Upcycle a Wedding Dress Into a Christening Gown, Part 2: Deconstruction and Preparation

Now that you have your Wedding Dress to Christening Gown project planned, it’s time to begin what may well be the most difficult part of the project, deconstructing your wedding gown. This has little to do with sewing and more to do with feelings. Very real and important feelings. I can’t give you too much advice here, but I can give you a bit of a pep talk if you need one.

Deconstructing the wedding dress bodice

Materials to Deconstruct and Prepare for Your Wedding Dress to Christening Gown Project

When you are ready to begin this step, you’ll need a few supplies:

  • Tools
    • Sewing shears
    • Embroidery scissors
    • Seam ripper
  • Baggies or small containers
  • Sheet or drop cloth
  • Camera—you’ll thank me later if you take some selfies during this process. I SO wish I had a photo of my mom remaking her wedding dress into the Christening gown I wore and my daughter wore after me.
  • Wine. Or chocolate. But I recommend waiting until after you finish this step.

Deconstructing the Wedding Dress

When you are ready to begin, you’ll need the few supplies listed above. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way. I hope they are helpful!

Deconstructing the wedding dress

Deconstructing the wedding dress

Tips and Tricks for Deconstructing the Wedding Dress

I suggest deconstructing your wedding dress on a large flat sheet or drop cloth or you are likely going to have all manner of sparkly stuff adorning your carpet for weeks. This way, you can also fold up the whole project if you get interrupted by a puppy. (Did anyone else adopt a fur baby during COVID, or was it just me?)

Puppy Pic

  1. You may find it tempting to take the wedding dress apart stitch by stitch with your tiny scissors, but I can tell you from experience, this is not necessary. Of course, you want to be careful, but you will be laying your pattern pieces out in the center of the fabric sections. Go ahead and cut right down the seams!
  2. Remove bodice from skirt and set aside. Most of your project will be made with the skirt. You will assess the materials and embellishments in a later step.
  3. Separate the layers of the skirt. Depending on your wedding dress, you may have several layers, including tulle, lace, satin, lining, and netting. The dress I used had SO. MUCH. NETTING. The frugal part of me is thinking ballerina tutus with the leftover materials, but I digress.
  4. Time saver: don’t worry about taking out the side seams on the skirt. When pinning your pattern pieces later, you can lay out the skirt open in a circle and place your pattern pieces over the sections you want to use.
  5. As you work, you will most likely have beads and sequins coming off the dress. You may also have buttons you can remove and save for later. Just collect them in your baggies or small containers. Also, keep any lace pieces that may detach as you are working. You will use these on the final step if you choose to add more embellishment.

Preparing the materials

Prepare Materials

Once you have the dress parts separated, you can decide which sections will be used for each element of your Christening gown design. The skirt should be planned first, because it is the largest component and you don’t want to find yourself without enough fabric if you cut the smaller pieces first.

Assessing the materials- skirt

Assessing the materials- skirt

Tips and Tricks

  1. Make your decisions now about which sections of the wedding dress you will want to use on which sections of the Christening gown. I liked the main lace motif of the dress I was using, so pinned my pattern on the skirt in the appropriate places. I chose to use the large part of the motif on the front and the smaller, secondary motif on the back of the Christening gown.
  2. This gown had only a small amount of satin from the panel and tie on the corset back. I liked the idea of using satin on the Christening gown, so I chose to use it as a sewn-in trim detail. As you look at the details of your dress, try to begin to make some of these decisions.
  3. Decide how many layers you will use. The dress I had was very lightweight with only netting, lining, and tulle, so I decided to construct the whole dress of lining with a tulle overlay. You can always use multiple layers on the skirt if you want the dress to be poufier.

Additional Materials to Upcycle Your Wedding Dress into a Christening Gown (Optional)

Now that you have your plan made and have assessed your materials, you may decide you need to purchase a few things.

Select additional materials- lace

Tips and Tricks

  1. Check your pattern instructions for any other notions so you can get everything at once. I only needed thread, interfacing, and buttons.
    You may choose to add extra lace, ribbon or plan a sweet headband to go with the Christening gown. While you might love a good trip to the fabric store, I find it super annoying to have to stop working when I don’t have everything I need.
  2. Keep in mind: Aside from your time, if this wedding dress is your own or was given to you, this is a really inexpensive project. Don’t settle for a low-quality option for any purchased notions. I trust that purchases I make at my local BERNINA store will be heirloom-quality and will stand the test of time. At the very least, purchase high-quality thread and high-quality lace.

Now that you have all your materials ready to go, be sure to meet me at part 3 where you will create your sweet heirloom Christening gown!

Upcycle a Wedding Dress into a Christening Gown

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