The Lola Dress

Published on 18 October 2023 at 15:53

New sewing skills I learned with this dress:

  • Using sew in boning
  • Changing a zipper back to a corset
  • Deconstructing a wedding dress
  • Cleaning a wedding dress
  • Using upcycled lace
  • Cutting a princess seamed bodice
  • Adding eyelets to a garment
  • Beginning to fit a garment to the dummy
  • Reshaping skirt

The first dress I upcycled was this unbranded strapless ivory wedding dress with ruching all over. It had a zipper back and a little beaded detail. It was given to me a few years ago by a woman who wanted someone to do whatever they wanted with it, but she did not want it to be used as a wedding dress in it's current form.



I didn't know much about wedding dresses or how they were made but I have always loved them and I felt like I could do something with this. The aim of the project was just for me to learn about wedding dresses, how they're constructed and put together. it took a long time till I was ready to try but one day I was bored and wasn't sure what to do for my next sewing project. I decided to a have ago at taking the dress apart. In doing so I realized that the inside of a wedding dress isn't that much different to any other garment - just with a little bit more structure.


The first thing I did was to wash it. It said dry clean only however I put it in the washing machine at 20 degrees with a non bio stain remover. The dress came out sparkly and clean so then I could take the dress entirely apart including the bodice and the skirt. The original manufacturer of the dress used plastic sew in boning and I hadn't come across that before - turns out it's very easy to use.

I had a sewing pattern for a wedding dress (Mccalls M4775) which included a boned bodice therefore I cut a new bodice using that pattern, from fabric from the skirt of this dress. The lace overlay was a pillow case and duvet set that I had had lying around for quite a while so I took the lace from there however it turned out to be a lot more difficult than I thought it would be to work with - I hadn't factored in that while some lace fabric can stretch this one doesn't. 

I also had to cut it into differently sized pieces and basically cobble it together to make it fit. I learned a lot from that particular part of the process and I think next time I would have known how to use the lace better but I think the end result is quite striking and worth all the headaches I had trying to make it work.

I made a new lining for the bodice of the dress from an old gold bridesmaid dress that I bought from vinted for the princely sum of £1. It had been lying around for a good few months on there with no interest so I didn't feel too bad about cutting it up. I also wasn't keen on the shape of the skirt which was a bit too much of an A line.The whole dress felt bulky and I wanted to try and streamline it.

I thought it would be a fun challenge to see if I could construct the dress into a different silhouette. Therefore I turned the skirt inside out and I brought in the seams down the thigh section of the skirt in order to make it more of a fishtail / trumpet shape. This was a huge learning curve for me because I had never done anything like this before and had no experience at all in how to fit something to a person or mannequin. I was really just winging it. I found that I had a lot of leftover fabric in the skirt so I created some heavy pleats to use up the fabric with the idea of giving it plenty of movement as the person was wearing it.

I'm sure I made a lot of mistakes but I am pleased with the final outcome especially when this dress was one of the stars of the show in the recent fashion show that I took part in. It looked absolutely stunning on the model and moved exactly as I hoped it would.



Add comment


There are no comments yet.