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Written by    Last updated: June 6, 2006

Should you hire a dressmaker, or even go for couture?

If you’re lucky enough to know or find a skilled dressmaker, try looking on the Confetti Supplier Directory  you have a choice of approaches. You might find a pattern you like, and have them make it up for you. Or, if you know a very talented dressmaker, you might ask them to make up a pattern for you from a dress shape you already have.

Some dressmakers ask you to supply your own material, others supply it themselves. In either event, you need to be sure that the material will suit the pattern. Your dressmaker will be able to advise on this, or you can read about the different kinds beforehand.

One important thing you should be aware of is that dress designs are under copyright. Taking a picture of a dress you like by a certain designer and asking a dressmaker to copy it is copyright infringement, which (as we all know from watching videos) is a crime.

Straight dealing

Whenever you buy a dress, but especially when you are dealing with sole traders and small businesses, make sure you have a proper contract for dealing with them. Write down the dates of what you expect to have done when, and be explicit about what happens if those dates slip. After all, you’re reliant on one person for making the most important dress of your life.

While this almost always works out absolutely fine, you need to insure yourself as much as possible against the chance that your dressmaker goes off on holiday at an important time, or you disagree about whether the finished item fits correctly.

Couture wedding dresses

If you really want to treat yourself, you could decide to get a couture wedding dress made. A couture dress is a one‐off creation, cut and shaped to meet the bride’s precise requirements. The design, size and fabrics are all chosen individually for this unique garment.

Each couturier’s process differs, but it’s a good idea to meet with the designer to discuss your requirements, personal style, likes and dislikes. The designer is then likely to create a series of sketches for you to review. Alternatively, you might admire a piece the designer has already made, which is then created to fit you exactly.

The length of time required to make a couture piece depends on the chosen style and, of course, the designer. If you’re choosing someone very popular, it’s wise to allow as much time as possible. The designing and fitting process consists of a consultation with the bride, during which many measurements are taken, and after which a toile ‐‐ or mock‐up of the dress ‐‐ is made. This is then used as a pattern for the real thing.

When you go for your toile fitting you should wear your planned underwear and shoes, rather like having a fitting for a dress proper. Now is the time to change anything you aren’t keen on ‐‐ after all it’s only a mock‐up and can bear even drastic changes. Only at this point is the final agreement made on the dress which is then made in the chosen fabric, followed by the final fittings.

View our recommended UK retailers and stockists for wedding dresses

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