I keep getting asked how the wedding dress is coming and there has been progress. I have the pattern and the fabric now!

The Pattern-

Based on what I had said I was looking for, in my post announcing my engagement and that I was making my  own wedding dress, a reader suggested the Victory Patterns Ava. It did seem quite perfect. It had all the elements I wanted and didn’t seem to be outside of my skill level, so I ordered one up. I’m going to be making the version on the left, but with the cap sleeves from the version on the right (instead of the pleating).

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The Fabric-

Buying the pattern was the easy part. The hard and somewhat nerve-wracking part was picking out the fabric. I have learned a lot about different fabric types in the last couple of years, but have mostly just worked with casual apparel fabrics such as cotton and rayon, some knit fabrics and, most recently, a vintage polyester blend of some sort. That’s the most slippery fabric I have worked with yet, so knew I would need to see and touch my wedding dress fabric before purchasing it. Lucky for me, I am close to the Pacific Fabrics in Northgate and they have a “galleria” that specializes in bridal and special occasion fabrics.

They have so many fabrics to choose from there, that I was a bit overwhelmed at first. I had some criteria the fabric had to meet, such as I wanted something that wouldn’t be too hard to work with, wasn’t see through (in case I didn’t want to line it) and wouldn’t wrinkle too much. I also knew that this would probably end up being the most I had ever spent on fabric and that once it’s cut there’s no going back, so I really wanted to get this right. I wandered around the store for about an hour trying to figure it out on my own and was feeling like I might be leaving empty-handed.

The sales lady (who I had chatted with briefly when I first got there, but had been busy with other customers) must have sensed my elevating distress, from my pacing from one side of the store to the other, because once she had a free moment she came over to me again and that’s when things got better. I told her my criteria, the biggest one being the wrinkling, and she walked around the store with me doing “wrinkle tests”. She just took the fabric in her hand and balled it up, so we could see what it did. By doing that, we finally found a satin silk Shantung that seemed perfect. It didn’t seem to be fraying too much, was holding a wrinkle way less than anything else we looked at and was a nice weight and not see through.

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Here is the fabric draped over my dress form.

I’m making my own wedding dress more for the experience and less to save money, but the fabric did cost way less than a ready-made dress would have. It is still the most I have ever spent on fabric, so my heart was racing a little bit as the fabric was being cut. The sales lady assured me that I would love working with it and told me about how she made her own wedding dress and what a great experience that was, so it was just what I needed to hear.

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Thanks to the amazing customer service I got, and some research I did about silk Shantung after the fact, I feel really good about the fabric I bought. It is very pretty. It’s hard to see in this photo, but because of the satin weave, it has a little tooth to it that I really like.

I also picked up a stretch lace for the sheer yoke that matched well color-wise and the sales lady said it would be very comfy. It was not very expensive and I only needed a yard of it, so it could change if I find something better, but for now I am liking it.

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Next Steps-

1. Figure out what I am going to wear under it.

I’m thinking this bustier and a crinoline of some sort. I’ll want to wear whatever bra or bustier and crinoline I plan on wearing, during fittings, so I get the fit right in the bodice and the length and width right in the skirt. There is a store not too far north of where I live, called Petticoat Junction, that I plan on checking out for crinolines.

2. Cut out the pattern.

3. Muslins, muslins, muslins!

I bought some muslin fabric for doing a rough fit and then plan on doing a wearable muslin, possibly out of some rayon I have in my stash, so the drape and stretch will be closer to the silk.

Questions I have- 

With everything I have sewn before, I always pretreat the fabric before I cut it. So if it is machine washable, I run in through the machine. If it hand washing only is recommended, I hand wash it first. This fabric says dry clean only. Should I have my fabric dry-cleaned first or does it even matter, since I am only going to wear it once? My fear is that the dry cleaner will damage it somehow. Does anyone have any advice on this?

8 thoughts on “Planning My Wedding Dress

  1. Michelle

    Lilly, your dress pattern, modifications and fabrics are so lovely! Nice work. Can’t wait to see you in it. 🙂

    Reply

  2. Kate!

    Don’t worry about dry cleaning it first. It could stain it, and the structure of the fabric won’t change (ie shrink). You’ll likely only wear it once (unless you dye it…..) so skip the cost and stress of dry cleaning.

    Reply

  3. Celina

    The whole reason to wash a fabric first is to remove the sizing and preshrink. I guess if you wanted to remove the sizing (if your fabric has been treated), dry cleaning would do it. If you’re worried about wrinkling, it might be the way to go. But that’s only if the fabric has been treated. If not, I’d skip the dry cleaning.

    Reply

  4. Kelley

    Like everyone else suggested – don’t worry about pretreating. I made my own wedding dress as well. It was a huge project but so worth it in the end. Congratulations!

    Reply

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