The Right Person for the Job
By Tresa Erickson
You have a wedding coming up soon, and in the search for the perfect dress, you’ve made many shopping treks near and far. So far, you’ve come up empty handed. You tried on dozens and dozens of dresses and you just cannot find the right one. What is a bride to do? Well, if you’re up for it, you could try having your wedding dress made. In order to do this, you will need to find a dressmaker.
There are hundreds of dressmakers out there and it is important to choose one who can make a dress to your specifications. Before you start collecting references, you need to decide whether you will be using a ready-made pattern or creating an original design. Many dressmakers only work from patterns and will not design a dress from scratch. You may have to hire a designer to create the pattern and a dressmaker to sew the dress from the pattern.
Keep in mind that dresses designed from scratch will require more labor and cost more.
If you have the budget, you may want to hire a designer. Keep in mind that most designers will work to create a pattern based more on their vision than yours. If you have something specific in mind, you may want to look for a designer who will work with you closely to create the pattern you envision. You can then buy the fabric and pay a dressmaker to make the dress for you.
Once you have in mind what kind of dressmaker you are after, you may start creating a list of potential candidates. Ask your family and friends for recommendations. Check with local fabric shops and bridal shops. They may be able to give you some recommendations, especially if you promise to use their services later on. If you live in an area with a theater or opera company, try checking with it. The seamstresses the company uses will be masters at working with loads of fabric and creating elaborate costumes. You can also try the Internet and phone book.
Be aware that many dressmakers will be booked months in advance, so the sooner you start calling, the better. Once you have a list of dressmakers, set up an appointment with each to discuss your needs. Show them your pattern or provide them with a detailed description and photos of the dress you’re after. Ask for samples and references.
When looking at samples, check for smooth, almost invisible seams, hand-sewn sequins and beadwork, and clean, finished lining. The interior of the dress should look nearly as good as the outside. Make sure the dressmaker can accommodate your style. If you’re looking for a sleek, simple gown, and the samples you see are of fancier, more intricate gowns, you may want to ask the dressmaker if they will be comfortable working with your style of dress.
Check the references of each dressmaker on your list. Find out what clients liked and disliked about the dressmaker. Cross off any dressmakers from your list whose references don’t check out. As you narrow your list of selections, arrange to meet with the final candidates and interview them again. If you are having trouble making a final selection, hire them to sew some other project for you. That way, you can see their work firsthand.
Once you have made your final decision and selected a dressmaker, get an estimate in writing of how much the dress will cost to make. Give the dressmaker a final deadline, well before your wedding, and be prepared for many fittings.
Finding the right dressmaker takes some time. Don’t rush the process. Wedding dresses are an investment. Make sure you hire the right dressmaker to create yours.
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