Saturday, 27 February 2010

A Vintage Inspiration.

It has been said that amoung the most picturesque of villages in the Yorkshire Dales, Linton-in-Craven has to be one of the most unspoilt. The most perfect setting for a winter wedding and with snow still on the hillside, I cannot argue with that. (Apart from Burnsell of course)
As with many wedding events I eagerly attend, this has to be set in one of the prettiest, quietest villages (apart from the cawing of the crows) I have ever been too.
Fountaine Hospital Chapel was the setting for the blessing of Helene and Simon today.

I first met Helene in January 2010 when she contacted me with her inspirational images of a 1940's Hollywood starlet wedding gown.

Helene was very precise with her requirements. "The fabric is very important," she said. "Either a matt silk satin or a really flowing fabric. I want the dress to be quite structured at the top and the detail to be in the shoulder caps. I want a very low v-neck at the front and a bow or sash at the waist. I would like long sleeves with a small puff and perhaps covered buttons down the back. The dress needs to be fitted at the hip and I would like a small train. It needs to be double lined so it is heavy."

The fabric Helene eventually chose was a Sandwashed Silk crepe. Not really the best fabric for a structured bodice, but most certainly for the skirt.
This set me on a challenge to once again push the sewing skills to achieve the best result. My only concerns were that eventhough I managed to source the perfect fabric, it left just twelve days to construct the gown before Helene and Simon had their marriage blessed following their intimate wedding in York on the 25th February 2010.

After many toile fittings and a few tweaks the gown was finished. Helene attended her final fitting on the morning of her wedding and hugged me. "Thank you Linda," she said. "This is exactly what I was after."

The finished gown.

After a brief chat with the photographer, Emma Case ,I watched
Helene arrive at Fountaines Hospital chapel after a short walk from her overnight accomodation.
Helene, looking totally radiant holding her vintage inspired bouquet of peonies, anemones and eucalyptus put together by a local florist.

I was thrilled when Helene looked to her side and said. "Hello Linda."

One last radiant glance as she walked towards the Chapel entrance.

The properties of the silk satin work perfectly for gowns similar to those of Jenny Packham and Claire Pettibone, however with much persistence and experimenting with the use of other silk fabrics to stabilize the satin, between Helene and I we produced an amazing bridal gown.

May I take this opportunity to say, Helene, you looked stunning today. It has been an absolute pleasure to have worked with you.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your very special day.
For a full insight into Helene's special day, please visit

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Ooops, Sorry.

I got my knuckles rapped today. Advertising for personal gain is not permitted in the forums.
Well, it wasn't really for personal gain, quite the opposite actually.
Many ladies ask my advice about petticoats, Jupon to be exact. Now, this isn't something I deal with, I'm a dressmaker, I make petticoats and build most of them into my gowns very succesfully, I don't buy them in.

But, as a one off, a few ladies asked if I could get them a Jupon so I ordered them in. Now, the reason I say "not for personal gain" is because it really isn't. I get the petticoats at trade cost, the postage and the cost of the postage out. I make very little if not anything on this action, but what I do is use my telephone to make the call, bag them all up when they arrive and re package and then walk to the post office to post them out.
The reason I do this is because the wedding business is expensive. Many feel the moment you mention the word wedding, the price goes up.
This one time offer was to do something nice and not for personal gain. Apologies to the ladies in the forum who took offence.

Being in the dressmaking industry it is very interesting to see how other seamstress work. What techniques they use so, when a fellow dressmaker asked how I construct my gowns and I quote. "Ps from a design point of view I am assuming that you mean you build them into short tea length dresses?? as I find if i was to do it with a full length dress it makes it very heavy and if I do them separate it helps distribute the weight of the dress?" I find it interesting.
So, in true form I searched the most famous wedding dress designers The Emmanuel's to discover if Princess Diana's wedding dress had a seperate petticoat or was it built in?

I discovered that the train alone, a whopping 25 feet, was attached at the waistline. Surely this would have been a massive drag on the waistline? So, I emailed Elizabeth Emanuel and asked the question.
Within moments I received my reply.
Hello Linda,

The petticoat for the Royal Wedding gown was seperate to the main dress. We rarely build a full petticoat into a dress.

Hope this helps!

Elizabeth Emanuel

Art of BeingGarden Studio51 Maida ValeLondon W9 1SD
Tel: 0207 289 4545
Fax: 0207 289 7584
The word rarely does not indicate never, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Fabric needs to be taken into account as does the quantities.
But, I've learned something today and this is the beauty of dressmaking.
Thank you, Elizabeth for taking the time to respond and thank you Bex for the question!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

When Dithering Disappoints Pt. 2

Today I have had to do the unthinkable. I've turned away a client.
Last year I worked for a lady who was 1 of 5 bridesmaids when her sister married. They were a lovely party with the wedding just before Christmas 2009.
The client is due to be married August 2010 and we did talk briefly regarding her requirements for her own wedding just before her sister married.
After the wonderful mention I received in Perfect Wedding February 2010, I was inundated with enquiries. As a courtesy in early January, I did contact all potential clients I had spoken with, with the option to book their slot, alongside the warning that my diary was filling up fast (with ladies coming from as far away as Co. Durham and even extending this warning to my aunties!) and would hate to have to disappoint. But, two weeks ago, after no response from a few ladies, I had to close my diary for weddings pre October 2010.
Last night I opened my e mail to find an apology for not contacting me sooner and a request for a meeting to discuss requirements. I have had to respond with bad news and inform her that I did try contacting her a few times and because I had no response my diary was closed. I quite simply could not accomodate her any longer.
It's not something I enjoy, but would encourage anyone to consider booking their dressmaker and offer their commitment once they have found her.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Bless Me Dressmaker For I have Sinned.

It's been over a week since I last saw you and I have a confession to make. I visited another dressmaker the day I met with you.
Well, I certainly wouldn't have it any other way, infact I would encourage it!
Choosing a dressmaker isn't as easy as sticking a pin in a directory and plumping for that one. Your wedding is too important to just pick a name from the yellow pages or the internet. Choosing the right seamstress is possibly almost as important as finding the perfect husband. Choose the wrong dress maker, and your perfect day could be ruined!
You need to find someone who is empathetic to your dreams, someone who you are able to communicate with, and who will listen to what it is you want but is honest enough to share her opinions as to whether what you have in mind will work in a way that will be pleasing to you in the end. How can you do this if you only have a meeting with one dressmaker?
Whatever source you choose, there are some steps you can employ to ensure that the person you hire will be able to accomplish what you want.
What to take to your interview:
Your time schedule
Pictures of the dress or the pattern you've selected
Number of Bridesmaids, their approximate sizes, and body types
A small sample of the fabric, if you've already chosen it.
What to ask the seamstress:
Her time schedule
Can she create a custom design or does she prefer to use a pattern?
To see samples of her work.
Estimate of costs.
Her suggestions on compatibility of your fabric and pattern. Is the style you've chosen suited to your body type?
Will the dress be comfortable to wear or will you have restricted movement? (This will be important if you are planning to dance at your reception).
Part of your planning is finding a dressmaker that you are comfortable with. One that can help you create the gown you are looking for, the gown you have been dreaming of. When you decide you are going to have your gown custom made, start talking to every one you know.