When I saw Joan's wedding dress in the Offbeat Bride photo pool, I was like OMG, I MUST KNOW MORE. And so today I bring you the story of how Joan made her dress, and tomorrow we'll bring you the full wedding. -Ariel
Being an upcycled dress designer, it was clear when I became engaged that my wedding gown could be a wonderful opportunity to showcase a handmade creation.
I decided to go for a “Cinderella Challenge”: could I create the dress of my dreams for under $100, utilizing second hand materials exclusively?
Here's how I did it…
I found a very simple vintage ivory gown made of embroidered satin and chiffon on Ebay for $21, shipping included.
Coincidentally I had stumbled upon an incredible cherry red petticoat at a yard sale for $5. The petticoat captivated me and I knew it had to be a part of my wedding “look.”
The first step was to hem the dress so the petticoat could be exposed. The remnants were saved and used to create additional ruffles. The side split that originally existed on the gown lent itself perfectly to the petticoat, and after hemming the length, I layered the split to create a larger gap, exposing more of that wonderful red.
I scoured local thrift stores and found two full bolts of ivory lace trim in two different styles, as well as ivory pom poms!
I deconstructed two vintage nylon chiffon peignoir sets and hand dyed them a pale blush. I used these pieces to create the drapery style ruffle at the base of the dress, the ruffled trim, and the largest piece became the waist sash.
I used a rhinestone O-ring to add some interest and bling to the waistline…
… and lastly double-face satin ribbon was used to create large bows which gathered the straps:
Well aware that accessories make the look, I had a ball finding just the right pieces to compliment such a unique dress. The hair fascinator was hand made by a local designer and obtained by bartering an upcycled vintage slip dress. Adding the red birdcage veil was the perfect touch to tie it all together. The shoes were red velvet 1930's replica oxford dance shoes with suede soles, ooh la la! I added double faced satin laces and hotfixed a Swarovski crystal to the top of each shoe. The jewelry is 1940's art deco costume jewelry borrowed from my mom, and finally the fingerless gloves were hand crocheted by my auntie.
I achieved my goal with the cost of the dress totaling $97, and made entirely of second hand materials. This was by far my most enjoyable dress design project to date, with the reward of wearing it all!
Once the dress was completed it dawned on me that I had been loosely working and sketching from dreams and daydreams about the beautiful gown the birds and the mice made for Cinderella, especially after altering the straps with the giant satin bows. It was a dress that was created from found materials that were second hand much the same as her fairytale princess dress.
I imagine many brides feel like Cinderella in their wedding gowns, but the concept, aesthetic, and process was so similar to the story it was uncanny. There was no other way to describe how I felt when I was finally able to wear my creation. I had truly become Cinderella!