Thinking about sewing your own wedding gown? Wondering what you should consider first before embarking on this epic project? Is it really cheaper to make your own wedding gown? Is it easier to make your own wedding dress? Get answer to all of these questions and more below in my first post in a new series on Sewing in Norway, The Complete Guide to Sewing Your Own Wedding Dress.
1. Your Time and Effort- do you have time for this project?
As much as I love to sew, I had to think long and hard about sewing my own wedding gown, and in the end, I chose not to.
Although it depends on the type of gown or gown you plan on making, you’ll most likely invest months in making your own wedding gown – time I simply did not have to devote to making my own wedding gown. Such a huge project takes pre-planning, planning, fabric shopping, copious amounts of testing, several fittings and overall a lot of time – and one’s wedding day isn’t a time to muck about with a half-way done job in any of those categories.
To get an even better estimate of the time investment involved in sewing your own bridal gown, head to a bridal boutique and look under the top layer of most wedding gowns. You’ll see layers of tulle, built-in bras, boning, or other structural elements – all the parts which go into making your own wedding gown. If you don’t have the time or want to invest the effort, there is no shame in buying a gown retail (gasp!) online (double gasp!) instead of sewing your own. Even if you are like me a LOVE to sew.
2. The Overall Cost – Raw materials and embellishments
Folks tend to think sewing your own wedding gown will save you loads of money but in reality, how much you save versus retail all depends on what type of gown you make plus which fabric, notions and accessories you use and how much internal structure is built into the gown.
Larger gowns, plus size gowns, gowns using more complex construction methods and gowns with more frills tend to cost more due to higher raw material costs. Raw material costs are the costs associated with making the gown before fancy embellishments are added – the price just to produce the dress without customizing it with embellishments. These include the gown pattern, pattern paper, thread (silk, cotton or polyester), muslin fabric, fashion fabric, lining fabric, zippers, buttons, machine needles, boning, ribbons, fabric stabilizers, bust cups, tulle for built in underskirts, etc. Also add to that list any additional tools you might need to produce the gown such as glass head pins (used for more delicate fabrics), silk cutting shears, a serger sewing machine, etc.
These costs add up quick – and combined with your time investment – will ensure making your own gown will cost as much or more than buying a ready to wear gown from a store or boutique (especially if you can get that gown on sale or part of a special offer).
3. Gown Patterns: Commercial, indie or self-drafted?
Will you use a commercial pattern from one of the “Big Four” (actually the “Big One” since they are all under one company now)? Or use a pattern from an indie designer? Or will you self-draft your wedding gown pattern? Or use some combination of all three?
4. Fabric Selection
Wedding gowns can be made from a variety of fabrics at a variety of price points. Generally speaking, fabrics made from 100% natural fibres (no matter the finish or weave) tend to be pricier but breathe better and wrinkle more. If you are making your own wedding gown, be sure to check out natural, synthetic and blended fabrics to find a fabric most suitable for your project.
5. Your Sanity
This should probably be the first thing you consider before anything else – and for good reason. Even a simple gown may require patience you don’t have, new skills, several fittings and more overall organization on your part so think critically about whether or not sewing your own wedding gown is right for you.
Making a wedding gown can cause decision making fatigue and add “just one more thing” to your to do list. In the end, you may want to save your sanity by buying a simple gown and supercharging your wedding look instead.
Photos by IFEOLUWADAYO OGUNDERU, Anna Docking and Thomas William on Unsplash