the responsibility of making that day even more special with a very big part of it – the dress – messed up is something that can so easily happen. This is my business – my metier. I take such huge care in not only the workmanship that goes into each dress, but also the time and effort I take to dig into my clients’ brains to figure out what will make them look the best, then working with them to help them learn and develop their own style. The best compliment I receive on my dresses is that I make the clients look just like who they really are. This is not a matter of me dictating to them what they will wear and that’s it. I actually want to know what will look good, and it’s up to me to design something that will work within that purview and yet works for them so they are wearing the dress not the other way around. I have a great rep in the area, and my clients are not satisfied, they are thrilled with their dresses. This goes a long way toward making their dream day a reality.

    That’s why a beautifully made garment for that special day is so hard to describe, much less price. It is a huge responsibility and a huge burden. I’ve only designed two dresses gratis – niece & nephew’s fiance, and there was more pressure with those dresses than the dresses I design for my clients. If you take it on, know that it is a huge burden and very hard task.

  53. 2barbarabar says:

    yes. long-distance from telephone measurements. high neck, victorian styling, train and everything. even the buttons on the back. perfect fit. but i would never do it again. such angst!!!

  54. chickcando says:

    Oh…I love this! I recently wrote about having my wedding dress made by a couture designer in a hurry. Was awful! I can’t imagine EVER wanting to do that. And I wasn’t the Bridezilla personality! LOL

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s