While many women may consider making a wedding gown a daunting task, it can be a great way to save money and create a one-of-a-kind wedding day look. All it takes it a little sewing experience, some pretty fabric, and a wedding dress pattern to guide you. If you aren't handy with a sewing machine, you may still be able to create your dream gown with the help of a talented seamstress or a family friend with some sewing expertise.
Where to Buy a Wedding Dress Pattern
If you're in the market for a wedding gown pattern, you'll have several different shopping options. Popular pattern manufacturers have designs ranging from very simple to designer-level complex. You can find patterns locally, buy them online, or even re-create a vintage look by using an out-of-print pattern.
Popular Bridal Gown Pattern Manufacturers
Your local fabric or craft store is one of the best places to find great patterns for wedding gowns, but before you go, you might want to peruse some of the options at top pattern manufacturing websites. That way, you can narrow down the style you'd like before you start flipping through the books at the craft store.
- Simplicity Patterns offers a great selection of bridal and evening wear in its BurdaStyle collection. From a stunning strapless number with a full skirt to something a bit more streamlined, there's something that is perfect for every bride's personal style and sewing experience level. Most patterns sell for under $10.
- Vogue Patterns also offers a small selection of bridal patterns that rival anything found in a designer boutique. From a full-skirted gown with spaghetti straps to a simple strapless style, there's a gown pattern that will have you feeling like a princess. Many of these designs are a bit more elaborate and will require an experienced home seamstress. Most patterns retail for $15 to $20.
- Butterick is another pattern manufacturer to consider, especially if you're a fan of vintage-inspired designs. The styles range from a simple short dress to a gorgeous princess-style gown with pick-ups. The sewing experience level required depends on the design you select. Most patterns cost under $15.
- Kwik Sew is a good resource if you're a beginning seamstress. They don't have a huge selection, but they do offer several evening wear and bridal patterns that are easy to create. Expect to spend about $15 on a pattern.
Online-Only Pattern Stores
If you can't find the pattern you want in you local store, the Internet offers several pattern shops that may have a better selection. This is a good option if you're looking for a very specific, hard-to-find design.
- SewingPatterns.com has a great selection of wedding gown patterns, including designs from major pattern manufacturers as well as smaller, independent designers. You can browse all dresses on this site, search for bridal wear or a specific style, or even look for a great deal on the exact pattern you want. Most patterns are about $6 to download or $9 for a printed copy.
- BurdaStyle.com is a division of Simplicity, but they also have a huge online presence with thousands of downloadable patterns. There are dozens of gorgeous bridal gown patterns, ranging from basic sheaths to luscious confections with handmade chiffon flowers. Each pattern clearly states the experience level required, and most cost about $6.
- Lekala is a Russian company that uses specialized computer software to draft amazing patterns. If you're looking for something unique, this is a fantastic option. You can download the pattern and instructions for about $3, and they offer an impressive size range of extra small to 4X.
Vintage and Discontinued Bridal Gown Patterns
If you had your heart set on a pattern only to find it has been discontinued, don't panic. Call the pattern company directly. Most keep them on file for at least one year. You can also call around to pattern shops and craft centers to see if they have any left on the floor - or even in the back room. If your pattern is a vintage design or has been out of stock for a while, try one of these resources:
- So Vintage Patterns has patterns for dresses from around 1900 through the 1990s. You can use a dedicated wedding gown pattern to reproduce a historic design, or you can modify a formal dress pattern to make a one-of-a-kind wedding gown that shows off your classic style. Most vintage bridal gown patterns sell for around $150.
- Etsy is a great place to buy vintage patterns, including patterns for wedding dresses. This site is dedicated to people who love being creative, so you'll find a wide range of vintage patterns from the 1950s and beyond. Prices range dramatically with many patterns selling for around $20 but some going for $200 or more.
- Mom's Patterns sells all kind of vintage designs, and the "Wedding Bells" section is full of wedding gown patterns from the 1940s through the 1990s. If you're going for that retro-cool look, this might be the place to find it. Many patterns are priced around $25.
- Betsy's Vintage has a great selection of vintage patterns from the 1930s to the 1980s. You'll find all kinds of styles and sizes, most for about $40. Generally, the designs require some previous sewing experience.
Practical Tips for Choosing a Pattern
As you peruse the many options out there, it's easy to get caught up in your love for a particular wedding dress design and end up in over your head on the project. Before you decide on a pattern and buy yards of expensive silk or satin, make sure you consider the following important tips.
Know What Looks Good on You
When you purchase a pattern, you can't try on the gown. This means that as you browse the selection, it's a good idea to remember which silhouettes and necklines look best on you. If possible, go to a bridal shop and try on a few styles first. Even though you'll be making your dress, this research will help you choose a pattern you know will look beautiful for your big day.
Be Realistic About Your Experience Level
For most sewing projects, there's nothing wrong with taking a few steps outside your comfort zone. That's the best way to stretch your skills. However, when you're making a wedding dress for yourself or someone else, stay with what you know. Most patterns are labeled with the experience level they require, so that can help you determine if you have the skills you need. In addition, take a look at the design and the steps for creating it. Do you know how to perform all the steps? If so, this could be the pattern for you.
Remember to Compare Costs
If you're on a budget, you may feel that making your own gown is a great way to save money. This can be the case, particularly if you're interested in a designer gown or want something really unique. However, before you buy your fabric, be sure you consider all the costs. You may find that purchasing a discounted gown is more cost effective. Common expenses included in making your own gown from a pattern include the following:
- Cost of the wedding gown pattern, usually less than $20
- Cost of fabric, which can range from $50 for synthetic options to $500 for yards of duchess silk satin and lace
- Price of other supplies, such as zippers, boning, special threads, trims, and other items
- Price of any equipment you don't already own, such as specialized sewing machine feet for gathering or pintucking
- Fee for a seamstress if you do not have the sewing skills required
Understand Pattern Sizing
If you've tried on any gowns at the bridal shop, you probably know that a gown rarely fits perfectly right off the rack. The same is true for wedding dresses made from patterns. Choosing the right size of pattern usually means comparing your measurements to those on a sizing table. Often, you'll find that you're between sizes or that one of your measurements places you up a size. If you're experienced at modifying patterns, you may be able to account for these fit issues as your assemble the dress. If not, you may still need to get your dress altered.
Another potential issue is falling in love with a vintage pattern, only to find it doesn't come in your size. If you need to enlarge the pattern to fit your measurements, use care to select a design that is very simple. Then find the difference between your own measurements and those of the pattern. You'll have to distribute the excess between all of the vertical seams in the dress. If you are changing the size of a pattern, always make a practice gown first out of muslin.
For some wedding gown designs, the dress silhouette itself is very simple. The charm of the gown comes from the elaborate beadwork, beautiful embroidery, or applied lace. If you'll be making your own dress and have found a design that incorporates these embellishments, be sure you have the skills you need to create the look you want. If not, consider making the dress yourself and then hiring a specialist who can help you with the beading or embroidery.
Don't Forget About Timing
Depending on your experience level, the complexity of your wedding gown pattern, and the amount of time you can devote to this project, it's a good idea to start making your dress very early in the wedding planning process. Keep in mind that you may need to make alterations after the gown is complete and that if the project just doesn't work out, you'll need time to buy a gown for your big day. Many seamstresses recommend starting your wedding gown up to a year in advance.
An Heirloom You'll Love Forever
Making your own wedding dress from a sewing pattern is a wonderful way to express your unique personal style, add a creative touch to your special day, and even possibly save some money. If you keep your skills and budget in mind when selecting a pattern, you're sure to have a handmade, heirloom design you'll love forever.