Working on: Wedding gown upcycled into a girls first Communion dress


I have been working on a project this week that is proving very interesting, as well as a lot more challenging than I anticipated. But my projects always seem to work out that way.

A few months ago, I spoke with my friend Christine about redoing her wedding dress to make into a First Communion dress for her seven year old. It’s been an interesting project so far, and taking apart a well made wedding dress has taught me a lot about construction. There are so many little details in a finely wedding gown. Layers of linings and hand stitched details. Honestly, there is just so much work that goes into it.IMG_5120

But at the same time it is a little nerve racking because I chose a pattern I never have used, McCall’s 3050 from 2000.  I thought the style was similar to Christine’s gown, and since I was going to cut it up and there were no gathers, I would have to make a dress with a similar style skirt. I can’t stick to the pattern exactly because I am working with already cut fabric from the dress. This is an upcycle on steroids, friends!

Just trying to find the grainline in the original skirt patterns was really difficult with this fabric. Hopefully, most of my pieces are on grain but I know there are a few where I just couldn’t fit my pattern pieces on grain, so I hope they don’t end up wonky. I had to cut out each skirt panel, then place my pattern on it.

IMG_5118And of course, I had to make a muslin for my little model, because the patterns never fit right out of the package. I actually made two muslins, The first I overfit so then I started over. Like lots of children , my model has a bit of a sway back so I had to remove length from the back piece. And I moved the darts and made the shoulder lines more sloped. My iron has been leaking brown stuff lately. This is terribly distressing, and I just hope nothing gets through my press cloth onto the fabric ! Maybe I need to just buy a new one. Any suggestions of your favorite would be appreciated ….. Mine is  Rowenta and already has cracks , etc. from falling off my ironing board.IMG_5117

I really like how my sleeves are coming out. Here is one in the process. I copied the look from the original sleeve shown above it. I sewed a lace scrap onto the sleeve, then hand sewed little pearls which I harvested from the original sleeve. This took a long time. Not for the faint of heart, hand beading.  IMG_5121

I found some beaded trim downtown and am using it to sew into the neckline and the waistline.IMG_5123The back will have a bustle type with this opening and little buttons going up it, like a miniature wedding gown. This isn’t nearly gathered enough, and I think I will have to start over with the underskirt. Well, I’d better get back to work. I’d like to finish this by tomorrow. I thought I could get the same look with only one yard of fabric of lace but I think I need around three. It’s a shame because this lace was 35 dollars a yard and I don’t know if it will work out, now.


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  1. says

    Lately you’ve been tackling such enormous projects. I’m starting to think you like the abuse. Hand beading: whoo! Makes my hand hurt just thinking about it. But…it’s a labour of love:) you probably will fall over when you see that little girl in her gown.

    PS don’t forget to eat and take breaks or you’ll get fussy:)

  2. says

    This is exactly what I will be doing this weekend! My friend has entrusted me with her wedding gown to make her daughter’s communion dress. I’m only at the toile stage right now, feels very weird to be planning cutting up my friend’s wedding gown!

  3. Brenda Kimberlin says

    I can’t wait to see the finished photos — and I love your new logo up top, very pretty!

  4. tina says

    Justine!! I am speechless! so beautiful & wow you are so talented loving it!

      • tina says

        also about the iron that used to happen to my mom from water from old pipes. She started using bottled water to fill the iron and it solved the problem. You might try that?

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