For those in the know, pop on over and check it out. For everyone else, The Storque is the awsome newsletter for Etsy. They are currently running a series called, The Handmade Wedding.
As a seamstress, I have seen my fair share of wedding dress disasters. You would not believe some of the stories I could tell! I once had a bride's maid decide that she was too fat for her custom made gown, so she did a crash diet...three weeks before the wedding! Of course, she lost weight in all the wrong places...like her bustline! I had to remake the bodice of her dress and she insisted that i take it in one more time the night before the wedding!
Here is the full article I submitted to The Storque. I hope you enjoy reading it and, perhaps, learn something to help you should you ever have a gown custom made.
CUSTOM WEDDING GOWN TIPS:
I have been a special occasion seamstress for over 15 years. So, when one my dearest friends, Amy, got engaged, I was thrilled when she asked me to make her dress. She was a dream client and followed every little piece of advice I gave her. Making her dress was the smoothest, least stressful experience I have had. I hope by sharing our journey together, you will learn some tips and strategies to making your custom dress experience joyful.
I told Amy that just because I was making her dress didn’t mean she couldn’t have the fun of trying on gowns with her family and friends. In fact, the more dresses she tried on, the better knowledge she would have of what really worked for her. Amy took pictures of a few of her favorite dresses so she could show me what details she liked and what fitting problems she had.
As with most things in life, a bridal gown is all about the details! Amy knew she wanted a simple, clean lined dress without beading or heavy lace, but it still had to be spectacular. So we spent an afternoon looking through a stack of bridal magazines and picking apart the dresses to find design elements she really liked. It turned out that she did like a touch of a lace, hated pearls and sequins, but loved rhinestones.
Know Your Budget!
Like most brides, Amy was on a budget. We started with her ideal dress of silk charmeuse and chiffon with rhinestone embellished lace and looked for ways to trim the cost without losing the look she wanted. We ended up with a lovely low sheen satin (also called dull satin) and an extremely soft chiffon. The lace was our real struggle. It is difficult to find bridal lace without pearls and sequins and all the pre-embellished lace was extremely expensive. We finally found a beautiful plain lace and embellished it ourselves with glue on rhinestones. Because Amy was so honest with me about what she could and could not afford, I was able to prevent her having a nasty sticker shock and I had the fun of designing the embellishments on the lace rather than just using what was pre-manufactured.
Making a custom wedding gown takes time. Amy was the perfect client. She came to me the day after her engagement to discuss her wedding dress. She was clear about her deadline needs we set a fitting schedule that worked for both of us. She lived out of state, so it was very important to keep our communication open about the progress of her dress. We set her final fitting about two weeks prior the date she needed the gown. This way we were prepared to handle any last minute emergencies without adding stress to either of us.
Although this was Amy’s wedding dress and she had been planning it for years, I knew more about fabrics and patterns and how each would work with her figure. Amy really wanted a soft, easy flowing fabric. However, that fabric was not going to work well with the dress style she had picked out. By listening to my advice and going with a heavier weight fabric, she ended up with a dress that fit her and was able to support her chosen style. Lightweight, flowing fabrics are great for loose fitting dresses, but just cannot support a highly tailored gown without a great deal of inner structural support.
Amy is large busted and was concerned about having adequate support for her wedding day. We discussed the styles of dresses she liked and decided on an appropriate undergarment to wear. She bought the undergarment before I took her measurements and she wore it each time we did a fitting. Every support garment affects your figure differently. One bra may lift and separate while another may flatten slightly and yet another may be padded. Each of these differences drastically changes the way a well-tailored gown will fit your body.
Amy also knew that she wanted to wear a slight heel. I explained to her that our shoes effect our posture as much as our height. We all tend to relax and maybe slouch a little when we are barefoot or in flat shoes, but we stand straighter and hold our tummies in out of habit when we are in heels...and the higher the heels, the better our posture. At each fitting, Amy wore shoes that were the same height as her intended bridal shoes.
As I explained to Amy, a wedding gown will require at least two fitting muslins prior to starting on the actual dress. (If your seamstress does not offer fitting muslins, get another seamstress!) Fittings are crucial to creating a perfect dress and fitting muslins are often used as the pattern for the final dress. Once the fabric for your dress is cut, it cannot be uncut, so it is imperative that the fit be exactly what you want before scissors touch that special fabric.
As with most brides, Amy’s weight fluctuated some as her big day approached. This is normal and slight variances can be accommodated with little difficulty. Do not go into a custom dress situation planning to change your weight. Drastic weight changes will effect the shape and proportion of your body in ways that are impossible to guess. If you want to modify your weight prior to the wedding, then do so before having your gown designed and fitted.
Amy knew that having her dress custom made would take longer than just picking one out at her local bridal boutique and was prepared for that. I have been amazed at the unrealistic ideas some of my clients have had. You cannot expect haute couture detailing on a shoestring budget. If you are a curvaceous lady, do not expect to suddenly look like a runway model and vice versa. If you make major changes in design elements, expect the cost of your dress to change accordingly. Be thoughtful when requesting changes. Discuss the consequences of any change with your seamstress so that you are both aware of the effect on budget and time lines.
Amy knew that having her wedding dress custom made was a once in a lifetime experience. Her dress was fitted to her body and filled with details and design elements that she picked out. Although it was time consuming and, at times, tedious, Amy enjoyed the attention and the opportunity to create her perfect dress. It was all about her big day. Every rhinestone, every yard of lace, all the hours of fittings and design details were part of creating the perfect dress to showcase her. We both enjoyed every minute of it!