Upcycled Vintage Wedding Dress 101

This weekend Mom & I had our first consultation with the dressmaker.  We learned a lot about upcycling Mom’s dress! So, I thought I would share some of the insights she provided to us with you.

1. Turn off the Lights.  

First things first, light is the enemy…when you have a dress that has been locked up in the dark (attic) for 40 years, you shouldn’t carelessly expose it to mass amounts of light.  It will yellow the dress at an exponential rate, so be careful.  I was not aware of this, so I am so glad Carol shared this with us.

2. Box it Up.

Hanging it in your closet is not a good idea.  In my case the dress is 40 years old, its fragile.  Hanging it up could really damage the shoulders, also something I didn’t think of.  Carol suggested getting a big coat box and secure the dress inside with acid-free tissue paper between layers of fabric.

3. Work with What You Got.

In my case Mom’s dress is made of a beautiful Chantilly lace, which is a very fine airy lace, usually with lots of detail and elaborate motifs.  Lucky for me Chantilly pairs quite nicely with other airy fabrics like tulle, more on that here.  It is my personal favorite out of all the laces :) So, with that in mind I want to use every square inch of the lace in good condition.  We have come up with ways to not only include in the dress but, other places as well.

Also, I was hoping to do a corset back but, the fabric in the bodice is not quite strong enough.  Instead of going ahead with a corset and risking tearing the front bodice we have come up with a new plan to preserve the pretty.

4. Be Prepared.

Come with sketches of what you want to do, if you can.  If you are not very artistic chances are you know someone that is, a simple sketch will really only take a few minutes.  Also, bring photos of other dresses with the same elements you want to incorporate in your dress.  That way the dressmaker knows what type of finished look you are going for.  A picture is really worth a thousand words.  While I will say being prepared is important, I must also say so is being open-minded…

5. Be Open-minded.

Without being too repetitive, see here. I can’t stress the importance of being open-minded during the planning process.  You will save yourself a lot of stress.  But, when considering upcycling there will be things you can’t do, things you didn’t know you could do, and maybe somethings you will have to do to make it work.  If you can let go a little bit , it can be the things you don’t expect that will make you the most happy.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a planner and can have a tough time being open-minded with something I have spent a lot of time preparing for…but, I can honestly admit sometimes you are just wrong.  Our dressmaker had a lot of great recommendations based upon the originality of my Mom’s dress and in some cases the condition.  Surprisingly to me, I loved all of them.  And I am so excited to see the finished product… the anticipation just might kill me.

Here’s some upcylced vintage wedding dress inspiration to dull the pain of anticipation

Leave a comment


  1. Aunt Joy

     /  July 9, 2013

    I can’t wait to see it. I know it’s going to be both gorgeous AND cool!

  2. Thanks Aunt Joy! I really hope the vision in my head comes to life because if it does, I will be so happy :) Thanks for your vote of confidence it means a lot. XOXO!


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