Category Archives: Blog

Designing a Wedding Dress

An 1876 fashion plate from Harper's Bazar

We are making many wonderful wedding dresses this season, but especially exciting is the dress that I am making for my own wedding.

A.J. and I are getting married this summer and are planning our wedding attire.  Right now I am in the process of designing my dress.

If you order a custom wedding dress, I will work with you in much the same way to create a unique dress that reflects your style and inspiration.

Inspiration for a wedding dress can come from all sorts of places.

I have always enjoyed looking through old fashion magazines and studying vintage garments.

1875 Ball Gown from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The 1876 fashion plate to the left shows the general silhouette and details that I like.

Silk duppioni in a variety of colors, along with a maize taffeta and chartreuse duchess satin

The mid-1870s is a popular period for steampunk wear as you can get very creative with trimmings but the bustle shape is still fairly subtle and flattering.

The red dress pictured is from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, an extensive collection worth browsing online.

(And if you find a dress that you love in the MET’s collection, I would love to recreate it for you with some modern touches).

Worth dress c.1900 of flocked silk satin

I love the gathering & puffing details on the skirt, the lacing on the back of the dress, and the color.

I knew that I wanted to have a colored dress, and I can’t wait for the fabric swatches I ordered to arrive.

While the Victorian era saw the establishment of the white or ivory wedding dress, many brides at the time wore colored dresses that they would rework and wear again after the wedding (most wedding gowns of the time were high-necked and long-sleeved, so they would serve as day wear once retrimmed).

Silk duppioni is one of my favorite fabrics, and I hope to combine a main dress fabric of greenish gold with accents of vivid blues, violets, and greens.

A Haeckel illustration

A.J. and I have also been discussing using our vinyl cutter to create custom heat-transfer flock prints for parts of the dress, to create an effect like the 1900s Worth dress of flocked satin above.

Haeckel illustration of jellyfish

It is amazing how the panels of the dress are cut and sewn to maximize the effect of the print.  I was lucky enough to see this dress in person at one of my History of Costume classes held at the Met Museum when I was at Pratt.

For motifs, we are thinking to do something along the lines of an Ernst Haeckel jellyfish or other sea creatures.

Here is the sketch I did based on my ideas above.

The bodice will be fully boned with a lace up back.

I will trim it with tulle and flowers made of some of the accent colors of silk .  The panels of the bodice will feature some of placed flock printing towards the waist.

Lianna K's Wedding Dress

These flowers will also trim the dress in various spots.  The bustled overskirt is draped in front and back, and trimmed with tulle.  The underskirt will be covered in puffed tulle similar to the 1876 illustration.  The dress has a train and will be supported by petticoats and a bustle that I will make.  We will also do placed flock printing on the train.

As I select fabrics and begin creating the initial patterns for the dress I can rework the design further.

If you’re as excited about the Victorian era as I am, I’d love to make you a dress as well.

Using our unique muslin fitting process, we can get a great fit on a dress no matter where in the world you live and usually for less money than a dress plus the alteration costs for a factory made dress.

You send us measurements you take at home, and we make a full mock-up of the dress and send this to you to try on before we even cut the fabric.

Then we create a new pattern that is perfectly adjusted for your body, and everything is guaranteed to fit exactly the way you would like.

This means that we can draw from all of the spectacular dresses of the past to get something that is perfect for the present.

Denver Fashion (and Wedding) Photography

We started our custom clothing business a few years ago, and, from the very start, we were faced with the challenge of getting good photographs.

For a business that sells via the internet, photos often make the difference between whether pieces sell or don’t.

But for our business, the challenge is doubly great.  Everything we make is made to order, and cut exactly to fit the customer who orders it.

So we rarely have any pieces sitting around and ready to shoot.  And even when we do have pieces to shoot, they are often too large or too small to fit a model.

We would finish making a piece and then hang it on a hanger and snap a couple quick pics before shipping the garment out (and most of our photos are of this quality).

But after meeting Annabelle Reboli, an incredible (and enthusiastic) photographer who recently relocated from NYC to the Denver area (just like us!), we were convinced to give professional photography a try.

Annabelle’s resume is amazing.  She has done shoots for Bloomingdales, Kenneth Cole, Swatch, Sotheby’s and numerous other brands, so we knew that the pictures would be stunning and glamorous.

But what we didn’t even think about is how deeply her photographs would be filled with mood and atmosphere.  The result is a completely new (and dramatic) take on our work that both of us just love.

Enjoy the new photographs and be sure to check out Annabelle’s websites:

www.AnnabelleReboli.com (for her general portfolio and fashion and jewelry pictures)

and

www.YouAreSuchaHotBride.com (for her wedding photography)

We will definitely be recommending her to all of our Denver area clients as the best photographer out there.  If you are getting married in Denver or have a fashion project, contact Annabelle Reboli right away.

Working from Vintage Patterns

We can draft almost anything imaginable and wedding dresses are no exception.

But, occasionally, a customer comes to us with a vintage pattern that she wants to see come to life as a modern dress. When we work from a vintage pattern, some modernization is almost certainly necessary. Darts need to be shortened or moved to adjust for the fact that the customer is unlikely to be wearing the same sorts of shaped undergarments (a girdle and pointed cups).

Adjustments can also be made for body types (in this case the customer was quite tall). And the pattern can even be altered to fit sizes that it never would have come in originally, including plus and petite sizes.

If you have a vintage pattern that you have always loved the look of but never had anyone willing to make it in your size, just write and we can discuss different options. One of the pictures shows a “muslin fitting” of the dress with the tulle overskirt. We made the dress from cotton first and fit that on the customer insuring that we made the right corrections for a look that was completely vintage yet also modern.

Just contact us to find out more about making the ideal vintage style dress whether for special occasions, like a wedding or prom, or something more everyday, like a shirt dress.

Working on unique custom projects is our specialty. We make all of our projects by hand here in our studio in Denver, Colorado. So if you are looking for a local dressmaker in Denver, we can definitely handle your project. But we have also perfected making dresses at a distance and more than 90 percent of our customers are located in other spots around the globe.

With our muslin fitting process (we send you a muslin version of the dress for pics and feedback), we are able to guarantee a great fit and the look that you have been hoping for, even at a distance,

Contact me at superhero@vigilantelabs.com to get started on a project right away.

What is a muslin?

When you buy a jacket at the store, there are several sizes that you can try on. Of course, none of them will fit perfectly, as every body is a bit different. But after trying on a couple you find the one that fits the best.

Bomber Jacket Sketch

Often this means that if you purchase a jacket that fits at the waist, the bust will be too large, or if it fits at the bust, the shoulders will be too large. With mass market clothing, there is always some part that doesn’t fit quite right, but we learn to accept a less than perfect fit partly because of the price and partly because we have no choice.

But when we make a custom jacket, dress, or suit blazer, we actually try to tailor it exactly to your body at every fit point. This is a slightly dangerous process, as there is always a chance that it won’t fit. But when it succeeds, it is utterly marvelous. The features of your body that have always seemed awkward, suddenly seem completely natural, and you realize that the clothes made your body seem awkward and that with the right fit the parts of your body that you might not like suddenly seem necessary and perfect.

To get the perfect fit every time, we use muslins. A muslin is a rough cotton version of the piece with some of the details drawn on. For this jacket muslin, I used a sweater from the thrift store as trim.

When you look at the pictures of the customer, you can see that the fit is basically good, but that the customer stands with her shoulders thrown slightly backward. She has an “erect” posture. Because of this, extra fabric (or leather) bunches up in the back and a bit at the sides while the front is tight. On a store bought piece, this would be acceptable. But luckily we can correct for it so that the back turns out looking smooth and the waist more fitted.

The price for a jacket or dress muslin (including shipping) is $65, but it makes the difference between acceptable and incredible when it comes to fit. With the muslins we can also change the placement of pockets, the shape of the lapels, pretty much anything so that the look is just right for your style and your body. We can transform any idea into a sketch and from a sketch into the perfect garment via our muslin fitting process.