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Topic: the Saga of Making my Dress (novel length post & img OBESE)  (Read 14086 times)
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santacruzsugar
« on: February 04, 2012 10:03:30 AM »

So I'm getting married in August. I live in wine country in Northern CA, which is a "destination wedding location" so it automatically makes anything wedding related AT LEAST 30% more expensive. Our wedding budget is $4000, practically impossible in this region when photographers START at $4000 (and don't even get me started on the venues....). Regardless, we are making it work. We reserved a picnic area at a public park for $98, found a photographer who would do small packages for around a $1000, I'm going to grow most of the flowers... I never "set out" to make my dress, but after going to stores to try them on, I figured I could do it: For one, I know how to sew, and two, there was no way in HELL I was going to spend $1000 on something made in China, from POLYESTER!

I still have to hem it and put in a zipper, but I'm super excited and pleased with what I was able to make! Normally I show my partner what I've sewn, but I'm trying to stay traditional and not have him see me until the wedding day, so I can't show him! The next best thing: posting it here!


Read on if you would like to know all the drama I went through to make it (damn you Joannes, damn you!), how I achieved the rouching, and some cute kitty pictures.  Grin

This is the dress I was trying to replicate. I REALLY wanted a lace covered dress, with a key hole back, but decent lace is expensive, so I went with the 2nd best choice. Here I have on the WToo gown. Excuse the fuzzy picture. Pretty basic, sweetheart neckline, rouched bodice, gathered skirt, pleaded front. Even if I were to have the money (or the desire to buy polyester), I would have had to "de-poof" the skirt and shorten the train. It did have pockets (super cool) that I didn't replicate, and a row of buttons down the back seam (I hate sewing on buttons).


After searching online and all the pattern books, I couldn't find anything that was exactly the same, so I pieced together a bunch of different pattens. One was for the neckline, one was for the waste line, and one was for the skirt hem.
Here 3-legged Gaia hides under the patterns that I have draped on my dress form. She think's its her life mission to chew and destroy everything. I throw her out of the craft room, but some how she still gets back in.  


Because I have NO boobs, even the smallest pattern size doesn't fit me on top, so there was lots of muslin and sheet trial runs. I knew the top was going to be my problem area, so after doing just one waistline mock, I focused on getting the cup size right.





I also made a petticoat from broadcloth, and then an additional layer from petticoat netting. OMG that stuff is a pain in the ass to work with! Once I figure out the hem length, I want to add lace at the bottom.


Here my kitty Gale watches me curse at the damn stuff.


After finally getting the top fit right, I decided to do a full length skirt trial. Don't you just love the mis-matched sheets! (yeah for $1.00 sheets at thrift stores!) They are awesome because you can make notes and mark possible alterations right on them!





Now it was time to figure out the rouching on the bodice. I went back to a different store (because I didn't want to be the obnoxious girl who didn't buy anything) and looked at the dress again. It clearly was not pleated, but gathered. Let me tell you, there is not a single pattern in existence that explains how to get the gathering to come out of the boobs at an angle. After searching craftster, I came across Lisa's post http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=270998.0, and she was trying to do a similar top. She ended up pleating and tacking hers, but I really wanted to figure out how to gather mine. After many failed attempts, it was like a lightbulb went off: just gather a super big square, then put the boob piece on top at an angle, and baste together. These are bad pictures, but I really want to show you how I did it incase your trying to do the same.
front side:

back side:


Then cut the gathered piece to be the same size as the lining piece, and your good to go!

This is 2 times the height of the original piece. I used 3 times the height on the final dress.

After I found the WToo dress, I had stopped by Joannes to see what types of fabric they had that would be suitable. The had the duponi silk (regularly $24 a yard) onsale for 50% off. I ALSO happened to have one of those "20% off everything, even SALE items" coupons that they occasionally put out. I quickly bought up 7 yards of the white silk, figuring it would be enough. It came out to be around $10 a yard, not bad, still in my budget.

Then I cut out the silk, carefully with my pinking shears to reduce fraying. Here you can see I literally have 3 different patterns taped together for one of the skirt sections.


After cutting out ALL the skirt pieces, I cut out the top. I gathered up one boob and one side piece, just to confirm my method would still work, then went to work on the skirt.

Then the drama started. After I sewed all the pieces together,  I realized the back section had weird grease-spot like stains on it that I didn't notice until I held it up in the light. AHHHHHH, I had been so careful with it! I almost cried. BUT, I had enough silk left to re-cut the back piece, so I ripped the skirt apart and sewed it back together with the new piece. Problem solved. But then I realized that I didn't have enough silk to do the rouching for the other bodice pieces. So I went BACK to Joannes (which of course was way later and the silk wasn't on sale, but at least I still had a coupon) and got another yard to finish the top. I mentioned the stains to the girl, and she said "Oh yeah, that happens all the time. Stuff comes off the truck dirty". WTF!!!! If she knew that, shouldn't they have checked my first cut for stains? Shouldn't she have given me this new yard for even cheaper, if not free??? UGGGGGGG I was really angry. Oh, but it gets worse....

So I brought my new silk home, finished the top, and then tried it on. THE SILKS WERE A DIFFERENT SHADE OF WHITE. I hadn't noticed. One boob was white, and the other boob was a slightly different white. They must have been from a different dye batch, even thought I checked the brand & bolt barcode.

So I had to rip apart the whole bodice, REDO the original two pieces, and then sew everything back together. Here's a bad "in the mirror" picture to make sure it fits. So my bodice is a different shade than the skirt, but its hard to tell, and you can really only tell under florescent light. At least its better than different color boobs!


Then I lined the skirt with broadcloth, then gathered them both together as one. Here I'm gathering the skirt up on my dress form to match the bodice.


Then I sewed the two together. There were a couple of spots I had to rip out and do over, but overall it wasn't too bad. I'm always so proud of my machine for going through so many layers of fabric!
Gaia investigates what I'm doing:



Then I sewed a garment bag to store my dress in and protect from Gaia's chews.


And that was the saga of making my own wedding gown!


If you are still with me, thanks for looking! Comments and other Joanne's rants welcome!
« Last Edit: February 04, 2012 10:42:12 AM by santacruzsugar » THIS ROCKS   Logged

snuffles
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2012 10:17:17 AM »

You did an excellent job. I really like the style you chose and the dress turned out super professional looking! Thanks for showing all the in-progress shots, it's a big help to visualize all the inner workings of the dress...
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2012 10:27:29 AM »

Wow, this looks very beautiful and professionally done.  Bravo!
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2012 10:44:34 AM »

Oh, wow, it's beautiful!  And you did such a clever job getting the bodice right.  It looks gorgeous!  And yeah, I have a friend who's a manager at Hancock's, and she makes the people who cut check the fabric, because apparently, it's common at ALL fabric stores for it to get stains.  It happens during production.  But I'm glad you got it to work in the end!
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2012 10:51:09 AM »

You have done a gorgeous job! Congratulations - it is so lovely.  I'm so sorry you had such a problem with Joann's though.  I'd suggest emailing corporate, but I've done that in the past and gotten no response. Sad
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2012 11:12:58 AM »

Well done! Your dress looks fabulous.
Also there is something really great about your dress made of old sheets. I cannot think of where you would be able to wear it but it so needs to leave the house.  Grin
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2012 12:08:38 PM »

Absolutely beautiful.  It looks great and was so worth all the drama.

I can't believe you are done it so early.
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2012 12:22:26 PM »

Holy cow girl! What a drama! But your dress is beautiful Smiley Very well done indeed. You should be proud.

Also there is something really great about your dress made of old sheets. I cannot think of where you would be able to wear it but it so needs to leave the house.  Grin

and I agree with EllaRain, that sheet dress is way cool. You need to find someplace to wear it!
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TheDaytimeHeroes
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2012 01:45:37 PM »

Oh my, your dress is STUNNING.
The photo of the dress you were imitating got me so excited, I really hoped that your dress would turn out like it and it did! You are amazing!
This is such an inspiration. Not that I plan on getting married to my boy anytime soon (I'm a 19year old university student  Cheesy) but still, very inspiring. I can't wait until the summer so I have time to sew dresses again!

And all that trouble with the fabric sounds like a nightmare. I personally have not had that problem yet, but I have heard of several people that have. Ick.
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2012 03:17:35 PM »

Holy crap, just reading about your trials and tribulations is exhausting! From my perspective, soooo worth it! Your gown is gorgeous, and kudos to you for franken-patterning to get exactly what you wanted Cheesy
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2012 03:27:35 PM »

*clap, clap, clap* That's me giving you much deserved applause and a standing O,  for all the work you've put into your dress (and all the other stuff that went along with it   Grin  It's beautiful!  It's obvious you couldn't have got the work done without your kitty's help either  Cheesy Cheesy

P.S. Your sense of humour is apparent in your story and I'm thinking that helped you through it quite a bit  Cheesy
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2012 05:44:55 PM »

What a wonderful job! Congratulations! And thanks for the story. It was fun to read.Smiley Plus, I also agree that your bedsheet dress should be worn somewhere.Cheesy
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2012 05:24:03 AM »

I love reading  about weddings here, and your dress is incredible! What a great story (make sure you save this whole post for your album), thanks for sharing..ps, I also gotta add that the "sheet dress" is gorgeous..maybe you could wear it at your shower or after party?
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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2012 05:44:31 AM »

OMG so amazing to see the entire process! Absolutely beautiful dress!   Cheesy
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little-cupcake
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2012 05:47:48 AM »

Wow, that's amazing! I bought a vintage weddingdress I'm going to alter. I hope mine is going to turn out just as good as yours!
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2012 10:46:47 AM »

Your dress turned out gorgeous, despite the trouble you had with it! Absolutely gorgeous!
And I agree with everyone about keeping & wearing the sheet dress- you should cut the skirt down and reshape it into a cocktail dress and dye it to wear out- maybe even at the reception!
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2012 06:46:11 PM »

I worked at JoAnn's for awhile. As well as spots you have to watch for those pesky joins as well. Typically those are easy to spot, but if you need 7 yards and they find a seam and they want to give you 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 yards you have to be careful. You need to know how long your pattern pieces are. It used to drive me nuts to find waste smack in the middle of fabric I was cutting.

secondly, I recommend going when they are not busy. I remember feeling like I was getting whiplash, cutting fabric and watching the checkout. My head snapping back and forth, whipping through measuring fabric and running back and forth. You don't notice everything when you are flipping those bolts faster than you can focus.

Third, always double check your fabric before you cut into it. Once cut, store policy will not accept return. I remember someone bringing me a pair of shorts and telling me that they did not get 1 1/2 yards fabric because they didn't have enough for a second pair. They always have enough for a second pair. They wanted me to measure the shorts as proof. I don't know how they laid out their pattern or how much was left.
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starlitex7
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2012 10:28:15 PM »

Beautiful dress.. I want to tease that the things we have to fight for are usually the things we need the most.  that and marriage is a lot like sewing your dress, sometimes it is a hassle;  sometimes it just beautiful geee I didn't mean to get to deep LOL
But great job on your dress....
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marlie2
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2012 06:20:01 AM »

Your dress turned out absolutely gorgeous despite all of the stress it took to get you there.
I love that you're planning a wedding on a budget that is a fraction of the size of what is considered average these days. I feel like yours is the kind of wedding that will turn out so much more personal and creative than most weddings. I hope you'll post plenty of pictures of that incredible dress from the big day!!

Oh and the silhouette turned out so great I wouldn't mind wearing the bedsheet version (:
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Sara87
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2012 08:22:39 AM »

Oh my gosh, this is incredible! Such a beautiful dress, such a flattering cut (I have the same no boob problem) and I'm just stunned that you kept going with SO many problems facing you.

If that was me, I'd have given up once I'd seen dirty spots on the fabric (thanks for the tip - I'm going to be extra vigilant about checking fabric from now on)

Finally, the blue stripy mock up that you made would be gorgeous just as a top - going to try and make it!
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« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2012 08:34:39 AM »

Wow your dress is amazing It is stunning I cant believe you made your wedding dress that is just fantastic. Hope your big day is as gorgous as the dress you made.
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« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2012 08:38:26 AM »

what an adventure! but definitely an excellent result!!!
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« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2012 10:51:00 AM »

How funny! I thought I'd be the only person saying your sheet version is awesome and you need to find some way to wear it lol. I have a cool Muslim mock-up, except I used diff. colors of Muslin, and it just looks funny. Else I'd wear it (esp. since the real outfit is for somebody else).

Re: stained/damaged fabric... I forget to look too. Though if you notice it at the time they will cut the bad part & start over or offer it to you at a discount (though you only get discount on the bad spot). Also, always buy more than you think you need for exactly the reason you discovered: different dyelots don't always match and if you only buy what you think you need.... you'll run short and not be able to find a match. I've run into it quilting (not only was the fabric gone, there was NOTHING in a shade close enough to substitute. Took 6 months to find something that looked good to contrast with it)
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« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2012 10:55:40 AM »

Oh! And congratulations on your dress and your wedding Smiley

Also... for anybody looking to save costs on weddings... I went to a wedding where the bride's photographer was free (or mostly free). She found a photographer that was building her portfolio for her own wedding photography studio, so she took the photo's in exchange of using them in her portfolio. I think a person would normally have to pay cost of materials at least, though in this case I think the person was her friend so that part was her gift to the couple.
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santacruzsugar
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2012 12:56:35 PM »

Thanks everyone for the comments! I got the zipper put in yesterday with limited frustration (as the TV blared downstairs for the damn football game...

I never once thought to check the fabric when it was being cut, I just assumed if it came off the bolt is was clean! I know now, though! I've never bought fabric online, but I'd be wary of doing that, too.

I didn't put a zipper in the sheet dress, but now with all your feedback, I might have to (completely un-matching of course) and do something with it!

I went to a wedding where the bride's photographer was free (or mostly free). She found a photographer that was building her portfolio for her own wedding photography studio, so she took the photo's in exchange of using them in her portfolio.

I've heard other success stories of doing that also. We found our officiant by word of mouth and she's trying to build her business. She's writing our ceremony, doing the rehearsal, and the ceremony for only $100! The "average" non church related officiate around here STARTS at $300!
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mandamouse123
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2012 02:25:40 PM »

Your final dress is so pretty!  I would have given up halfway through your trials.  I'm so glad you could persevere through sewing something that big and time consuming. 

Everyone's suggesting that you to finish off you muslin-- I say hem it to something manageable and wear it to your wedding rehearsal!

Congratulations and good luck on your big day!
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Greta_j
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2012 02:48:32 PM »

You're amazing -- the gathering at your bodice (the close up photos) look amazing. So perfect and detailed you really did an such a good job.
I burst out laughing at your dress made out of 3 different sheets - such a good cheap idea.
I hope you had a large glass of Champagne to celebrate the completion of the dress.
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JellyBabyK9
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2012 05:49:03 PM »

Wow! All I can say is wow! Despite all that wretched stress from Joanne's your dress came out to be absolutely gorgeous!
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« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2012 08:13:32 PM »

I loved reading your post, congrats on getting married and completing beautiful dress!
I have also emailed Joanns with complaints and have gotten no response (they sent me the wrong color fabric which cost me both a customers time and the money to ship the darn stuff back to them) :/
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« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2012 11:04:14 AM »

Oh wow! that is so gorgeous and probably makes you happier than one you could have bought.  Gorgeous job, and it looks amazing on you.  LOVE it, it rocks, it rolls, it is awe inspiring!
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« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2012 02:20:41 PM »

I'm sad.  Work blocks whatever photo host you're using (photobucket, I'm assuming.)

The only reason I'm sharing this is so I know FOR SURE I can find this when I get home to check it out.  xD 

CAN'T WAIT!
« Last Edit: February 07, 2012 02:21:10 PM by IHeartHookers » THIS ROCKS   Logged
ColetteK
« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2012 04:14:33 PM »

You did a wonderful job with that dress. Sorry for all you had to go through, but at least the dress came out gorgeous.
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« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2012 07:19:23 PM »

you did an amazing job recreating that dress, it looks fantastic! great work Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: February 08, 2012 07:27:46 AM »

I'm so jealous. I was really hoping to make my own wedding dress, but knew I wouldn't have the time ( I tend to put things off).  Yours looks gorgeous and I love that you showed all the hard work that you put into it. Cheesy
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ellaminnowpeaboutique
« Reply #34 on: February 08, 2012 08:58:53 AM »

Not only does your dress look fabulous but YOU made it which is so much more special. I also wanted to add that I love your dress form Wink
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ValiantSeraphim
« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2012 06:12:46 AM »

So awesome!!! You went through a lot of trouble, but at least you ended up with exactly what you wanted instead of settling for less.

As far as Joanne's goes, I was having my bridesmaids dresses made so they'd be the same fabric, but the girls (only 2 of them) could pick out whatever pattern would suit their body best. So my future-at-the-time mother and sister in law went to Joannes to pick out the fabric. Found the perfect fabric, but they didn't have enough. There was plenty of time to order more, so we ordered what we needed, and they said they would call me. One month before the wedding, I still hadn't heard from them. So I called, and they were like "Oh, we call a week ago, and someone answered and said they'd come get it." I'm like "Well, it wasn't me, so I don't know who you talked to." Luckily the fabric was still there, and the dresses got done in time (and fit perfectly). Bunch of yahoos.
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« Reply #36 on: February 18, 2012 04:38:07 AM »

this looks beautiful Shocked. worth every curse.
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Juliska
« Reply #37 on: February 21, 2012 01:26:31 AM »

un-be-liev-able!!! I really admire your power of endurance! And I thank you very much for sharing the whole "Saga" because it shows how MUCH work really goes in such a dress!
And your cats are too sweet :-)
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zombisaurian
« Reply #38 on: February 27, 2012 02:18:09 AM »

I'm getting married in October and I insisted upon making my own dress, but my fiance encouraged that I try on dresses for the experience and my mom ended up buying a dress for me that looks very similar to this! Your dress is amazing!!! I really regret not making my own : ( Although, now I have more time to do other things, like make my bridesmaid's dresses and my cake.
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« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2012 09:07:04 AM »

Gorgeous!  I was planning on sewing my wedding dress, but found one for a great price, although there are some issues with the fit that I can have fixed.
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« Reply #40 on: March 09, 2012 09:19:20 AM »

I love that you posted your experience with making a wedding dress. I am getting married in May of next year and I didn't expect everything to be so expensive. I wanted to be able to cut corners on cost as well because I would rather have more money for the big things. I went and tried on dresses but everything costs so much it's crazy. Even a little tea length dress is $400! I decided that I myself could probably get a vintage tea length dress and make it for half the cost or less. Plus, at least then I know I will be a lot happier with it because it will be exactly what I wanted.

I was with you in the beginning too, I wanted a gorgeous long lace dress as well - but they are super expensive in the store to buy. I also can't seem to find any lace that I like, and bridal lace is $30 and up for a yard at a shop that is 45 mins. to 2 hours away depending on which one I need to go to.

Thanks for the inspiration!
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« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2012 11:30:55 AM »

You my friend are a champion! That is amazing work, plus getting through all of those snags! I used to work at a certain store, ahem, and it's really perplexing why the silks, or anything white or light colored, aren't sent in more of a protective covering than they are (clear thin plastic wrap that is usually torn).
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« Reply #42 on: March 16, 2012 09:22:49 PM »

I am getting married in May of next year and I didn't expect everything to be so expensive.

Seriously! I always thought people exaggerated when they talked about wedding costs, but $6000 for a photographer, $35 STARTING cost per person catering, even table clothes are like $40 to rent!

I also can't seem to find any lace that I like, and bridal lace is $30 and up for a yard...


which is why I used a sale silk instead of lace!

good luck on your dress adventure!
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« Reply #43 on: May 03, 2012 11:52:17 AM »

Bravo, it looks beautiful!  May your special day be everything you dream.
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« Reply #44 on: August 10, 2012 11:27:12 PM »

I know this thread for a while ago, but can I ask how much the total was for your dress at the end of this? If you don't want to say, that is fine too! I am just wondering how much you cut your cost by.
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« Reply #45 on: August 18, 2012 07:42:40 PM »

I have had your post saved to my bookmarks for the last year - you've definitely inspired me to make my own dress!
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