A Custom Dress Journey

Are you curious about the process of creating a custom dress? Do my clients come to me with an idea, picture or sketch or is it up to me to determine the best style of dress for them? Well, usually, the best creations are the combination of both.

Often the process begins with artistic intuition. I fell in love with this gorgeous flower-pattern silk fabric and bought it without having any particular design in mind. When my client Peggy saw it, she loved it as much as I did, and together we came up with a simple sketch that incorporated this fabric into a smooth dress design.

The next step was to select fabric for the rest of the dress. We decided on “ruching” effect, which is gathered overlay of the fabric. To create this effect, I needed very thin material. Stretch net was the fabric of choice. But one layer of the net wouldn’t make the dress strong enough to hold the shape, so we needed more durable material for the body suit in matching color. Lycra was perfect for that.

The base of the dress was easy to create. From previous fittings, I knew Peggy‘s body shape is hourglass and so she looks great in a dress that enhances her small waist and balances her body proportions. I designed a V-shape on the top portion to optically widen the shoulder area. The ruching effect could be done only on the chest and hip areas as I didn’t want to widen Peggy’s naturally slim waist. To create balance, I decided on simple and elegant design with skirt panel starting a bit lower on her hip. I also had to add the bottom underskirt as the floral fabric was very light and sheer.

The base of the dress was done, but I still needed to figure out how to decorate it! I tried attaching lace flower pattern on the dress (as seen on the picture above), but that didn’t look quite right. After playing around with few ideas I figured the focus should be on the print and not the lace embellishment, and so I decided to rely on the magic of crystals.

In order for the ruching to be visible from far away, I could only decorate the flat part of the dress. I decided to make two focal points, one on the chest and one on the hips. Those were decorated with the lightest crystals (as they draw the most attention), and from there I continue placing light blue crystals around the silver ones and blended them with darker ones on the sides. There are about 4 different colors of blue crystals, all matching the colors on the skirt! I decided to create illusion of a belt by using darker crystals from the hips to bring all the colors together. As a bonus the belt added more emphasis on her waist area.

Even though the dress was done and decorated, something was missing… I experimented with adding more of the silk material on the top part of the dress. I had originally planned to add more blue net fabric for the back drape, but when I replace it with the silk fabric, it look perfect and completed the dress design in a perfectly cohesive manner.

And every dress needs jewelry! Using light-colored crystals, I created a necklace, matching earrings, and bracelet to complete her competition ensemble.

I hope you love this creation as much as we did!