After a cancelled wedding in 202o due to COVID, and a perfect private backyard ceremony, we finally had our wedding this year in May 2022. I don't think there was a specific point at which I decided I would make my wedding dress, because I think I couldn't let myself not do it. This dress was a special project, and I'm glad I had so much time to plan and execute it. When I first envisioned the project, I knew that I wanted everything to be handsewn, so that I would have complete control over every detail and could enjoy the intentionality of each stitch.
I began drafting a pattern shortly after we got engaged in 2019. I knew I wanted to splurge on nice linen, so my husband and I went to buy fabric in NYC --the day before everything shut down in the city in March 2020. While we cancelled the official wedding, we did get married in the backyard in May. The cancellation of the wedding gave me lots of time to work on the dress, though I didn't pick it back up until the winter of 2021.
The basic shape was inspired by a beautiful linen wedding dress I found online. I adored the simplicity of the silhouette, the ease and utility of the pockets, the casualness of the t-shirt-shaped bodice, and the elegance of the front box pleats.
Along with these elements, I incorporated my favorite techniques from eighteenth and early nineteenth-century dressmaking. Reminiscent of gowns from the 1810s and 1820s, I added two curved seams on the back which I prick-stitched with silk, button-hole thread. I also added narrow pleats at the small of my back. After trying my mock-up the first time, I decided a scooped back would be a flattering addition (what reminded me of ballet unitards!)
I chose to have linen fabric so I could do narrow hems, crisp, flat-felled seams, and pulled-thread hemstitching.
I left the center back closure to last, because I knew I had to do some experimenting. In general, I'm not a fan of zippers, and I love the look of covered buttons. I did end up installing a zipper to give the closure some stability, but I was able to hide it with my covered buttons, and thread button loops.
One of the very last additions to the dress was thanks to the problem-solving skills of my genius husband (who is also amazing trained in historical construction techniques!) We wanted to to a swing dance as our first dance, so I knew that I would have to hike up my skirts somehow. After experimenting with a couple ideas (like adding small hooks at buttons around the waistline, by husband pointed out that I should bustle it with tapes inside, like an 18th century polonaise! It was a brilliant save and worked perfectly.
Coming soon-- the story of the last minute bridesmaids' dresses!