How to sew a dress for the mother of the bride

Written by kate lee
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In traditional wedding etiquette, the mother of the bride picks out her dress first, and the mother of the groom picks a dress that coordinates with it. Some brides prefer that the mother’s dress coordinate with (but not match) the bridesmaids’ dresses, while others want a completely different look. By sewing a dress for the mother of the bride, you can pick out just the colour and style needed. Be sure to consult both the bride and the mother on the look they want for the dress, to make sure they’re in agreement. Most importantly, start buying the materials and sewing early enough to have plenty of time to complete the dress before the wedding.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Soft measuring tape
  • Dress pattern
  • Fabric
  • Matching thread
  • Zipper
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Sewing machine

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  1. 1

    Meet with the bride and the mother of the bride to determine what kind of dress they want, how involved they want to be in the process (for example, do they want to help pick out the materials?) and set a budget and a deadline.

  2. 2

    Have the mother of the bride take her measurements, measuring around the fullest part of her bust, waist and hips. Since dress patterns often use a different sizing system than store-bought dresses, knowing her dress size won’t guarantee a good fit.

  3. 3

    Pick a dress pattern that suits the mother of the bride’s style, and the style of the wedding. A knee-length, strapless dress may be perfect for an outdoor summer wedding, while a long dress with warm sleeves may be better for an evening wedding in the winter. Some dress patterns are easier to sew than others, so make sure the pattern matches your sewing skills (and comes in the size you need).

  4. 4

    Choose the fabric for the dress (you may to take the mother of the bride, or the bride herself, along to help get just the right style and colour). The pattern envelope will give suggestions for the type of fabric you should use for the dress, and how much you’ll need to buy.

  5. 5

    Pick out good quality thread that matches the fabric, a zipper and other notions or accessories you need. If you need more than one type of fabric for the dress (such as satin for the body and a sheer fabric for the sleeves), buy both fabrics together to make sure they match.

  6. 6

    Cut out the pattern pieces using the cutting lines for the size the mother of the bride needs. Smooth out any wrinkles in the pattern pieces (you may want to use a low-temperature iron to make sure they’re completely smooth and accurate).

  7. 7

    Follow the pattern directions to cut out the dress pieces and sew them together. Have the mother of the bride try on the dress, if possible, before hemming the skirt and the sleeves to make sure they’re the right length. If the mother of the bride is not local, make sure to have her take her height and sleeve measurements too.

  8. 8

    Give the dress to the mother of the bride early, so that you still have time to make minor alterations if needed.

Tips and warnings

  • If the bride wants her mother’s dress to coordinate with the bridesmaids’ dresses, you may want to pick a different shade of the same colour (for example, a deeper purple to go with lilac). Traditionally, the mother of the bride should not wear white (or whatever colour the bride is wearing), flashy colours, or black (since it’s a colour of mourning, although many women now wear black to weddings, especially if it’s a formal or evening affair).
  • You may want to pick a dress pattern and style that the mother of the bride can wear again for other occasions.
  • Use caution when working with scissors, pins, irons and sewing machines.

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