My 3 dresses for the wedding: the Chinese wedding dress, the white wedding dress, and the evening reception dress
The Maid of Honour (left) and Bridesmaid dresses
I can’t tell you how satisfied (or how relieved!) I was to have finished all 5 dresses for the wedding: 3 of my own, the Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid dresses.
I knew it was going to really bug me if I didn’t make them myself. I am capable of sewing dresses and have been doing so for the last 2 years; making my own wedding dresses would just be the same thing, except this will be for an important occasion. How hard could it be?
My friends will be able to tell you I really like being organised. I pretty much started researching into dress patterns and dress styles not long after we got engaged and our wedding venue was booked – this was 2 years before the wedding! Turns out, making more complicated dresses with more material does take more time (sweat and frustration) than your usual tea dress! To make sure I wasn’t making the dresses too early though, I didn’t start buying material or sewing till early this year, but it still meant I spent about 9 months (till about a couple weeks before the wedding) still working on various dresses.
I can’t say that I regret it though: wearing my own designs, knowing that I made them with my own two hands, on my own special day was completely worth it. I didn’t spend thousands of pounds on my dresses, the total cost of materials cost me only a fract-ion of that price. I was able to make my two wedding dresses for the price of a discounted dress from a small local wwedding dress store – the evening reception dress was a bonus!
Of course, to add special, personal touches to the wedding too, I also ended up decorating my own shoes to match my Chinese dress and I made my own Cunninghame tartan stole too!
So to recap, here are all the items I made for the wedding:
Please note that all photos used in this post has either been taken my myself, family or friends and I have the express right to use these photos for personal use. Photos of any other person (as the main focus of the image) has expressed permission for the photo to be used. Photos should not be re-used without my permission.
Red Chinese wedding dress (kwa)
Thoughts: It was difficult trying to find an authentic Chinese pattern only because I can’t read Chinese which made following the instructions harder. I had thought about altering the pattern I bought, but with the time I had I decided it would have needed more forethought before I started cutting the materials. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but the only difficulty I had was with the thickness of the lace. I had to do all the gold adornments (frog clasp closures and bias binding for the trims) as well as the zip by hand.
In the end, the dress was more of a Westernised version of the classic Chinese kwa. I had hook and eye closures (2 of them for the wide collar) on the back, but because of the higher Mandarin collar, the top hook kept snagging onto my hairdo, pulling strands of hair loose. Personally, I think the back would look much better as one whole piece like the front if it was cut on the fold.
Conclusion: If I ever make this dress again, I would either: a) follow my friend’s suggestion and cut the back piece on the fold and make a cut from the top only long enough to insert the zip. In doing so, I would only use one hook and eye closure closer to the middle so it doesn’t catch onto any hair, or b) alter the front piece so the collar is one piece with a side zip and the opening where the frog clasps are so they’re not there just for decorative purposes.
I think b) would be closer in style to an authentic Chinese kwa or wedding dress, but I’ll need to think carefully on how to alter the pattern to do this.
The final dress
Wearing the red Chinese wedding dress on our wedding day for the tea ceremony
White wedding dress (ceremony)
Thoughts: It seemed so simple to begin with, but I was trying to finish the dress off in haste that I forgot while making the dress, I wanted to make the short sleeve version (from dress B), but with a short train (from dress A). While fitting the dress pieces together, I noticed the train was trailing longer on the floor than I wanted and had to quickly make alterations to the train before I sewed it to the rest of the dress.
Unfortunately, I did encounter some issues with the dress after it was all finished. I had my friend come a few weeks before the wedding to help me with a final fitting, but it turned out the bust area on one side wasn’t lying flat (like it did on the mannequin) and the neckline of the back bodice was too loose. I had tried to resolve the issue myself, but ended up having to take it to a tailor to get it professionally fixed (he ended up putting darts on the back which I would never have guessed would have been the issue!).
Conclusion:All in all, it was a tricky pattern to master because the darts on the front bodice were in a cross-section (horizontally and vertically) in the middle of the bust area which I had not done before. It was a vintage pattern which would probably need more practice and fitting at each stage before the final dress is worn if it were to be made again!
The finished dress
The OH and I at the altar
Evening LBD (evening reception)
Thoughts: This was probably the easiest dress to make out of the 3 dresses. Not only had I already made this very same dress in cotton, it is also a dress that I can very easily wear again to another formal occasion!
Thoughts: I really like how the gold lace pattern contrasts nicely with the black background, like the Dolce & Gabanna designs I referred to in a previous post.
The finished evening reception dress
Cutting our wedding cake at the reception
Maid of Honour and Bridesmaid dresses
Thoughts: I had used the pattern for the sleeveless Maid of Honour dress before when I made the snake print maxi dress, although I had an issue with the zip. I learned that inserting the zip into the back section first, you could eaily check how the back lies and adjust this as necessary before sewing the front and halves together.
With the Bridesmaid dress, it was slightly different because my friend is tall and I wasn’t sure how the instructions for the pattern would allow me to insert the ribbon for the necktie nicely without a visible stitching on the bodice. I sorted out this issue by sewing the ribbon to the shell of the dress before sewing the lining over the ribbon to hide this from the back. My idea, initially, was to put the ribbon in a drawstring type tube, but I couldn’t work out how to sew in the tube without affecting the shape of the dress. As it was, there was a slight cowl neckline that didn’t really flatter the bodice section, so I had to stitch small pleats along the neckline.
Conclusion: Minor changes needed to be made before I could send them off. It was difficult to get the dresses to fit right when my sister and friend weren’t here to be fitted, but I sent the dresses to them in their homes so they can get it fitted in plenty of time.
Finished Maid of Honour dress
Finished Bridesmaid dress
Bridesmaid Jess on the day
Other accessories I also made for the wedding include:
Tartan wedding stole: progress updates here and here. The stole worked really well with both the Chinese and white wedding dresses and I was very happy with the materials I used. My only pet peeve about it is, it would look better if it were a longer length. The only thing with that is, the fabric is already 140cm long, so to get a longer length, I would need to purchase 2 metres of the fabric which would cost quite a bit more.
Finished tartan stole with matching tartan shoe clips from Bouquet by Rosa Loren
DIY drop top guestbook: progress updates here and here. This was quite a fun craft project to do. It was more technical and tool-heavy than what I’m used to making and the OH had to help with some of the woodworking with the garage tools. I was happy that we were able to make it ourselves than paying a lot of money for it!
Finished DIY drop top guestbook
I’m very pleased with the amount of work we managed to complete ourselves for our big day. It definitely satisfied that part of myself that my sister, best friend and I were able to wear my own creations. I was pleased to see that our friends and family were able to enjoy pieces that we made and that I’m able to share our DIY journey with you all 🙂