How I upcycled my “Cinderella” wedding dress for less than $100

Guest post by Joan Vorderbruggen
Cinderella Bride

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.

upcycled wedding dress 1 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
This is the BEFORE picture. Um, wow?

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.”

upcycled wedding dress 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Gotta show off the petticoat!

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.

upcycled wedding dress 3 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

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.

upcycled wedding dress 4 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

I used a rhinestone O-ring to add some interest and bling to the waistline…

upcycled wedding dress 5 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

… and lastly double-face satin ribbon was used to create large bows which gathered the straps:

upcycled wedding dress 6 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)

Happy bride!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!

Meet our fave wedding vendors

New in our curated shop

Comments on How I upcycled my “Cinderella” wedding dress for less than $100

  1. That’s so amazing! The dress is gorgeous (yeah, that petticoat is basically to die for) and I just completely love that it’s inspired by what the mice made in the Disney movie!

  2. Geez that is amazing… I can just picture little bluebirds and mice placing the pom poms and sewing them into place! That’s it, i must learn to sew!

  3. I was thinking as I was reading this “It looks like the dress the mice and birds make for Cinderella…” It is SOOOO MAGICAL!!! I hope you are adding more dresses like this to your line!

  4. Is it just me, or does everyone have to play peekaboo to see the photo on tip? Mine is covered up by the blue caption box. The HTML must’ve gone awry. GREAT story though!

  5. This is incredible! Absolutely incredible! This Cinderella doesn’t need a fairy godmother. All she needed was Ebay and some scissors!

  6. Oh wow, that is amazing! I can’t believe you did it without a pattern! Talk about creativity and talent …

  7. Well done! I personally prefer to use new materials in my designs, but upcycling usually allows for the most unusual creations. The parameters involved force new ways of looking at things.

  8. alright that’s it I’m doing it!!! At the beginning of a long engagement and haven;t found one dress I even remotely like. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

  9. This is such a huge inspiration. It’s so frustrating looking at swarovski studded monstrosities going for five grand a pop, and here you’ve got something beautiful, something wonderful and sentimental that you made with your own hands. You took things nobody wanted anymore and gave them new life, and that is an amazing thing.

    I’m doing it, man. I’m making my own dress.

Comments are closed.