Our DIY wedding – refashioning my grandmother's gown

I’ve got many, many more wedding photos to come, but as I was slowly going through all the photos from friends and our professional photographer, I realised that there were a lot of parallel poses between my grandparents’ photos and ours.

Big thanks to my Dad for taking the time to scan in my grandparents’ wedding album in hi-res format, and also to our truly INCREDIBLE and AMAZING wedding photographer, Paul Tanner. I’m pretty sure he was the best money we’ve ever spent.

Confetti toss:

Post ceremony posing:

Walking back down the aisle:

Cutting the cake:

Pre-wedding girly preparations:

If you’re new to this site, let me back up a minute and explain what went on here. First of all, yes, I sewed my own wedding gown. But that would be too easy (ha!), so I decided to sew it from my grandmother’s gown.

My grandmother got married in 1949, wearing a silk satin dress that she bought on South Street in Philadelphia from a long forgotten bridal shop. When she heard that James and I were engaged, she insisted that I take the gown to refashion into my own wedding gown.

I’ve been sewing for the past 7 or 8 years, teaching myself from books, patterns, and with a lot of help from the internet. Over the past few years I’ve made everything from handbags to silk evening gowns to faux fur coats to swimsuits to jeans, but a wedding gown was a stretch even for me!

I started by taking apart the bodice (don’t wince – it was way too small for me and not really my style anyway!), pressing all the pieces out, and laying my new bodice pattern pieces on top. In the process of taking apart the original bodice, I discovered a lot of netting pieces which I overlayed onto some of my new bodice pieces to get some textural contrast effects. I was also able to reuse the original zipper and all 13 buttons and loops!

The bodice is entirely underlined in flannel (for structure and as a base for my hours and hours of handstitching), and lined in blue silk. There are 10 pieces of spiral steel boning, plus a waist stay (which keeps the weight of the gown on the waist rather than pulling from the shoulders), and four bra keepers to keep everything in place.

Sewing the gown took me a little over two months from start to finish, with extra time at the start to get the muslin and pattern pieces exactly right. I started with a pattern from a Brazilian magazine, but by the time I finished you could barely recognise it from the original!

If you like what you see here, you might want to have a look at the wedding section of this site, where I painstakingly documented the whole process, with lots of photos in between.

Oh yeah, and I sewed the bridesmaids gowns, too.

But more on that and the rest of the DIY aspects of the wedding over the next week.

PS: My Granny loved “her” gown when she saw it at our Pennsylvania reception!

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