October 07, 2017
"Custom Wedding Gown Tips"
I have been a special occasion seamstress for over 30 years. I am still thrilled each time a bride asks me to make her wedding gown. I share these tips and strategies with all the brides that walk through my door. Hopefully these insights will help make your custom wedding gown experience a wonderful one!
Just because you are having your wedding dress custom made doesn’t mean you can’t have the fun of trying on gowns with your family and friends. In fact, the more dresses you try on the better. It will help you know and see what you like on your body.It will show you –in a big mirror –what specific details looked like on your body. It will give you a better knowledge of what you want before meeting with your designer to design your dress.
A wedding gown is all about the details. An untrained eye may look at dresses in a magazine, on Pinterest or on the racks and the dresses all look the same. But a trained eye can pick up the tiniest little details and explain them to you. Look through bridal magazines with me, or mother, your best friend or a seamstress friend. Have them point out differences to you. Talk about what you like and don’t like about those different designs and details.
Know your budget!
Most brides are on some sort of budget, whether they know it or not. Find all your favorite designs, fabrics, trims, etc and search what they cost. Learn what types of fabrics cost more or less and how they drape differently. If this is too much, be prepared to go into your designer/dressmaker with options of different fabrics. We can tell you how to get relatively the same design or overall look, without spending the amount of money that the celebrities spend. Be honest with your designer about what your budget is. We are used to working within budgets and would rather work within your budget and help you get the one-of-a-kind dress you want, than send you out on the street to the nearest bridal shop that sells basically all the same kind of dress made overseas in sweatshops out of crummy fabrics.
Make sure you give your seamstress enough time to do a great job on your dress.It can take six months or longer to create a wedding gown, depending on the current workload and the details that your dress requires. Don’t forget to factor in the available times you have to meet with her based on your busy schedule too. Especially if you live in a different state than your seamstress, make sure you keep the lines of communication open. Let your designer know your timeline right up front, especially if you are having a destination wedding or will require the dress earlier than the actual wedding date due to travel or bridals that are taken in advance of the wedding. Schedule the final fitting at least 2 weeks prior to the day you will need your wedding gown. This way you are prepared to handle any last minute emergencies without adding stress to either you or the designer.
It’s our wedding dress, but sometimes what you envision is just not possible. Your designer/seamstress is a professional and knows what will and won’t work with certain fabrics and body shapes. Your designer will know more about fabrics and patterns and how each will work with any figure. By listening to their advice and going with one of their suggestions you will end up with a dress that fits you and supports your chosen style. Remember, lightweight, flowing fabrics are great for loose fitting dresses, but don’t support a highly tailored gown without a great deal of inner structural support.
One thing most girls don’t think about is how much undergarments affect the way a fitted gown hangs on her body. If you are a large busted person, you will need more support under your dress. Discuss with your designer the type of appropriate undergarment to wear with your chosen gown design. Each undergarment 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. Get your correct undergarment before your measurements are taken and bring it with you to each fitting. Shoes affect our posture as much as our height. We all tend to relax and maybe slouch a little when we are barefoot or in flats, 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, wear the shoes that have the same heel height as your intended bridal shoes. Better yet, if you have your bridal shoes wear those to the fittings. It will help break them in and you will get used to standing in them.
Know that having your dress custom made will take longer than just picking one out at your local bridal boutique. I have been amazed at the unrealistic ideas some of my clients have had. You cannot expect a 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.
Realize that having your wedding dress custom made is a once in a lifetime experience. Your dress will be fitted to your body and filled with details and design elements that you pick out and help design. Although it is time consuming, and at times tedious, you will enjoy the attention and the opportunity to create your perfect dress. It is all about your big day. Every embellishment, every yard of lace, every button, all the hours of fittings and design details are part of creating the perfect dress to showcase you. You will enjoy every minute of it!
Betsy Barker, Owner/Designer
October 26, 2017
October 22, 2017
October 19, 2017