Sunday, 18 March 2018

A St Patrick's Day to remember.

I few St Patrick's Day's ago a young couple got engaged and then a few years later their daughter choose St Patrick's Day for her wedding day with her fiancé. What can be more romantic?

The bride came to me , it doesn't seem that long ago with a clear idea of what she wanted to wear on her special day. She knew the shape and style and theme. Gold and sparkle were to be that touch of magic that would lift a classic ivory wedding dress to that something special for a special sparkling bridetobe.

So as I explained in my last blog and again this time we started with a lining in the shape that the bride was clear on and I started some beadwork samples for our notion for the detailing. After trying on a belt of mine in the studio we knew that something like it worked in the brides favourite gold colour was a definite detail.

The dress starting to take shape in the fabric,

the belt a few different shapes being worked through

 and the idea of long sleeves being considered.
A few more pins to improve the fit in all the right places.
Pearls on the sleeve "V" to correspond with the pearls in the belt.

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The dress and belt ready for The Big day

Headdress, shoes and belt all made to match.

The beautiful Bride and her dad arriving at the Church.

 Veil in place ready for the walk down the aisle.

Fabulous flowers by Marie Cafolla

The magnificent Montalto Carriage Rooms

MBE Chef Simon Dougan from Yellow Door Deli making sure everything is perfect.

The starter! I managed to photo it but then I was just too happy eating to stop and photo,
 not surprised by his much deserved award.

The Happy Couple who just smiled and smiled all day and night.
The cake was by Lois from Buttercup Bakery.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

A bespoke bridal dress

Bespoke wedding dress design service, I thought it would be useful to take a look at the most common FAQs that I get asked by brides-to-be. These questions come up over and over again, so here goes:

How long does it take to make a wedding dress? 

I get asked this all the time and there isn't one answer! It depends entirely on the design of the dress. If we put the hours end to end it can be anywhere from approximately 50 hours to approximately 200...ish. It could be more or less than this, but this is average for me and my work. However the way I work means the hours are spread out over months, rather than worked from start to finish in one go. I time every dress I make so I have a good idea of how long a particular design might take to make.

Working on a toile.
What lead time do you need?
Usually 12 months or more, a year is ideal, 18 months is wonderful. If it's a complicated design or requires much thought or the bride is not available regularly for fittings, 2 years is not unheard of. Again, it depends on the design and the time of year and what is already booked into the schedule. The shortest turnaround I've done is 1 month, during the winter! The best thing is to always ask. Sometimes I get very booked up for certain times of the year and can't take on any more work, but if this happens I try to put a post up explaining the situation.

How much do your dresses cost?
Again, it depends on the design, but generally speaking Bespoke is from £1500+ to wherever the design takes the price, and the Collection dresses are currently between £1000 - £2500 with simple separates from £300. Bespoke can be as simple or extravagant as you want, so these prices are a general guide. But the best thing is to ask. Your wedding dress could be more or less than these prices - it just depends on what you want. Generally my prices are very competitive. Lace dresses tend to be more pricey as lace is more costly per metre, and more complicated to work with, and certain weaves of silk fabric can be costly per metre, as are multiple layers of fabrics for example in skirts with many layers. On the other hand silk or synthetic fabrics are very good these days and can reduce the cost of a wedding dress in some cases, again - depending on the design. So I can make the same design in different fabric types and it will give a different price.

What happens if I don't like it / it doesn't suit me?
This is a really common question and totally understandable if you don't understand how the process works. So I'll try to explain in general terms and then go into more detail:

I have never had a bride who didn't like her dress, because after plenty of discussion and finding out your likes and dislikes, I will already have designed a wedding dress for you and you have agreed to the design - a design that you presumably love and are excited about! It's likely you will have ideas about what you want anyway, and I will suggest ideas too based on our discussions. We will have looked at fabrics together and you may have tried on some of my designs to get a feel for what suits you. You don't have to do this - some brides don't try anything on beforehand and others try on virtually everything I have! I learn from each individual when I try on my off the peg dresses what you like and want and then we have a good idea of where to start.

You aren't expected to know exactly what will work and what won't - that is what I am here for, to advise and guide you towards making choices that give the best results and the results that you want!

Pattern drafted from measurements.

I usually make a mock up fabric, such as cotton calico or the lining to have a fitting with so that you get a good idea of cut and fit. The outfit is balanced and fitted to suit you and your proportions. If a feature is in the wrong place - say a seam is too low, or you to want to change the neckline for example, we move it to where you would like it, then and there, so you can see it in its correct place straight away. It's only when you are happy with your design that we cut out the real wedding dress. So by the time it comes to your first fitting in the actual fabric - the start of the real dress - you already know what your dress is going to look like proportionally and design wise. Once we're into your actual dress fabric you continue to have fittings to fine tune it, and often at this stage we might play around with where a particular detail goes or how many lines of beading you might want, or the exact placement of the embroidery, if this is something that we didn't decide at the design sketch stage.

The whole process is one of incremental adjustments to achieve the look you desire. It's very exciting and fun to create a design together! It's not like going to have your hair cut - where the stylist is doing something for you that cannot be reversed, while you passively sit there until it's done! If the worst happened (and it never has) and you didn't like something, we would correct it, or start again.

Pattern pieces traced from pattern draft.

Toile with alterations.

I do: constantly check in with you throughout the fittings to explain what I'm doing and to ask what your preferences are: Is this okay? How do you feel about this length here? Is this enough fullness/tightness/giving you the look you want? No? OK - let's adjust that fullness now (for example), while you're here so I get it right for you. 

I do: ask you if you have any comments, worries, are not sure about anything etc at the end of every fitting. I always give you the opportunity to comment and have your say - it's your dress, not mine!

I don't: Demand that you stick exactly to the design as sketched if something different occurs during the fitting that looks better! This is the beauty of commissioning a dress in that sometimes happy accidents occur during fittings and you end up with something unexpectedly even better than originally planned! Sometimes we might decide to lose a detail too if it looks great without it, or add more of something because it looks good. Generally speaking there is an element of flexibility in the design - it's all about what looks good on you.

So back to the original question, you have watched and experienced and had a say in the design from the start and evolving while you're wearing it during your fittings. You don't just turn up at the end and I say "Ta-da!!!" without you having seen any development of the design since the initial sketch!
Have you ever made a dress you didn't like?
No, but I'm human so naturally I sometimes prefer some over others. Even if the design is not really to my taste, I am always proud and flattered that I've been chosen to make something so special for a bride. Every dress is a learning curve and every bride is a different personality with a different body shape, so it's more a question of having pride in all my work, and a sense of achievement and satisfaction when it's finished and I have a happy bride!

What happens if I change my mind about the design?
This has happened, but thankfully it's rare. Depending on timescales we would do our best to change the design or restart it if it's very different. The service is not about forcing you to have a design you don't want - it's the exact opposite of that! So in all cases, we talk and do our best to help achieve what you want. However, I would hope to have covered this eventuality during our initial meetings so that we can prepare ourselves in advance for a potential change if necessary. Although the service is very flexible on the one hand, it is not infinitely flexible, in that it can't be an opportunity to just try out multiple different styles on you during fittings. We work to the design sketch in all cases and the design has some degree of flexibility, but you must make decisions during the process in order for it to progress and the design come to fruition within the timescale.
Where do you get your fabrics?
In general I us UK wholesale suppliers for my fabrics. I find this is the most cost effective for the short lengths that are required to make individual wedding dresses. Those suppliers in turn source their fabrics internationally. Laces are generally European and silks and synthetics are from Europe, the Far East and Asia.
don't know what suits me, can you help?
Of course! Come and have a chat and we can talk about it!

I know exactly what I want, how do I know you can do it?
Well ultimately you don't know - you have to trust me. But I have nearly 20 years of experience making wedding dresses for brides and I am also an honest and professional person. If I can't do something, or I don't think it will work, I will tell you. I don't take on work I don't know how to create, or that I don't understand. I want to give you a brilliant service and also to sleep well at night, as I'm sure you do too. I don't want to put my name to a failed design and I don't want you to wear something that isn't what you wanted. It's a relationship built on trust, communication, professionalism and skill.

I hope this has gone some way to answering some of your questions! Can you think of any more that I haven't answered?

To ask another question, for further information or to set up an appointment, please email me.
I hope you find this helpful if you're thinking of getting in touch or commissioning a custom made dress. I am incredibly busy in the studio making dresses for 2018 weddings, and am already almost booked up for this year! This is great on many levels and yet not so great having to turn away potential customers. So I'm sorry if I couldn't book you in this year, I hate turning away brides, but I have to be realistic about what can be done and loyal to the brides already booked.
This price can change depending on alterations to the design or changes to price of labour