Rebecca Mayhew http://rebeccamayhew.gettimely.com/#home is an extremely gifted medium on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and not only did I have the pleasure of designing a couple dresses for her recently but she also agreed to be my model for this blog. She echoes what quite a number of curvy ladies lament, there are not enough beautiful floaty dresses for the plus size gals. These gorgeous ladies have breasts and hips and want to show their waist suppression, not hide it under sacks or muumuus!
Further to my last blog about bespoke garments, I want show just a small part of the process via my photos of Rebecca in the initial basic dress block, then a final finished dress design. The first dress block toile is always made up in calico or a fabric of a similar weight to the actual dress fabric to be used. In this case, I toiled in a cheap rayon because her final dresses were in print rayon, which is a heavy, drapey fabric. It is a lovely absorbent and very comfortable fabric to wear and swings around the body.
As you can see from the photos, toiles are not attractive, they are just meant to test the pattern before cutting in the actual dress, pant or whatever the garment will be. This is the most labour-intensive part of garment construction, especially for bespoke work, the patternmaker’s job is to make sure the toile fits the client, then ensure every piece of the pattern fits together perfectly so that it makes the machinist’s work easier.
One of the enjoyments of working with a bespoke clientele is going shopping with them to help buy the fabric for their wedding or evening gown or, a new dress to completely change their look. It is so exciting as we drape different colours and fabrics against her and take photos so that she can see what she likes and dislikes.
This, actually is a very important point! Always take a photo of yourself in the dress or when you drape fabric against you, then look at the photo. You will look at yourself objectively, something you do not do when you look in a mirror. Another lovely thing to do is have your partner with you, if they are willing as in Rebecca’s case, but not, of course if it is your wedding gown.
Two of my favourite fabric salons where I love to browse in Sydney are Saigon Fabrics in Wynyard, where owner Jenny is very perceptive with what suits her clientele, and Tessuti Fabrics in Surry Hills. who have an absolutely divine selection of bridal laces and trims. Both of these shops have an equally beautiful range of printed silks and rayons. If you are looking for bridal fabrics it will be in your interest to make an appointment before you go. because you will not be out of either these two salons any time soon and it is better to get one of the staff to help guide you with their extensive knowledge, the selection of fabrics is all consuming.
If you need any guidance or further information, please contact me.