I feel that most great DIYs stem from not being able to get what you want. You know how it is, you are on the hunt for that perfect coffee table, or pillow, or outfit, and you finally find just what you’ve been dreaming of and…you can’t afford it. I was searching for blush dresses to wear as a bridesmaids dress in my brother’s upcoming wedding (the bride, Sarah, is letting us pick our own dresses because she’s cool like that and not the control freak bride that I was. Sorry again to all my friends…), and I found the most amazing blush dress with feathers at the bottom. O. M. G. As amazing as it it, I really wasn’t willing (or able!) to spend over $300 on it. So I sulked about it for almost two weeks before the lightbulb came on of, “Hey Dummy! DIY that dress!” Oh yeah! Good idea!
-shift dress in a solid color (I bought this one)
-feather trim in the same color as your dress
Once you get your dress, measure how wide the bottom of the dress is and think about how many layers of feather you want on the bottom. Those choices will let you know how much feather trim you’ll need to buy (like if your dress is 20″ across and you want two layers you’ll need 80″ of trim). Usually they sell feather trim that is either attached to a ribbon or to a very thin cord like the one I linked. I think the ribbon finished trim is probably easier to sew onto the dress, but how it’s attached looks a little more obvious. So I opted for the thin cord instead.
Determine where you want your lowest feather layer to hang in relation to the bottom of the dress (I suggest the feathers covering about 1″ below the hem) and make a line of straight pins just above where you want your feathers to be attached. I used a ruler to make sure all my pins were an equal distance from the hem.
Once you have a pinned line, start on the back side of your dress and begin attaching the feather trim to the material just below the pinned line. For any layers that are not the top layer, use a zigzag stitch to secure the top edge of the trim in place (the stitching will be covered by the next layer of feathers). Go all the way around the dress until it meets back on the other side. I used a little bit of fray check glue to keep the trim cord from unraveling when I cut the trim.
Repeat the process by measuring up from the hem for the next row and making a line of pins just above where the trim should be placed. The best placement will depend on how long your feathers are and how thick your trim is. So just overlap the two layers until you find the placement you like. Repeat the process of sewing the next layer of trim onto the dress.
For your last layer of feathers, do everything just like you did for the other layers, but do a straight stitch alongside the trim cord (on the side that has the feathers) instead of a zigzag over the cord for a less obvious stitch. I noticed that with just the straight stitch, the feathers tended to slip upwards in spots and create a wavy line. So I also hand-sewed the trim cord in place with a hidden stitch. If you are fine with how the zigzag stitch looks on the lower layer, you can save a little time and do that on the top layer as well. I just wanted the minimal amount of stitching visible.
How great are those feathers!! Of course you can do this idea in any color scheme you want or choose contrasting colors for a more dramatic effect (like black feathers on a white dress). I would definitely dry clean this puppy since the feathers are so delicate, but in a pinch you could hand wash just the top of the dress in a sink. Instead of costing over $300, this dress ended up being around $100 instead! Not bad for a special occasion dress if you ask me (and a special dress it is!). Maybe with all that savings I could get some new shoes to go with it?? xo. Laura
Credits // Author: Laura Gummerman. Photography: Laura Gummerman and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.