Thursday, 3 October 2019

Hello October


This week I watched Lorraine Kelly celebrate 35yrs on ITV Good morning show and I realised that I have been working for brides for exactly the same time.
Its hard to believe how fast time goes in and hopefully any of you reading this will make sure you never waste your lives. Its one thing we cannot determine how long we have but we can do our best to live as full and fun a life as we can. Dare to dream is Northern Ireland's team motto and I think its a good one.



I had no clue how long I would manage to have clients that would get me to make things for them but Im still here still going. Without your support, in more ways than you may imagine I would not have the strength and resilience to keep going.

Always thinking of new ideas and inspiration.




















Back details and cap like sleeves even capes are well on trend at the moment
Loving all the embroidery work, if its too much for you we can always just work small areas.


I
    Working on embroidery to deco shoes.
Floral detail and ferns in embroidery.
I have loved doing floral veils for my brides.




Sunday, 22 September 2019

Strictly Come Dancing Costume's inspire.

 I love watching Strictly for ideas for dresses and the new competition for 2019 has started off with a "snap, crackle and pop" as Shirley said in her fabulous dress with the flower detail!!

Shirley in her first dress of this season.

But the person that I take greatest interest in is Vicky Gill, the programmes costumes designer, here"s more on inside the design rooms.  

Inside the costume design rooms for Strictly Come Dancing 2019

Vicky Gill designs the costumes we see on the Strictly Come Dancing shows. She has a background both in fashion and dance Costuming. Her clients have included girls Aloud, Cheryl Cole, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue. However in the last ten years she has been involved in the costuming for Strictly,which takes her through from August to December each year.
Let's take a look as to how it works .


Vicky works the sketches of ideas.
 Once the shows are under way it is totally Full On, with up to 14 new sets of costumes per week.
Sketch with an idea of how Abbey dress was to look, high collared neckline going into a back less dress, but it eventually had sleeves too.
Sketch with an idea for one of the costumes
The dummies taped with padding to replicate the dancers body shape to help with fittings
The sewing room, there are loads of workers behind the scenes.

The pattern cutter in action.
The fabric being cut out in shapes to make up the garments
One of the many stitchers sewing at her machine.

The garment being pinned on the dummy to see how it is shaping up

The skirt and waistband being added

The many many layers of tulle being trimmed into shape.


Embroidery details with bead work being added to the dress

Lots and lots of sparkly beads being glued into position.

A close up of the beads being added as quickly as possible. They put glue on a wooden stick and them lift the bead up and present onto the dress

The finished effect

Monday, 9 September 2019

Keeping up to date with the latest news in bridal.

Well it was lovely to visit the beautiful spa town of Harrogate in Yorkshire and meet up with friends we hadn't seen for a while.  I'm always inspired by what I see and who I chat to, you never know what the next chapter of life may bring. 
It means we get the chance to chat about new things and old times and to catch up. Finding out what everyone is up to and ideas they have to improve.
Building a reputation for great customer service is essential for a boutique and providing an amazing shopping experience is crucial to a successful business. I hope our customer service is what really sets us apart. We give every bride-to-be that walks through the door our full attention so they feel like the most special person in the world.
Recognise any in this photo?

























Do you ever see these two on Channel 4, lovely to see Ian and Charlotte  and see the direction they are going for 2020, more to come on the TV.

Set up ready to go, the peace and quiet before the noise starts.


















It is good to meet up with new people that I haven't met and appreciate the work that they have done.
Often we can help each other. 


Equally important is for me to see new fabrics that are being produced.

























Its important that I'm up to date and aware of new trends so that my brides know I have an insight into what will be the fashion a year ahead. I want all my brides to feel that I have thought of everything for them.
“Shopping for your wedding dress can be exciting and nerve-wracking, but we do our very best to make sure every bride is comfortable and heard in what she hopes for her wedding dress. I truly believe each bride to be unique and aim to give her a completely bespoke experience, as well as aiming to offer bespoke details to give her a dress that is completely her own.
I like to wear something that I have made for myself to wear on these occasions.
Lady birds seem to have been an inspiration from the start of the year!! 


























Yesterday I learnt from listening to a lady that owns a bridal shop that a dress that is needed for a wedding in two weeks time still hasn't arrived!! I just thought what a horrendous ordeal, I can't imagine how the poor bride and her mother are coping. Thank goodness I'm not someone who would have to cope with this stress. 
Made me want to sit and write some advice for “bridestobe”.

Planning a wedding should be fun from start to finish!
1 Don't let you heart rule your head and don't be rushed into any decisions. If someone is pressurising you, stop and take time to think, you rarely do this twice. 
2 Be true to yourself and don't choose a dress that is way outside your comfort zone or that doesn't represent you as a person
3 Think about your venue and choose a dress that will work with it for you. For example if you were getting married in Italy a huge train would be a no no for cobbled streets. 
3 Choose a dress that is timeless. Who wants to look back at their wedding photos in 40yrs time and think ‘why on earth did I choose that?’ And be too embrassed to reminisce with their photos of what should have been one of the happiness days of their lives.
4 Ask lots of questions, learn as much as you can. For example where will your dress be coming from, when will it arrive and once you have a first fitting who will alter it and how much extra might that be? 
5 When you are being measured for the dress check how experienced is the measurer and how actuate will the dress measurements be to those measured. Girls take a copy of your measurements!!! that day and keep to them or at least you can take it in if you loose weight. I have heard of brides whose dresses come in way off the correct size. 
6 Foundation wear and shoes are important when having fittings.

7Ask about the pressing of the dress before the big day!! And that leads me on to think about the pressing of the veil that's even scarier! 
More to come but that will keep you up to date for now. Have a good week.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Being there to encourage


Over the years I have been working with women I know that when we work together we are a strong force.  





I love the chats I get with the people I come in contact with through my work, they educate and inspire me, I find I am always learning.

So what happened this week?
Great fun with this one this week.

























This week I went out to dress one of my brides as it was a bank holiday Monday. With my brides main interest being the world of horses I wasn't surprised to find her sitting watching the European Dressage Championships, with Ireland doing extra well, as she was having her makeup and hair done. More to come on this one.

 I managed to sell this headdress online, I hope the bride loves it once it arrives.
The first headpiece to sell online, time I put more on so brides can see them.
























I took this ensemble out of my window
and decided with the lack of sunshine I needed more colour in the window!
You will have to past it to see what I ended up with!!




























This week I happened to see an appeal for women to encourage other women to make sure they do as much as possible to keep themselves healthy. Life is nothing without our health, health is our wealth.
Talking of wealth we had another celebrity wedding. I loved the fact that she had a camper van bring her to the most beautiful York Minster to get married.


The bride wore a most elegant, period inspired white silk crepe dress, with a high neckline and long sleeves.


                                              
The close up detail of Ellie Goulding's wedding dress.
Work like this is reminds me of some of the beautiful
beaded work that comes from India


I have just watched a bit of a TV programme with Sue Perkins visiting the Ganges and it made me appreciate how lucky we are to have the simple comforts of a loo!! Hard to believe in this day and age that woman were expected to wait until dark and then go outside and relieve themselves with the fear of being attacked!! Wow. I world is one really crazy place, the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. May we all stop and think , help and encourage each other to survive in a better way.





Wednesday, 14 August 2019

My Interests

As you know if you read my last post I reckon my background and upbringing have influenced my interests. Going to art college inspired me to try and make my living from creating things. I have always been practically minded so I wanted to find a use for my creative notions.

From pictures to jewellery




















When I first left Art College I made headdresses and jewellery 

I have always had an interest in flowers and been inspired by them

Antique things I have collected and admired and been inspired by.

I  love painting and drawing.

Christening Robes are among my most precious collections 

sketching ideas
sewing ideas


Drying flowers















Tuesday, 6 August 2019

About me


WoW!! HoW?? H&W if I quickly knew how to put the W on top of the H like the logo with a computer I would bother to do it but there is a limit to my computer skills. But think we have to keep learning to keep ourselves up to date with the latest trends to learn how to survive!!
If you were a betting person and 35yrs ago someone asked you to place a bet on which business would still be going in October 2019 I don't think many would have placed their bet on me.
The local enterprise development officer in 1986 told me at a meeting in the Strangford Arms Hotel that I would never be able to make a living making wedding dresses!! I came home in tears and my Dad just said you have a good lot of orders in your diary now that you have been going a year keep going and see what happens. I bet not many of you knew that! I wonder where that guy is now, is he still employed by the government?

So here's a bit more about me. 
I grew up on a stud farm on the Ards Peninsula in Northern Ireland. My father had a hardware store in Bangor providing essentials for locals and as a young girl I was taught the importance of making customers happy as I worked in my Dad's shop after school. My art teacher encouraged me to keep doing my art to A level and she talked 7 of us into applying for the foundation course at the art college but only one got in, so I felt I must give it a go. I thought I wanted to do hair dressing and work in TV or theatre!! 

My Great Aunts were keen patchwork quilters and my Grand Mother had seen a lot of the world and had brought back many inspiring pieces of everything from jewellery to clothes.
The beauty of Strangford Lough, the antique shops and my love of art @ school all lead me to do a Degree in Fine Art and Textiles. Inspired by linens and laces from the Irish tradition I went on to specialise in Fashion and embroidery at art college and developed new techniques to produce my own pieces. The local Folk Museum just 4 miles from me has the most fabulous pieces in their archives to share with us and I was lucky to be allowed to study pieces close up just after I left art college by a lovely lady called Lynda Ballard.
As soon as I finished Art College some of my pieces of embroidery sold. I started doing exhibitions of my work locally and across the water I also took part in the RDS competition down in Dublin were two of my pieces won awards. I was asked to do a talk to the local Embroiderers Guild and meet lots of lovely ladies who encouraged me. Designing and making bridal dresses and accessories then became my passion. Meanwhile I continued to collect vintage pieces for inspiration and to fully appreciate the skill and craftsmanship in them, beautiful hand sewn embroidery linens, christening robes and beaded bags.

Being able to communicate with people is maybe my most important skill, but craftsmanship and impeccable quality are at my business's core and I strive to maintain this everyday. Without my lovely clients I would not still be here today, so to everyone of you from my past 35years to the next year I want to thank you. Yours sincerely Joanne

Monday, 22 July 2019

Advice on getting your Dress cleaned !!!!

Dry cleaning!!!

Your wedding dress is probably the most precious and expensive dress you will ever wear and holds lots of special memories. It is therefore essential that you have it professionally cleaned after your wedding day. Left without being cleaned can lead to permanent staining on the delicate material.
Make sure you have confidence in your choice of Dry Cleaner establishment. You will know their knowledge by the questions they ask you and the advice they give you.


They understand the effects of various solvents on different types of fabric, beading, sequins and trimmings and have both Perchlorethylene and Hydrocarbon dry cleaning machines that have been specially adapted so that we have full control over the processing of each individual wedding dress.

















Crystal & glass Beaded dresses are the hardest to clean. They are becoming more and more popular and more and more elaborate. We know and understand the problems that can arise from trying to clean crystal and glass beaded gowns. 
























YOU MUST find a dry cleaner that is competent in cleaning wedding gowns with these trimmings. There is always a risk in dry cleaning what is essentially pieces of glass. They can break, they can cut threads and they can catch on chiffons, silks and organzas. A dry cleaner competent in glass trimming will have ways of protecting gowns from damage. Beads, Crystals & dangly bits are becoming more complex as the years go on.

Once the dress is cleaned you can either take your dress hung or have it boxed in acid free tissue paper for posterity. ( best to keep polythene bags away as they just attract the dust.)

This Bride of mine has already worn the top part of her dress again!!

























You might want to do this in years to come Reuse the wedding dress.Teen saves hun
dreds of pounds by wearing mum’s 90s wedding dress to school prom - The Sun

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Help with what to wear under your dress

 What you wear under your dress can make or break the look.
























 Brides dream of white/ivory Lacey Lingerie but sometimes nude is best.
 The dress just won't always let you wear what you want to, best to make sure you and the dress do the best you can and then change later if you want.

This summer even for guests at weddings or in daywear there is a lot of white embroidery anglaise and it's usually best to wear subtle skin tone with this. Wearing a camisole underneath a sheer top can be too bulky for summer and rarely creates the smooth line an all-in one body can. Bodies discreetly pull you in to create the all-over nude effect that won't detract from a pretty white shirt.





















So if you invest in a second skin for your wedding you should get plenty of wear in the future.
Low backs are a strong trend for brides and finally we have the answer for this dilemma with a Lacey ivory or nude version and a plain in either colour too.























If your dress allows you can opt for the more traditional. Let me know which you prefer.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Past and Present Brides

To all my lovely Brides past and present I wouldn't be here without you and you keep me going.
Last Monday a former bride kindly left a lovely review for me on google and her words recharged my battery immediately. As soon as I thanked her and posted a comment on social media many of you did likewise., which brought back happy memories


 Last week a former bride from just 24yrs ago called at the shop with her Dad to say hi and I was so pleased to see them, as we recalled the run up to the wedding and of course the Big day itself. I cannot believe how fast time flies in, there is another month gone. Each one of you inspire me to do something different. I feel without you leading me I would have too many ideas and not know which one to start , I so value what your thoughts and input. The best thing is when a dress just makes a bride smile, then I know Im doing my job right.

One bride who found the one she loves ( both dress and of course partner) set off for her new home across the water, happy and sad, but I look forward to hearing her news in the future.


Meanwhile I am chasing to brides about ideas for their dresses for next year 2020 seems or "seams" that we have exciting times ahead.