Everything you need to know about having your wedding dress custom-made

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Image courtesy of Wedding Dress Fantasy.
Image courtesy of Wedding Dress Fantasy.

A while back I ranted about how I think brides are best off having their wedding dresses custom made — you'll get a better fit, exactly the design you want, and won't have to suffer the attitudes and obscene prices of a bridal boutique. (And remember: custom dresses don't always cost a fortune! My wedding gown was a combination of a custom corset and skirt, with a total cost of $500.)

There was some grumbling in the comments about “Ok, fine: but how do you find a custom dressmaker?” My best advice is start in your immediate circle and work your way out — do you know any seamstresses or amazing sewers? Do any of your friends or family known any? If not, search online or in the Yellow Pages for someone locally. Being able to do fittings in person is a big bonus. If there's no-one in town you like, then start looking online for seamstresses with styles you like who will work with you via email.

The ladies of the Offbeat Bride Tribe came to the rescue with lots more tips on picking a custom dressmaker, as well as specific dressmaker recommendations:

If any local college has a fashion program, you might be referred to someone that way, either a prof or a student. I'd definitely go in with a design and fabric swatches in hand. If they start telling you about how they don't need any references or what not, leave!

When selecting a seamstress, see photos from a portfolio AND actual dresses. And talk to past clients if you can. Photos can look amazing compared to looking at them up close. Although it is very important to know what you want when it comes to style, it is just as important to make sure the seamstress has sewn other dresses in that same style. Find out if they have had to make their own patterns in the past, and see how those have turned out.

A good tip for finding a seamstress is calling the costume department of your local theatre. Costume ladies are kickass stichers and love creative challenges. Also, be wary of buying really cheap fabric. Most of the time, cheap fabric makes a dress look cheap.
Ask to see some samples, pay attention to quality, look at the seams, ask to see photographs, etc. Once you find a seamstress you like, bring in as many photos as possible to show garment construction, color, style, fabric, etc. Your seamstress will probably have her own opinions on what will work fabric-wise. Settle on what you need and go fabric shopping or take her with you to do so. Then turn it over to her. Be brutally honest at the fitting.

Can't find 'em local? GO ONLINE!

If you just can't find a seamstress near by, there are some truly phenomenal indie dressmakers who work online:

(PS: If you're a dressmaker or seamstress, get in touch with us about placement on Offbeat Bride!)

There's also the option of outsourcing your dressmaking overseas, which has saved many offbeat brides huge wads of cash (although it also comes with thorny ethical questions). Here are just three of literally hundreds of options:

Be aware that going this route can also cause major hassles.

And now I'll open it up to the peanut gallery: Did you have your wedding dress custom made? How did you pick your seamstress? Any tips or advice?

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Comments on Everything you need to know about having your wedding dress custom-made

  1. I’m a professional actor; I know many costume designers. One of them is making my gown for under a grand.

    So if you know any actors (and we are EVERYWHERE), chances are good that they’ll know one or several costume designers who’d love the creative challenge and extra cash if they’re between gigs!

  2. I’m using the above-mentioned Amanda Archer via Etsy to make my wedding dress out of vintage champagne eyelet lace. I’m super excited! She’s amazing!

  3. I adore all of you off beat brides! I stumbled across this community in my search for hope of a beautiful budget wedding and you guys never fail. Thanks for all the budget help!!!!

  4. I got my Wedding dress from an on line store “Dress of a lifetime” it was all custom made from 2 pictures of 2 very different dresses that they combined in to one dress and made to my exact measurements. Their customer service was out of this world i know exactly what was going on through the whole process. it was a bit pricey (mine was $1100) but the quality is well worth the extra cash. I am a plus size girl and finding a plus size dress that fits you perfectly is almost impossible for that price.

  5. HELP I AM DESPERATE i am looking for a wedding dress cheaper then the 800$ i like the some what cliassic style. but want a twist. i want a blue dress light blue a line but not poofy tie dye is acceptable. i have a very specific look and also a very specific budget… laughable maybe. same deal for the suits. its a jersey shore beach wedding. i am a size 14. please look at our website it might give u an idea of how to better advise us. were young havent done this before and are going on very little guidence. all i know about the wedding is what ive told u and that its a white n blue wedding and the groom is wearing customized chucks along with our ring bearer who is our 2 yr old son quinn westley
    im andi and my other half is merlwynn (ya like the wizard kool huh?) please feel free to contact me
    thanks mucho andi

    • Hi andi,

      I run a small home bridal studio in Bergen County, NJ. I work with brides looking to go the custom route. Your budget is very fair. I invite you to take a look at my website and let me know if I can be of any assistance. All the best…Aida


  6. To the girl in commen #32 , where in birmingham, al did you go to get your dress made? Im looking and need some help

  7. Andi this comment is for you, If you haven’t found your “dream dress” that is not white they try this website, plussizebridal.com they have alot of bridesmaid gowns that could easily be wedding gowns. Some of them even have sweep trains and have many colors to chose from and most of them are from 100 to 500.(They also have a few colored wedding gowns) They also sell many gowns from alfred angelo and other designers as well for much less than bridal stores.Hope this helps many out there!!

  8. Thanks so much!I got my wedding dress from Kaersen, it is more beautiful than what I have dreamed.I recommend them.

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