I made my own wedding dress, but it was a jumpsuit

I got married on September 3, in a very small self-uniting ceremony in a public square with four of our close friends as witnesses. I’ve known since I first got into sewing around age 13 or so that when the time came, I would probably want to make my own wedding dress. 

Two people in wedding attire stand in front of an outdoor fountain, looking at a camera mounted on a tripod.

 

What I didn’t anticipate was that a global pandemic would have such an impact on the size of our ceremony, or that my sense of personal gender identity and presentation would be skewing ever-farther away from what we typically imagine when we hear the word “bridal.” 


After a cautious peek at the world of Pinterest wedding-inspo, I decided pretty quickly that I’d prefer to wear some sort of bifurcated garment (i.e. pants). As an experienced sewist and designer (I have a degree in fashion design and have made lots of custom garments professionally over the years), I knew I wanted to design the garment from scratch and draft the pattern myself.

Ruby stands next to an outdoor fountain wearing a white bodice and pants with white cat-eye sunglasses and red sandals. She is holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand.

 

I started designing my outfit, which I initially imagined as a jumpsuit, with a few month’s lead time before our ceremony. I used the MyBodyModel template to imagine what different silhouettes might look like on my body. 

Four pencil sketches of various jumpsuit designs are drawn over a light outline of a body.

 

Once I settled on a design, I draped the top on my size 20 dress form, which is the closest form I have to my own measurements. I then drafted a pattern from the drape, and made a muslin to check the fit.

A bodice made of muslin fabric is pinned onto the torso of a dress form
A person holds a muslin bodice against her own torso to check the fit of the drape.

 

For the pants, I traced off the bottoms of an Old Navy jumpsuit I had that fit me well. This was a good starting point from which to check the fit according to the amazing top-down-center-out method published by Ruth @ithacamaven on Instagram. I made some modifications and had an excellent-fitting draft after just one fitting. 

A paper pants pattern is laid out across a large cutting table. Ruby's reflection is visible in the mirror behind the table.
A petite person wears a muslin bodice and white pants. The hems are unfinished. Her hands are in side seam pockets.

 

Fabric was obtained from Jomar, one of my favorite deadstock discount fabric stores in North Philly. I used a sparkly rayon blend for the top (which I block-fused to give it more structure) and a linen blend for the pants. Though I also bought several attractive lace and metallic/beaded trims, I ultimately decided to forgo the extra bling for a simpler, more architectural look.


Several Instagram followers suggested making the top and bottom separate instead of attaching them into a jumpsuit at the waistline. I took their advice. Having a two-piece look makes it easier to go to the bathroom, as well as alter the garment in the future if I decide to wear it again. There is also a bit more versatility to each piece: I probably will not have many occasions to wear an all-white jumpsuit, but I might wear white pants with a different top.


About two weeks before our ceremony, I decided to make a shirt out of the leftover pants fabric for my partner. He was having a hard time finding something he liked, so I traced off one of his favorite work shirts and modified the pattern to align with his vision for his outfit. He really wanted a collarless design, with short sleeves, and blue buttons to match his shoelaces. 

A man is wearing a white short sleeve shirt with raw hems and no buttons. He is holding the front placket closed and smiling..
A bearded man in a white short sleeve shirt and suspenders stands in front of a fountain. His hands are in his pockets and he is smiling.

 

A few days before our ceremony, I found an amazing sleeveless white denim jacket at a thrift store that made the perfect cover-up for my look! Since we ended up taking public transit to the square where we had our ceremony, it felt nice to have a protective layer over the delicate bare-shouldered top. It helped me to avoid unwanted stains and stares! I joked that bystanders probably weren’t even sure whether we were getting married or just wearing white for Labor Day.

Ruby stands in front of a brick wall wearing a white sleeveless denim-style jacket over a shiny white bodice and white pants, with red sandals. She is holding a bouquet of flowers in one hand and looking down.

 

All in all, I’m really glad that I decided to make our clothes for the ceremony. Having sewing skills meant that I could make exactly what I wanted without having to set foot in a bridal shop. Plus I avoided having to think about sizes at all! And, best of all, no one had the opportunity to croon unwanted aphorisms about weight loss, bride culture, or “your special day” in my direction. 

A couple stands in front of city hall in Philadelphia wearing wedding attire. They are holding hands and smiling.
Two people in wedding attire are shown from the back, walking away from the camera.

5 comments

  • Well done!!! Thank you for sharing..❤️

    Kaz Hauser
  • Congratulations to both of you! You both look amazing and I love your inventiveness. Sewing really is a super power isn’t it???

    Bettsi
  • Quand la passion de l’étoffe se joint à la passion des coeurs…

    Sandra CHAMPENOIS
  • Thanks for sharing your process! I love how both of your outfits turned out. Congratulations!

    Nancy
  • How inspiring, congratulations 💐💐🧡💜💛💚💙❤️

    Leslie Kirby

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