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A Professional's Guide to Bridal Sewing

My Wedding Gown

a-professionals-guide-to-bridal-sewing

Sewing a Wedding Gown

A Labor of Love

Sewing a wedding dress is a big project, but it can be made easier with careful choices of pattern, fabrics and tools. Take the project one step at a time, carefully follow directions, and allow sufficient time to complete the dress without hurrying. If you can measure accurately, alter commercial patterns to those measurements, and execute intermediate to advanced sewing procedures, you have the skills to make a wedding gown. If you also have embroidery and hand beading skills, you can make almost any gown spectacular!

Lets get into the details now: patterns, fabrics, and techniques.

(Photograph above is the author's.)

Best Bridal Sewing Book - Couture Techniques

Selecting Bridal Sewing Patterns

From Basic to Designer Dresses

If time is short or your sewing skills are less than expert, choose a simple pattern and let a beautiful fabric take center stage. It is better to execute a simple pattern perfectly than to attempt a complex pattern and get disappointing results. Simple dresses include Butterick 5710, modeled after Pippa Middleton's bridesmaid dress. Check out bridesmaid patterns at your local fabric store for simple silhouettes that will look bridal when made in white or ivory.

For more advanced dressmakers, consider a vintage or renaissance style. Have fun embellishing a gown with lace, tucks, ruffles or even a corset. Allow extra time for hand work when sewing an old-fashioned dress style.

Determine the correct pattern size by taking the bride's body measurements while she is wearing the correct bridal undergarments for the style she has chosen. If you are the bride, get a friend to take your measurements; Unless you are a contortionist, you will not be able to measure your own back waist accurately. Compare the body measurements on the pattern envelope to the actual measurements and select the pattern based on bust measurement. Have a roll of tracing paper or waxed paper for altering the pattern pieces as needed.

Essential Equipment and Techniques

Professional-Quality Sewing

Organize your workroom before starting a bridal sewing project. Most bridal sewing requires only a straight stitch machine with forward and reverse. A serger is nice for finishing seams, although a zigzag stitch on a regular machine is a good substitute. A large worktable next to the sewing machine is essential for supporting all the fabric in a wedding gown skirt. There should be no rough edges or sharp corners near the work area to snag delicate bridal fabrics. Sharp shears are also a must-have tool. A dress form is nice to have, especially if it can be adjusted to the bride's measurements.

Your most important supplies are not expensive. Have multiple packages of sewing machine needles of the correct size and type for each of the fabrics included in your gown. Hand sewing needles and thread will be needed for beadwork, basting, and making thread loops. Finally, don't start until you have several boxes of brand new pins. Bridal fabrics dull pins quickly and you will need sharp, strong pins to hold the many layers in a typical wedding gown. Don't be skimpy! You will use hundreds of pins in the course of this project. Dull pins will slow you down and might snag your expensive fabric. I recommend the extra-long quilting pins with the yellow plastic heads for most satins and multiple layers of fabric. Smaller silk pins can be used for more delicate fabrics.

Choosing Bridal Fabrics

Taffeta, Satin, or Lace?

The dressmaker with intermediate sewing skills can confidently tackle less formal bridal fabrics such as cotton batiste, cotton eyelet and matte crepe. Traditional wedding fabrics such as taffeta, satin, georgette and tulle require more patience and experience. Velvet, silk, beaded fabrics and lace require some special techniques-try these fabrics in a small project before committing to a dress.

Be aware of the care instructions for all fabrics you choose. Check the label at the end of the bolt for cleaning and pressing instructions. Follow those instructions during the sewing and pressing process to avoid water spots, shrinkage, or other disasters.

(Photo is the author's.)

Bridal Fabric Links - Beyond Your Local Fabric Store

Please Sign the Bridal Sewing Guest Book

Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on July 24, 2014:

Great bridal sewing lens!

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on May 02, 2014:

I'm impressed. I can't imagine tackling such a major project!

Charito Maranan-Montecillo from Manila, Philippines on April 22, 2014:

Bridal sewing must really be a labor of love! Thanks for sharing.

ValPage on April 21, 2014:

Very helpful! Amazing lens, kschimmel!

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on April 10, 2014:

I don't sew, but wish I did. I woud think sewing a wedding dress would be such a great creative accomplishment and something that would be cherished by the bride who wore it.

norma-holt on January 10, 2014:

I made my own bridal gown and had a beautiful velvet coat over it as it was early spring and we had the reception on a ship that we then sailed on for our honeymoon. Love the ideas you have shared. Well done.

tahirmahmood on August 02, 2013:

i like the tips

Kimberly Schimmel (author) from Greensboro, NC on June 28, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Kimberly Schimmel (author) from Greensboro, NC on June 28, 2013:

@WriterJanis2: Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Kimberly Schimmel (author) from Greensboro, NC on June 28, 2013:

@dellgirl: Thank you. I learned from some very experienced ladies.

dellgirl on September 26, 2012:

This is a very good 'Professional's Guide to Bridal Sewing', it's full of helpful tips.

WriterJanis2 on September 09, 2012:

Very nice tips.