Jenn – Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m excited to finally share photos of one of my latest Couture Brides, Jenn! She was a dream to work with and I’ve had fun sifting through all of her wedding photos by Heather Nan Photography to find these, my favorites of her and the gown I made for her.

After Jenn’s initial design consultation the three absolute-must-haves for her dress were that it had to have sleeves, she wanted it to show her collarbones because that’s her favorite feature, and she really liked tulle.

Less important were that it be an A-line or ball-gown silhouette—with not too much of a train—and that she also liked “sparkly stuff” but was not dead set on it…

With those criteria in mind I thought about it for the next few days. After drawing the first sketch I knew she was going to pick it, so I held off on doing any more drawings until I could prove my hunch. This was indeed her dress! When she saw it she loved it and that was that!

At the time of her design consultation, the wedding was going to take place in Newport Beach in March, so I did the original sketch with very slight cap sleeves and gave her the option of doing a longer 3/4 length sleeve depending on how the dress evolved; I would drape it both ways to decide what looked best on her when we fit the muslin. But before I got to making the muslin the location of the wedding was changed to Salt Lake City (same time of year), so we decided to go ahead with the longer sleeve since it would look and feel more appropriate in the colder climate. That’s one of the great things about doing a custom gown; it can evolve and change to perfectly suit many different criteria.

The gown is actually two separate pieces: a tulle and organza skirt, and the gown, which is more like a jacket with a train (in double face duchess satin—the same fabric I used to make my sister’s wedding gown). Jenn was planning to wear the gown as pictured for the whole wedding and reception, so I constructed it accordingly, but for a bride that just wanted to have shoulders and arms covered for the wedding ceremony I could have easily made the skirt underneath into a gown of its own with a strapless bodice or corset. Again, that’s the beauty of doing a custom gown—making it unique to the bride who will be wearing it.

Congratulations to Jenn and her husband! They are a lovely couple, and, as always, I enjoyed getting to know them and having such a special role to play for their big day!

Susanne – Newport Beach, California

Susanne and her husband.

When I met with Susanne for her initial consultation she had three must-haves for her gown: “Grace Kelly-esque,” a full skirt with box pleats, and a sleeved jacket with Alençon lace — the rest was up to me. I really had fun creating her gown because like Grace Kelly’s, it’s actually made up of four separate and quite complicated pieces; Susanne’s “gown” consists of a jacket and skirt, and a corset and crinoline (neither of which are seen).

The gown is made from Italian silk duchesse satin, French Alençon lace, and lined with silk taffeta.

The lace on the jacket is not a solid piece of lace nor is it cut from the same pattern pieces as the jacket. It is made up of roughly 6″ x 9″ motifs that were cut away from the netting on the original lace panel and then hand stitched on top of the duchesse satin  jacket (after all the seams were sewn) so that there is no disruption of the floral pattern of the lace — even at the side seams — which is a detail you will only see on a couture gown.

The same is true of the lace around the hem of the skirt; each 6″ x 9″ motif was placed so that it looked like the flowers were “growing” up from the bottom of the skirt. This gown is one of only three gowns in seven years that I didn’t sew every single stitch of with my own two hands; my mom (an excellent seamstress in her own right) was visiting me in New York and helped me piece the lace to the skirt. Sitting together with her, with the skirt laid out on the table and each of us with a needle and thread in hand, is a memory I’ll always cherish. I love sewing and I love my mom!

I also love covered buttons, and Susanne’s gown had a lot of them; they went all the way down the center back of the skirt. I always make fully functional covered buttons and button loops because I think they are so pretty; if you wanted to, you could actually unbutton this skirt all the way to the hem, even though you’d just end up seeing the inside seams of the lining and it would take forever as there’s about 130 of them!