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If you are anything like me, you are one of those unlucky individuals who are absolutely useless at sewing even so much as a straight line. I was even kicked out of my sewing class in Standard 5 for what turned out to be one of the happiest school weeks of my life ... Whilst it might not have been a disaster then, my years since have been extremely difficult because of this absolute lack of prowess in the sewing department. Now, along with so many others, I either have to buy clothes off-the-peg or have them professionally tailored to fit me. So many of us would love to be able to wear bespoke tailor-made clothing which highlights our individual personalities but have to be content with clothes which are widely available to hundreds of dissimilar shoppers, and which are rarely an ideal fit. It is for this reason that dressmakers, tailors and clothing design specialists are so much in demand, and rightfully so.
There are dressmakers who are specialists in the design and makeup of wedding dresses as well as all the complementary dresses worn by the bride and bridegroom’s female entourage and families. Wedding dresses are labour-intensive works of art and require a great deal of skill, knowledge and patience to produce the perfect result. However, if you are looking for simpler everyday clothing – day or evening dresses, jackets, slacks, skirts, and similar items, then a good designer or dressmaker will be perfect for your needs. Not only are they able to accurately measure your ‘vital statistics’, they can adapt existing paper patterns to suit your needs and produce clothing which is specifically tailored for your individual body shape. If you have an idea in your mind of the ideal outfit for a special occasion (and might be lucky enough to have a picture which is close to what you want) but have no specific pattern, a dressmaker can design the outfit with you.
The fun part of choosing your materials can be done beforehand or with the advice and recommendations of the dressmaker at their premises. They know what materials will be suitable for your needs; for instance, a figure-hugging dress which is intended for maximum impact may require a fabric which is stretchable to hug those contours as closely as possible! On the other hand, if you want a dress for summer which will keep you cool but will not crease like a well-used paper bag within a couple of hours, then a pure cotton material will not be an ideal choice. You could choose linen instead, which will keep you cooler than cotton as it is a more breathable material and has the ability to wick away moisture, thereby keeping you drier as you will sweat less. You just need to think about how you will be wearing the item. Nonetheless, it is as well to remember that whilst both cotton and linen are lovely materials, they will not withstand hours of normal wear such as sitting, standing, crossing your legs or bending down without inevitably resulting increases and a rather rumpled appearance. Some people like this look, but for those who are in a corporate or hospitality environment who are meeting guests and business associates all day, this would not be a suitable option.
Your designer/dressmaker will be able to advise you in this regard.
Some dressmaking companies specialise in the design and production of corporate clothing. They are able to cater for both male and female employees, thus ensuring that the overall look fits together in a cohesive uniform. One has to remember that there must be a central ‘common denominator’ incorporate clothing which can be applied to all employees. Depending on your budget, you can opt for more ‘standard’ uniforms with your own specific logo embroidered on pockets, or you can blow the budget with clothing which features your unique company colours and design and makes your company stand out from others. Isn’t visibility the aim of the game, when all is said and done?
It is rather a misleading assumption that dressmakers only make clothing for women. Men are definitely not a forgotten factor here. Whilst there are tailors who specialise in the design and production of suits, dress shirts, etc., there is also a need for casual clothing for men, together with repairs to both men and women’s clothing. It is more than likely that your local dressmaker will be happy to undertake alterations to ready-made clothing, as well as repairing tears and wear-holes, replacing broken zips, and extending the life of well-loved jackets with worn areas at the elbows or cuffs. For a specialist who knows their craft, nothing is impossible.
Dedicated seamstresses who are specialists in bespoke design and can turn their skills to really beautiful and ‘one-of-a-kind’ clothing items are not to be found on every street corner. However, your local dressmaker and alteration experts are much more physically visible as they often have their own premises in shopping or town centres. They are fairly easy to find, and easy to reach for quick projects, material, patterns and advice. They are definitely the ‘go-to’ experts for unskilled seamstresses like me who are more likely to stitch their finger to the fabric than produce anything close to a wearable garment which does not attract snorts of laughter from well-meaning friends and family. Whatever your needs are, online searches will definitely help, and sites such as Uptasker are great timesavers in this respect. Uptasker not only lists per geographical location, which is a definite bonus as you can find someone who is close to your location but also provides online ratings and customer reviews which will give you an immediate overview of their skills and versatility. You don’t want to risk giving your highly expensive material to someone who will not produce a good article of clothing. If possible, aim for word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family. If this is not possible, then look for advertisements in local newspapers and publications, the Yellow Pages, flyers on public noticeboards, or let your feet do the work and walk around your town centre and find these specialists the old-fashioned way.
Take your time finding the right person for your needs. You will, over the months and years, develop a good working relationship with your dressmaker or designer, and they will get to know your preferences and so be able to help you even further. Take their advice. This might sound simplistic, but they really ARE the people who know materials, wearability, fabric washability and what your best choices will be. It’s all the same to them whether you buy one material rather than another, but they know what will work best for your design. Even if it goes wrong because of your poor fabric choice when you choose not to listen to good advice at the outset, you will still have to pay the same price for the end result. So, get it right and get your money’s worth in the enjoyment of a beautifully made item of clothing which makes you feel like a million dollars. For more tips, see our dressmaking and clothing design articles.