her $41 wedding dress

My sister recently got married, and this, is the story of her semi-handmade wedding dress.

She had asked me and her mom to go wedding dress shopping with her (aaah).  After a few days of local bridal shops and looking through pattern books, we still hadn’t found that perfect dress.  She was describing her dream dress as an elegant hippie dress.  Hard to find when you live in the middle of nowhere like we do.  BUT, when hope was nearly lost and she was ready to settle for an expensive dress that she didn’t completely love (which no bride should have to do) we decided to take one quick stop to check out TJMaxx.  That’s right, TJMaxx, for a wedding dress.

Believe it or not, we found this, for only $24.00:

When she came out of the dressing room she was squealing, “this is my dress, this is my wedding dress!”

It was exactly what she wanted, but it did have a couple of minor issues: 1 it was too short, 2 she needed more coverage on the mesh top, 3 the sleeves needed just a little something, and 4 the elastic waist was comfortable, but looked too casual.

So, we made a quick stop at the fabric store to buy some similar mesh and lining. $17.00.  First, I cut the dress at the elastic waist.  Can I just say how terrifying this was!  I just chopped her wedding dress in half.  In half, people.

I picked out the original lining on the bodice and put in a new lining to add a little more coverage (marked with the safety pins in the photo above).  I was worried that this would look silly and homemade.  When it was said and done, however, I thought it looked great!

After the top was re-lined, I used our purchased fabric to make a very slight a-lined bottom, with the hem at the ankle in the front, and a small train in the back.   The skirt shape was simple, but the hem took the most time.

At the last minute (as in the night before her wedding) we made a little covered button pin so she could bustle her dress off to the side when she’d be doing a lot of walking or dancing.

And, my ever-talented mother-in-law whipped up this perfect little waistband to put over the elastic waist.  It even had a beautiful bow on the back!

A few hours of sewing, hundreds of dollars saved, and the dress of her dreams.  At least she says so to make me feel good about it!  She may have been wearing $41.00, but she looked like a million bucks!

Have the happiest of years together.

I linked up >>

Posted in none, tutorials.


  1. That modified dress is impressive. I know a number of people who have checked charity stores for wedding dresses (or wedding dresses to be modified) as they often have older handmade dresses for reasonable prices, but I never would have guessed TJMaxx would be a place to look. Most of all the bride looks happy which is the important part.

  2. This turned out so awesome. What a great idea. Now if only I had done something like that…what is done is done. She looks gorgeous, and it looks like she spend a lot more than $41!

  3. What a beautiful dress! I’m making my own wedding dress at the moment, and it’s so nervewracking – I wish I had a sister like you for guidance!

  4. I am so impressed you guys did a great job taking a pretty every dress to a special and unique wedding dress. It is beautiful! I came across your blog through the Sugar Bee Link up thank you for sharing.

  5. I love it! Your sister looks beautiful and authentic. I really hope that weddings will swing away from the extravagant productions and back to the home grown, sincere feel that your sisters nuptials have. Beautiful job!

  6. Your sister looks lovely in that dress! You did a wonderful job altering it, and the price can’t be beat! When I got married 15 years ago – I wanted something pretty, simple and not too expensive…I lucked out at Lord and Taylor – found a white Jessica Mc Clintock tea length dress for $140 – that was perfect for my simple wedding…goes to show that you don’t need to shell out the big $$$ for something you will only wear once…

  7. love this dress! great job! I also want to refashion a dress for my wedding but I have not found anything yet, nor have we set a date or anything like that. So I have some time. Thanks for sharing.


  8. Lovely dress….I made mine as I wanted a more Edwardian/Victorian type…happy with it but I would have tried this if I hadn’t had a pattern. Hope she loved it too.

  9. And that’s how it should be done!!! The wedding industry has too much of a stranglehold on women, great way to take back some control. When I got married back in ’93, I found my bridesmaids dresses on the Macy’s clearance rack. I went to a seamstress to have some skirts made to go over them and to make my flower girl’s dress. A very viable option even for non-sewers as hiring a seamstress is still much less expensive than a formal or wedding dress…..

  10. I’m so impressed!! Absolutely lovely and so romantic that it was created with love!! The dress is miles more beautiful than so many other ridiculously expensive dresses I have seen. Great job!

  11. So love this! It looks so great on her and the price is to die for!! AND it’s totally original to her. I loved my wedding dress but so many other people have worn one just like it!

  12. What a beautiful bride, dress, & wedding! Amazing to be able to save that much on the wedding dress! Thanks for sharing at Gettin’ Krafty this week! HUGS!

  13. This is beautiful! What a wonderful and creative way to get the exact dress that you want!! I would have never thought to by a dress and use just part of it, that is brilliant!

  14. Your sister is a beautiful bride and her dress is so feminine and elegant. What a wonderful gift to be able to wear a gown her sister sewed and made perfect for her. You did a wonderful job on it!

  15. Beautiful dress, and it looked just perfect for the outdoor setting! Very inspiring, and thank you for sharing it with the world, so we can realize there are ways to have a beautiful wedding without spending gazillions of dollars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.