Tag Archives: budget

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

Hearty 3 bean salad

Last night, M & I went over to our friends’ new apartment for dinner – we got to tour their new pad and also meet their adorable new pug Duke. He is such a sweetie! He’s a rescue dog, so he was a little jumpy at first with new people around, but he warmed up to us real fast. ^_^ Ahhh, makes me want a little doggie!

They made these fantastic homemade calzones for us, to which I needed to pair a salad. I decided on a cold bean salad, since I have dried beans in the cupboard, and therefore it’s really budget-friendly. And though it’s a simple recipe, it was so yummy! A crowd pleaser for sure, and very hearty for a cold wintery day.

three bean salad

I found the recipe on one of my favorite food blogs – Simply Recipes – and modified it only a little.

You can certainly use canned beans for this recipe, but I had dried beans on hand, so I soaked them overnight.

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1 cup dried red beans
1 cup dried white beans
1/2 yellow onion – finely chopped
2 stalks celery – finely chopped
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley – chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary – chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt – to taste
Pepper- to taste

Soak beans overnight and cook according to directions. In a large bowl combine the drained beans, chopped onion, chopped celery, chopped parsley, and rosemary. In a smaller bowl, mix the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour the mixed dressing over the bean mixture and gently fold in, until completely incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (Serves about 4-6 people)

And that’s it!
The longer the beans get to soak up the dressing, the better it will taste. Therefore – excellent for leftovers!

Granted, cooking the beans yourself adds quite a bit of time to the recipe, but it’s worth it, in my opinion. Especially when looking at the cost of canned beans to dried ones.

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Filed under Day to Day, Recipes

Fun DIY wedding bunting

For several months now I have been slowly planning my wedding (M and I got engaged in April). We ended up choosing a long engagement – we knew we wanted an outdoor (and therefore) summer wedding, but we weren’t sure we wanted to rush the planning and get married that summer. A year-plus engagement seemed very long to me (and sometimes still does), but it has meant that I have lots of time to plan, do craft projects, search thrift stores, etc for all the ideas that have developed for the special day.

festive bunting!

festive bunting!

Here is a project that is so simple to do, it just takes a bit of time. After seeing many examples of weddings (via my favorite wedding blogs) that incorporated bunting flags into the decor, I got my heart set on using the idea as well. It’s the kind of thing that literally makes me clap my hands and squeal with glee. ^_^

So here’s how I went about doing this project:

I wanted the flags to incorporate our wedding colors – navy blue and light-light green, and also some coordinating patterned fabric. Instead of going to the fabric store, I hit up Goodwill (recycling? check; right price? check). I found 4-5 nice pillowcases in the right colors – just 99 cents each! Sweet!

I also found 3 big spools of 1.5″ ribbon (a cool vintage lace!) for only $2.99. (I also found some double bias tape, which I didn’t end up using).

The first step, now that I had my supplies, was to make an isosceles triangle template for the flags. All you need to do is get a piece of paper, fold it in half, and cut out a diagonal line – corner to top. Unfold your paper to see your triangle. You can continue to tweak the shape (cutting while folded) until you get the triangle you like.

Lay your template on your fabric and cut out as many triangles as you need. My 5 pillowcases actually gave me plenty of flags to work with.

flags all ready to go

flags all ready to go

I decided not to use the bias tape, since it turned out I didn’t have enough length. Instead, I took my ribbon, and ironed the full length in half (so it was like I had a 3/4″ bias tape – plus the ribbon is much more decorative).

I decided I wanted 6″ of space between each flag, so I pinned each flag into the fold of the ribbon at 6″ apart, alternating the colors of the flags as I went. I also made sure to leave some extra length of ribbon at each end so they could be tied up.

Then, I simply went to the sewing machine and made a clean line from one end to the other!


sewing the flags to ribbon

You can also see I did a zig-zag stitch in contrasting thread to outline the flags – it’s up to you if you want to add this detail!

So that’s it! Hang it up and enjoy!


so festive!

Strings of bunting are simple to assemble, but they do take some time to do. I made three 22-foot-long strands for my project, but I did it in phases (I found my materials one day, cut the triangles another day, and assembled it all on yet another day).

Bunting is so cheerful, fun, and festive! I’m looking forward to seeing them hung up on my wedding day. ^_^

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Filed under DIY, Wedding