Biodegradable Wildflower Wedding Dress

Over the summer I had a brilliant idea to make a dress that would be good for our environment and bring beauty for futures to come. A dress that would not last for ever but would come back in a beautiful way every year.\n\nAt our little shop Sew Dayton we alter so many polyester made dresses that are only worn once and then they stay our on our planet for eternity. I had the honor of getting to make this beautiful veil for my friend Heidi’s wedding dress.

Sew Dayton Tracy McElfresh handmade a veil

My thoughts for my new project were I could raise awareness in an approachable way of making a dress that would be 100% biodegadable and could be buried in your flower garden after you event. With wildflower seeds imbedded so that flowers bloom every year and you would have good memories of your special day. And flower seeds were imbedded in a dress would be amazing.

Tracy McElfresh Wildflower Bio Dress Idea

I spent at the least 40 hours researching, paper fabric, the paper dress boom in the 1960s, organic materials and designs that were simple yet elegant. I watched movies like The True Cost and researched organic wholesalers and organic cotton farms in America. I found so much information although it was hard to know what info was really correct and what was not. Tencel, bamboo and some poly fibers were said to be better for the environment while other sites said the chemical process they go through cancels out any good they did by saving water and energy. That bottom line they can not possibly be organic.

Then I wondered, how do we know if something comes from China if it really is what it says it is? I needed more information for sure. I also learned we have not had a real organic fabric book released since 1989. I think we are due for a new one! There were tons of books on much more broad topics. I also learned what IFOAM, GOTS and OTA are. Even if I went no further on this project I was truly happy with everything I had learned along the way.

I started writing some of the company’s I found in my research and some actually wrote me back! One company I found amazing was Organic Cotton Plus. Organic Cotton Plus is a 5th generation family farm in Northwest Texas. I considered ordering from them although I wanted to go even smaller.

I found an etsy shop called Conscious Elegance that specifically sells to seamsters that make wedding apparel. She answered all of my questions promptly and with honest information. Not just that, I have a special place in my heart for etsy because it’s where I got my start. I have had my etsy shop since 2009.

2 yds Organic unbleached cotton sateen wide-width for Tracy via 2-day Priority Mail

Other Companies that sell organic fabrics that I found are Honey Be Good, Birch, Clothworks (was GOTS certified), Cloud9, Daisy Janie, Harmony Art, Monaluna, Timeless Treasures, Windom, Aurora Silk, Picknatural if you can get wholesale and can have a good amount of trust. To my surprise even Robert Kaufman had organic cloth.

Gaia Concepts a conscious clothing company with organic, US made clothing has a great article on cloth.

Okay lets get to the good stuff, the making of my bio wildflower wedding dress. I ordered 2 yards of wide width organic cotton sateen from Conscious Elegance. I had to figure out a pattern next. I love to get all of my pattens out and go through them.

Tracy McElfresh Vintage Pattern Collection

I always wanted to sew something from a 1930s pattern and I own a few, although feared the sizing as it was so much different from pattern sizing now. In the 1930s a size 14 was for a 14 year old child. My pattern said size 38, once I dove in I realized I liked their sizing better. 38 is for a 38″ bust. That was easy, there was no vanity sizing or confusion back then.

IMG_2888 Vintage 1930s pattern

Then my questions were what about the thread, buttons and zipper? How do I make this dress and keep it biodegradable? I chose cotton thread and natural sea shell buttons and though about the zipper for a while longer.

IMG_2213 Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Dress

After watching a few Game Of Thrones I decided to make eyelet button holes and strap this dress up the side. After making the dress I realized it really could be a pull over as well. I’m always learning new things on these adventures. The tie was to be  similar to a corset tie.

The piecing also was quite the learning experience. Once I really dove in those odd seams they were not so hard. You press and fold all those edges and then simply topstitch them down. If that makes any sense. I’ll get more technical in the next break down.

Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress

Pinning this dress and making sure everything was symmetrical was most interesting. Here is how I made it easy, I did straight top stitching at my seam allowance with my tension turned up to 6. This made folding in my lines and corners so much easier. With the tension turned up those seams practically turn in on their own. A good iron press and clip those corners and curves really well right up to your stitching makes all the difference.

IMG_2322 Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress

Here is where I was top stitching it all together. I did 3 rows of top stitching with my cotton thread due to the fact I did not serge this dress. I did not think it would biodegrade well with serger stitches.

Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress

Here are a few of the finished photos I took in my tiny little elf house.

Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress

Next I need to plant my seeds to see if the fabric actually does dissolve enough to have growth in 1 year. I think I will have 2 in a controlled environment and 2 in the yard naturally placed. I used red poly thread so I can find the samples for years to come if needed. After the last fashion show I washed my bio dress to see what would happen and it already started unraveling around the neckline. I was very excited to see this. No worries it can easily be fixed if I ever want to sell or wear this dress.

Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress Tracy McElfresh Bio Wildflower Wedding Dress

The wonderful professional photos were taken by Sharon Elaine Photography and the beautiful model  and styling is all Ruby Randall.

Tracy McElfresh Bio Wilflower Wedding Dress

After a lot of thinking I honestly wanted to keep this dress a secret, have it patented and do something amazing. I realized this would be an entirely new business and my heart is teaching with Sew Dayton. So if I can at the least help others and share what I have learned with the public that is enough for me to move forward. I really just want make, learn and teach.

Tracy McElfresh

Thank you for reading and remember to make time to do the things you love.

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh

Tracy McElfresh is the owner of Tracy’s Sewing Studio LLC.
Tracy McElfresh

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By | 2017-02-08T00:45:02+00:00 December 21st, 2015|1930s Style Fashion, Formal Wear, Makes of 2015, Uncategorized|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Lori Del Genis December 29, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Tracy! This is an awesome blogpost and an awesome idea. I can’t wait to see what happens! I love love love the Game of Thrones closure adaptation. That’s fabulous ingenuity. I’ve been wanting to create a Cersei-type gown for years and you’ve inspired me to give it more serious thought. \n\nAnd thank you for linking to my shop! It’s so wonderful to be working with other designers who are trying to make a difference in the world. \n\nYou rock. <3

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