Sunday, September 13, 2015

Why you should hire a dressmaker (To be followed by... Why should NOT hire a dressmaker)

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Certainly, there  are some great reasons to hire a dressmaker or custom sewing professional to create the project you envision. Having something made can truly be a special way to have a one-of-a-kind item created to your specifications, and in your choice of color, fit, and size.  I made the dress below for a fun client who was a bridesmaid for a wedding in Bali. The bride sent each of the maids a length of this bold fabric to use in any way they chose. My client was thrilled with it, and I sewed and draped this dress in a creative weekend frenzy that seriously was a creative risk, but lots of fun.

So, here are some reasons you SHOULD hire a dressmaker.


"You have enough time..."

I fully acknowledge that you will not know what "enough" time is until you have discussed what you need with your dressmaker.  The dress above is not an example of "enough" time.  We were lucky. She and I were both satisfied with the result. Sure, some dressmakers will work like demons and pull all-nighters to get your garment made, but some need to work at a more peaceful pace to achieve a quality result.  This also depends on how much other work the dressmaker currently has in his/her schedule. If you are really trying to get a last-minute project made, recognize that some shortcuts may need to be taken.  Then again, you may find someone who loves to work under pressure! Either way, working too fast is a bit of a gamble for you both.

Crooked?  Not precise? Yes. Manufacturing allows a level of precision the human hand can only approximate. Good dressmakers do it better, and more consistently, but really, if you need a magnifying glass to show any errant stitches or wobbles, you are probably evaluating too closely.


"You trust, know, and appreciate the talent/skill/expertise of the person you hire"

Let's face it: Contracting an unknown person to create the item you have in mind is a bit of a risk on your part... and the dressmaker's, too!  Ask to see photos, samples of past work if possible, get a feel for the personality type you are working with, and give a clear idea of what you are expecting BEFORE the project begins.  Whether you want standard, home-sewn quality, or haute-couture Dior or Marchesa quality work, or something in-between, recognize that skill, time frame, and price are all still factors affecting whether or not that is even a possibility.  Might you find an incredibly talented, underpriced person?  Of course?  You can also find just the opposite. Be sure to articulate why you want something custom made, and define what quality level you expect, because it will help you both to determine whether or not you are a match.

Open communication should help clarify and expectations as the project progresses, but every project comes with risks.  A client can hate something a dressmaker loves, or love something the dressmaker is not happy with. Sorry, but that's just plain true.  Love their work?  Confident that his/her skills meet your needs?  Go for it! 


"Your due date is earlier than your wear/use date"

While many amazing feats of sewing can be achieved, sewing against the clock is not recommended. By EARLIER than the wear date, I mean enough time for you to try on/see and approve the item, with time (To make this work, BOTH of you must have appropriate availability) to make any changes or fix anything that requires fixing before the item needs to be worn or used. Ideally, two weeks to spare is great... but I know people have a tough time planning. Do yourself a favor and try to alleviate the stress by adding in a healthy time buffer.


Can you make a "baby prisoner" outfit?

You know and can articulate what you want.

Words like "elegant", "flowy", "corseted", and "sturdy" can be communicated and generally understood by any creative professional, but more artistic words can be a matter of interpretation.  Sketches and photographs can work well as inspiration, but, frankly, it is all theoretical until actual fabric is chosen and design work begins. What does this mean?  It means that a project's path to success and/or ultimate failure can actually be influenced by things that were NOT said. It is tempting to lean back, arms crossed, and say "You're the expert", but keep in mind, the expertise is on the making, not the idea.  Because the idea is your OWN.  After all, that's why you are hiring a dressmaker, correct?

Where do you find these? Did you know you could buy them?
You have/can get the right materials

This is important.  A garment doesn't exist if the supplies to make it don't exist.  Creativity is wonderful, but unless you either already have the supplies, or your dressmaker knows where to go/where to send or take you to get the fabrics you need, you'll have to fit the project to the fabrics available. Shop the Garment District maps can certainly help you with that, but make sure you know your budget, notions and yardage requirements before shopping.

Looking for a dressmaker?  Try or

Look for the next post, entitled "Why You Should Not Hire a Dressmaker" (will post September 15) to get a handle on some of the issues that can ruin the process...



At September 14, 2015 at 7:40 AM , Blogger Janee said...

This is a great post! You've pinpointed clearly several points for a potential client to take into consideration. (I'm sure each of us who does custom work has a story to support each and every one of these premises. Bravo for meeting them head on!) I'm going to share this on my business and ASDP chapter pages! Thanks, Mimi -


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