How to choose sewing patterns for wedding dresses
How and where to find patterns for wedding dresses.
Making a wedding dress is a big task, but some people choose to do it. It’s cheaper than buying a dress, and it allows the dress to be designed more for the individual. However, some have no idea where to begin to find patterns for their wedding dresses.
First of all, go online and start checking out wedding dress sites, to figure out what kind of design you like the best. It’s even a good idea to go to bridal shops and try some dresses on, to get an idea of what looks best on you. One downside of making a wedding dress is that you have to choose a pattern without knowing how it will look on you when it’s done. Figure out what style of dress looks best on you, and this problem is all but eliminated.
Then, head to Joann.com. Many cities have a sewing store named Joann Fabrics. Look on their website to see what patterns they have available. You can also head to Butterick.com, Simplicity.com, or McCall.com. All three of these are major pattern manufacturers. There are also some patterns from Vogue and other smaller companies, but they may be more difficult to find at a store, or take longer to order online.
Each website should have a wedding/bridal section. Look at the different dresses and see if one appeals to you. Keep in mind that many patterns have more than one “look” you can get from it, and that trim is optional and can be left off entirely, or changed to suit your style. Don’t make a decision based on accessories, including trim, veil, or gloves. These items can be purchased or made separately, or altered to suit your tastes.
If you have a sewing store in your area (like Joann Fabrics), go there to see more dresses. At the back of the store, there will be a table with many pattern books from major companies on it. Choose a book and flip to their bridal section. This will usually have bigger pictures and more information than websites will. Though all wedding dresses are usually difficult, because they are so elaborate, some companies will be easier than others. Butterick generally produces more difficult patterns, McCall’s are in the middle, and Simplicity tends to be easier. However – it depends on the particular pattern you choose. Other companies will vary as well.
In addition to looking at the bridal section, check out evening wear and costumes. Some companies also have a vintage dress section. Any of the fancier dresses in these sections can be made as a wedding dress, too. Often times they are pictured in rich, bright colors, but you can choose whatever fabric you like. Some people even get wedding dress patterns and make Victorian costumes out of them by omitting the train and using different colors. You are not limited ONLY to the bridal section.
Once you have chosen a design you like, check out what it says about sizing. The size numbers on the pattern will generally not correlate with your store-bought clothing size. The size will be larger on the pattern. For example, some women wear a size six from the store, but make patterns in a size twelve. To ensure that you get the correct pattern, measure yourself carefully, and keep the measuring tape a bit loose. It’s better to have a pattern that is too big for you rather than too small. Also, if there’s a problem with the pattern fitting a certain part of your body (for example, if you’re larger-busted), choose a pattern that seems closest to fitting you. If you allow extra fabric, the pattern can be adjusted to fit you. If the dress comes out too big, it can be taken in so that it fits your shape. If the dress is too small, there’s not a lot that can be done.
Once you have determined the correct size, choose a pattern where your size is in the middle of the size range, if you can. Most patterns have three different possible sizes on their layouts. For example, a pattern might be 8-10-12, and another might be 12-14-16. If you’re making a 12, and you’re not sure it’s going to fit your body in all areas, choose the 12-14-16 so that you can allow for more room. If you’re having a seamstress make your dress, consult with him or her on the correct size (s/he might also have other patterns for you to choose from). If you are making it yourself, always go bigger rather than smaller.
Once you have the pattern, look for the sections called “fabric” and “notions.” These are all of the other things you will need to make your dress. Check fabric lengths carefully (some are 45” long, others are 60”). You will need different amounts depending on length. You will also need more if the fabric you choose has a nap, or a one-way design (if the fabric is solid colored and not textured in a certain direction, it doesn’t have a nap). This section will also tell you what types of fabric are appropriate for your pattern. Many wedding dresses use taffeta, satin, crepe, or other “special occasion” fabrics. Choose any color you want, and any type of fabric from this list.
Check the notions carefully, too. It will tell you if you need a zipper (how long and what type – usually an invisible zipper), buttons, lace, ribbon, thread, or anything else. Keep in mind that whatever trim it lists is optional and can be substituted or omitted. If you have a seamstress, talk to her about what kind of trim you’d like. Anything else listed on the notions is required in order to complete the dress.
There are many places you can find these patterns – online, in a seamstress’s store, in sewing stores, sometimes in bridal locations. Seek out one of these places and take a look at your options. Make sure to check out costumes, vintage, and special occasion sections too. If you look in all these places, you will surely find the right pattern for you!