Questions about having something custom made?

  • Why choose custom?

  • How does the custom process work?

  • Who is the custom client?

  • What is a dressmaker's guarantee?

  • Do I have to find the fabric myself, or will the dressmaker help me choose?

  • Do I need to buy a pattern?

  • What is a "redesign"?

  • How long will it take?

  • How much should I expect to pay for a custom item?

  • What services does a dressmaker provide?

  • Will a dressmaker help me learn to sew?

  • What if I need to do a long distance project and I need to take measurements?

  • What if I need a solution to a common clothing problem? Do you have any advice?

  • I have a question not answered here. How can I get some help?

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    How much should I expect to pay for a custom item?

    Answer: Good question. Too bad there's no answer. Every custom project is unique. A price range will be quoted, based on the dressmaker's experience making similar items in the same category. Before determining your unique and specific price quote, fabric choices, design details, fitting, layers of fabric, and structural elements are all considered. Asking, even if you discover that the project is out of your price range, never does any harm!
    Since you are ordering a custom project, there is no ready-made item identical to it. It is perfectly appropriate to shop your idea around, and ask several designers for price quotes and timeframes. Every custom clothier will have his/her own way of calculating fees, and as the client, you can feel free to "audition" the designer -- ask to see a portfolio or actual examples of his/her work, and request an explanation of the process. Most dressmakers will gladly do this. A good rule of thumb is to anticipate spending more than you would for a mid-range ready-to-wear item of the same quality and type. Some dressmakers may charge a consultation fee to discuss your project.

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    What does a dressmaker guarantee?

    Answer: Every dressmaker can tell you what to expect from the process. If you would like to know how you will be billed in the event of cancellation, completion date change, or other occurrances, discuss these matters with her prior to the project's start. Please be sure to mention any special concerns you may have regarding the process.

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    Why choose custom?

    Answer: Generally speaking, mass production provides low cost at the expense of uniformity. Customisation is the product of designers and craftspeople, giving you a unique opportunity to express yourself in a very satisfying way. Artistic touches, fit preferences, personal fabric choices, and design features can all be tailored to your request, when appropriate.

    Clothing and its design and fit are communication, and, in some cases, works of art. Not only do your clothes, accessories, and home furnishings express how you feel about yourself, they give others a glimpse of who you are, and how you want to fit into (or stand out within) the cultural mosaic. Because people's lives today are more turbulent and diversified, the "one size fits all" model is out-of-date. You want to be seen and treated as an individual with specific tastes.

    Yes, it takes longer, and you are committing to an invisible project before the actual work begins, but you will be an active participant in an artistic project. In the end, you are likely to be much more satisfied with the commissioned item than you could have been with any mass-produced approximation of what you were seeking.

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    How does the custom process work?

    Answer: To begin, there must be an idea. It can be as specific as a photograph, sketch, or existing garment. It may be an inspired combination of images, colors, textures, and/or artistic works. If the idea can be conveyed, and the fabric and materials needed to produce it can be obtained, it can be done.

    During the consultation, the project specifics will be discussed, and a labor price quote confirmed. After the consultation, the dressmaker may produce a technical or artistic sketch, if no photo reference or suitable substitute exists, or you may proceed in a different way, depending on the working style of the dressmaker you choose. The fabric may be selected, approved by the client and dressmaker, and purchased, according to the arrangment made during the consultation (possibilities: shopping together, matching a provided swatch, presenting a selection of swatches for approval, etc.). A muslin version of the project may be fitted and sewn (if appropriate). Once the test version is approved, the actual fabric will be sewn. The number of fittings depends on the complexity of the project.

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    Who is a custom client?

    There are two main types of custom client:

    Some custom clients are individuals with a developed (or developing) sense of style. S/He seeks unique investment and/or special occasion pieces, and wants to participate in a creative endeavor to bring his/her vision to fruition.

    Other custom clients have unique technical requirements, and do not want to sacrfice artistry to have their needs met. Some dressmakers have designed and made adaptable clothing for disabled clients, wearers of prosthetic devices, plus-size, minus-size, and other individuals with unique needs.

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    Do I have to find fabric, or will the dressmaker help me choose?

    Answer: If you have already selected fabric, the dressmaker will help you regarding the appropriate yardage and design and uses for your fabric. If you need guidance, the dressmaker may choose with or for you, and get your approval before making a purchase on your behalf.

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    Will I need to buy a pattern?

    Answer: You may choose to buy a pattern, or the dressmaker may select one for you, based on your criteria, or, in some cases, even make a custom-designed garment for you, creating a unique pattern based on body measurements or taking them from an existing garment. You may ask the dressmaker how he/she usually works to find out which of these methods is best for your collaboration.

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    What is a "redesign"?

    Answer: A "redesign" (not an official industry term) is when an existing garment is dramatically altered or dismantled, to create something quite different from the original. This is beyond the scope of traditional alterations, and usually requires a great deal of creativity and/or design skill.

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    How long will my project take?

    Answer: This depends on the schedule of the dressmaker, date of the event (if applicable), the intricacy of the project, and the availability of materials to complete the item. Always allow ample time to avoid the stress of any unforseen delays.

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    What services does a dressmaker provide?

    Answer: Most do alterations, many will sew custom garments, some will create custom designs, and some will do highly specialized projects, such as patternmaking, sample making, tailoring, corsets, swimsuits and bridal gowns. The beauty of this site is that there are so many talented people who can do such exceptional work, you will certainly discover wonderful suprises if you talk to any one of them at length.

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    How can I learn to sew?

    Answer: Many dressmakers are also teachers. Whether you seek private lessons, a sewing retreat, or formal classes, there is sure to be someone on this site willing to help you. Visit the teachers' page for more information, or see this page to decide what type of instruction you may need.

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    How do I take measurements?

    Answer: Sometimes, when there are members of a bridal party of performance group travelling to one event from different places, or you have other reasons for not being able to meet with the dressmaker, it becomes necessary to take measurements on your own. If you do not have access to a professional dressmaker or alterationist near you, you may follow the instructions provided HERE, and share the measurement method with the others, so you are all following the same rules.