How a bride and her mother hand-crafted a fantastical steampunk wedding ensemble

Guest post by Dana Beaufait-Stevens

OBVIOUSLY everyone at this wedding looked like they just stepped out of some neo-Victorian, psychedlic wet-dream, saturated in rich colors and brass baubles and amazingness. But the bride's dress was crafted from an old prom dress and a parachute!

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I pulled inspiration from many different photos and then drew up what I wanted. I enjoy drawing out what I want to wear and then seeing how close I can make it! It's a great challenge for my sewing skills. Some of the pictures I pulled from were models and some were fantasy art works.

I found this dress years ago that I wanted to make that was made out of what looked like canvas. Later I found out that it was made from old Vietnam war era parachutes. The new parachutes are made from nylon and are really hard to dye — not to mention are usually green, orange or white to start off with — so it took some digging to find the silk versions. I found the silk ones that we used on a military surplus website.


dress beforeThe base dress was just a normal prom dress shape with a halter top and A-line skirt. My mother added strips down the back to keep the weight of the dress from dragging the back of it down.

I bought the dye from Dharma Trading Co. — they were VERY helpful. I called them up and asked them what dye and how much I should need and she answered everything perfectly! I picked out the colors online and ordered them about two weeks before I needed them. I had three colors: a dark red, a dark purple, and a creamy orange. I should have bought more but I was getting close to scraping the bottom of the wedding budget. If I had more dye it would have come out a darker color which is what I was going for…but it turned out beautifully so I can't complain.

I hung the white dress on the garage door frame and laid out a tarp. We had this old plastic barrel in the yard that I put under the dress so that it wouldn't touch the ground, and then I soaked it down with the hose…man, was it heavy! That thing soaking wet had to have weighed over 40lbs…I had to get my brother to help me move it around!

I dyed the lightest color first from the top as far as I could down to the bottom…and the jacket and any left over scraps of fabric that we might need later. ( I'm glad we did because some of the weight on the seams, from the water, ripped the fabric and my mom had to patch it.) Then I mixed the red and purple dye together to make it a darker color and dumped out the orange dye from the barrel into a bowl and started over from the bottom up.

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When the colors joined I had a bit of panic time because I wasn't sure what it was going to do… luckily I had saved the orange dye and I could go back and forth between the two colors until they faded together well. Going through all of the those layers was no easy task, but I had my brother to keep me company — my whole family is very crafty so they help with a lot of my crazy projects! It dried really fast — I only had to leave it for about an hour and then I ironed the whole thing to set the color…it's heat-set dye! The next day we worked on the rest of the sewing.

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My mom is the one that cleaned it up and made it sparkly…The black and white gem pieces were made from a belt that she found at a thrift store and took apart and the beads were different things she had lying around from past projects. The velvet pieces were salvaged from an old velvet dress.

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We spent about three solid days and nights doing nothing but sewing my dress, my groom's outfit, three groomsmen's outfits, and four bridesmaids dresses (without any of them with us for fittings!). I left my parents' house after about four days and finished sewing the bridal party's clothes at my apartment. My mom finished my dress and surprised me with it at the fitting.

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I wore a black under-bust corset that I got from Corset Story and a full circle black skirt that I found on ebay for about $40 under it to give it a bit of form at the bottom with out having to wear a hoop skirt or padding. I also wore combat boots with silk ribbon laces that I put in them to pretty it up a bit.

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At the fitting we changed the lace-up front to a buckle-up front and worked on the train a bit, but it was pretty perfect at that point. My mother added the beading and then it was done! I love how the sleeves and the bottom of the jacket are scalloped! (I am still amazed at how much she got done for that weekend because she also made a full outfit for herself, my dad, and my brother!) She is an amazing seamstress and I've learned a lot about sewing from her.

I felt like a steam punk queen in that dress! The only thing that I would say bad about it was it was hard to dance in. I am making matching fairy wings for it, and I'm going to wear it again in about two weeks as a fairy queen costume to a local fantasy convention.

Comments on How a bride and her mother hand-crafted a fantastical steampunk wedding ensemble

  1. The dye job on that dress is AMAZING. Ombre is no easy feat! Any time I attempt it I get sick of how long it’s taking and usually end up messing it up in my impatience. I commend you!

  2. The bride’s dress is gorgeous, but the dress worn by the mother of the bride (I assume the woman with the black hat is your mother?) is equally stunning. Such incredible talent!!

  3. This is glorious! What an amazing mother/daughter project. It’s just too gorgeous for words

  4. Kudos to the bride for keeping it classy and demure (i.e. not flashing her goods all over the place). The dress is very flattering and as a result VERY sexy. You look awesome.

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