Hey guys! Recently we attended a black tie event for the opening of a friend's business, and as with most events, I try my best to wear a dress I have made. I mean, what better advertising is there than that? So today I thought it would be fun to take you through my process of getting a dress from design to reality. Let's do this!
Almost every dress I design starts with a drawing. To say that these drawings of mine are amazing would be grossly exaggerating my drawing skills, but they are still super helpful to the process! I find I have the most difficulty drawing faces, hands, legs and feet....(so basically most of the human form!), but they help me see if a design in my head actually looks good on paper. Honestly, sometimes it doesn’t, so I can erase parts I dislike and come up with something else. Here is a sketch of my recent black tie event dress:
(Like I said earlier, I'm terrible at drawing faces, hands, and feet. I know she looks weird, but it works for my purposes! Haha.)
Once I had the design, I ordered the lace. The lace was supposed to be a very pale blue color, but when it arrived, it was clearly aqua! At first I was disappointed, and then I thought “Challenge accepted!” I’m going to make a beautiful aqua dress instead!
I mean, that's a pretty big difference, RIGHT?
Now that the lace was in, I could start sewing. Sometimes I start with the bodice of a dress and sometimes I start with the skirt. Honestly, I sew whichever part of the dress I'm more excited about at that moment. I like to use sewing patterns for reference, and I have collected many vintage patterns over the years. I find vintage patterns to be very unique, so I guess that's why I gravitate to them. However, I never use the pattern exactly. There's always something I want to tweak or change completely! For example, the sleeves for my black tie dress started with a vintage wedding puff sleeve pattern, but I widened and lengthened it. It actually took two tries until I got what I was looking for, but I was very pleased with the outcome.
In my original sketch, the dress had long sleeves but while I was sewing, I decided to leave the sleeves short. I also had a cape in my original sketch, but when I draped the fabric over the bodice, it just didn't look good. So instead of a cape, I added a train.
Now you're probably thinking, great, you have a beautiful see through dress! And you would be right. Honestly, I'm not the best seamstress in the world, and I especially find linings to be very complicated. So I have found ways to take short cuts whenever I'm sewing for myself. Since I am the only one that is probably going to wear this dress, I cheated a little bit, and bought a dress on ebay to go under my lace!
Side Note: We do not do this for the dresses sold on our website! Our dresses are professionally made by our manufacturer in Houston. I felt I needed to say this, in case people think I actually sew the dresses we sell. I do not, nor would anyone want me to! haha. Whenever I make a dress for myself, I joke that it looks great on the outside, but don't look underneath!
(Nude color, silk dress)
By buying the under dress, I probably saved myself a day of sewing. Thank goodness! Sewing is fun, but it's also a lot of work! I then attached the lace to this dress, and voila! A beautiful, one of a kind, formal gown.
Something I find interesting is how far I deviate from my original sketches. It looks so cool on paper, but when I actually start making the dress, I go with how I feel in it. I'll start processing a million questions like: "Does that design feature actually work with this fabric? Does this silhouette flatter my body? Are these sleeves uncomfortable or too scratchy?" These are some of the many things a sketch can't tell you!
Dress Sketch vs. Actual Dress
So that's my dress design process in a nutshell! I wore my gown to the black tie event, and I couldn't believe all the compliments I received. People actually loved the color (thank goodness) and I got to share about Lilies of the Field too! There was one awkward moment when my husband Andy (who told me the dress code was black tie) misread the invite, and discovered the party dress code was actually black tie optional. He also told me this just as we were about to walk in to the party, so I was a little...overdressed. But what can you do? It turned out to be the perfect icebreaker and advertising campaign!
So that's it guys! Also, please forgive me for taking so long to get this blog out. This month has honestly been pretty difficult, but we are pushing ahead despite setbacks! Our next dress should be released around the beginning of April if all things line up correctly, and I think you guys are going to adore it! I know I do! Lots of love and blessings to you and thank you for all or your prayers and encouragement. We couldn't do what we do without it!