When everything shut down in Indianapolis due to Covid in early 2020, one by one, the people I was working with were calling, emailing, and texting, to let me know that their wedding was getting postponed. Victoire had brought me a dress from a shop that she wanted me to tailor, and at first the idea was to coordinate for her to pick it up. With everything closed, there was plenty of time for contemplation.
She called me one day to tell me they were still going because she wanted me to make her and her fiancé, Matthew, custom face masks for their wedding, but then she realized she was really wanting a custom dress that would fit her intimate wedding. We spent some time talking over the phone, and after getting an idea for what she wanted, we hung up, both excited to work together!
Sketches help identify custom design ideas
Anytime the concept of a wedding dress, suit, or separates is up in the air, I spend time doing sketches to email off so that we can talk about something visual. It’s hard to conceptualize a custom design, or even be sure we’re talking about the same thing without visuals. I want the design, the fabric, the details, to all pass what I call the grunt test. It’s that feeling that you know, in your gut, that you know what you want, and it’s right in front of you.
The sketch above shows beaded detailing that we didn’t end up using. With every custom wedding design we work on, the process is calculated to a certain degree. But there is always room to modify and adjust. It’s always easier to make a decision when you have actual options, and you can see them in front of you. Draping fabric on a client is one of the ways we decide on a design. We also have a couple of samples in the studio that make talking about fabric and, what in the fashion world, is called drape- or how a fabric hangs on the body. I never want anyone to feel like they have to learn all of the terminology in order to work with me.
How do you decide on fabric?
From what Victoire was telling me about the dresses she liked, I wanted to show her this gorgeous stretch crepe fabric. Crepe is my favorite for creating a modern wedding dress. It hangs with ease and is so very comfortable. Once she agreed she wanted that fabric for her custom dress, I got to work. Decisions are easier when you can see the in person. Once we were going on the dress design, we realized the beading was pulling focus, but Vic still wanted some bling so we went with a belt.
My studio has several belt option in house, but we also have access to so many belting options. Most belting, as it’s called, comes in long strands on a mesh background. In order to create the belt, you must cut away the mesh without cutting the threads that hold the rhinestones and beading together, and attach it to either the dress itself, which is what I did for Victoire’s custom crepe dress, or to a piece of fabric. The fabric for the belt can be a satin ribbon, a grosgrain, or other fabric you make into a belt. Belts can be made to stay attached to the dress, or they can be detachable. The nice thing about a detachable belt is that you can have it on for the reception and then take it off for the ceremony, or vice versa. Some even have separate belts for reception and ceremony.
How to make a custom dress your own
Fitting a bespoke dress, or a dress made for one person, and finished by hand, is the real reason I make custom wedding attire. A cool or innovative design means very little to me if it doesn’t fit the wearer. The more a garment fits the way we want, the bolder we are when wearing it. When we wear clothes that don’t fit, and we’re self conscious, it pulls us out of the moment, and that’s not a way I want anyone to feel at their own wedding.
Every design I make is a collaboration with the client. As we go from fitting to fitting, while working to finesse the fit, we usually get to a point where the person finds something about the look that they want to adjust, and while the adjustment might not be huge visually or structurally, it’s always a point where I can tell that the garment has become their own. They have taken ownership of the design and from there on, their confidence levels are sky high. At one of the fittings, Victoire asked if we could move the slit, which I had put to the side, to the front. There was an excitement in the air, and at that point, I realized the dress was now hers. I love this moment.
Most people who inquire about custom wedding attire usually assume that once we’ve started a design, it can’t change, and I’m here to tell you that every custom piece has it’s own evolution. The creative process, at a certain point, takes over, and when the flow is there, it’s magical. For instance, Vic was asking during a fitting if I thought a trailing piece of silk chiffon on her shoulder would look good. I pointed to the sketch and showed her how I had erased exactly that, though I don’t know why. We were absolutely in sync. The addition of the chiffon on one shoulder was the perfect addition of drama to take a classic look and make it pop.
Size Inclusive should be the norm
Being a size inclusive custom attire studio feels like the most natural thing to do when you custom make wedding garments, and while it’s not always the case, it’ll always be the case for me. I started sewing so that I wouldn’t have to settle for clothes that only fit me in one way. I started experimenting with tailoring my own clothes, which evolved into tailoring clothes for friends, then their friends, fast forward, and now my clients become friends. I personally know and love the feeling when something fits so well that nobody can persuade you to think you should wear anything else.
Personalizing clothing doesn’t have to be something from the past. Reach out to start working with us!
- Lens: Those McKissics Photography
- Dress: The House of Breton
- Bouquet: Createrella Florals
- Videography: @ibeenjaminn
- Ceremony Music: @ronthethird
- Bride’s Hair: The Hair Doctor
- Bride’s Make-up: Beauty by Polo
- Groom’s suit: Bar III
- Groom’s tailoring: The House of Breton
- Venue: Holcomb Gardens
- Officiant: Bernard Mickle