Sunday, 28 November 2010

Winter Weddings and Local Walks.

I think if you ask anyone if they would want snow on their wedding day, they would more than well answer yes, much as a summer wedding could guarantee sunshine.
The concept of a winter wedding holds romantic visions. Log fires, shimmering sparkly snow, guests dressed in evening wear wearing their very own sparkly, pretty things, and the bride, all in white (or ivory) with a fur cape and hand muff.
But, as my recent client Donna quite rightly pointed out, a very wet wedding gown train!
Donna is my last wedding client of the year, but work doesn't stop for me quite yet.
I have a theatrical gown to make (very Wuthering Heights) and preparation for the many April 2011 weddings I have currently on my books.
This morning, I made my traditional cranberry, port and orange sauce and last night, homemade Baileys. Yes, you read correctly, Baileys.
It really is as nice as the supermarket stuff, better in fact. It's not a secret family recipe even though my mother gave it to me. I make 2 bottles every year, and after an exhilarating walk over the hills today, a Baileys went down a treat on our return.

We are lucky to have this woodland right on our doorstep.

View across the hills.

Mr. D and the dog.
Baileys Recipe.
1 pot 300ml single cream
1/2 can condensed milk
1 cup brandy or whiskey
2 eggs
1 teaspoon coffee
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
3 teaspoons brown sugar
Whisk it all up and bottle.
(refridgerate for up to 2 weeks)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Made In England Stays in England!

I opened my e mail this afternoon to find a rather interesting request from someone called, Bill.

"We would like to introduce our company to you. We are Chaozhou Xuanyi Fashion Co.,ltd. We specialize in making evening dresses, hand bags, and wedding dresses. We can create original designs or re-create a design based on a picture or original sample. We provide the option of including your label in the dresses. Please take a look at our web site for more information. If you are interested our company, please contact us. We are always ready to work for you!I am waiting for your reply.REAGRDSSINCEREBILL in ChaoZhou China."

I think in most UK industries, the product is made in China. This doesn't mean they would compromise on quality, they cannot afford to, but it would be lovely to find a UK based company who actually manufactures the product right here in the UK.

A bit like me!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Do I like alterations? Heck no, not always!

I think if you ask any seamstress if they like this particular job, we'll all no doubt have the same answer. No, not really and today, i've been working on four bridesmaid gowns. It does give a hint of satisfaction however, knowing the gown will eventually fit like a glove, but to me, sometimes it can be so unnecessary.
For one, I don't like the charges as I'm sure the client doesn't either and two, as I keep harping on about, bespoke really can actually work out cheaper.
The said gowns cost, so I've been told, in excess of £200 each. I have four, all of which needed side seams taking in. Two needed straps shortening and moving and one required bust dart and waist adjustments in addition to the side alterations. This has added a further £100 to the total costs. We are looking at an overall cost of around £900 for four bridesmaid gowns.
The fabrics used were a good quality synthetic, light boning (one each over the bust) and shoe-string straps with a peek of coloured tulle at the hemline, but if you consider many of the bespoke bridesmaid gowns I have made recently, most have been made from silk and most have come in well under the £200 mark.
Even if your £150 bridesmaid gown seems like a deal, consider the alteration charges that can tip the budget. Make sure you've been made aware of the charges and always ask for an approximate cost of how much they will be.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Birthday and Anniversary Rolled into One

2010 has been more of a rollercoaster ride than our first year and I cannot believe Dresses at No. 9 will be 2 years old 1st January 2011. Happy Birthday me!

Following the feature in Perfect Wedding, February this year and a further feature recently in Pure Weddings North, I feel as if I'm entering my adolescent years and catching up on all the excitement I missed back then.

I've been invited to feature as guest bloggers and a magazine is now interested in my tweeting (what's that all about). I've also been asked to comment on my thoughts on what Kate Middleton might opt for in her gown style for next year!

No, I haven't been asked if I'm available to design the Royal Wedding Gown for next year, but if I were I'd have to decline. Client commitments and all of that.

It's not surprising I feel like a champagne bubble at times. Over the years I've experienced massive lifestyle changes, am veering to fast towards 50 and those folds of excess skin are much harder to shift. (Having 3 children can do that to you!)

I've always wanted to feel a little bit important and I guess having the responsibility of designing and making a wedding gown fulfills that dream.

Doing something for me is fantastic. I've always devoted my time to being a wife and mother, 21 years in fact and although working in partnership with someone (my husband) is wonderful, to having something for me, something I can retreat to leaves me feeling at last I have the perfect balance.

Dresses at No. 9 are entering a new phase in 2011 and again, this is very exciting. I have the complete support of my husband (who is also my best friend) which he has to be. Poor man is constantly dragged to wedding fairs, fabric shops and kicked out of bed on a Saturday morning to accommodate the many clients who come for fittings.

He makes tea for my clients, picks up my telephone messages and has been known to go in search of a client who hasn't quite managed to find us and bring them safely in. He's shown an interest in fabrics so, he says, he can keep up with my witterings.

Mr D is my inner sanctum and we celebrate six years of married life on Saturday 20th November. He quietly supports my wobbles, my uncertainties, my doubts and I cannot imagine life without him.

Here's to 2011, Mr. D and the busiest year yet!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Bespoke Dressmaker meets Wedding Photographer.

I hate having my photo taken.

My daughter laughs out loud as I seem to grow several chins while trying to attain the perfect posture to eliminte the afore mentioned chin issue!

So, when recently approached by a bridal magazine to answer a few questions along with a professional head shot, the questions were easy, the photo request not so.

A few weeks ago I received an e mail from the wonderful Rob Booker. Let's do lunch and talk shop he said. Wow, my idea of heaven, posh grub and wedding chat all in one hit. Add to that wedding talk with a fella, ladies it doesn't get much better.

However, with client commitments and a poorly daughter, Rob settled for some posh sarnies from Asda alongside some posh cakes and a cuppa at chez Davey or in other words an egg sandwich and mince pies at my house. He also suggested it was about time I had a professional head shot photo for my website and the forthcoming wedding mag feature.

Well, what can I say? What a truly fabby guy, THE nicest man that Mr. Booker is. He bought me wine, even better!

We talked shop, lots of it. I wanted to know the ins and outs of Rob Booker Photography and he even asked me about petticoats and if I had to make one style of wedding gown for the rest of my days, what would it be? I'm in wedding chat heaven!

I loved how relaxed he was (and how especially relaxed I felt with the prospect of the looming photo) and how he spoke of not wanting to be invasive when he attends a wedding. This man is not just a photographer who 'does' weddings. He lives them, is passionate about making sure the shots fit the client and has been known to spend 13 hours capturing a wedding in one hit.
He loves the rapport with many of his clients and his work reflects that.
Rob Booker is the kind of guy I'd have a bevy with, in fact, he's the kind of guy I'd like at my wedding, especially if he's taking the shots!
So, Rob thanks ever so much for the pictures it was very much appreciated, as was the wine. I was a bit apprehensive about opening the file (not the wine) but absolutely delighted with the result. (And not a paper bag or double chin in sight!)

For more information and a preview of his work please visit

His latest musings and an insight to the man

Monday, 1 November 2010

Mixing Vintage Style with a Little Ian Stewart!

Who would have thought bringing the past right up to the present would work so well such as this amazing gown, Masquerede, by the awesome Ian Stewart and teaming it with these vintage sassy numbers lovingly made by moi!
Needless to say, at this moment in time I am squeeling with delight after my fabulous client
emailed these photos just moments ago. (I have to wait a few more weeks for the official photos, but I simply had to share)
"Hi Linda,
just a few here of the girls.
I'm just going to forward you on Gemmas email with photo's attached as well.
There will be ones of me and mark as well as the girls- its easier just to forward it all rather than faff on splitting them.
They looked outstanding, they really did. Everyone was amazed with the dresses, they all thought they were fantastic.
It is going to taking 5 weeks for photographer to get back to me with photos so as soon I get them I will let you know
Thanks again Linda
karen xx"