Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Raindrops on Roses.

And whiskers on kittens. (Go on, tell me you're not singing it!) Yes, a few of my favourite things!

I don't envy the task of any couple getting married having to trawl through the never ending list of vendors when trying to plan their perfect wedding day.

Which photographer? Which florist? Which cake maker and where to by the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses?
Well, look no further for your bespoke wedding and bridesmaid gowns, but what about the rest?

I simply cannot recommend these peeps enough.


First on my list has to be the awesome, Rob Booker. http://www.robbooker.co.uk/

He was the photographer for the wedding of my client, Nadia, perfectly, capturing the very essence of a truly vintage occasion. We both featured in Perfect Wedding February 2010 and the online, Real Weddings section of You and Your Wedding

I met Emma briefly at a client, Helene's wedding. Emma was the photographer I was the dressmaker. She showed me a glimpse of "the dress" she'd snapped saying she loved it. Well it certainly looked lush even on the small image of her camera. Described by 'Rock n Roll Bride' as her home girl, I can understand why. I love her style.

3. Sarah Brierley of Xposure photography http://www.xposureiseverything.co.uk/

I spent some studio time with Sarah and Andy for my daughters birthday. It was a very relaxed and most definately not rushed session. Capturing that perfect picture. Fabulous experience. I shall be back!! Xposure is definately everything.

Accessor1es and Headp1eces.

It really is strange where you meet the most special of people and I met the wonderful Jane of HF Couture via Facebook. She loved my stuff and I adore hers!

I have to say my most favourite piece is displayed on her home page. A limited edition tiara which goes by the name of Eva. Well, if you know me well, it just had to be!


If you want something lush and spectacular, look no further than Sofia at Ivy Florist Pudsey.
Sofia is an independant florist boutique stocking simply THE best grade of seasonal flowers from around the world.

Sofia was the florist of my client Nadia and keeping it well in the family Sofia and Nadia are sisters. Not only did Sofia produce the most amazing floral arrangements for her sisters wedding, I received THE most wonderful thank you bouquet.

Look no further for awesome vintageness than the amazingly talented Lucy Ledger Designs.
Lucy is an illustrator with a BA Hons degree who specialises in designing vintage scrapbook- inspired stationery.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Lovely, Pretty things.

The power of the internet is amazing and quite often little gems turn up just when you least expect them.
I had a lovely little message in my inbox recently. "Found your website and I love your wedding gowns - would it be ok with you if I placed a link on my FB page to your site? Let me know"
Heck yes, of course it would. So, a little while later (and I mean a little while later as I was in total awe of this website) we got chatting.
Now, Jane of HF Couture is an accessory designer who has worked with Emmerdale, various celebs won Yorkshire Brides tiara designer of the year award and that's just for starters.
Well of course I felt a blog coming on so asked Jane if she would pass over some info. Here's what she told me.
" I started making jewelled head gear about 8 years ago - husband thought people might part with cash for my designs so started exhibiting at Yorkshire Brides and it all took off from there. Completed a millinery course 3 years ago so now I can make hats from scratch! I'm self taught although I have studied Art and love fashion and jewellery history - my main inspirations are Miriam Haskell and Dior and the periods of fashion I love are the late Edwardian era right through to the 1960s (the 70s it all went pear shaped lol!)"
Yes, somewhere in there it did kind of go a bit wierd, or was that the New Romantics era?
"I won the tiara designer of the Year Award through Yorkshire Brides in 2007, judged by some of the top names in fashion and textiles. I have designed and created pieces for Emmerdale regularly and one of my regular clients is Phillipa Gregory the author. I'm branching out now (yikes) and hoping to have a twice yearly collection as well as my unique designs which are currently on the website. Its daunting giving up a full time job to do this but I love it so much I just hope lots of other people do too!"
Well, of course I do. I LOVE your stuff. There are indeed some wonderful gems in Yorkshire and Jane of H F Couture is defo among one of those gems. Her vintage designs are to die for. I just need an occasion. Pleeeease!!!
Anyway, don't just take my word for it. Check it out.
You can find HF Couture here or her Facebook page here.
You rock Jane!!

Alterations and Why They Cost So Much.

The cost of any alteration varies greatly due to the style of each garment or the complexity of the work and sometimes the bargain dress you bought can turn into a more expensive one once you've factored alteration costs into the budget.

With the standard length of a wedding gown averaging at around 60" means if you are 5'8" or shorter you may require alterations to the hemline. Sometimes wearing a bigger, poofier petticoat and heels can lift the length but this shouldn't be relied upon.
Even knowing your chosen gown may come in different lengths means you may very well pay extra for this service.

The most common alterations at the current time are at the bodice, taking in the sides or shaping the bustline, and as I've already mentioned the length or the hemline.

So, why are alterations expensive?
Many wedding gowns have a stiff braid inside the hem called horsehair. It adds a wonderful weight to the gown so altering the hem means unpicking, removal, replacing and then re stitching. Beaded trims at the hem edge means unpicking and replacement. This is all time before the hemline can be taken up and can take at least an hour for the unpicking task alone.
On occasion if the gown has a detailed hemline, ie embroidered, the skirt will need to be seperated from the bodice and the adjustment to the length will be made there. The skirt is then restitched to the bodice.
The Bodice.

Sometimes, the bodice of your gown will stand out from your chest (which can sometimes be caused by the boning) This can be solved but the boning will need to be removed and replaced.
The same can apply to side seams. Boning needs to be removed and then replaced.

Some seamstresses can charge up to £30 an hour, again depending on the complexity of the work. She may work on a gown (unpicking to completion) from 1 to anything up to 4 hours. So nipping in the side seams and taking up the hem may seem a pretty straight forward job to some, but can add anything up to £120 on your gown cost. Bridesmaids should come in a bit cheaper, but if you have 3 or more attendents, side seams and hemlines can set you back up to £50 each depending on the work involved.
The best piece of advice is when trying on wedding gowns, choose the size which fits as near perfect as possible. When booking your appointment (and this may seem silly) make sure you take a pair of shoes with the heel size you may be wearing. Better still, the shoes you intend to wear. Underwear is important too. Wear the new bra or corset you intend to wear on your wedding day. It's surprising how corsets can reduce waistlines and enable a better wedding gown fit.
Sale or Sample Dresses.
If you buy the sample or sale gown, this can be altered down one size with no problem. Anything more can cause the shape of the bodice to be thrown out thus resulting in a possible re-style. Big bucks! Don't think that a gown can easily be taken in 2 dress sizes. It can but will cost you a small fortune.
So, why do bridal salons charge to alter a gown which has been purchased from the said salon? Well, some salons don't charge, but I suspect these will have been accounted for in the purchase price of the gown.
Sometimes the seamstress may work independantly to the salon so she will need paying for her time and skill.
Always ask the bridal salon if alteration charges are included. If not, you may pay a slight premium for the in house seamstress to undertake them. Always best to shop around or even better, made to measure for that perfect fit!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Your Ideas to the Finished Product.

At our initial meeting, most of my clients arrive armed with magazine snippets, designs and colours and most have already tried on their chosen style gown in a bridal salon to determine what works for them and what doesn't.
We'll sift through fabric swatches, decide which embellishments work (if the dress requires them) do some sketches and hopefully the client will go away with the perfect vision of what her gown will look like when complete.

We recommend the construction a cotton toile to determine the perfect fit and if the client wants to make changes to her design we can make these at this stage. We will also look at the embellishments or any decoration the gown requires.

At your second fitting we will have put scissors to your chosen dress fabric and can begin to recommend your headwear. This may be bespoke to co-ordinate with your gown exactly.

At your final fitting we may make minor adjustments again to determine the perfect fit.

As an added bonus, we can provide photographs at many stages of construction which keeps many clients in total in control of their gown.

Monday, 10 May 2010

It won't Break the Bank.

So, he finally asked and you said 'Yes' and as you ooOOo and ahh over those gorgeous gowns between the pages of a magazine, we all know a wedding can be an expensive occasion even for the most humble of couples.

First off will be to decide where to purchase your gown and more often than not your first stop will be the bridal salon. You'll certainly be thinking how ridiculously expensive the gowns are but before you go into meltdown over the costs and thinking how mercenary the bridal industry is , consider this. The owner of the store has a wonderful selection of gowns to choose from. But, she's paying rent, wages and everything else you'd expect to pay if you owned a shop. She's attended the trade fairs and carefully selected an assortment of gown samples and accessories from well known designers and paid for them. She has to make the business work and you are enjoying the ambience of the said salon, and hopefully, her expertise.

Your second option is me, the humble dressmaker and as many a bride to be has said. "A bespoke wedding gown will cost thousands." Well, yes in theory it should.

Each piece of your gown is cut individually with scissors and not by factory machine. The fabric is bought by the meter and not by the roll. The dressmaker will listen to your requirements taking note of every detail changing the pattern requirements to fit the shape and contours of your body perfectly.

Unlike many dressmakers/designers, I have worked successfully from my home address for over 15 years and have very few overheads. This is all taken into account when a client makes her initial enquiry.

I have an excellent database of fabric suppliers who deal with trade only and as I don't think anyone should have to spend a small fortune on a gown they will wear on their once-in-a- lifetime occasion, I pass on those trade prices to my clients. This in turn keeps the cost down too.

I am unable to divulge the cost of any wedding gown in my gallery as it would be unfair to each and every one of my clients (and of course due to the originality of each gown) but I can confidently say that not one has topped the £1K mark, even for 100% silk.

So, the ironic thing about the cost of a wedding dress is, no-one is really rubbing their hands together with some kind of satisfactory sneer, and most brides certainly haven't been 'done over.'

Constructing a wedding gown can take anything up to 60 hours or more depending on detail and skill. Then consider fitting appointments, time on the telephone talking with a client or trying to soothe her when the venue has let her down. (yes, we listen to all sorts of things)

On average and in my experience of the last few years, a dressmaker may earn between £8 and £15 per hour depending on the skill of the craftsperson, so please believe me when I say no-one is ripping you off.

I like you, want you to have your dream gown, so on that note happy wedding dress shopping. x

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Little Black Dress.

Or more importantly, how to keep it all in without the dreaded wardrobe malfunction, in other words, giving the photographer an eyeful on your wedding day!

The current strapless theme is still setting the trend for many occasion dresses and without some good internal scaffolding, you could quite easily spend more of your day pulling at the top of your dress to keep your boobs covered than actually enjoying the day or event. As in this little snap of Sarah Jessica Parker shown here.
Most of my clients who have opted for strapless are given the benefit of a small but very effective piece of couture; an internal corselette.

I've just finished this little black dress for a client complete with the coselette. It's fastened at the back by a series of hooks and eyes and then an invisible zip glides straight over the top. The great thing about this is even if the dress is fitted as in this case, the corselette reduces strain on the seams of the finished dress.

The finished corselette is attached only at the top edge of the gown.

The hook and eye fastening beneath the zip closure.

As you can see, the corselette is completely invisible from the outside of the dress maintaining the clean line of the sillouette.

Another great advantage is the corselette reduces the need for a strapless bra. I mean, how many times have you found those little beauties at your waist rather than doing the job intended? One sharp intake of breath and everything heads south.
So on that note I'm off to sew some internal waist stays (like an internal belt) into a strapless prom gown with a very full and heavy skirt. (Shop purchased I hasten to add.) I simply wouldn't want the SJP incident happening on a prom night!!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Prom's away!

For many young ladies, Prom season is upon them and the dilema of what to wear and more importantly, will anyone else be wearing the same?
Well, with this little number it will be a complete original.
Kirsty's prom dress was designed by a fellow school friend, Danielle Crow.
We needed to make a few changes as the silver midriff and the turquoise taffeta of the gown, between them the colours simply did not gel.
Kirsty also altered the length to a more sutiable 3/4 length.

The embelishments to the bodice were all hand stitched for an even distribution of sparkle.

The bodice was fully boned and finished with a corset-style lace up back for a snug yet comfortable fit.

Kirsty completed the look with some super silver cage heels.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Archive Prom.

My fabulous hubby had a great idea of not overloading the website with pictures, but to have an 'archive' instead. So, here are some previously made prom dresses.