Wedding Dress Upcycle Update

There’s less than a month to go until the wedding! The last ten months have been busier than I expected. Moving, school, vacations, work, homemaking, and baby care have taken precedence over wedding dress re-design. Projects have to wait until the children are asleep and I have a clear, tiny-grabbing-hands-free work space.

In my spare moments, I have been making favors, obsessing over tutu dresses, emailing vendors, designing programs, mailing invitations, and updating my wedding dress. I began the wedding dress upcycle last fall. The dress was a sample gown, purchased from eBay for $130. It’s a Casablanca Bridal gown in ivory silky taffeta, with a sweetheart neckline, side-gather, chapel train, and bead-work along the sides and neckline. The fiancé was the one who picked this dress and I love how it looks.

Casablanca Dress

As beautiful as this dress is, I wanted to add some personal touches by changing the broken zipper to a corset back and adding some colored tulle to the petticoat. I found some instructions for the corset-back process over at Sew for Dough. The first step was to remove the zipper.

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I then followed Sew for Dough’s instructions for making spaghetti straps and a modesty panel. I found an ivory taffeta at Joann Fabrics and cut strips on the bias, sewed them together in a long tube, turned it right-side out, and cut it into small segments to form the loops for the corset. I sewed them to a piece of paper in the shape and spacing I needed, pulled away the paper, and pinned the loop strips to dress in between the lining and the bodice. I very slowly and carefully maneuvered the dress through my sewing machine. I repeated the spaghetti strap process to make the lacing for the corset.

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Depending on your level of sewing skill, the process may sound a lot easier than it is. Adding elements to a ready-made dress is not a simple task. Wedding dresses are often heavy and embellished with beads or lace. It takes a lot of patience to feed it through a small home machine. I wouldn’t recommend a project like this to someone who is completely new to sewing. In spite of having a decent amount of sewing practice, I don’t suggest inspecting my work up close on this piece!

For anyone reading who may be considering a project like this, I would offer a few suggestions. First, a shortcut would be to see if there is any suitable cording online or at your local fabric store. Making very long, thin spaghetti straps can be frustrating if you don’t have the right tools. If you want to make your own, it would be wise to invest in some of the turning tools mentioned in the instructions for making spaghetti straps. I had no such tools and just went with the old safety pin technique. This adds a lot of time to what could be a quick task. Another shortcut would be to use a nice double-faced ribbon as the corset lacing. The final tip is to make more spaghetti strap length than you think you’ll need for the loops and lacing, and cut the loops a bit longer to make sure they catch the seam when sewing them in.

I’m not completely finished with this project, but I won’t have a chance to work on it for another two weeks. I decided to pass the gown off to a professional seamstress to have it hemmed and bustled. When the dress returns, I will add just a dab more colored tulle to the underskirt.

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