Tag Archives: custom clothing

Ideas for Winter Weddings

A long-sleeved vintage gown is perfect for our winters here in Northern California

A long-sleeved vintage gown is perfect for a winter wedding here in Northern California

When most people think of wedding season, they think of Spring: April, May and of course, June. A new beginning, freshness, and spring colors all stimulate the bride’s imagination. Flower garden colors are the most traditional: greens and yellows, lavenders and pinks. Baby blues and silvery grays fill out the color palette for the latest trends.

Here are a few of the colors I worked with for the Spring 2013 Bridesmaids.

As I come up for air after finishing the July and August weddings, I realize that wedding season is truly year-round any more. I worked on just as many wedding gowns for September as I did for June, if not more. And while I only have a smattering of dress alterations for October and November, I have several for December, one of which is a complex custom design which will take many hours of fit and construction.

I’ve often wondered why more brides don’t opt for winter weddings in Northern California. It’s so hot here in the summer. Our mild winters are well-suited for even outdoor events and I love Fall and Winter colors: burgundy and emerald green, brown and sage, copper and deep yellow. Think of the possibilities! An outdoor wedding with the Fall leaves changing in the background. An indoor wedding with a snow theme. We are even close enough to snow so that the bride and groom could get pictures with a wintery background. And for the more formal weddings, black and white are still very much on trend and look great in the winter with silver or red accents.

As for the wedding gown, most gowns are really more comfortable in cooler weather. Steering away from the lightweight chiffon and crepe dresses, you would want to stick to the heavier satins and brocades. Even an organza over satin would work. And lace works for every season.

If you find a strapless gown that you love, think about having sleeves added. Pictured below is a gown with added lace sleeves for a July wedding. I’m adding long organza sleeves with satin and bead work on the edges of the pointed wrist to a strapless gown for the end of September. It will be finished next week and  I’ll post the pics after the wedding.  A professional alterationist will be able to add sleeves to just about any design.

Joy ~ After 003

Lace sleeves and sash added to a crepe georgette Grecian style gown.


For a really dramatic look, how about a cape, maybe in red, for an Old English look? Or lace, instead of a veil! The possibilities are endless!

I will say, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are very popular for weddings. After all, most of us have the time off work and if it’s close to a weekend, it is a great time to get the family and friends together. If I had to choose between watching football and going to a wedding, guess which one I would choose?

Vintage Wedding Dress Updated

When Jennifer brought me  her grandmother’s wedding dress, it really showed the difference between today’s wedding fashions and the styles from 1945. The dress was a knee length sheath made from a beautiful cotton lace. It had a jewel neckline which was way to close to the neck for Jennifer’s taste and it was sleeveless. The hemline probably hit the much shorter grandmother just below the knee. It had yellowed in few places but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. Unfortunately, I did not get any “before” shots this time! Check out more vintage updates on my alterations page.

Jennifer needed the dress re-fit, the neckline changed and the style updated. She had chosen a sheer stretch lace with a raised pattern to add to the dress. The color matched the original dress and the texture was sure to give Jennifer the design she was envisioning.

First, I removed the tight facings and undid the stitching in the shoulders. The dress darts were way higher than they needed to be for our contemporary bride and undoing the shoulders allowed me to drop the dress enough to correct the dart placement. I used the new lace to add a gathered cap sleeve. I changed the jewel neck to a V and lowered the back. Then I reshaped the dress to fit Jennifer’s figure, and shortened it carefully leaving the extra fabric in case the next wearer wanted more length. With vintage garments, you never know who will want to re-use the dress so I like to leave as much of the original as possible.

Close-up of neckline and sleeve.

Close-up of neckline and sleeve.

Once we had the sheath fitting the way we wanted, I added the skirt. She was wearing very high heels and wanted a fun skirt added to the hipline for more of an updated look. We placed the skirt exactly as  needed for Jennifer’s va-va-voom figure. (She fills out the dress much better than my tiny dress form!) It is open in front up to the hemline so it moves out of the way when she walks, and we left a slight sweep train in the back. The skirt can easily be removed if a future bride wants to reuse the dress.

Back View of Dress

Back View of Dress

Being a One-Person Business Has its Advantages

I love being self-employed. I really do. Otherwise, I would not have chosen this path over 30 years ago. And I have had employees and interns in the past and that was…okay. But really I prefer to work alone. It’s peaceful. I can set my own schedule and not have to worry about what someone else is doing…or not doing. I don’t have the headaches of paperwork and taxes and payroll. I like being the only person  responsible for the work that is done. And I can listen to any music I wish.

Those are some of the pluses of being a one-person shop including this view outside the window where I sit at my machine.

There are minuses as well.

There is no one to fill in for me if I’m sick or on vacation. When I’m fitting a client, there is no one to answer the phone and handle the walk-in’s, which all happen at the same time more often than you would imagine. I not only have the actual work to do (alterations and custom clothing), but I am also the office manager, the bookkeeper, the promotions department, supply chief, and even though I have someone who cleans for me (wonderful hubby), I do some of that, too. Then there are fashion shows, charity events, bridal shows, which I have participated in and my articles for anewscafe. I thrive on the variety of tasks.

The payoff is having to turn away a lot of work because I would rather cater to my long-time clients, and the brides with the deadlines, than take on too much work and feel stressed. If I’m stressed, it stresses out the client, especially wedding parties which already have enough worries. They need extra reassurance that their projects will be done on time, on budget, and with the least amount of hassle.

And just so you understand, I have had a “real job”, several in fact. And they were…okay. There’s something to be said for working with others and having a regular paycheck with paid time off.

But here I am with my own shop, with my own schedule, the music I want to listen to, and a beautiful courtyard outside my window.



To Veil or not to Veil

I get asked all the time whether a bride should use a veil or not.

It really depends on the style of the gown and the bride.Veils traditionally “hide” the bride from her groom until the “ta da” moment in the ceremony, when the blusher is flipped back and the new wife is revealed.

Very few brides use blushers anymore, the layer that covers the face. But a veil can make you feel more like a bride. And there are so many beautiful styles to choose from. The right one can really finish off the look.

For a more contemporary look, no veil is popular or the “birds nest” works for some styles. If you decide not to use a veil, make sure your hair and makeup is flawless because your face and hair become the focus. A gorgeous up-do works well, especially for a formal gown. For a more casual look, the long curls work well.

Ask your wedding professional whether a veil will work for you or not but ultimately, it’s up to you…there is no wrong answer!