Brianna wanted her wedding dress to have a mustard yellow hem, but couldn’t find anything that matched her vision. That’s when I asked if she already had a dress she wanted dyed. She said no, so I asked if I could make her a dress. That hadn’t crossed her mind. Custom always seems so out of reach and over the top. I’m here to challenge that thinking. Custom can also be intimate, personal, and a lot calmer of a process since it’s slow fashion.
I sent her some sketches and her decision was quick. She knew what she wanted. She didn’t know that she was also going to really love the process she had just walked into. At her pick-up, she mentioned how different the experience had been to what she thought it would be. She said it was much more down to earth. She liked not being a number. A sale. She could tell how much I really cared for her, her opinions, and her dress.
Choosing the custom route doesn’t just have to be about not finding what you want in stores, and then falling back on custom. But my clients come to me because they know they won’t find the look, the fit, or the attention from commercial brands. Custom can save you time and energy. Searching endlessly for something and then finding it not to fit is so disappointing.
I started, as always, with a mock-up to get everything to line up so that the final look is proportional to the person’s body, and that things like neckline and sleeves are at the sweet spot. Everyone has a sweet spot for sleeves, whether they’re long or short. And believe me when I say, one 3/4 length sleeve won’t be at everyone’s sweet spot. It’s little things like these that make custom worth the effort.
Structure is an integral part
I often get asked by clients wearing dresses what kind of bra they should get. I actually build a bra/support into the dress (and I build in support into this jumpsuit). Usually there’s disbelief that it’ll be supportive enough until they realize that they will actually be supported.
The support is built in, but the shaping in the beginning is really what creates the support. Adding boning alone doesn’t make the structure work. That only makes the garment support itself. Starting with a client wearing their regular undergarments, I like to build a bodice around their body, as they are in their day to day. From there, the waist skims the body so that it’s comfortable.
I love lace. There are so many types, designs, and colors, and you can really show your personality with a lace choice. Getting a lace sleeve to fit well has been a focus of mine for years. I like to add to the underarm height of the sleeve so that there is more mobility for the wearer. I also like to bring in an elbow dart, which is seen more in vintage garments, and that gives the arm room to bend without stressing the lace.
Along with sleeves fitting, I love when the neckline fitting, and having a smooth back. All of this needs to be closely monitored as the fitting process continues. Brianna came in for several fittings, and at each one we addressed a lot of fitting components, double checking the work I do in between fittings.
It’s all a domino effect. Pulling a shoulder up means that the armhole will go up, the bust point will be higher, and the waist won’t hit the sweet spot. Knowing where to adjust is a huge part of the process. While I was thinking of ways to finesse a garment, Brianna, her sister, and sometimes her wedding party got to chat about the wedding, as well as daily life.
One of the things Brianna told me was that her dad was knitting her a shawl for the wedding. She asked if I could dye it the color of her hem, to which I said, of course! Once it was dyed, her dad sent it to someone to block it. If you’re not a knitter, blocking is the act of drying a handmade item into the shape and size you want it. It turned out so beautiful! And what a special piece to add to her look!
If you go custom, keep an open mind. You never know what can come from that!
Thank you to the wedding vendors for making Brianna’s wedding wonderful