Sunday, September 9, 2007

The McWilliams Bridal Party - Final Fitting

First and most important, I thank God for the gift of sewing. It has truly enriched my life. It has given me an opportunity to meet and sew for a variety of people. Many experiences have helped me broaden my skills and have inspired me to challenge myself in areas that I may not have had the courage to explore. I still question my ability and am always searching for new and improved techniques to perfect my gift. All in all, it a wonderful gift and I’m grateful.

Yesterday was the final fitting for the McWilliams Bridal Party. There was a miscommunication on the time to fit, but it wasn't a big deal. In fact it worked to my advantage. I needed a break Friday night as I have sewn nearly everyday for the past three weeks. I put the finishing touches of the maid of honor dresses Saturday morning. Everyone met at my place starting at 3:00pm. My friend, Steve, came over to take the photos while I attended the bridal party. So all photos, expect one, are compliments of Steve Ross of “Ross Photography Services”. My DD Lauren helped with the refreshments, but soon after she retreated in her bedroom. By 4:00pm the bridal party had arrived.

In my apartment:

2 sewists (me and Pauline*)
2 bride and groom
4 bride’s maids
2 maids of honor
1 mother of the groom
2 (best man and groom’s man)
1 ring bearer
1 Photographer
3 (children)
1 DD
Total 19 people
*Pauline made the vests for the groom, best man, groom’s man, and the ring bearer.

Four dresses were created using Vogue 2732
and two dresses with Vogue 8360

Everyone was satisfied with the results.

Comments from the bride’s maids:

Kia said, “Thank you, Cennetta. You made me look like I have a shape.”
Heaven and/or Charleon said that they could wear the corset with jean after the wedding.

Comments from the maids of honor:

Anita said, “I can wear my dress to a Christmas party.”
Rochelle (bride’s sister) said, “Oh my God. What was Jennifer thinking when she selected this dress.”

BTW – the maids of honor were a little concerned about the over-exposure of the bust and lower back area. Moderations were needed for their dress. See my reviews on PR.
There were a few alterations needed after the final fitting on the maids of honor dresses and Cessilee’s corset. After everyone left, I cleaned some; then sat down to make the alterations. I wanted to complete everything for this bridal party by the close of the week.

This was a great experience. As I stated in earlier blog entries, this was the first time I provided services to a bridal party of this size. In times past, I have altered bridal dresses and gowns, made one or two bride’s maid dresses, or made the flower girl dress. This experience was also stressful. There were two burning questions always on my mind: “Will I finish on time?” and “Is my craftsmanship up to par?” Some crazy part of me felt like it was unnatural to feel this way. Until I read a blog entry on Cidell's blog.
For those of you who plan to sew for profit, there are a few lesions that I have learned from this and other experiences that may be helpful to you.

Lessons Learned:

• Provide terms and conditions at the initial appointment. Make sure the client understands what you are willing to do.

• As the potential client screens you, you decide if the project is a good business venture.

• Be flexible with scheduling appointments. Give the client at least three possible appointment times.

• Create a muslin of the desired garment and confirm the style and fit with the client before starting on the actual garment.

• Clients who are expecting or who have recently given birth, make their garment as close to the deadline date as possible.

• Log and track your time. This helps you gauge and/or re-evaluate your service prices. Is it worth your while? Include shopping for materials, appointments, and project construction time.

• Require a deposit, and set the terms for your services.

• Establish some base prices for each garment type; then add other costs based on difficulty and amount of time to create. Ie., basic prom dress w/ garter and some kind of wrap or purse: starting price $175.00. Client wants jacket instead of wrap – add cost; Client wants purse and jacket – add cost; Client wants rhinestones around the top of the bodice – add cost. Any additional style enhancement takes time.

• If you use a technique that works well for you but differs from the pattern instructions, follow your method. Sometimes it is easier than a method that you are not familiar with.

• Start the project as soon as possible. Pace yourself so that you don’t over work yourself the week prior to the deadline.

• Don’t put limits on your ability. Think outside the box. Pattern instructions serve as a guide; they are not the Holy Grail.

• If you get stuck or are have difficulty constructing some part of the project, use all or any resource for help. Eg., friends that sew, staff at your local fabric stores, internet databases, books, magazines, etc.

• Take pictures of the finished garment. Build a portfolio.


  1. Your dresses turned out fabulous! You should really pat yourself on the back. You gave great pricing advice. One question: Do you always use a pattern? If not, do you charge more if you have to do any drafting?

  2. The dresses are beautiful. What a lovely color on the girls. You should be proud of your work!

  3. You did a wonderful job! And God love you for taking on this project. Even without the inherent land mines involved in a bridal party job, I've always found sewing for hire to be nerve wracking. Your points are spot on and the finished product is lovely!

  4. You did a fantastic job!!!! Kudos!

  5. Thank you ladies for your kind words of encouragement. Erica, I'm not completely comfident in my ability to draft an entire garment. Quite often I will splice two patterns together or use a portion of a pattern piece to create a desired shape within a garment. I purchase many patterns trying to capture a particular style request. Drafting my own patterns is but a dream. It needs to come true. My pattern collection to totally out of control. chuckle. chuckle. Maybe one day I'll take a class or find someone who could mentor me in this area. As far as charging more, I usually charge more if I have to do a lot of pattern splicing. Sometimes if I not up to the challenge, I will inform the client of my limitations and let them know where I can meet the their desired request.

  6. The dresses look great! You are to be commended on the work you've accomplished in the time set. Great job! Now get some rest because I'm sure you will have more wedding sewing coming your way soon!

  7. Oh my. How come the dresses I had made for weddings didn't look a thing like this??? Beautiful work!

  8. hello: the dresses are beautiful. That was a major undertaking. That is the main reason i will not sew for friends. Although i used to sew for my girlfriend when i was in high school and college. As for tooooo many patterns, i have the same issue. I decide to do something about it and i am taking a pattern making course at the community college. Job well done



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