Posts Tagged ‘silk


Change of plans

After Rachel’s fabric fitting, I worked on embellishing the skirt. Our original design plan had been to dot the skirt with small purple fabric flowers, and adding a sprinkling of beads and sequins around them for some extra sparkle. It sounded good, it worked in the sketch, it had been gorgeous in a couple of inspiration photos we drew from. In real life, on her gown, it was all wrong. The contrast between the deep purple and pale ivory was too stark, and the small flowers made the skirt looked almost polka dotted. Adding that to the mixed textures and silk pick ups that we were already using, and the skirt was far too busy. I sent Rachel pictures of the gown with the flowers pinned in place, and she replied first asking me to thin them out, and then asking if we could rethink them altogether. Rachel apologized but I let her know – this is part of the custom process, and it’s precisely the reason why I send progress photos! Sometimes what sounds good in theory turns out a bit different in practice. It was time to rethink things.

Over the course of a couple of days we emailed back and forth. I sent photos of a number of possible alternatives, adding flowers at the hem instead of dotting throughout, beading small sections of the skirt with purple beads, clear beads, small ones and large ones, sections matching the beading on the bodice, random scatterings and little flower shaped bead clusters, long trailing “vines” of ivory thread and clear sequins. I tried to do just enough of each sample to let her see, without devoting too much time to any of them and without overhandling the fabrics.

Ultimately, Rachel decided she didn’t want purple beads or purple thread in the skirt; the contrast was just too much. She liked the look of the ivory “vines” with sequins, and asked if I could do this but also scatter in a few of the beaded flowers (in clear beads) for a bit of texture. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am that she wanted to change plans; the end result is so much better than what we’d designed at first, such a better fit for Rachel and for her wedding.


Skirting the issue

Rachel’s gown included a skirt with four layers in all – the Dupioni over skirt, ivory tulle over satin for the under skirt, and of course lining. I had to sew the tulle layer twice; my iron has a Teflon shoe and so it does not melt fabrics, which unfortunately allowed me to neglect to turn the temperature down low enough for the delicate tulle fabric. It didn’t melt, but it shrank badly the first time. I didn’t notice my mistake until I’d sewn the entire tulle layer, pinned it to the satin, and realized it was a good six inches shorter than the satin layer! Thankfully I buy tulle by the bolt and had plenty on hand to correct my error quickly, without any delays to Rachel.

Aside from that sewing up the skirt went beautifully and and without much to comment on; we’d pretty well perfected the shape and fit in our muslin fittings. I basted the bodice to the skirts and let Rachel know we were ready for a fitting … in her *actual* gown! Stay tuned for more. 🙂


Rachel’s Corset

My newest client Rachel was asked to be maid of honor at her friend’s wedding a couple of months ago – an honor of course, but there was a slight problem. The bride chose strapless gowns for her bridesmaids, and Rachel’s curvy figure demanded better support than an off-the-rack strapless bra was going to provide. Rachel asked a mutual friend, Ann-Michelle, to help her find a suitable corset at one of the lingerie shops in the mall. Ann-Michelle told her for a suitable corset, the mall was not the place to go!

I discussed the options for corsets with Rachel. We talked about the sort of shape and cut she wanted (fairly long lined, coming to a V at the front), the neckline (sweetheart), and kind of closure (front busk, back lacing), as well as the degree of shaping and support that would be appropriate (supportive enough to have a showdown with gravity and win). We also talked about fabrics. Rachel’s corset was going to be worn to her friend’s wedding, but also to her own a few months later, so we definitely wanted fabrics that had a beautiful, bridal feel to them. The time frame was tight and didn’t allow us to shop around, but I had some gorgeous cream and pale gold silk brocade in stock and Rachel really loved it! There wasn’t quite enough for the whole corset, so we made one panel in an accent fabric – champagne satin – which ultimately emphasized the hourglass shape the corset created. I hand dyed the laces champagne as well, to match. The fashion fabrics sit over two layers of sturdy cotton corset fabric so the corset is strong and durable. The entire bodice is supported by 22 pieces of flat and spiral steel bonings, as well as the front busk. We met during the construction of her corset for fittings and made a few adjustments (both for fit, and to ensure the neckline of the corset didn’t show above the neckline of her bridesmaid gown). A good fit is infinitely more comfortable, and more supportive as well!

The end result was exactly what she’d needed. Rachel was thrilled! She told me she’d been dreading her friend’s wedding a bit when she hadn’t known how she was going to manage the strapless gown, but with the corset she was looking forward to it again. After the wedding, she sent me a message to let me know it had been comfortable the whole day, and she’d even found an opportunity to wear it again since. Music to a corset maker’s ears!


Silk Dupioni little black dress

My most recent project was this great little black dress for a repeat local client (who previously had me make this and this). The dress was inspired by a number she tried on at the mall which was very flattering but too short, sleevless, and with a lower neckline than she wanted. Cue the dressmaker. 🙂

Hillary wanted a nice crisp fabric for this dress, so the fitted bodice and pleated skirt would hold a nice shape. We reviewed a number of swatches and settled on a beautiful Dupioni Silk in a beautiful, subtle black-on-charcoal two toned color. We picked a lightweight black Habotai silk for the lining, and an invisible zipper for the back closure.

The dress has a square neckline, fitted bodice, three quarter sleeves, and a pleated below-knee-length skirt with corner pockets. The belt shown here is removable, and I made two others (in blue taffeta and purple Dupioni) so Hillary can mix things up when she’s feeling colorful.

This was an awesome project to work on… one of the rare treats where the stars align and things fall into place the right way the first time. The notable graining in the fabric lines up perfectly along the bodice darts. The neckline lays flat, crisp, and square and sits just exactly below her collarbone to frame her shoulders and face perfectly. The sleeve and skirt hems are straight with even stitching. The invisible zipper is invisible. All the details that ought to be right on a custom garment, are.

But more important than my own delight in the outcome, Hillary was thrilled. The dress fits great and is just what she wanted. (And doesn’t she look fantastic?)


Teal Elegance

This gown was custom designed for a client with a beautiful, dramatic hourglass figure for a formal event this autumn. She has a very difficult time finding clothing that flatters her figures, as most gowns that fit her bust and hips are far too loose for her narrow waist, making her look shapeless and larger than she is. She wanted a design that accentuated her waistline, and expressed an interest in a one-shoulder strap. I sent her sketches of several ideas, and the gown below was her favorite.

ElegancebyEllen Front EllegancebyEllen Back


Strapless Silk Gown

This custom dress was created with beautiful hand dyed silk satin and silk crinkle chiffon fabrics. The strapless dress has boning through the bodice for support, and the skirt is finished with a machine rolled hem.

JennyS5 JennyS4


Silk Brocade Corset

brocadecorset2This beautiful corset was made with a stunning silk brocade fabric over high quality cotton coutil. It was custom designed with a high back and open bust. The corset has a front busk closure, and laces up the back through 44 metal grommets! 22 pieces of steel boning provide incredible support and beautiful shaping.

This stunning corset was created for one of my clients on etsy. If you haven’t seen it already, check out my shop to view other items available for sale or to request a custom piece!

Brocadecorset1 brocadecorset3

April 2019
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