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Louise’s Yellow and Lace Tea-Length Wedding Dress

Louise dress on bookshelf_small

Photo © iluvphoto

Concept

Louise came to us looking for something unique and a little bit funky that would nevertheless say “This is the bride!” She wanted something tea-length with a full-skirt and sleeves – and she didn’t want it to be white. That would be a pretty tall order in your average bridal shop, which is why she came to us!

An artist and crafter herself, she was excited to collaborate with us to create something new and special – and so were we. We came up with a couple ideas for her, including the option of designing our own printed fabric for the dress! When we met to go over the designs, she came with her own sketch too, and between the three of us, we settled on a yellow dress with a full lace overlay.

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

We tried a new technique with the mockup and lining on this dress and it proved to be much more effort than it was worth. So, although it turned out well in the end, we will not be repeating that one. Lace always has its own challenges – since it can be quite expensive, we wanted to get the fit absolutely perfect before buying or cutting it. Louise was a great sport through several fittings as we made sure everything was in its proper place, and that those tricky sleeves fit just right!

Somewhere along the way, the groom got so jealous of the custom garment process that he decided to go out and have a custom suit made for himself too!!

Finished Garment

During one of our later fittings, Louise asked us to incorporate some material from her grandmother’s wedding gown into her dress somehow, and left us free reign as to how exactly that should be accomplished. We’d been talking about her hand-crafted wedding details, and she showed us a photo of the custom silk screen she’d made for her welcome bags – an outline of the state of Illinois with their names and wedding date in the middle. We decided to mirror that with an embroidered version (in blue thread, for that ubiquitous  “something”) inside the lining of her skirt. We all got pretty emotional at the reveal.

A patch of her grandmother's wedding dress, hand-embroidered with blue thread

A patch of her grandmother’s wedding dress, hand-embroidered with blue thread. Photo © iluvphoto

We were also able to incorporate some of her grandmother’s dress as the ivory leaves behind the flower on her custom birdcage veil; along with her yellow dress, she planned to wear teal shoes and this headpiece brings all those colors together.

Louise's veil, complete with fabric from her grandmother's dress

Louise’s veil, complete with fabric from her grandmother’s dress

As is often the case, we were glad to have finished this project, but also rather sad to see it leave our shop. In the end, though, we were so happy to see Louise beaming as she wore it on her wedding day!

Photo © iluvphoto

Photo © iluvphoto

Congratulations Louise & Michael! It was truly our pleasure making this dress with you!!

Photo © iluvphoto

Photo © iluvphoto

Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are used with permission. They are not available for reposting or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Alison’s Custom Beaded Blue Silk Dupioni Mother-of-the-Bride Dress

Let’s just say this post is a throwback Thursday deal, since we made this dress nearly two years ago…

Alison wanted something lovely to wear to her daughter’s wedding, and she wanted it to be in a similar style to Hayley’s 50’s-inspired wedding dress. She wanted something that would suit the mother-of-the-bride but also be wearable for other special events. We settled on a retro-style dress with 3/4-length sleeves, a v-neck, and a true tea-length hem.

Concept sketch for Alison's dress

Concept sketch for Alison’s dress

Though Alison was initially leaning towards a color in the red family, when we spotted this beautiful blue beaded silk dupioni, we just knew in our guts that it was exactly what she wanted – and it was!

Alison and daughter Hayley, whose dress we also made, at her wedding

Alison and her daughter, whose wedding dress we also made

We are happy to report that we ran into Alison a year after the wedding – wearing her beautiful dress at the 2013 Jeff Awards!

Alison with a friend at the 2013 Jeff Awards

Alison with a friend at the 2013 Jeff Awards

We couldn’t be more pleased with how this dress turned out!

Alison twirling in her full skirt at Hayley & Scott's wedding

Alison twirling in her full skirt at Hayley & Scott’s wedding

Photos courtesy of Alison Vesely. Used with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are not available for reproduction, redistribution, or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Kate | Custom Pink Silk Dupioni Wedding Gown

Concept

When you’re over 6′ tall, it can be pretty difficult to find anything that fits off the rack. If you’re on the hunt for a wedding gown, you’d like to have straps, you don’t want a pouffy princess ballgown, and you don’t even want it to be white, it’s damn near impossible. And that’s why Kate came to see us.

She was looking for something classy and fitted through the torso with a trumpet flare at the bottom. She wanted her dress to have lots of texture to it. Of the design options we presented, Kate’s top choice was our “starburst” design, featuring seamed panels of fabric angling outwards in all directions from a central point of the dress.

Concept Sketch for Kate's Wedding Dress © Crafty Broads

Concept Sketch for Kate’s Wedding Dress © Crafty Broads

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

We often use padding to make a dress form into the same shape as a client so that we can drape our design on it; however there are some limitations. While you can add material to make a dress form wider, there’s no good way to make one taller in any area except the legs. And though many tall people are tall because they have super long legs, Kate is tall in every aspect – long legs, long torso, she is even long from shoulder to bustline. So for this project we chose to use a flat-patterning method – taking Kate’s exact measurements and using a computer and a lot of very specific math to create a paper patter that we could work from. It worked out very well and needed surprisingly little adjustment at our mockup fitting.

Seamed bodice in progress, as seen on a not-quite-proportional dress form! Photo © Crafty Broads

Seamed bodice in progress, as seen on a not-quite-proportional dress form! Photo © Crafty Broads

Finished Garment

We selected silk dupioni for the seamed portion of the dress from the knees up, and a 4-ply silk crepe to create a flowing skirt on the bottom, both in a blushy pink shade. This was our first time working with the silk crepe, and it was delightful to cut and sew. It has a nice medium weight to it, which made the whole garment hang nicely. The seamed dupioni portion of the dress created a lot of visual texture, and turned out beautifully!

Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. They are not available for reproduction, redistribution, or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Julia’s Custom Veil with Heirloom Lace Amulets

Julia's Custom Wedding Veil with Heirloom Lace Amulets

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Julia brought us 39 exquisite lace amulets that were made by women in a Guatemalan village in 1946 for her grandmother’s wedding. She wanted them to be an integral part of the design of a custom, elbow-length ivory veil, but also needed them to be easily removable for future generations to incorporate into their own weddings one day.

We decided to use their circular shape to create a scallop edging around the bottom and lower sides of the veil. The veil itself was made from soft and ethereal ivory silk chiffon. We think it turned out pretty well!

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I’m sort of at a loss for what else to say about this project. We LOVE period garments, as you know doubt are aware, and working with these little pieces of history was delightful. I am certain they will look as lovely on each woman in Julia’s family who dons them one day as they did on her.

Congratulations Julia and Jon!

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All photos were taken by Ashley Therese Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

The Chopping Block: Joanne’s Wedding Dress Transformation, with Custom Wedding Veil and Silk Tie for the Groom

Joanne came to us with a lovely full-length-with-train lace gown that she’d found at the Brides Against Breast Cancer sale. She definitely needed a hem, as well as to have it taken in a bit, and she thought, perhaps, the style wasn’t quite… her.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

The lovely dress before we made any changes.

As we were talking, we found out that she didn’t want the train at all, and that she was thinking about maybe shortening the dress. She also didn’t love the generic straps that came on the dress. We thought turning it into a little knee-length number would look fantastic on her. And we also suggested using some of the lace we cut off the bottom to make some nicer straps that would look a little more cohesive with the style of the dress.

The Dress, after all our changes.

The Dress, after all our changes.

And then we talked some more and Joanne showed us the fantastic red shoes she was planning to wear with it. And we suggested that maybe a red silk dupioni sash would look nice.

Fabulous Red Shoes!

Fabulous Red Shoes!

And after that was all done, Joanne was kinda wanting a veil. And since we had that whole lace train we’d mercilessly chopped off… we did that too.

Joanne's dress and veil in action

Joanne’s dress and veil in action.

And then Joanne asked if we could make a tie for her husband-to-be in the same red silk as her sash. Which we did.

The tie!

The tie!

Turns out, silk ties are really, really nice. So nice, in fact, that we kinda wanted to make ties for ourselves, but we’re not really tie-wearing kind of girls… anyway. This was a really fun bundle of projects to work on, as well as a great example of the drastic changes you can make to a dress with a little creative thought.

All photos were taken by Matthew Kuehl Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Sarah’s Custom Silk 1930s-inspired Wedding Dress with Bolero Jacket and Full-Length Custom Winter Coat

Sarah's Custom 1930s Silk Wedding Dress

The time has finally come to tell you all about Sarah’s wedding ensemble. (FINALLY! Seriously, the wedding was in December… sorry.) We are really excited to share this with you, after all those months of working on it, dropping hints, and sneak peeks, so here goes!

[Note: I’m trying out this format for custom clothing posts – Concept, Work-in-Progress/Challenges, and Finished Garment. Let me know what you think in the comments.]

Concept

Sarah came to us with a lot of ideas. She loved the green dress from Atonement, and had a flash drive full of bias-cut, 1930s-style dresses to inspire us. She really wanted something that would accentuate her hips and that had a low back. She was looking for a flared skirt to show off the dance moves she and Jeffrey had been practicing. We came back with four ideas, and she chose her favorite.

The four options we presented for Sarah’s dress.

Sarah also wanted some kind of cover-up in case bare shoulders were to chilly for her December wedding, and she asked if we had any thoughts about a winter coat that wasn’t black or gray to wear with it. We suggested the possibility of making that for her two, and she was game! Here’s Julia’s concept sketch for the full-length, kinda period, kinda military coat we came up with.

Concept Sketch: Winter Coat

We also designed a little bolero from silk organza so she could cover up lightly inside. To be honest, this was obviously not the centerpiece of the ensemble, and it could have ended up fairly boring, but we found the most amazing trim which took it from “that’s nice” to “WOW”. Thank you, Fishman’s Fabrics. (By the way, if you ever need really lovely fabrics for your own projects, and you enjoy excellent customer service, you should check that place out. It’s fabric heaven.)

Work-in-Progress & Challenges

Trial version of the dress

We could sum this up by saying we learned a LOT in this process. For starters, we haven’t made many tailored garments like the coat, so we seriously schooled ourselves on the fabrics and construction techniques required for this. Julia did all the work on this coat, and it turned out splendidly. As in, we both want desperately to make some for ourselves.

The chevrons. They were so much harder to do than I expected. Or rather, I went about it the wrong way. What I should have done was first make the mockup in single panels, get it fit properly, and then mark the position of the chevrons. What I did was make some awesome looking chevrons that fit our dress form perfectly, but didn’t work so well on Sarah. Fortunately, Sarah was an exceptionally patient client, and after many, many hours of work, we got it fitting her properly. (And in case you are wondering – No, we don’t charge our clients for the hours we spend fixing our own mistakes and learning new techniques. We do that on our own time.) I’m happy to say that all the hard work paid off, because when it was finally finished? Well, you can see it below.

Finished Garment

We’re thrilled to show you how it turned out! The photos below are by the lovely Emilia Jane, an APW sponsor, fellow foodie, and all-around delightful person. (Who can stir up a pretty mean cocktail.) You can see more photos of Sarah and Jeffery’s wedding here.

The Finished Dress.

 

Detail of the dress.

 

A little closeup on the bodice.

 

Love the way the skirt twirls!

 

We saved some of the dress fabric to wrap Sarah’s bouquet.

The Winter Coat.

 

I just love this photo so much. It looks so awesomely vintage.

 

Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are used with permission. They are not available for reposting or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Cory’s Custom Red Corset and Silk Chiffon Dress

Custom Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt

Time for a step back. We’ve been updating you here and there about what we’re working on now, but we really should have started at the beginning. (It’s a very good place to start.) So we’re going to use the next few posts to catch you up, and we begin with a project we both really wanted to keep for ourselves (even though it wouldn’t fit either one of us…)

Cory was in need of something to wear for the Jeff Awards. She wanted something that looked somewhat period (the nominated show she starred in, Ragtime, is set in the early 1900s) in case she was asked to perform, but she also wanted it to be wearable for any fancy event.

We settled on a design of a corset with off-the-shoulder sleeves and a coordinating silk and silk chiffon skirt in a deep red hue. Since they are separate pieces, Cory can actually wear either the skirt or the corset on its own, as well as together.

Now seems like a good time to talk about the process of making custom garments and corset construction, so here goes. We start by taking a LOT of measurements so that we can create a good pattern that fits well.

Pattern for Cory's Corset

Next, we build a mockup, usually made out of muslin, so that we can test the fit and style before we cut into the more expensive fabric. For a corset, we even put in plastic boning so that our test fit is really accurate. Here’s what Cory’s looked like:

Cory's corset mockup (front)

Once we have this ready, we do the first fitting with our client. We will check various areas to see how it fits as well as get feedback from the client about the style so we can make sure we’re meeting their expectations for the garment. In this case, we needed to shorten the corset around the bottom edge, and Cory asked us to make it a little tighter in the waist. We’ll note the adjustments and then transfer them to the pattern.

Cory's corset mockup (back)

At this fitting, we will usually have a selection of fabric swatches so that our client can help us decide what to buy. Cory wanted a deep red, and we found some really beautiful options, which you’ll see in the pictures below. For the corset, she chose a red fabric embroidered with gold thread. The skirt was made from a rust-colored fabric with a cranberry silk chiffon overlay.

Lining of the Corset and Skirt

The next step is to make those adjustments to our pattern, purchase the fabric if we haven’t already, and put it all together. The skirt is fairly simple – we patterned and then cut a layer of chiffon over a layer of the lining, which are joined together at the waistband.

This is the time consuming part for a corset, because it has multiple layers which all must be cut and sewn together exactly. In the photo above, you can see the lining of the corset. It’s actually two layers – a soft cotton, which is on the inside against the skin, and stiffer canvas fabric that doesn’t stretch at all. This is critical for a corset, as the lack of stretch is what holds you in and supports you! The outer layer of the corset is another layer of the canvas with the “fashion fabric” – that’s the pretty stuff – on the outside. The boning gets sandwiched in between the layers so that it doesn’t poke through or cause any discomfort to the wearer. On the back, we install heavy-duty grommets for the lacing to go through. Finally, we’ll trim the top and bottom edges and apply a bias binding.

Et, voila! Finished corset!

Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt (front)

Corset and Silk Chiffon Skirt (back)

Maria’s Custom Silk Shrug & Wedding Dress Alterations

Maria's Custom Silk Wedding Shrug

Maria called us just three weeks before her wedding in need of some alterations to her dress and hoping we’d have enough time to create a little jacket to wear over it. We had just enough time to squeeze it into our schedule, so we said yes.

I swear I didn’t tell her to do jazz hands.

When we met with Maria, we hit it off with her right away. She is so friendly and has a great sense of humor. We found out that we have a lot of acquaintances in common – she works at an accounting firm with her brother, and they do taxes for many Chicago actors. Small world. Anyway, she bought a cute strapless dress at a big chain, but it seemed to have been designed for someone with really serious hips and it just wasn’t fitting her quite right in the bust. We ended up taking the hip area in about four inches and doing a couple little tucks at the bust so that it would fit her well and not fall down!

Julia draping the silk shrug

She also asked us to make her a shrug to wear over the dress. Since it was ruched, we thought we’d mirror that in the sleeves. Maria brought some polyester organza fabric which matched the dress for us to use, but as we worked on draping it, we realized it was really just not the best choice for the project.

Julia fitting the shrug on Maria

So we bought some gorgeous silk chiffon, and it was so worth it. Julia did all the draping on this, and I helped with some of the hand stitching once it was all pinned in place. I got to check out the fascinating construction on the inside of this dress (really unusual lining attachment, if you’re wondering – clearly designed to allow for as much machine stitching as possible) while taking care of the alterations. We made a custom label to replace the big box store label – very cool. Here are some pictures:

Front
Back

Maria asked for some help picking out her earrings. She brought a couple pairs, but had chosen a favorite. And guess what? I completely agreed with her choice. Don’t these earrings go perfectly?

Shoulder Detail

 

Maria and Dan are got married this Sunday – Congratulations!