A sustainable wedding dress odyssey – Part 2

Sustainable Wedding dress

Friends, I’ve almost beaten the procrastination and made a bit of progress with the wedding dress project… At least, on the prep side. As I was telling you in the previous post on this topic, I decided I not only wanted to make my own wedding dress, but I wanted a sustainable one at that. And my way to go about it was to buy an old dress off eBay and take it to pieces to recover the fabric and make a new dress I designed, from scratch.

Soooo, a few weeks later, I did just that. It took me three hours to get from this:


to this: Sustainable Wedding dress

Unfortunately, the process, albeit somewhat cathartic, was also a bit disappointing.  As I was unpicking, I came across the care label and I realised that my beautiful find is actually not silk as I imagined, but polyester :(. But nevermind, still keeping up with my principles, as I am reusing this one dress into possibly two or even three new projects.

Not sure if you have ever picked apart a wedding dress, and I suspect not, this is my first one as well), but boy, there are a lot of stuff going on in there… This one had a massive tulle petticoat, then the duchesse satin lining, which was also underlined, plus the taffeta main fabric. Plus boning, of course. No wonder it took the better part of 3 hours!

There is quite a lot of fabric as a result, but it’s quite oddly shaped, like this back piece from the lining.Sustainable Wedding dress

The main fabric is mostly sewn in a circle shape, so even more complicated. But again, a lot of it:

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Sustainable Wedding dress

With all the pieces unpicked, I washed it all in the washing machine on cold and we’re good to go!

So I just need to figure out how to turn my weird resulting fabric into the dress of my dreams! I actually quite like the lining duchesse satin better that the taffeta, it’s a lighter colour, ivory, versus the pale gold/champagne of the main fabric. But not to worry, I already have plans for that too.

In part 3 I’ll tell you about how I’m learning draping on the stand to sort out the bodice piece, as all my attempts to find and fit an existing pattern failed miserably.

My only question now is: does anyone want a tulle petticoat?

Happy unpicking :)!



  1. ldelgenis
    5 August 2015 / 11:08 PM

    OMG eBay dresses are my fodder for fabric too! There’s so much to re-use in a dress – the boning, the zipper, the buttons. I feel like the Native Americans must have felt about using every bit of the buffalo.

    Sorry to read about the silk that wasn’t. That happens a lot, I think. People say something is silk in a listing and maybe that’s what they’ve been told, but turns out it isn’t. And you can’t really go back and tell them ‘oh your wedding dress that you thought was silk was totally fake’. It looks like the fabric you found is gorgeous, though, and will make a fabulous dress.

    I’m curious how your design will go. Can’t wait to see! Please yell if you have any questions!

    (One thing I’ve learned: ruching is your buddy. It can hide a multitude of sins and seams.)

    • ldelgenis
      5 August 2015 / 11:17 PM

      Hah! I just looked back at your earlier post and I see that I said the same thing about ruching already. I must really like it or something. :->

      Something that also occurred to me: if you’re traveling with your dress to a destination, then it might actually be better that the fabric isn’t silk. Polyester can be a lot more durable and travel better/press more easily than natural fabrics. And possibly easier to clean again later, if you wanna.

      • Alex
        6 August 2015 / 3:40 PM

        Yes, someone else mentioned that too, very good point! My only worry is the heat and being stifled in polyester, sweating, but I’m sure the ceremony will be over in a flash and then we can go back drinking in the shade. I’m more worried about my fiancé, he’s pale and will go pink in no time :D.
        I see your point about ruching, but it’s quite a simple design, so hopefully, I will manage not to mess it up too much!

    • Alex
      6 August 2015 / 3:37 PM

      Thank you so much for following my progress and encouragements! Yeah, I know what you mean about the buffalo, traditional Romanians are pretty much like that with pigs :D.
      As to the design, I am really hoping it will come out like I imagine it in my head, ha ha, I’m pretty much designing it myself, after I failed to find a pattern that worked.

  2. 6 August 2015 / 7:42 AM

    You know, my photographer sister keeps asking me to sew her a tulle skirt for her models. Do you think it would go in the post?! Fascinating work.

    • Alex
      6 August 2015 / 3:34 PM

      Of, course, I’ll send you a pic when I get home to see if it’s what you need. So glad it will get reused. I already have a few petticoats so I’d rather use the space instead :).

  3. 6 August 2015 / 11:47 AM

    Hello Alex. Don’t be sad, polyester is sturdy and (crucially) it’s washable! It gets a bad name because there are a lot of cheap polys around. High quality poly (which I’m sure yours is, as it’s come from bridal wear) can look just as good as silk, except it will pack better in your suitcase, and you don’t have to worry as much about how delicate it is when you’re sewing.
    Massive kudos again for refashioning a wedding dress. I hope you are enjoying the process!

    • Alex
      6 August 2015 / 3:33 PM

      Thanks Sally! I didn’t actually think about it like that, but that’s a really good point! I do foresee a lot of last minute sewing, so better not to worry about fussy fabrics too!
      I am still procrastinating, but I had a draping on the stand lesson the other day and it got me all fired up with excitement, but I’m super busy at work and didn’t get a chance to sew at all all week, plus travelling at the weekend! But yeah, getting excited now!

  4. 6 August 2015 / 6:10 PM

    Good luck!! Exciting times ahead! Looking forward to watching your progress and reading all the interesting comments too 😀

  5. 6 August 2015 / 9:49 PM

    Wow I so admire your ambitious nature! Sewing your own wedding dress is one thing, but refashioning it from another? Amazing.

    • Alex
      6 August 2015 / 9:52 PM

      Thank you! I try to curb my enthusiasm and ambition by making a simpler dress. Hoping it will come along as I imagine it…

  6. 6 August 2015 / 11:41 PM

    Hi Alex, I love that you’re making your dress from an older dress! I have taken a few wedding dresses apart and it’s not a quick job. I’ve made a few into christening gowns for friends, which I thought was a nice way for them to reuse the gowns! Best of luck with it all 🙂

  7. This is such a good idea! The amount of fabric in wedding dresses is incredible and sometimes quite expensive to buy by the meter. You are getting what you want and using up someone else’s so there is no waste. Except for the petticoat. Your going to have to make a poodle skirt with that!

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