Friday, 31 December 2010

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday Dresses at No. 9!

At precisely 12pm midnight tonight, it is officially our 2nd birthday.
My gorgeous husband Mr. D is my number one fan. He says he is so he must be!
It's been one heck of a year for us with two magazine features a ton of clients and making friends with some lovely people in the wedding industry.
Family has taken a little back seat so this will be something I shall address in 2011.
We've decided to make a monthly 'Bucket list' and my five-year-old has suggested our first should be a hot air balloon ride. So, that seems to be first on the agenda. We will also have a year end one too and next year, I rather fancy Lapland!
I've said hello to some wonderful new clients, and goodbye to a few to.
I've also waved off my son who joined Plymouth University this past September. It's been a bit of a wrench for all of us, but he's happy and we feel we've given him the best start we can, so I'm happy! (even though I still cry each time I see him and more so when I leave him)
We've also made a brides dream come true with our fabby competition and I cannot wait to get my teeth into 2011 and her gown among others.
I've had one week's holiday in Devon this year where no mobile phone reception was a blessing in disguise. A good opportunity to totally recharge my batteries.
We also have a further two magazine features pending and an exciting new collection to launch in the New Year.
It's going to be a busy one, with our books at full capacity at this time until September 2011, and a new booking today for 2012.
I cannot thank my clients and wedding suppliers enough for their ongoing support.
So, may I take the opportunity of thanking my past and current clients for their custom and wedding suppliers for their inspiration and on going support.
A very Happy New Year. Let's make this a great one!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Dress shop, Internet or Other for your Wedding Gown.

So the question arises yet again among many brides.
Where has everyone bought their wedding dresses from?
One lady said. "I'm gonna get a stereotype dress because I know if I try to be quirky I'll not only look like a loser but I'll always regret not wearing a proper dress! I want a sample dress. I refuse to pay full price for a wear-once dress. I'd be calclulating how much it's costing me per hour it's worn! I know that in a shop, you're paying for the 'experience' & getting it made but is there anywhere else that's good? I don't want to wait months, I want it NOW!"
Another said. " I got my dress from the internet."
More. "I would say definately go to the shops and try loads on, I thought I knew what style I wanted until I found it didn't suit me! I didn't want to pay shop prices either, so I bought a dress off ebay, and had a horrendous time with a seller, so I ended up going with an internet based shop t'up north and saved myself a packet."
"Everyone's different and as long as you find your dream dress it doesn't matter where you order it but personally I was glad I saw my dress in the flesh and tried it on to get a feel for it. I think if I ordered a dress straight off the internet I would be worried it wouldn't suit my shape etc."
And finally. "I'd like to recommend I'm having my dress made here. Linda is based in Yorkshire and gets booked up pretty quickly. Her ethos is 'bespoke is an affordable option'. I sent her a picture of what I wanted and she's quoted me a fraction of what other dressmakers were trying to charge me. The highest quote I had was £2000! I found her through using another forum and several ladies there have had their dresses made by her - the pics are stunning!"
Yes, I'm sure you know I do provide the service where you send me your measurments along with your design or ideas and I will custom make your wedding gown. I work in a very similar way to the offshore companies, but I remain in constant contact with my clients, don't charge them for their progress photo's and issue free samples for them to choose from.
I do prefer to see my clients regularly in the flesh so to speak to attain the perfect fit of their wedding gown, but with many ladies choosing to purchase via the internet I wanted to provide the same service I would for all of my customers.
Below are a few of the gowns I have made using the distance selling method.

Jodie sent me her images along with her budget. Her gown was constructed using a synthetic duchess satin skirt with silk chiffon feather effect train.
The bodice was gold brocade with piped edging and corset closure back.
Definately not something you'd find on the high street!

Jodie had one fitting for her gown as she was based in Milton Keynes. Her gown was then completed for a perfect hem length and shipped out to Jodie by track and trace courier.

Below is Rebecca's wedding gown.
Rebecca had a disaster with her offshore synthetic fabric wedding gown.
I used over 15meters of 100% silk dupion in ivory with a fabulous beaded lace applique detail.
The gown included a built in lace edge petticoat.

Rebecca travelled with her family from Stoke-On-Trent to see me for her final fitting and collection of her, and her bridesmaid gowns.
Her gowns fit like a glove.

Below is Natalie from Glasgow's wedding gown.

Again using 100% silk Dupion, she said her wedding gown cost less than her mother's wedding outfit!

Our ethos will always remain. Bespoke and made-to-measure will always be your affordable option.

Happy wedding dress shopping.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Vintage Bridal Wear in West Yorkshire.

The vintage trend still seems to be set in 2011 for brides seeking something a little different for their special occasion.

With blogs such as Love My dress, hosted by the wonderful Annabel Beeforth, with whom I've been fortunate enough to have been a guest blogger writing, How to find your ideal dressmaker and without forgetting the ever awesome, Kat Williams aka Rock 'n' Roll Bride where again I was mentioned when Kat featured the smashing Emma Case after she shot one of my clients Helene after her Vintage inspired wedding, couples can expect to find something exctitingly different and feed their vintage/retro inspired wedding ideas until bursting point.

As I seem to be working with many clients this year who have opted for the trend, I am very excited to announce that I shall be putting together a small collection, to start with, of vintage/retro wedding gowns.

Speaking to a few of my clients who have come as far north as County Durham and Glasgow, it seems there is little in the offering in the north for Vintage inspired bridal gowns to try and try something that will fit.

Brides seeking authenticity will find that sizes are much smaller than they are now. During the war, the 1940's, food was rationed and ladies were much thinner especially around the waist! By the 50's, ladies were a little more curvaceous.

Of course there are boutiques/designers such as the legendary Candy Anthony and very popular, Fur Coat no Knickers who stock or make your wedding gown to order, but both are based in the London area.

A short while ago Mr D and I were approached by a young lady oozing amounts of talent and experience in fashion design looking to fulfill her own passion and dream of working solely in the bridal industry. So, we've teamed up to provide the bride looking for something a little different yet still holding onto our ethos that brides do not have to pay a fortune to have the dress of their dreams.

Clients will have the opportunity to come and try one of our samples or simply opt for our made to measure service where measurements will be sent and we shall supply their dream wedding gown.
And of course, this means we get to go out on location to photograh the designs with fabby photographers.

If you require further information then please do contact us. However, do watch this space in the New Year for a brief glimpse of our designs followed by our exciting samples.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Winter Weddings and another Vintage Twist.

With the right elements, such as sunshine in the summer, a winter wedding could be a glamorous wonderland. However, when I asked my client, Donna, recently if she was happy about the vast amount of snow we've had, and the fact her 'white wedding' will actually be white, she said. "Not sure I really want to drag my train around in the snow for it to get all wet and soggy."
I guess the concept is nice, but reality is a different matter!

Donna chose to mix her sultry, old Hollywood style wedding gown, Gatsby, complete with marabou shrug jacket with upbeat swing style 40's numbers for her bridesmaids.

With an age difference between the younger bridesmaids (and we all know those ten-year-olds think they're at least 15) Donna wanted to keep the style appropriate for the youngsters, yet allowing the older of the two to feel a little more grown up. She opted for a spot satin for the younger and a plain duchess satin for the older.

The adult gowns were based on a 1940 swing dress. The 1940s saw two distinctive styles in women's clothing. From the beginning of World War II in 1939 till the dawn of the New Look in 1947, women's dresses were knee-length with silhouettes austere (simple and basic)
Once the war was over, the Paris couturiers, once again took the fashion helm. Christian Dior pioneered the New Look, which featured a nipped waist, longer lengths and fuller skirts, with yards and yards of fabric used and a more classically feminine image created.

To integrate the look with a modern twist, I suggested small shrug-type jackets for the season which would incorporate the 1940’s trench- coat detail with an exaggerated element in the high collar. Lining the jackets in the polka dot fabric would gel everything together.

The petticoats were 2 layers of 3-tiered net with a satin bound edge.

So, with the bridal party sorted, Donna asked if I could accomodate her mum with a dress for her big day.
Her mum had tried on a few gowns and had fallen in love with a style by a very well known wedding and occasion wear designer. However, the jacket had a very elaborate sleeve style which Donna's mum wasn't so keen on.

Donna's mum chose a sumptious purple silk dupion fabric for her slight 'A' line strapless gown. The bodice had the ususal inner corselette and the pleating detail was all done by hand.

To finish, we opted for the bolero type jacket with a self tie to the front. This could be worn simply tied or for a more elaborate effect, tied into a bow.

Of her gowns, Donna said. "Thank you so much for all of your hard work and understanding what was in my head. I'll be sure to send some pictures of us looking fabulous!"
Donna, it was an absolute pleasure. I hope you had a very happy wedding day.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Copy Wedding Gown and those 'Oversized Pockets!'

I recently received these images via e mail asking my opinion of this 'copy' wedding gown made not in the UK!
"I've attached pictures of my dress. I think the back is ok but the front leaves a lot to be desired - like the neckline! Bits of the net also fell off as I got it out of the bag! I've sold it on ebay now, and as you well know I have a new, fantastic Ian Stuart dress so I suppose I can laugh at it now. It was also the wrong colour, I ordered champagne, had a colour swatch, and the dress arrived yellow! Anyway, enjoy the pics of my 'disaster' dress!"
I was recently chatting with a friend who lives in Asia and he asked if I had ever thought of taking on someone to help with my booming business. I told him I am always inundated with offers to 'ship' my designs out and have them made up abroad, honestly! But we both agreed that outsourcing might be cheaper, but I'll marginalise my control and ultimately diminish the quality of work I provide. Profit margin might be better but I'll forever be worrying about that next batch/dress coming in and... whether it meets the standard my client requires. Ok for a summer frock, a zillion miles from ok for what the customer wants when she/he rocks up the aisle.
I'm not one of those who thinks a premium should be paid for a wedding gown.. especially if it is to be made in ivory. However, occasion wear and wedding gowns are very different depending on what 'scaffolding' is going on inside. A basic strapless gown will always have an inner corselette inside when I make them. Adds a bit of definition to the bodice and stops having to hike up the top. If someone opts for a corset or lace up back, there will be a separate bodice made which will be shaped and boned and then inserted between the linings and outer fabrics. A bit more goes on in those.
Looking at the above images, the size of the 'pick up points' look more to me like giant pockets you could get away with stuffing a little more than a mobile phone in to! As for the net which seems to have been stuffed in here and shoved in there, I still have yet to see a 'copy' frock reaching anything but medium to high expectations !
This is what would scare the bejesus out of me. Allowing my hard work to be taken apart and reproduced substandardly. (Certainly in my eyes!)
I shall always be British produced and affordable and I think that is the difference between loving the job I do, to doing a job for the money.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Princess Dresses and Getting What You Pay For.

Dear Santa. I would like a big princess dress for Christmas. (among other things)
Honestly, this is what little D has asked Santa for this year. A big dress like mummy makes for the ladies, so, how could I not?
Time being of the essence and whether I could make something in that time, took Mr D and myself to a certain store where princesses and dressing up go hand in hand.
Ok, I was a little taken aback at the cost and quality so decided I would make the time and my little girl would have bespoke.
Fabric selections were easy. Organza for some puffiness, netting to add even more and some silky satin for the bodice and underskirt. So, off to a trusted fabric supplier for the lot.
My normal choice of satin, a countess satin, in the colour I wanted was un available, but there was an option of a Stage Satin, a light to medium weight fabric recommended for all types of stage/dance productions. At £1.99 and the colour I wanted, seemed like a good buy!
Ugh! Horrible stuff to sew with, frays at every opportunity and is practically see through. Good job I was using three layers of organza, net and lining.
It will be fine for little D's dressing up and playing princess, but when shopping for your wedding gown and thinking that £89 offshore wedding gown is a bargain, remember. You may very well get what you pay for!

Old Time Photography and Period Costume.

My project over the next few days is to make a Victorian costume for a clients new venture.
She is hoping to open a studio where you can dress in period costumes and along with authentic props, have your photograph taken.
Back in the days and as it was a very serious thing to do, folk were not allowed to smile. Add to the fact that a simple photo could take up to five minutes to process, the subject or subjects had to sit as still as possible.
Old time photography is a fast growing industry and I am delighted to be part of it. It'll add another string to my bow too.
We have chosen a wonderful tartan taffeta in a super bronze/brown colour. Once fully under way, I'll report back with my progress.
To enable the gown to fit a multiple of sizes and for quickness to get in and out of the dress, the back fastening will be simple tapes.
There are to be sleeves with a lovely collar for added elegance.
With all the snow we have at the moment, a Victorian costume seems decidedly apt!

Bespoke Wedding Gown Winner!

A few months ago, Dresses at No. 9 launched a competition to win a complete bespoke wedding gown experience to the value of £1,000.
We teamed up with HF Couture Bespoke Jewellery design service who has offered a bespoke item up to the value of £100 and Xposure photography who have offered a photoshoot and DVD slideshow to the value of £300.
The object of the competition was to find the best 'Down on one knee' moment and we are absolutely delighted, along with the tremendous support of her friends and collegues, to announce, Abi Thomas as our winner.
When I told Abi the news she said.
"Eeeeeeek! Thank you thank you thank you!! I am so EXCITED I actually can't put it into words. I knew I wanted Linda to make my dress regardless of the result but this means I really do get the dress of my dreams. I can't wait to meet both Linda and Jane from HF Couture - I am actually the luckiest girl in the world."
Our runner up receives a £75 voucher to spend towards a bridesmaid gown from
May I take this opportunity of thanking everyone for their massive support on behalf of our finalists and of course our winner. Abi received over 700 votes for her story, so for those of you who haven't read it, here it is.
It actually all started 3 and a half years ago, sitting at the dining table with his mum, dad and brother when we had been together about 6 weeks.
The talk had turned to proposals as a friend was getting married. His brother explained that when he proposed it would be a Haribo ring and if she said yes then she would get a diamond.
Chris (my now fiance) turned to me just as I had taken a mouthful of dinner and calmly said "Well when I propose to you it will be with a biscuit party ring, and if you say yes, then you'll get a diamond sparkly ring". I coughed and spluttered. But the seed had been planted...

There was much talk of this party biscuit over the next 2 and a half years. Eventually I was encouraged to look at sparkly rings to go with my party biscuit. A further year passed and neither a sparkly nor biscuit based ring had appeared.

Then, in July this year we were on holiday, in a beautiful hotel in Gran Canaria. I had pondered whether he would choose this holiday to propose, however when we got to the hotel he would happily let me go in and out of our room safe... Would he bring a diamond ring on holiday and NOT put it in the safe?! I thought not.
Days passed in our holiday and I dismissed the notion of a proposal from my mind. On our fourth day we had a beautiful romantic meal in the restaurant, then sat and watched the "entertainment" in our hotel. After he suggested a walk on the beach, under the full moon and cloudless, starry sky. I took off my heels and we walked along the beach. He stopped and wrapped his arms around me, I was looking at the stars. He then said, "I was wondering, will you marry me?". I looked down and expected to see a party biscuit but instead saw a beautiful diamond ring glinting in the moonlight. I said yes, of course. And then made him get down on one knee and asked where my party biscuit was! Apparently they don't sell them in Gran Canaria and apparently he was brave enough to bring a diamond ring on holiday and not put it in the safe!!

We're planning to get married next September, in 2011.
Abi, it was a perfect down on one knee moment. I can't believe he took the ring with him and forgot the party biscuits. They are my favourite!
Many, many congratulations on your forth coming marrige and I really cannot wait to begin working with you to make your dream gown the reality you deserve.
Linda x