My Custom Handmade Wedding Dress

One of the things I couldn’t divulge before the wedding was what my dress looked like.

my wedding dress

{photo credit: Sheila Addleman}

M decided that he wanted the dress to be the one thing that he didn’t get to see before the wedding, so it would be a surprise. This was reallllllly hard! Not only because I wanted to share every aspect of the planning with M, but also, it turned out that my dress was another DIY project, and working on it without him seeing it was pretty tricky!

I am not a very girly-girl kind of girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the pretty stuff – flowers, fabric, puppies, jewelry – but when it comes to my personal aesthetic, I am very simple and very underplayed. I don’t wear princess dresses; I would feel absolutely ridiculous! Not to mention, I am extremely thrifty, so the idea of spending hundreds (even thousands!) of dollars on a dress just never entered my mind.

After a single try-on session at David’s Bridal with my mom (ok…maybe not the best place to start looking for a dress, but it is what it is) I knew I could NOT do that, and from then started searching for a vintage dress. I knew I wanted a short dress, kind of 50’s vibe, and lace. This was going to be an outdoor/backyard party dress.

When I finally found the dress that I would turn into my wedding dress, it didn’t seem to have much potential, and I am amazed at my bravery when I look back at the “before” pictures! But when I tried it on, the fit was good, and I just knew there was a one-of-a-kind dress within, waiting to be created.

wedding dress - before

I know – cringe, right? This was an 80’s number. Off the shoulder neckline, with a weird undulating lace hemline, and down-right awful appliques all over the bodice. I immediately ripped off the appliques (with a seam-ripper, of course) to get to the bare-bones form underneath. I trimmed the skirt to a mid-shin length, thus eliminating the weird raggedy look.

trimming the skirt

I also added a middle layer of organza to the skirt to give it a bit more fullness, and I added a pretty strip of lace detailing around the hem of the lace.

Dress Inspiration

Now I had to decide on a decorative motif. I’d collected plenty of inspirational photos from around the interwebz, and after finding this organza flower tutorial, I decided to make a slew of white flowers to embellish the dress. Making them was time-consuming, to say the least, and when I finally had enough flowers, it took me forever to figure out how to arrange them. I think I pinned them on the bodice 100 different ways before committing them with thread.

organza flowers

It’s emotionally challenging when you take own wedding dress into your own hands! If it looks like crap, you’ve only got yourself to blame! haha

So I also wanted a full skirt, because it’s fun and goes back to that 50’s vintage look. I already posted about how I sewed my own pretty petticoat to wear under my dress, and it really made the whole look work, and of course was super fun to wear.

The last detail I added was very light and airy cap sleeves (sort of), just to give a bit more softness to the shoulder/arm area.

shoulder flowers

Overall, I worked on my dress over 5 months, just here and there (because I could only work on it when M wasn’t around). There were certainly stressful times, and times when I needed my mom’s help with the sewing, but I am certainly happy with how my dress turned out, and I know that no one else will be wearing the same dress! It was fun, and easy to move around in, and most of all, it was a dress that felt like ME.

And just to drive home the point that not everyone has to spend a fortune on a wedding dress…my final total (including all the extra fabric/dry cleaning/original cost of the dress) was only $70. That’s right. My wedding dress cost me less than a hundred bucks. I had to put some of my own effort into it, of course, but that makes it all the more special! And I suppose, therefore, it’s priceless. 🙂



Filed under DIY, sewing, Wedding

5 responses to “My Custom Handmade Wedding Dress

  1. Darby

    You are truely inspirational!

  2. Lisa C

    Wow! It is amazing that you saw your beautiful dress hiding in that 80s lacy thing. You made it into something far more beautiful than the designers did and it fit your personality so well.

    Thanks for sharing the before pics, since I know you did so with a bit of trepidation. 😉

  3. Beautiful. I got married in the 80s and your original dress looks a lot like my going-away dress!

  4. I love your dress -and your inspiration dresses- as they are really what I’ve been looking for. I don’t quite have the guts (or know-how) to create my own, but I’m trying to find a dressmaker who can. Do you have links to the sites where you found your inspiration dresses?

    • RebekkaFerbrache

      Hi Becky! I didn’t have any dress-making experience either, but it helps to boost your confidence when you don’t have anything to lose to try!

      As for the sources for my dress inspiration – I have just been searching my computer files for my wedding folder, and I can’t find it anywhere! I can’t believe that I would have deleted it, but I did get a new computer in the last year, and I’m afraid that all my collected wedding planning may have gotten lost in the transfer 😦
      I’m really kicking myself for this right now! I’m sorry to say I can’t find any of my sources for you. All I know is that much of my inspiration came from,,,, and

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