How can I reuse or recycle a wedding dress?

wedding dressWe’ve had another question from Ruti:

How could I recycle a wedding dress? I sewed it out of white satin and it is a skirt, bodice and separate train, also quite a bit of spare material and some small bits of netting (I’ll keep the veil).

I don’t really want to give it away, but I’m not going to wear it a second time!

So far I’ve thought of christening gown (if I ever had a girl), undies/nightdress and kiddy angel costumes. I’d kind of like to make some really frilly baby room accessories if I ever had a girl, but has anyone got any non-clothing suggestions?

If you’re want to keep it – but not bothered about keeping it in one piece, I’m sure there are loads of lovely keepsake craft sections – the satin might make a nice cushion or as the lining of a jewellery box. Or to pull in a suggestion from last week’s post on picture frames, you could use the net in an old frame to make a jewellery display for earrings and the like.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by lumix2004)

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61 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle a wedding dress?”

  1. Bellen says:

    While I donated my wedding dress I kept the 10 foot train and veil. From that I made 2 pair of pillowcases, used lace edging to trim wedding gift towels, used the veil and lace to make bathroom window curtain – matched the towels. Used more of the train to make a couple of lingerie cases to use for travel, several small cases for jewelry and about a dozen sachets with lace trimming for gifts.
    Look at the dress as yardage, then decide what to do with it.

  2. jenn says:

    You could make a beautiful collage out of the different elements of the dress, maybe adding bits of your invitation, program, wedding date, etc. It would make a perfect Valentine’s gift for your hubby.

  3. sami says:

    i think pillows for yourself are a wonderful idea.. so you can remember your wedding every night.

  4. yogahz says:

    Sew parts of your dress with something that your husband wore into a quilt.

  5. Mary says:

    Cover a photo album for your wedding pictures.

  6. nancy says:

    I love ALL the ideas and comments. How fun can this be! One other thought, since you sewed it yourself, you could also make a miniture version. I see wonderful doll size outfits made by fashion’s most creative names in many international fashion events. They include everything in minute detail. Also, as another sewing project, a beautiful white blouse, in a combination of the fabrics always looks striking with a pair of black slacks or a slim skirt. Good luck!

  7. Nikki says:

    Why not dye the dress and shorten it – a perfect cocktail dress.

  8. nancy says:

    My mom had a beautiful wedding dress that I used to take out and admire. Then one day it was gone and she said that it had shredded and she threw it out. So you may want to consider just saving it, packed away, as it may carry a different meaning as time goes on. After all, you made it yourself. (By the way, I also made my wedding dress and still have it.)

    • Ruti says:

      I kind of made 2 lol! This is because I had a legal ceremony as well as a Christian one. I’m keeping the dress from the legal one because it is yummy crushed gold satin (and better sewn), but the other one I’ve decided to keep only the veil (mainly because I hand sewed 6 meters of ribbon to the fine netting and it took absolutely ages, all those little little stitches!

  9. Cyndi says:

    My daughter’s biolgical mom passed at age 29. When my daughter married, I took the gown apart and used the fabrics to cover ring-bearer pillows. I then restitched the lace, beading, etc. onto the pillow as embellishment. I made two — one for her and one for my son when he marries. They turned out really nice and will serve as a wonderful reminder of her Mom as well as her own wedding. Enough fabric, etc. remain to make Christening gowns.

  10. nancy says:

    I keep checking back to read the stimulating and interesting suggestions, expereiences and thoughts for your project. I savor the part of the creative process that is the thinking of ideas, the mulling them around, the pre-action — and this is all happening here! Ruti you’re revealing more details and we’re being pulled into it, so don’t leave us stranded, share with us your decisions whenever that happens!

    • Ruti says:

      I’m thinking a bit of each! The doll thing is definately a goer (along with PJs, christening gown and angel costumes (if I had a girl!). I love the ideas in the first post as well as the quilt (always wanted to try that 1 day)and a lacey pillow (again, maybe if I had a girl, cos it wouldn’t go with our bedroom. I keep on checking!!!! I don’t think I’ll have the free time to make till about a year or two’s time, so I’ll store all the ideas and see how much I can get out of 1 dress!!!!! Am loving all the ideas – well done everyone!!! Love Ruti

  11. Jani says:

    I made an Elvis costume for my grandson when he was about 5 out of a beautiful satin wedding gown, using the appliques on the yoke, belt and bellbottoms. We took him to the photo studio and they took a great picture of him with a black background. He still likes Elvis at 18 and is proud of that picture of him with his arm in the air, pointing to Elvis in heaven!

  12. Vickie says:

    I bought a beautiful full skirt in a moire large check at a thrift store once because I thought it would make a nice round sidetable’s tableskirt for the Christmas holidays. I will have to cover the actual round tabletop with a large circle, probably of a coordinating fabric, and will cover with a round piece of glass for protection. Don’t know if this would work in your home’s decor or not but thought that I would throw the idea out there. (Of course the skirt is still in my “projects” box – but someday!)

  13. Kristina says:

    I am going to design and make Bridal Hair Pieces out of my wedding dress. The dress has alot of decorative pearls with lace. It’s really hard to find unique hair pieces. All I will have to buy are the bases for the pieces.

  14. Rebecca says:

    Why not use parts of it to make storage for the veil and dress you are keeping? You could easily make a couple of drawstring bags, or cover a paper hatbox, or even make a zippered case out of the other dress.
    My mother cut down an old wedding dress for me to wear as a costume one Halloween. One of the few costumes I vividly remember.

  15. lilly says:

    I’m getting married this year and I plan to get my dress put into a frame so I can hang it at the top of my stairs.

    • Seven Years Divorced says:

      Oh my gosh, did you actually do this?

      • supergeeky says:

        That is my plan as well when I marry my honey. I plan on taking my dress and hair piece along with his tie and something else then placing things like our invitation, pictures of us etc and make a nice art piece out of it. I am excited.

  16. Ruti says:

    I’m loving the idea of the bag for the veil. Elvis idea made me laugh! Very creative. How about 3d stuffed fabric dove or angel ornaments? anyone know where I can get a pattern?

    love Ruti

  17. Adrienne says:

    About 30 years I bought a greyt/beige moire taffeta, and around the same time bought a complete circle sort of patchwork skirt in three shades each of cream/pricot/beige, with a blouse made to go with it.

    It was gorgeous back, but this is now. Couldn’t bear to part with it, so I have decided to pull all three articles to pieces and intend, ambitiously, to make a crazy quilt with the pieces, plus a few embellishments to go with it.

    That might be a thought.

    Adrienne Lewis.

    That might be a thought.

  18. We were donated a wedding dress from 1967 for our communal rag rug and I have been using the flowers from the bodice on it but as yet can not find a use for the wedding dress itself as it is velvet and will fray too much if rugged. Might use on the windows.

  19. Gale says:

    Many years ago my mom made very simple star Christmas ornaments from my aunt’s wedding dress. The dozens of stars have since been passed down to her daughters. We just love decorating our trees each year with memories.

  20. Kristen says:

    I love the Christmas ornament thing! That way you could enjoy the dress every year. Mine is packed away in a box collecting dust. I don’t think I could bear to cut it up though. One of my sisters did where our Mom’s dress however and I have two daughters so maybe. . .
    Another sister of mine has a ruined/stained wedding dress and so she wants to do something with it so I’m looking for her. Hopefully she will like some of these ideas!

  21. kathi says:

    i saw in a magazine where somebody made a christmas stocking from the satin and along the top they had used a piece of mink that they had recycled from another piece of clothing. if i was a crafty type person i would make this for my daughters. another thought would be to maybe make a xmas tree skirt? that would go well with the ornaments from a previous person.

  22. Teri says:

    Hi, I cut up your old wedding dress to make fabric flowers used to design a keepsake flower bouquet. You can enjoy it in a vase instead of storing the dress in a box under the bed. I recently completed a project where the mother provided her and her mothers wedding dress which I used a design a bouquet for the daughters wedding day.Check out some of my designs on the website.

  23. Teri says:

    oh,,,,,here is me website

    Recycle your old wedding dress into fabric flowers.

  24. Mekka Parish says:

    I have started a company that will recycle your wedding flowers,
    Repurposed Petals. Repurposed Petals is an Atlanta based eco-friendly boutique company that is focused on assisting eco-conscious clients recycle flowers used during their events and facilitate the donation of these blossoms to others so they may capture the essence of joy that flowers bring. Most importantly we do all the work!
    Feel Free to contact me at 404-667-5476.

    “Recycling Blossoms to Brighten The Day”

  25. Olia says:

    Use it to create special pillow cases, etc. for the bedroom.

  26. CeCe says:

    tear it up a bit get creative, use for Halloween costume ;)

    • alexandrea says:

      THATS A GREAT IDEA, I love how zombi-fied Halloween is becoming, I dont want my dress, but I don’t want to sell it, I think it’s cursed. Perfect idea to thrash into it!

  27. Jen says:

    I love the christmas ornament idea. I also read somewhere about framing a piece the fabric with a picture embossed onto it. It would make a great anniversary gift to your spouse.

  28. Kim says:

    I had these crazy fluffy lace sleeves on my dress, circa 1970s. I took the sleeves off and used the fabric and had small lace ornaments made that I hang on my Christmas tree each year. I will eventually pass these ornaments down to my children.

    • Ellen says:


      I loved your idea. My niece gets married in Dec. and I want to use the lace from her mother’s gown to make an ornament. I am not handy at all. Do you have a pattern or a pictures I could show someone who could do this for me?

    • Carol Robertson says:

      Do you have a pattern for ornaments? Do you do this for others as service? I am not much of a seamstress.

  29. valerie says:

    Use your wedding dress for christening dress/ outfit
    I used mine for my grandchildren- dress and bonnet for girl, shirt/ vest and pants for boy-

    If you don;t have a seamtress who you trust, there are sites online that will make for you-

    • Debra says:

      What about a skirt for the bassenet ? My daughters old wedding dress had a huge bow on the back of the dress and it was perfect for the back of the basket. Their was so much material to gather around as well.

  30. Just finished a project to recycle a wedding dress worn in 1951 into a fabric flower wedding bouquet along with a christening gown, bonnet and blanket. It turned out really beautiful. Check the gallery on my website for pictures soon.

  31. Medeea says:

    Keep the bodice: you may pair it with a suit and get an interesting look.
    Out of the skirt and train, make useful stuffs:
    Tablecloth or table runner, napkins, pillow cases.

    You could make a quilt: arrange squares of material with the weave in alternating directions. Would make a subtle chess pattern.

    You could make curtains or a nice baby quilt.

    Or…you could make a white summery suit or a dress (knee length).

  32. Jen W says:

    I had a friend I helped make a christmas set out of her wedding gown. We used a lot of the train to make a tree skirt, we made stockings for her and her husband, use some of the trimming and veil for ornaments. So now she can enjoy her dress every year and with everything being white and sparkley it makes a good indoor winterwonderland :D

  33. Becky O. says:

    Love the tree ornament idea My daughter is getting married in a few days and I was trying to find a way for her to use a piece of my dress as well as one from her grandmothers dress. But so far nothing has jumped to mind. One thing I remembered after reading all these suggestions, is that my daughter was given a pretty handkerchief that was folded and hand sewn with a few stitches, fashioned into a baby bonnet, to wear home from the hospital. It came with a poem about wearing it home from the hospital and a girl using it for her wedding day, a boy would gift it to his wife to be. How nice if it were actually a piece of this dress. Embroidered with my initials and wedding date, and the birthdate if the baby and name. Thanks for reminding me!!!

  34. Julie C says:

    A very upscale bridal store in my town went out of business, and they THREW away all of the gowns in a dumpster! Unfortunately, they spray painted a red “X” on the back of each gown beforehand. Made me sick to see the waste, and think about all of the young brides who could have used these! I grabbed several out of the dumpster, and brought them home. Would love to make things with the gorgeous fabrics, and donate them to a worthy cause. (The gowns range in prices from $2-$10,000 retail!) Most of the bodices are in perfect condition….hand beaded, appliqued, etc. I also have yards and yards of gorgeous fabric that was not spray-painted, and miles of tulle. I am not an expert seamstress, but I do know how to sew, and have my own machine. I love all of your creative ideas…if anyone has more to add, please post. I am also looking for reasonably easy pattern resources. Thinking I might be able to make christening gowns, pillows, etc. Again….I would like to make these, and donate them to
    brighten someone’s day. I can’t get over the fact that these gowns were not donated….would love to do something special with them. Thanks!

    • You are right a tragic waste, could any of them be dyed to match the colour of the paint sprayed on…Can the bodices be separated from the skirts. The bodices are the hardest part to make so fortunate they did not spray on there.

    • Becky O. says:

      Tragic and senseless! Can’t believe they couldn’t find a charitable donation for those gowns and fabrics.

      But in answer to your question of other uses … I did see a cute holiday decoration recently

      Bride and groom snow men made from bridal fabrics and accessorized. Very sweet. Approximately 12 inches tall each.
      I suppose with white fabrics any snowman is possible… Not just bride and grooms!

  35. xiangirl says:

    I could see some girls going to prom in a tie-dyed dress! Wouldn’t that be fun!? Who would notice an X on the back with wild blue, red, green and yellow tie-dye?!
    If you’re considering ideas beyond restoration of the dresses the bodice would make a fun classy handbag (bodice sewn shut at the waist, neck strap becomes over-the-shoulder handle.
    Then could the “skirt” portion be made into a circle tablecloth?
    I know an elementary school bulletin board would look fabulous with white satin on the background for Jan-Feb “snow” background.
    If they have panels of lace it would be fun to sew them into seed bags–like pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, larger seeds. Imagine giving away 100 little bags on Mother’s Day in church with a paper note inside identifying the seed & growing instructions. Or small sachets with oil or sweet smelling perfume.

  36. Dawn says:

    I just took my dress out of the preserved box and can’t wait to turn it into memorable pieces for my 2 daughters- I have been divorced for 3 yrs so I am ok with parting with it- but want to keep a piece (or pieces of it for my daughters) here are some of my thoughts-

    make decorative/toss pillows: take the top lace layers from the train and trim to size, layer over bright satin color fabrics! can you see a purple or pink pillow POP under the lace? or what about black pillow with lace on top- reminds me of toile print! fun and fancy!

    make small handkerchiefs for their wedding days

    dress up veils/headbands for play time

    simple barrettes with pieces of pearls, beads attached with glue gun

    table runners that they can save for their future homes

    If I was still married, and the dress had more sentimental feeling to me, I love the christmas tree skirt idea, and stockings and ornaments. Also a shadow box with your invitation layered over a fabric background. My friends are making first communion gowns for their girls, but I think that’s a lot of money spent (if you’re paying someone) for a one time use item.

  37. Jessica says:

    My wedding dress had an 8 1/2′ trane that I never wanted on it. So, when at the seamstress, I decided that it would make for the perfect Christmas tree skirt. Several years later my mom made me a beautiful tree skirt and cut apart my wedding gown to make matching stockings for my husband, two daughters and myself. Every year at Christmas we now have a beautiful reminder or the life we started together. Even if we only enjoy them a few weeks out of the year, it sure beats having it boxed up and preserved in a closet for no one to see!!

  38. Lisa Painter says:

    I have several sewing business’ with one being Remnants of Life, as you can imagine it is to repurpose, recycle and repair clothing. A couple of things I have done with wedding dresses has been to make evening purses, aprons, baby hats, Bible cover to be used in future weddings and ring bearers pillows just to name a few.

  39. Donna L says:

    Just came across this and love all the ideas. Another great idea I think is to use some of the lace or fabric to make trim to wrap the stems on the brides and bridesmaid’s bouquets. Hoping to do this for my daughter’s so she can carry something “old” :<)

  40. Hope Gilbert says:

    I have a 11 1/2ft detachable train from my wedding gown. I would love to some how make a curtain out of this for my one big window I have in my dining room. Anyone think it’s a good idea or anyone know how to begin this project. I’m not real crafty myself so I would hire someone to do this for me

  41. Cindy says:

    I had three bolster pillows made (one for each of my children) and kept them preserved with the plan of presenting them to each child on their wedding day. My daughter received hers two years ago and both of my sons will receive theirs this coming February and August. I also cut out a heart shape from some extra lace and sewed it with invisible thread on the inside of my daughter’s wedding dress closest to her heart. The look on her face when she unzipped the dress on her wedding day and saw the lace heart was priceless! We also used some extra lace to wrap around the stems of her bridal bouquet.

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