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A Professional's Guide to Bridal Sewing

Updated on November 6, 2016

My Wedding Gown

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

Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear
Bridal Couture: Fine Sewing Techniques for Wedding Gowns and Evening Wear

For the intermediate to advanced dressmaker, this book is detailed and instructive. All the dresses used as examples are exquisite and Susan's instructions are clear.

 

Twilight-Inspired Bridal Gown

Butterick Pattern #5779
Butterick Pattern #5779

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.

Lace and Taffeta, circa 1984

photo by Kimberly Schimmel
photo by Kimberly Schimmel

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.)

Advanced Dressmaking Techniques

Couture Sewing Techniques
Couture Sewing Techniques

Not just for bridal sewing, couture techniques are the painstaking handworked details that set apart top-end clothing from the mass-produced kind.

 

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.

Get the Perfect Fit

How To Alter a Bridal Gown
How To Alter a Bridal Gown

If you don't make your gown, you will probably need some alterations. This guide is just the reference you will need.

 

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    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      4 years ago from GRENADA

      Great bridal sewing lens!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 

      4 years ago from Orange County, California

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

    • Charito1962 profile image

      Charito Maranan-Montecillo 

      4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

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

    • ValPage profile image

      ValPage 

      4 years ago

      Very helpful! Amazing lens, kschimmel!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 

      4 years ago from Kansas

      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 profile image

      norma-holt 

      4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      tahirmahmood 

      5 years ago

      i like the tips

    • kimberlyschimmel profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 

      5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

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

    • kimberlyschimmel profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 

      5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

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

    • kimberlyschimmel profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 

      5 years ago from Greensboro, NC

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

    • profile image

      dellgirl 

      5 years ago

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

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 

      5 years ago

      Very nice tips.

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