Sarah’s Custom Silk 1930s-inspired Wedding Dress with Bolero Jacket and Full-Length Custom Winter Coat

Sarah's Custom 1930s Silk Wedding Dress

The time has finally come to tell you all about Sarah’s wedding ensemble. (FINALLY! Seriously, the wedding was in December… sorry.) We are really excited to share this with you, after all those months of working on it, dropping hints, and sneak peeks, so here goes!

[Note: I’m trying out this format for custom clothing posts – Concept, Work-in-Progress/Challenges, and Finished Garment. Let me know what you think in the comments.]


Sarah came to us with a lot of ideas. She loved the green dress from Atonement, and had a flash drive full of bias-cut, 1930s-style dresses to inspire us. She really wanted something that would accentuate her hips and that had a low back. She was looking for a flared skirt to show off the dance moves she and Jeffrey had been practicing. We came back with four ideas, and she chose her favorite.

The four options we presented for Sarah’s dress.

Sarah also wanted some kind of cover-up in case bare shoulders were to chilly for her December wedding, and she asked if we had any thoughts about a winter coat that wasn’t black or gray to wear with it. We suggested the possibility of making that for her two, and she was game! Here’s Julia’s concept sketch for the full-length, kinda period, kinda military coat we came up with.

Concept Sketch: Winter Coat

We also designed a little bolero from silk organza so she could cover up lightly inside. To be honest, this was obviously not the centerpiece of the ensemble, and it could have ended up fairly boring, but we found the most amazing trim which took it from “that’s nice” to “WOW”. Thank you, Fishman’s Fabrics. (By the way, if you ever need really lovely fabrics for your own projects, and you enjoy excellent customer service, you should check that place out. It’s fabric heaven.)

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

Trial version of the dress

We could sum this up by saying we learned a LOT in this process. For starters, we haven’t made many tailored garments like the coat, so we seriously schooled ourselves on the fabrics and construction techniques required for this. Julia did all the work on this coat, and it turned out splendidly. As in, we both want desperately to make some for ourselves.

The chevrons. They were so much harder to do than I expected. Or rather, I went about it the wrong way. What I should have done was first make the mockup in single panels, get it fit properly, and then mark the position of the chevrons. What I did was make some awesome looking chevrons that fit our dress form perfectly, but didn’t work so well on Sarah. Fortunately, Sarah was an exceptionally patient client, and after many, many hours of work, we got it fitting her properly. (And in case you are wondering – No, we don’t charge our clients for the hours we spend fixing our own mistakes and learning new techniques. We do that on our own time.) I’m happy to say that all the hard work paid off, because when it was finally finished? Well, you can see it below.

Finished Garment

We’re thrilled to show you how it turned out! The photos below are by the lovely Emilia Jane, an APW sponsor, fellow foodie, and all-around delightful person. (Who can stir up a pretty mean cocktail.) You can see more photos of Sarah and Jeffery’s wedding here.

The Finished Dress.


Detail of the dress.


A little closeup on the bodice.


Love the way the skirt twirls!


We saved some of the dress fabric to wrap Sarah’s bouquet.

The Winter Coat.


I just love this photo so much. It looks so awesomely vintage.


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