Bespoke Clothing

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How Bespoke Dresses are Made

from a London based Designer to a Dubai Fashionista

Long Evening Dress made in Silk Devore

One of the many pleasures of bespoke work are the people I get to meet, in this case the lovely fashionista Noora, a woman who has a flair for fine quality fabrics and a discerning eye for fashion.  All of which makes couture sewing an absolute pleasure.

Our conversation started as it normally does with me wanting to learn about my client, have they had a bespoke garment made before, what was their experience?  I learned a lot of women in Dubai have their garments handmade, having personal dressmakers.   It was all very animated,  talking about fashion, sewing and designing I am in my element; equally Noora’s enthusiasm, her knowledge of design, fabrics, and attention to detail had me even more excited about the making of her long sleeved silk evening dress.  I was looking forward to Noora arriving in London for her consultation.

The Consultation

At our consultation meeting Noora bought with her the most gorgeous deep navy blue silk devore; silk devore’s fabric has a burnt-out texture an ornate design harked back to the etchings of the Victorian era.

We discussed the occasion for this evening dress, it would be worn to a variety of functions: the length, it was to be floor length, style lines: semi-fitted, sleeves: Bishops style, billowing from the height of the cuff creating volume. However, before any of this was translated into the main fabric, having taken the relevant measurements, then drafting the pattern, a toile is made first; this applies to all of my couture/bespoke/dressmaking work.

The first fitting in a toile

Our first fitting, a toile of the garment has been made, it is at this point where the client will see how her finished garment will look.  The fit of the dress along with comfort is my number one priority.  It’s important to have ease for movement, that the style lines compliment the wearer.

In the words of Madame Vionnet “The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines.  It must accompany its wearer, and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her” – how true.

Adjustments are made on the toile which will then be transferred to the main pattern, sometimes depending on the adjustments, a second toile is necessary, a further fitting required, but this was not the case.

Toile with required adjustments

Having transferred all of the changes to the drafted pattern, and pattern pieces I can now begin the process of cutting out the evening dress in the main fabric.  Due to the nature of the fabric having a translucent effect in the burnt out areas it was necessary to interline the fabric using silk lining, the luxury just goes on and on.

I learned further that the women of Dubai are considerable connoisseurs’ of bespoke garments, or dressmaking services; their individuality is expressed through design, which is the nature of such work.  Whilst the industrial era of the 1800’s was to the change the landscape of Britain across the board, with mass production clothing; there would always be men and women for whom bespoke garments, its hallmark individualism, being their only way to dress.

Inside finish of the silk devore dress

The finer detail, the inside of a garment as far as I am concerned always has to be as beautiful as the exterior; I believe in having a deep respect for the fabric, its form and structure.

Fitting the dress in the main fabric

A further fitting of the dress, this time in the main fabric, again we look at the silhouette fit, we examine movement, and try on with shoes.  Speaking of shoes, Noora had the most divine pair of high-heeled black suede shoes with a bow, they were so alluring that had it not been for her dainty small size, plus I would have struggled with the height of the heel, they would have been kidnapped, happily having a home in my wardrobe, no ransom paid!

It’s also at this stage that we look at the finishing touches, such as buttons, we chose a diamante flower which captures the light.

Back at my studio, the evening dress goes through her final paces, all the silk tacking thread removed, a gentle press, an overall check, it’s at this stage that I, and the garment I have come to love, get ready to part company for her new home.

The Final Fit

It’s the day of the final fitting, as I remove the evening dress from her garment bag, Noora’s face lights up, the gorgeous suede shoes come out again to wink at me before disappearing under the floor length dress.

The diamante buttons are buttoned on the cuff, the voluminous sleeve stands proud; the centre back godet swirls with movement, as Noora walks elegantly across the floor.  Noora smiles, I smile, the dress smiles – it’s time to say goodbye….

For your own couture experience contact me by email: info@coralturner.com

https://coralturner.com/couture-dressmaking-personal-to-you/

Declutter Your Wardrobe – Declutter Your Mind


There is a lot to be said for giving your wardrobe some ‘tough love’ and having a complete declutter, throwing out that which is well past its worn by date, but is ‘oh so comfortable’.  There were a few pieces in my wardrobe that had me thinking, ‘what was I thinking’ (clearly not a lot at the time), and I am glad to report those pieces were not made by me!

As some of your may already know, ninety-nine percent of the clothing that I wear are garments I have made, not quite the mad scientist, but I do experiment on myself first, before I put a garment into production.  After all, if I wouldn’t wear a particular item of clothing why would I expect someone else to?

Review Your Wardrobe

So, back to the mission, a complete wardrobe review; I have to say I was amazed to learn that I had a great deal of dark coloured t-shirts, which is strange as I love the palette of bright colours.  This got me thinking, perhaps I had become a little bit lazy in my sense of dress, it was easy to pull on a t-shirt and my black jeans, but how had I managed to slip into this routine?

When I attend events, I always ‘dress up’ and pay extra attention to my appearance, if you are in an industry where what you do is on display, you are a walking billboard; if you don’t believe me, ask a hairdresser.  Someone asks “what do you do for a living”, you reply “hairdresser”, meanwhile your hair resembles that of a birds nest, they are not flocking to you my darling, no they are scrutinising your hairstyle or lack thereof!

The same applies to fashion designers, but then you often see designers at the end of their catwalk shows wearing all black attire and taking a bow; I vowed that would never be me, and somehow I managed to slip into that net.  I had been so busy, with my bespoke clients, social media, and the day to day running of the business, I had unknowingly forgotten, that I am also part of the business.

I originally started sewing for myself, because I didn’t want to be seen wearing the same clothes as everyone else, I love being creative, and it gave me more choices in clothing than I would ever find in clothing stores or boutiques.  I then found the one word, that so many of us get consumed in, the word that allows us to forget about ourselves, that word is ‘busy’.  There was nothing else for it, I decided to take a hiatus, pulling out fabric from my stash that was purely for pleasure, reinvent my wardrobe, and whilst doing so reinvent myself.

There is a metaphysical term ‘nature abhors a vaccum’ which means that when you get rid of stuff, ‘declutter’, it makes room for better and brighter to come into being.  When I first heard that expression I never really understood it, then as I filled up a couple of black bin liners and looked at my wardrobe with new eyes, in the realisation that I would be making new garments to replace that which was gone, I embraced the meaning; I truly understood its depth.

I titled this sharing of a story,’declutter your wardrobe, declutter your mind’, my dear friends, it works…

If you would like to learn more about transforming your wardrobe have a look at my website http://www.coralturner.com  or call me on 020 7732 7528 to make an appointment to visit me at Thames-Side Studios, East Greenwich, London.