Monday, July 30, 2007

Many times I've wondered how much there is to know

A quick note for those who are interested- the Jewel Couture website has been updated with new photos from previous clients' weddings as well as the January bridal show. (More photos here, courtesy of Rhonda Lewis Photography) A special thanks to Will at Highrise Creative for his fantastic work and creativity! Will, I would be lost without you!

Another note of interest: on Friday I had my lovely assistant Anna going through my sketch file. These are all the sketches I've done for clients over the last four years. I was struck by how many there were- a couple hundred! We had them spread over my cutting table, trying to get them organized, and this funny, unfamiliar feeling sprung up inside me. I think it might have been pride. Ha ha.

For those of you who know me, you know how unusual it is for me to feel that- I just kind of go along, doing my thing, without really stopping to look back at what I've accomplished. But it just struck me that this sketch file not only represents everything I've done, but how much I've learned and grown, both as a designer and a business owner. It's kind of cool!

Friday, July 27, 2007

You can never get enough of this stuff; it's Friday, I'm in love

Miss W's fabric arrived yesterday! The yummy satin and delicate organza will have to wait though, until the bride comes in to try on the foundation and lining. Below are the pieces of lining, cut and ready to put together. (My mischievous little girl Ophelia wanted to help, so I let her do some measuring!)

I usually will go ahead and cut and stitch the lining for the first fitting, then I can mark any necessary changes, take it apart, and use the adjusted pieces as patterns for the "real" fabric. This process is traditionally called making a muslin, since muslin fabric is inexpensive and a good choice to use for a mock-up. This way, the more expensive fashion fabric can be saved from any errors.

At this point, I'm ready to have the bride come in and get fitted. I may or may not take pictures of the fitting; it depends on Miss W's comfort level. But either way, I'll be back soon with an update!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Girls just wanna have fun

Have to give another shout out to Cicely at Life Design Event Planning for putting together another opportunity to share green wedding tips with Valley brides. This morning we were on Fox 10 News; you can read more about it on Cicely's blog, and see the spot here (video).

Thanks again, Cic! You have fantastic style!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We've only just begun

I have a confession to make. I don't have any formal training in patternmaking. When I was at FIT, I was a styling major, not a fashion design major, so I didn't have the opportunity to take any drafting classes. Luckily, when I worked for ASU's theater department making costumes, I had the chance to learn a lot about garment construction. Additionally, I learned a lot about working with many different body types.

Today, while I don't draft all my patterns from scratch, I do have the ability to take existing patterns and alter them to my specifications. That's going to be my approach with Miss W's dress. I'm using a pattern from my library and making changes to it, so that it not only corresponds to our final design, but also fits her body perfectly. I'm still waiting for the fabric to come in, but when it does, I'll be ready to proceed.

I've already drafted, cut, and stitched the pieces for the bodice foundation, as you can see. It's kind of like a built-in corset, and it gives the dress the proper structure and stability needed in such a heavy garment. I think I've gone as far as I can for now; I'll have to wait for the fabric before I can do anything else.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Shine down on me satin queen

I am always excited at the beginning of a project (as opposed to the end, when I've been looking at it for months and just want to get it out of my studio!)

Fortunately, I am ready to start working on Miss W's wedding gown! Fabric has been selected and ordered. We went with a beautiful creamy duchess satin as the main dress fabric. It's 100% silk, which I always recommend for bridal gowns, and has a wonderful hand and luster. The shrug will be a delicate silk organza, crisp enough to hold its shape but soft and sheer enough to move and breathe. Finally, the lace is a unique silver floral motif, heavier than typical bridal laces. I think the contrast will be gorgeous.

In the meantime, I'll be drafting the patterns so they're ready to go when the fabrics arrive. Check back soon for more!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Did you ever have to make up your mind

One of the things I love about what I do is seeing my ideas become reality. Going from the flat illustration and fabric swatch to a real, three-dimensional gown that someone is going to wear on the most important day of her life is a real treat. And now, you will get to experience it too, as today kicks off Diary of a Dress.

One of my lovely brides, Miss W, has graciously agreed to the project, so over the next six months, we'll be posting notes and photos of her wedding gown throughout the process.

Miss W and I first met to discuss design ideas. Some of the photos she brought to show me are pictured here:

Left to right, these are designs from Anne Barge, Monique Lhuillier, and Lazaro. Miss W liked the ruching element in the bodice of Anne Barge's gown, as well as the metallic embellishment under the bust. The Monique Lhuillier gown was the perfect example of a delicate wrap that she was envisioning- something to cover her shoulders and upper arms, but still with that bare feeling- very soft and sexy! Finally, the waistband from Lazaro's gown showed the heavy, densely patterned applique style that attracted Miss W's interest. Other design elements she was interested in were the wrapped or crossover bodice, an A-line skirt, and a possible applique or embroidery around the hem.

Keeping these ideas in mind, I worked on some drawings for Miss W. Following are some of the designs I proposed:

I included a sheer shrug or bolero in each design, knowing how important that was to Miss W. I showed a variety of ways to use lace or appliques, whether allover, or just in some places. I also included some variations on the ruching and the wrapped look.

Miss W liked all the designs but one was clearly the frontrunner. We made a couple of adjustments, and ended up with the final design:

Working from the original design, we added the metallic lace applique to the dropped waist and to the hem to complete Miss W's wedding gown design. We were done with the first step (whew!)

Next up: fabric!

Monday, July 16, 2007

It's the new Mother Nature taking over

Thanks in part to activists like former VP Al Gore, this country is finally starting to pay attention to the environment and the damage that we cause it on a daily basis. You may have noticed the terms "green" and "eco-friendly" being attached to everything from filmmaking to transportation.

Well, the good news is, you can have a green wedding too! My friend and colleague Cicely Rocha Miller of Life Design Event Planning recently appeared on local news Channel 12 to share ideas for making your special day an environmentally friendly one.

The spot also featured a dress from Jewel Couture. The information on this dress did not make it into the spot, but it also is green. The fabric and lining are both 100% silk, a natural fiber, and are undyed. Dyed fabric requires much more processing, both chemical and mechanical, so a natural undyed fiber is great for the environmentally conscious. Also, the gown is handmade. No factories or industrial machines were used in its manufacture.

I'm no expert, but I'm sure it's almost impossible to have a true, 100% green wedding. However, it is possible to limit the damage by using alternatives such as the ones Cicely talks about here (video).

Props to Cic for a creative and insightful look at how we can design our most important events to be compatible with Mother Earth!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends

After much poking and prodding, I am on the blog bandwagon! I hope to update at least once or twice a week with new fashion trends or interesting wedding info. I'll also post any news about Jewel Couture and the projects that we have going.

How did I get into this? After deciding to sew my own prom dress in high school (a not-entirely-ill-fated project), I found out that A.) you should practice a little before diving right into formalwear, and B.) secondhand metal zippers are not the best choice for a satin evening gown.

Fortunately, I recovered from that experience and went on to make veils and bridesmaid dresses for friends who were getting married. Four years later, here I am, self-employed and helping the Valley's brides complete their dream weddings with custom gowns and accessories.

Check back periodically to see what's going on! I know I will...