Today I want to tell you a bit about the process behind my one of my favourite ever bridal projects - Hannah's pink dress.
Hannah contacted me about a year ahead of her wedding wanting to talk about a custom wedding dress. She said the words I love to hear: "I don't know exactly what I want, but I know I don't want strapless". Yay! Nothing wrong with strapless. I just happen to specialise in non-strapless wedding dresses!
I knew Hannah was a Pinterest fan so I suggested that we set up a secret Pinterest board where we could both pin ideas and photos.
I quickly noticed some common themes - peter pan collars, short sleeves, flowy skirts, and the colour pink! I drew some ideas for her and shared them on our board so she could choose a final design. Her dress ended up being based on this idea:
My first step in designing a new dress is to make a 'toile' - a mock-up dress out of cheap fabric. My toiles are usually pretty hastily constructed and far from what the end product will be, but that's ok. I just need something I can try on the customer to figure out any fitting and design issues.
I was still living in the Philippines when I was working on this, but we were in Sydney over the Christmas break so I squeezed in a first fitting with Hannah on New Year's Day.
I spent a lot of time getting the bodice fit right, and we talked about different design elements like collar size and sleeve length.
Then I headed back to the Philippines and made another toile based on what we'd talked about, using fabrics that were closer to the real thing, but still not expensive.
I also dyed some silk fabric in different shades of pink for Hannah to choose from.
I packaged up the second toile and the silk samples and sent them to my mum, who did a second fitting with Hannah in Sydney.
Once Hannah had chosen the exact pink she wanted, it was time to buy the 'real fabric' and get it the right colour. Dumping ten metres of expensive, delicate silk into a hot dyebath takes a certain amount of confidence.
Then there's the question of how to dry the thing and keep it clean...
It took a few days of dyeing and drying before I had the colours exactly right. I had to get the lace, silk georgette and silk lining all to the same colour, and they all dye differently.
Once I was happy with the colours, I started playing with beads for the bodice.
I sent a sample of different beading styles to Hannah, and worked on the skirt while I waited for her decision.
I then spent many, many hours beading while watching Netflix.
After the beading was finished, the rest of the dress was pretty quick to come together.
One final fit with Hannah to cut the hem, and we're all done!
A big congratulations to Hannah and Ben on their wedding, it looked like a beautiful day! I can't wait to see the rest of the photos.
If you're interested in a custom dress, email me and tell me about your ideas!