seamstress

Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Workroom Journal: A Terrifyingly Beautiful Bride

Eighteen meters of fabric. Seven meters of netting. One bag of Polyfill. Around ninety hours of work. One rock star of a bride.

A while back I introduced you to Vivien Masters , one of my gorgeous brides for the season. Apart from having impeccable taste (obviously), she’s also stunning. Like,  ethereal creature stunning. At first sight her future husband described her as ‘terrifyingly beautiful’.

Needless to say, her wedding gown had to be equally majestic…
I think it was…

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

 

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Photo: Nisha Ravji Photography

Those first photos are by the immensely talented Nisha Ravji Photography. I’m following her Facebook page with baited breath, and letting out an excited squeal with every image she posts! ( You can see more glorious wedding photos in my full feature post now! )

The following photos are from my workroom records, showing you a bit more detail that you might otherwise see.

Dramatic goth rococco black wedding gown custom made in New Zealand

Bespoke gothic wedding dress with lace over sweetheart corset bodice NZ

 

The Dress

Fully boned and stiffened, the structured sweetheart bodice gives a corseted effect, slimming and supporting the bride. I created the bodice overlay by hand cutting and appliqueing delicate French corded lace over fine sheer mesh to achieve invisible stitching and closures. The lace looked incredible over Vivien’s porcelain skin!

The pleated overskirt allows the most beautiful light play on the textured silk taffeta fabric, showing off the texture and volume of the skirts. As a firm believer in wearability, I hate seeing brides hobbled by wrist loops on long trains – so Vivien’s dramatic train features bustle loops and ribbons hidden on the inside. A few quick adjustments and the gown’s train gathers into structure voluminous folds, leaving Vivien free to dance the night away unencumbered!

A smooth fronted underskirt, pleated around the sides and back, finished the visible elements of the gown. ( Viv actually took this underskirt with her when she moved overseas, and continues to wear it.)

Gothic Bespoke Wedding dress dramatic gown
Bespoke black rococo corseted wedding dress with bustle ties and train New Zealand

The Veil

Let me introduce you to the fairy gothmother of all veils.

An extravagant gown deserves an extravagant veil, and Vivien’s didn’t disappoint. With three layers of fluffy net at royal, cathedral and elbow lengths this was a gothic fairytale come true. The Royal and cathedral layers are trimmed with more painstakingly hand cut and stitched French lace.

You remember how I said I love wearability? The royal length layer of this veil – That’s the really long one – is detachable. Vivien wore it for the ceremony and photos, before removing it for the reception. No one’s standing on her veil!

Bespoke black rococo corseted wedding dress and custom made black veil New Zealand

The Foundation

So you’ve been wondering how the gown keeps that divine Rococo inspired shape?

I design and create customised foundations for specialty garments. Supporting the sides and back of the wedding gown is the sweetest lace trimmed bustle you ever did see! Inspired by structures used through the Rococo and Victorian eras this soft pillowy bustle is light, squishable and comfortable. No awkward seating issues or stabby crinoline here! I couldn’t resist designing a heart shaped pad for the back in celebration of such a romantic couple.

The best part? Vivien actually squealed with girlish excitement when she saw it. Her reaction made me so happy!

Bespoke heart shaped pillow bustle NZ

 

If you’d like to find out more about my bespoke bridal gowns you can contact me here ( I don’t bite! ), or take a stroll through my design gallery to see more of my glowing clients. Don’t forget to check out the official wedding photos, they were also featured in New Idea magazine and on the BBC news website!

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, 1 comment
8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

8 Ways to Get the Most from Your Custom Design Experience

As a couture designer, seamstress and costumier my goal is to create the absolute best garment for you that I can. I offer a free consultation, ask lots of questions (not just about what you want the garment to look like, but also where, how and why you’ll wear it) and do lots of sketches before starting to draft the pattern.

But what if you’re not coming to me? What if you don’t know what to expect? What if you just want to make sure you’re getting the best result possible?

Grab your notepad, because I’ve collated my top 8 tips for ensuring you get the most from your bespoke clothing experience.

Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

1. Research

Before you pick a designer, tailor or dressmaker do your research.
Look for photos of their previous work, their qualifications, reviews from clients or recommendations from people you trust.  Do their style and skills suit the garment you want? ( for example don’t ask a designer who works in leather to make your bespoke silk wedding dress, and don’t expect a vintage reproduction specialist to be an expert in modern knitwear.)

2. Be Prepared

While I offer free consultations, most designers will charge you. Being prepared means you can make the most of your consult to ensure the designer or dressmaker knows exactly what you want,  and that they’re the right person for the job.
Things that I’ll ask you at a consult are: your time frame and budget, colour preferences, what occasion the garment is for, a few examples of styles or design features you like, and if there’s anything you really dislike.

 

Choosing a designer and ordering a custom designed piece of clothing can be intimidating, but here's 8 tips for getting the most from your bespoke experience!

 

3. Ask Questions

Ask if your designer does payment plans (this is especially helpful if you’re budgeting for a wedding) . Ask for a contract, what date they can have the garment completed and for an estimate of the price. Keep in mind that a custom made garment requires a personalised pattern, toiles, several fittings, quality materials and a high level of skill. These all add to the price so expect it to cost more than off-the-rack clothing.

 

When I create custom wedding gowns and costumes, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients

When I create custom made clothing, I always include care and wearing instructions for my clients. These photo instructions made it into the wedding photos!

4. Be Open to Advice

I can’t stress this enough.
If you go to a professional, experienced designer or dressmaker they should be able to assess your body shape and advise you if the design you want will be flattering. Please listen to them. We want you to look and feel amazing so if we suggest a change of style or fabric please consider it.  You’re paying for an expert service so make the most of their expert knowledge.

I personally refuse to make garments I believe will be unflattering. If you want something that doesn’t suit you it’s easy enough to buy off the rack!

5. Measure Up

A custom made garment is made to fit you, so your seamstress will take your measurements to work from ( I take between 8 and 15 measurements depending on the design). It’s incredibly important you take any lingerie, shapewear or shoes you plan to wear with your garment to your fittings as these can dramatically alter your body shape and height.
It’s also vital to tell your dressmaker if you plan to lose or gain weight, are trying to fall pregnant or if you become very ill during the construction of your garment as these circumstances will affect the fit!

As an example, all sixteen pieces in the photo below create ONE fabric layer out of FOUR layers that made up this corset. Every one of these pieces would need adjusting on every layer should the client gain or lose weight. That’s 64 individual pieces to alter!

 

corset pattern pieces | Velvet Decollete

 

6. Be Honest

This is your dream clothing or costume we’re talking about, so be honest!
If you’re not sure about a design – tell us.
If something’s itching or uncomfortable at a fitting – tell us.
If we suggest a colour or fabric you hate – tell us!
One week from deadline is too late for most designers to change anything and will make the process far more expensive for you, so be straight up about anything you’d like changed as soon as possible. A good designer or seamstress will make it work, or at least explain why it won’t work!

7. Be On Time

Be on time for fittings, on schedule for buying your lingerie and shoes and up to date on your payments.
A missed fitting stops work on your garment, meaning it might not be ready for the agreed deadline. Not wearing your shapewear at your fittings could cause last minute alterations when you finally do bring it and find it changes your curves. Putting time pressure on your dressmaker by not being organised can cause delays, or a lower quality of work as we often end up working through the night in these cases!

 

Fashion designer and pin up model Velvet DeCollete shares the 8 things you need to know to get the most from your custom made clothing experience.

8. Be Realistic

Custom designed clothing requires hours of painstaking work. Be realistic about what you expect to pay for your perfect garment and how long it’s going to take. Remember that your order is probably one of several the designer is working on at any given time.

It’s also important to remember that inspiration pictures are just that – inspiration. Your designer should make the most flattering garment possible, but we aren’t magicians! Most fashion pictorials are heavily edited and while a skin tight non-stretch gown may look amazing pinned on a model, in reality you won’t be able to sit down. Sitting down is important, as it being able to breathe, lift your arms, and eat!

 

 If you have any questions about commissioning a customised or bespoke garment flick me a message on my facebook page or my contact page– I’m happy to help! Examples of my custom designs can be seen on my fashion design portfolio, where you can read feedback from my clients themselves x

With Style & Sass,

Velvet DeCollete

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, LIFESTYLE, 2 comments

Casually Glamorous | Michele’s Glittering Bridal Party

Some things happen for a reason. In this case I’d say that reason is love. Michele and Rob were meant to be, and their wedding was one of the most joyous and emotional I’ve seen.

The Design Process

When it came to gowns bride Michele and her daughter Kathryn knew what they wanted. With inspiration images and (sparkling, enchanting, ocean-esque) fabrics in hand they arrived on my doorstep for Michele’s first consultation. The theme was casual glamour – glittering gowns and romantic flowers in an outdoor wedding ceremony, followed by the reception was in an adorable rustic hall.

By the end of that consultation we had sketches for a glamorous wedding gown and three bridesmaids, each tailored to the individual body shape of the wearer.

The custom design process always has ups and downs. Weight loss and a last minute bridesmaid swap due to pregnancy threw some spanners in the works. Luckily creating dresses for happy people is a great motivator and a few late nights later I was back on schedule. Keeping calm when hiccups happen is part of my job as the designer – the bride has enough on her mind!

 

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Second wedding, second wedding dress, mature bride, mature wedding dress, colored wedding dress, wedding dress designer , wedding dress maker new zealand, waikato, mangawhai, beaded wedding dress, navy blue wedding gown, beaded bridal jacket
Velvet DeCollete, Second wedding, second wedding dress, mature bride, mature wedding dress, colored wedding dress, wedding dress designer , wedding dress maker new zealand, waikato, mangawhai, beaded wedding dress, navy blue wedding gown, beaded bridal jacket


That Beaded Jacket

My favourite detail of Michele’s bridal gown? The beaded lace jacket. Designing garments around lace patterns and hand stitching lace and beads is my specialty. ( Vivien Master’s gown is another example of my love for lacework, check out her delicate corded lace bodice here. )

I carefully cut the jacket from the center length of the embellished lace, placing each pattern piece to ensure a symmetrical result. I then trimmed the wide scalloped border from the lace and hand applied it to the constructed jacket to line up with the existing motifs. Careful cutting and overlapping of the scalloped border created the right shape and fit around the hem of the garment. Any stray beads were then resewn into the design. The dress itself features beaded lace motifs on and under the bust, making the jacket and dress appear as one piece.

The result is a garment that looks like it’s made from one piece of specially designed lace, when in fact it’s made from many. As a bonus, the separate jacket can worn over any dress, so Michele can enjoy wearing this sentimental piece on special occasions.

 

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Second wedding, second wedding dress, mature bride, mature wedding dress, colored wedding dress, wedding dress designer , wedding dress maker new zealand, waikato, mangawhai, beaded wedding dress, navy blue wedding gown, beaded bridal jacket

 

All of the gowns are fully lined and boned to give flattering support and shape. This is essential when creating strapless dresses – there’s nothing worse than seeing a beautifully presented woman hiking the top of her dress up all the time!

If you’d like to enquire about creating a stunning gown of your own, feel free to contact me. I promise it’s a relaxed process and not at all scary! More beautiful gowns and happy clients can be found in my design gallery.

With Style & Sass,

       Velvet DeCollete

 

 

 

 

 

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Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Florals for a Florist | Sam’s Custom Swing Dress

Some people put a smile on your dial in an instant. Samantha is one of those people!

She’s also a total babe.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

We met at The Very Vintage Day Out 2015, in the fruit smoothie queue – as ya do- and struck up a conversation over our outfits. Samantha’s enthusiasm and humour over the glories and pitfalls of pinup style was contagious, and I was thrilled when she contacted me about a custom dress.

Sam needed a dress for a family wedding. She was doing the flowers, so she needed to retain an easy range of movement, but still look amazing ( obviously).  Inspired by her vivacious nature, I designed something bright that showed off her stunning tattoos. I really wanted to make her feel special

The Dress

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.
Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

Bright floral swing dress custom made for florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer specialising in 1950s and vintage reproduction inspired gowns, made to measure.

The resulting swing dress combined elements from the 50’s style gowns she loved, mixed with the modern comfort of a stretch cotton sateen. As always I tailored the dress to Sam’s shape for a perfect fit ( Well fitting clothes are so important but can be hard to find for our curvy pinups! ).

The bodice is fully boned for support and shaping, and while  bright floral print is colourful it doesn’t clash with her fiery red hair. Stretch mesh allows movement in the folded cowl around the wide neckline. A feminine bow and a line of sassy cobalt blue covered buttons finish the back.

For the Very Vintage Day Out 2016  Sam accessorised her dress with the most gorgeous jewel green hat, green shoes and a wide white belt.

Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer
Florist and Heritage New Zealand worker Samantha wearing her custom made floral 1950's swing dress designed and made by Velvet Decollete. Velvet is a pinup girl, vintage blogger and clothing designer

Sam was stoked with her dress and we’re excited be working on another gown later this year!

” Velvet is such a star! We bumped into each other at the very vintage day out in 2015 and early 2016 she finished off a beautiful custom dress for me! She was a dream to work with, a very clever lady and such a sweetheart. ”
– Samantha Keen

 

Photos of Samantha | Fran Robertson – Taken at VVDO 2016

 

If you’re interested in having your own dream garment made, you can contact me here for more information and to discuss your ideas. More happy clients and their stories can be found on my Fashion Design Page for your viewing pleasure!

With Style and Sass,

 

       Velvet DeCollete

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A Purple Freak with Tan Lines

Okay honesty time: this photoset is oooold, as in November 2015 old. I shared the photos on Facebook but never blogged them because I hated my super obvious tan lines. But ya know what? I’m naturally olive skinned. It’s hard for me to stay this pale, especially in the summer. So here it is – tan-lined legs and all – because I love this purple and black ensemble.

Jaimee B (21)

Jaimee B (29)

Outfit Breakdown

Headress | Velvet DeCollete
Corset | Corset Story
Gloves | Looksharp (embellished by Velvet)
Knickers | Kmart (Embellished by Velvet)
Fishnet Pantyhose | Columbine
Shoes | Pulp Noir

Made for working the merch stall at Burlesquefest 2015 this outfit is all about the purple. The gloves and knickers are embellished with hand stitched fabric hydrangeas and irridescent sequins (hello sewing in front of the TV), while the headdress features large glitter coated roses, leaves and black feather trim with dangling glass beads and tassels. The whole shebang has a ‘gothic showgirl meets fairy’ kind of vibe to it, which I love.

I was working on costume commissions for clients leading up to the event so didn’t have time to make my own corset. I picked this one up on sale from Corset Story. It’s more of a fashion corset and doesn’t pull me in around the waist at all, but that’s fine when you’re working in it for hours!

Public safety warning – sequined knickers will get caught on fishnet tights. Caution is advised when crouching or bending over.

purple showgirl burlesque costumeblack rose headress 1black rose headress 2

I made the headdress in a few hours from supplies I had stashed away, the only thing I had to buy specifically for this was the base ( a plastic visor that I turned upright and covered with fabric ). Hairpieces and headdresses are one of those areas where you can really go crazy with contrasting textures and materials. The bigger the better!

Photos | Zandy J Photography

 

Posted by velvetdecollete in FASHION STORIES, PINUP, 0 comments