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25 January 2011 @ 07:04 pm
Average Cost of Making a Dress?  

One of my best friends asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, a fact I completely love, but I cannot, unfortunately, afford $150-$175 for bridesmaid dress and shoes right now.

One idea I had was to have my mother make my dress. Other than being a solid pattern, the color she wants, knee length and preferably short sleeved, the idea is to have the dress flatter the girl and not have every bridesmaid wear the same ones.

Depending on fabric, would it be cheaper to make a dress than to buy one? Or should I bite the bullet and just put it on my credit card (which I'm loathe to do)?

What is the average cost? I'd like to have it as a dress I can wear more than once, such as to work or to more formal social event.


ETA: The average consensus seems to be leaning toward buying a dress from ebay or a cheaper store and having it altered or going off the rack with it. I think I will probably go that route.

I don't want to get down to the wire and not have a dress if something comes up and she's already doing the bride's dress so I want her to be able to focus on that.

Thanks again!
bungchiwowbungchiwow on January 26th, 2011 01:06 am (UTC)
eh. I'd just buy one especially if she's being pretty open to what you wear, just make sure it's one you'll wear again. Consider it an investment.
sweetheart days: queen of debtsweetheartdays on January 26th, 2011 01:09 am (UTC)
if your mother's really excellent at dressmaking and doesn't mind the work, then i'd have her do it. i had a dress made once for me and it didn't look easy. i had a few fittings and i'd say it cost about the same as buying one, since it was custom made.
Mackinziemackinzie on January 26th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC)
My mother is also doing alterations for the bride's dress. She also made one of my prom dresses. It was very ornate. I fully trust her capabilities.
Caro: weddingcarosconundrum on January 26th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC)
Unless all of you are going to have your dresses made, it'll be difficult to be able to source fabric, and notions (thread, patterns, embellishments) to match the store bought ones affordably.

Also, consider asking to search for dresses at places other than bridal stores. My bridesmaid picked out a kicky little dress that was intended as a grad dress for less than $100 including all her accessories. She also wore her own shoes.

Edited at 2011-01-26 01:17 am (UTC)
lilaia: vintagelilaia on January 26th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
What about second-hand shops or eBay? If you can find the right color your mom might be able to alter it or make it over.
gf_girliegf_girlie on January 26th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC)
For real. I was fixing to spend 165 on the dress alone and found one on ebay in my size and the style I wanted for 50, shipped.
Plain Rebecca Jane: purple sewingannaonthemoon on January 26th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
My wedding dress cost about $50 in supplies.

Pattern with a 50% coupon
crepe-backed satin - 7 yards of it with a 50% off one single cut coupon
zipper, thread, hem tape less than $5

If you save the Sunday fliers for joann, and can get more than one, you should be able to use more than one coupon. In my mom's area, because the joann, michaels, and AC Moore are all near each other, they take each other's coupons.


(the hem was even, I swear. it just looks funny in the pic!)

The dress took my mom, my aunt, and I about 20 hours total work over 2 weekends. The skirt is over 200" in circumference at the bottom and the skirt had 5 panels. A dress with a smaller skirt wouldn't take that long. My aunt made my senior prom dress in about 8 hours start-finish in 1997 and that was a long a-line dress with a lining.

ETA: I have every intention on having my wedding dress hemmed up to about knee length so I can wear it as a cocktail dress, I just haven't had the time yet!

Edited at 2011-01-26 01:24 am (UTC)
Mackinziemackinzie on January 26th, 2011 01:38 am (UTC)
wow, nice. I love the color. Thanks for all the details! It's nice to get an idea on timeframe too.
Plain Rebecca Janeannaonthemoon on January 26th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)

My mom did the bulk of the sewing, so I'd say she put in about 16 hours of it on her own.

I know a commenter said about also needing fabric to make the mock-up, but anything will do. We cut up an old sheet that had a hole in it for the mock-up, and we only mocked as far as the waist, since the skirt didn't really need to be fitted the same way the bodice did.

Have you ever had a dress made before? Pattern sizes are not modern sizing, so really look at the chest/hips/waist measurements for the pattern before you buy it. Measure twice, cut once. We cut the largest size of the pattern and then scaled it down as needed. It's easier to take fabric away than it is to put it back!

I also don't think you have to be a super seamstress to make a dress, as long as it is a simple pattern. Check out the sewing board on Craftster if you need some more ideas.
✩ looli ✩loolica on January 26th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
Oh, man, I want to see you spin around in that 200" skirt!
mmhmsupermelanie on January 26th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
What color does it need to be? I was in a wedding where the bride wanted everyone in the same color and I just bought a clearance dress at David's Bridal for cheap, and other girls had just gotten theirs at the mall. I can't imagine what in the world you would spend $150 on one dress and shoes for, if it doesn't have to be one specific dress that costs that much.
Official Last Call Flip Cup Championbkmichele on January 26th, 2011 01:24 am (UTC)
Agreed. While I do tend to be picky and shop at nicer stores, you can definitely bargain shop if there aren't many requirements. What color are we talking and what type of shoe (heel, flat, strappy sandal, pump). Do you have shoes you could reuse? What is your budget? $75?
Mackinziemackinzie on January 26th, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
The color is a chocolate brown. I forgot to mention, the bride wants the shoes to all be exactly the same, that is the requirement for that. I was hoping for maybe $75.00 at the most, yep.
Mackinziemackinzie on January 26th, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
It's going to be chocolate brown.

As I mentioned to a previous poster, My mother is also doing alterations for the bride's dress. She also made one of my prom dresses. It was very ornate.

The price wound up being that for the maid of honor's dress and shoes so I was going off that.

Edited at 2011-01-26 01:33 am (UTC)
mmhmsupermelanie on January 26th, 2011 01:35 am (UTC)
I don't doubt your mother's ability to do it, but unless she can do it for $20, I guarantee you could buy a pre-made dress for cheaper.
gf_girliegf_girlie on January 26th, 2011 01:58 am (UTC)
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on January 26th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
Is your mother a very good dressmaker, or a good plain sewer? There's a difference between making things like aprons and plain skirts and making a formal dress, even if you only count working with the fabric, though fitting is also extremely important. If someone isn't skilled at doing it, it can frankly end up awful. As for the cost, a knee-length cocktail style dress will probably run 2-3 yards of fabric - how much that costs depends on you, it could be around $10 to $20 for satin or taffeta from Joann, up to $50-$60 a yard for a nicer fabric. You'll also need fabric for lining, fabric for a muslin (a mockup of the dress to make the pattern fit properly), and things like thread, zippers, and so on. My mother made my daughter's flower girl dress for my sister's wedding (due to my sister picking a color unavailable in flower girl dresses). She used a lace overlay along with a blue bridal satin, and it cost $85 for materials - and that was for a toddler. So overall what I'm saying is, don't expect a homemade dress to be any cheaper, unless you make a conscious decision to use cheap fabric.
your bright silver grinarlen_esq on January 26th, 2011 02:24 am (UTC)
In this situation, I'd say thrift store. I was the maid of honor in a good friend's wedding. It sounds like a similar situation--we all wore a similar color (blue), but each had our own dress. I found the *perfect* dress for five bucks at St. Vinny's (the bride happened to be with me that shopping trip, and approved). It was a beautiful dress--I'm sure it was worn only once (in a wedding) then donated.
sturmkit on January 26th, 2011 02:36 am (UTC)
you've gotten some great advice :) i was in a similar situation about a year ago.
my only word of warning or caution is that if the bride is going with a specific color tone or hue from a specific store, if you go to another store or chain the colors may not match up as identically as you would like.

(my bride wanted a color that David's Bridal called Wine... which online looked almost dark grap-ish but turned out to be more of a deep burgundy..)

if the bride just wants chocolate brown (i read that above) and is open to different shades of chocolate brown, or some wiggle room, then you're good...

get a swatch of the fabric and take it shopping with you.

my nly nput. besides of course, have a great time :)

★xchanceofrainx on January 26th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
I would honestly just buy it. My mom got re-married and for all three of our dresses, it was $80 + shipping. I believe my dress and the matron-of-honor's dress were both around $25 each, and then of course, that leaves my mom's dress at $30. They wore shoes they already owned, and I bought a pair on clearance for $10. I don't know about the matron, but I know that I've worn my dress to other weddings where I wasn't in the party because it's very simple and casual, and my mom has worn hers sans jacket on vacation.
vidiva.: me2.vidiva on January 26th, 2011 03:08 am (UTC)
i've gotten two cocktail dresses for less than $20 for my company's holiday parties at two different times. both dresses were from macys, one in boston and one in san francisco. and for that price, i didn't care if i didn't wear them ever again! hopefully you have a good amount of time between now and the wedding, i'm sure you'll be able to find something for a good price. even if you don't find something as cheap as me, a chocolate brown dress can definitely be worn again for another occasion. good luck!
Victoria 7victoria7 on January 26th, 2011 10:23 am (UTC)
From September of 2009 to June of 2010, I was MOH in three weddings. 2 of them in completely different parts of the state and one of them with a $500 dress (not including alterations). I just let the brides know that I would be more than happy to help them out in any way possible, but there was no way that I could come to their weddings and, also, purchase these expensive dresses.

They all responded differently
Bride 1: Ok. No problem. Any rich jewel toned purple dress will due.
Bride#2: I already bought yours, silly! Let me know how much the alterations are..
Bride 3: I can pay for the dress and shoes if you could come up with the money for the alterations.

All problems solved. :-)
allison vernon-williamsfame on January 26th, 2011 07:28 pm (UTC)
I would suggest looking at various bridal boutiques too--I went to one that carried all these crazy european, off the runway brands, and got a dress with an MSRP of $900 for $18. It was hideously designed and had this ugly strip of fabric across the middle, and I had my seamstress just pull it off. So easy, and so cheap :D