How to Design a One-of-a-Kind Wedding Dress

By Felicity Newburry

If you’re a bride who loves a bit of DIY or adding personal touches to your wedding planning, then perhaps designing your wedding dress is something you should look into! This is a big undertaking (even though it might not seem to be), so in this article we are going to walk you through it, every step of the way. Read on to see where you should begin!


Image by Jenny Bernheim

What You Need To Do

1/ Create a dream board

The awesome part about designing your own dress is everything will be fun, right from the very beginning. Make yourself a dream board and find images that inspire you. They don’t have to be photos of a full dress, they could be close ups of beading or a swatch of lace. You can do this on line using a site such as Pinterest or you could do this the old fashion way – with magazines, scissors, glue and a scrapbook. Sometimes working in the real world with your hands and actively having to find your inspiration can feel a lot more fulfilling and exciting than just Googling images. Why not give it a go?

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Sketches by Kim Honeycut and Hayden Williams

2/ Start narrowing your ideas down

Once you have an enormous, extensive and fabulous dream board, it’s getting close to making your dreams happen. However, you could make it far easier on yourself and your pattern maker if you could narrow your scope down a little. Perhaps just highlight your favourite necklines, bodices, skirts,colours and any special details you really like and compile those separately from your dreamboard. Think of it as going from a brainstorm to a first draft.

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Image by Bobbie Thomas

3/ Find a pattern maker

This is where the big steps start happening. Give yourself the freedom to really look around for the perfect pattern maker. Often designers can double as a pattern maker too, so this can broaden your search. Because this is your wedding dress, one of the most important things you’ll ever wear, you cannot scrimp on skill, experience or professionalism. In this situation, your sort of like an employer, so interview as many potential pattern makers as you can and only settle on someone if you’re absolutely confident in their ability to create what you’ve been dreaming.

When you find your perfect pattern maker, bring with you both your first dream board and your narrowed ideas. The narrowed board will help the pattern maker see what your looking for more concretely but your first dream board may spark some ideas for your pattern maker that you hadn’t thought of.

Some Helpful Hints

1/ Give thought to what will work for you.

When you’re in the dream board process, you’re free to think as big and as unhindered as you possibly can, but when it comes to narrowing down your scope, it’s time to start looking at what will most flatter you. The basics are to ascertain your body shape and research what cuts will make the most of your shape and what cuts will look unflattering.The importance of this tip cannot be underestimated. The last thing you want is to design a fabulous dress that doesn’t look fabulous on you for something as simpleand easily avoided as the wrong neckline for your shape.

The same applies for choosing fabrics and colours. Simple things like sturdy fabrics can look very boxy on shorter women, or if you’re steering away from white, the slightest variance in blush can make the difference between washing your complexion out and looking absolutely stunning on you.

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2/ This will take time!

You must know that the process of designing and having a dress made can take around eight to nine months. You really want to allow yourself time for this between the engagement and your wedding because the longer you can give the process, the better the outcome. You need to allow time for dreaming big, having the dress made and everything in between!

3/ Be confident

When working with an experienced professional on something you are completely new to, it can feel very overwhelming. What you have to remember is that while its always best to be kind and polite, this is your wedding dress. Try to be confident and assertive with dress decisions and remember that your pattern maker is there to help you design your dream dress, not their dream dress. Whatever you do, don’t stay close-lipped on things you are unhappy with.

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4/ There will be lots of fittings

From the moment you and your pattern maker come up with a design, there will be many fittings before you come to the final dress. Often mock dresses are made up out of cheap fabrics like muslin so adjustments and issues can be dealt with on a prototype rather than on your glorious wedding dress. It may feel like the amount of fittings you’ll have to attend feels pointless, but prioritize and feel excited about them. Every single one is important and remember, this is your artwork coming to life



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