How Bespoke Dresses are Made

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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/

Join the discussion (1)

  1. Catherine Marche Reply

    fabulous details, great fabric !

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