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  • Writer's pictureBarMade Bags

Continuing the Wedding Dress Upcycling Project

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

Wedding dress upcycled into bags and jewellery rolls
Wedding dress upcycling project

For the last two months, I have been gradually converting a wedding dress into a selection of bags which my client Therese, the owner of the dress, wants to give to family and friends who were unable to attend her wedding.

If you've read the first blog on this, you'll know that I started by making three large tote bags, to be used as project bags for creative activities such as knitting and crocheting. I made these first because they were going to take up the largest pieces of available fabric. Although I've been asked to make an extra tote bag, I'm leaving that till later because Therese suggested using patchwork to make the fabrics go further, so I will design that at the end when I know what remains.

Wedding dress bodice showing lace
Wedding dress bodice

Next up then, I decided to make the clutch bag that Therese wanted for herself. My reason for making this next was because the fabrics forming the bodice of the dress were the most suitable. As it was a fitted bodice, each section of fabric was quite small but fortunately Therese wanted her clutch to be dainty. I was able to cut the front and back of the bag from the silk lining and use the lace outer fabric for the flap while leaving enough of the bodice fabrics for some of the make-up bags and part of the fourth tote bag. The clutch was lined in satin from the full length gathered underskirt.

Amongst the resources from the wedding that I had available to use, was a bracelet made from strings of pearls and fastened with a decorative clasp. In our initial discussions, Therese had suggested using the clasp to fasten the clutch bag, so that was what I used to close the flap. I added a few of the pearls as decoration to cover up the stitching.

After that, I turned to making the five make-up bags that Therese had requested. There was enough of the bodice fabrics for two of these. For the first, I used the laced fabric for one side and the same fabric for the top section of the other side, and the silk bodice lining fabric for the lower section. For the second, I used the lace fabric for the lower sections and the silk for the upper sections, but because the larger silk sections looked a bit plain in comparison with the laced fabric, I appliqued some lace onto them.

Lace from wedding dress sleeves used to decorate zipped bag
Re-use of lace sleeves

For the other three make-up bags, I used satin from the underskirt for both the outer and lining of each bag. For the outer parts, the satin was reinforced with fusible interfacing and fleece, and covered with one layer of tulle from the overskirt. For one of these bags, I used a section of lace from the bottom of the dress sleeves to enhance each side.

Zipped make-up bag made from satin, tulle and lace from wedding dress
One of the make-up bags

For the other two make up bags, I chose pieces of the lace from the bodice of the dress, arranged and stitched them onto the front and back sections of each bag, and for one of the bags I added a ribbon trim. Five zipped bags all completed and onto the next part of the project!

The jewellery rolls were the next items on my list and there were to be eight of these. As with all the other items, each could be different allowing me scope to again use the available fabrics to create varied effects, and also adding variation with different coloured bindings, ribbons and linings. The basis of each was satin from the underskirts, which was padded with fusible fleece, and for the linings I used complementary fabrics from my own stash of remnants and offcuts.

My design for the inside of all of the jewellery rolls that I make incorporates two zipped pockets for safe storage of necklaces, pendants and bracelets, and two "hinged" strips, one for earrings and the other for rings.

At Therese's suggestion, I made use of tulle rolled up into "fingers" for the

ring and earring holders inside each. Normally I would secure these with a press stud, but I had buttons from the back of the dress to use, so instead there are buttons and buttonholes to lift and secure each.

Jewellery rolls made using satin and lace from wedding dress
Jewellery rolls decorated with lace from the sleeves.

There was enough of the lace from the sleeves of the dress to decorate two of the jewellery rolls. Therese had mentioned fuchsia pink and lavender as possible colours for the binding and I was able to source ribbon and bias binding in the same shades.

For the next four rolls, I decorated them with pieces of lace taken from the bodice, in a similar way to the final two make-up bags.

The final two rolls are each quite individual. For one of them, I made use of parts of a decorative hair comb that Therese had worn for her wedding. After carefully dismantling the comb, I hand-stitched the two sections of it to either side of the ribbon, having selected a ribbon that was a similar shade to the metallic parts of the decoration. Doesn't it look good? Definitely appropriate for a jewellery roll!

Jewellery roll made using upcycled satin and tulle from wedding dress and decorated with pearls
Jewellery roll with tucked tulle and pearl decoration

Now I've come to the last jewellery roll and for this one I decided to use more of the tulle - of which there is still plenty left. I gathered two layers of tulle and then formed tucks to create a honeycomb effect and this was then joined to the base outer fabric. I then sewed a pearl onto each of the tucks to give it that special look!

What next? In terms of the number of individual items to be made from the wedding dress fabrics, I am only jost over half way through the project. However, most of the remaining items are much smaller and you'll have to wait for my next blog to find out what they are and how I've made them! (Edit: the next blog is now published!)

Until then, if you've enjoyed reading about this project, please like and share it. And if you'd like a bespoke bag making for you, please get in touch.

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