Bespoke dressmaking and tailoring
I’ve always had a love affair with pins and needles, fabric and thread. It is a joy to be earning a living from dressmaking and tailoring. I have many personal customers and the commissions are never boring. At the very basic level I am happy to do minor alterations from raising hems on special occasion wear to relining men’s overcoats. I remodel vintage clothing as well as making up retro styles from scratch using original patterns from all decades of the 20th century. I have many requests from women who want their wardrobes updated, especially if they have much loved designer clothes which need to be adjusted for size or the latest fashion trends. I can replicate existing styles in new fabrics and to new sizes. I also produce heirloom items from existing garments. Using traditional flat pattern drafting skills and computer aided design, I can make clothes to fit and flatter any figure shape or age. My customers range from school girls and their prom dresses, to young men who want their suits to look sharper. Amongst my clients are brides, bridesmaids and wedding guests, young mothers who want christening gowns, and at the other end of the scale, elderly, but still fashionable great grannies who desire their wardrobes to be extra sparkly for their autumn cruises. I also offer a service re-styling menswear and uniforms.
I am constantly scouring online sites, markets, second hand shops and vintage stores for patterns, embellishments, beads, ribbons, buttons and fabric remnants. My favourite places are the vintage market at the Ladbroke Grove end of Portobello Road on a Friday, Greenwich Market and Camden Passage as well as Shepherds Bush market. I also seek out fabric shops wherever I go. In London the rows of cloth shops in Goldhawk Road and Soho are just heaven for any textile aficionados. Ditto Fabrics in Brighton also has wonderful selection of carefully chosen fabrics as do many fabric shops dotted around the country, although they are getting harder to find.
I collect vintage dressmaking, fashion, costume, tailoring and pattern drafting books and therefore spend much time in antique and second hand book stores. These often provide insight and tips into the original methods which are helpful when I am trying to recreate the authentic look of a garment, particularly a jacket or coat. I also have a great love of History and Art, and use these as a constant source of inspiration for design details which can give a contemporary garment a vintage twist. I have a strong belief that fashion should be an everyday expression of one’s individuality and should not just be confined to special occasions. My tag line, ‘Costume dramas for modern day heroines’ was born out of the idea of creating practical clothing which hinted at the romance of past eras but which could be worn in contemporary surroundings without looking like absurd fancy dress. My Regency Bow coat is an example of using a style from Georgian times and adapting it for everyday use. It has a traditional diamond shape construction on the back bodice, a wide collar and wide cuffs. Such garments would not look out of place with modern boots or bag, standing on Paddington station or shopping in Royal Windsor, yet they retain an element of individuality and charm. It is the construction and design detail which are so enjoyable for a dressmaker, and which are the hallmarks of a bespoke, tailored garment.