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Subject: Dressmakers/Seamstresses

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Date Posted: 15:49:47 03/10/01 Sat

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[> Subject: Tips - Sewing dresses for others

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Date Posted: 22:23:31 03/13/01 Tue

I recently finished making a solo dress for my daughter. I am quite happy with it and enjoyed working on it. A few people have approached me asking me if I had plans to start sewing dresses for others. I know the problem of taking something you love to do and making it into a business - takes a lot of the joy out of it. And I also read the recent postings from some of the dressmakers which recount horror stories of demanding and abusive dance mothers; wanting their dress now and for nothing. So, having said all that, I'd like some advice from dressmakers and mothers. Is Irish dance dressmaking worth doing as a business? I'd appreciate any and all advice.

-If you are going to make it a business, then you must treat it as a business. Remember to respect the market. Prices are set for a reason. Some people enter into it with the idea of undercutting the current market. This is not the way to go. Start out with a business plan. Figure out your materials costs, labour costs, overhead, fixed costs etc. You also need to add in a bit of profit. Remember that the other dressmakers are doing this for a living, not to supplement (or be subsidized by) another income.

-Make it easy on yourself - find a nice first customer who understands that this is your first go and is willing to work with you and has no "deadline" pressure. Take ONLY this ONE (1), I repeat ONE customer. Do not trap yourself by promising anybody else anything!!! See how it goes from there. Do not ever be afraid of the word "no". Don't let yourself get a long waiting list until you are sure you are committed to this. You also need to have a reasonable sense of how long it takes you to make a single dress if your are doing this all the time. Making your kid a dress and putting real life on hold is one thing. But you cannot live that way forever.

-I too started out making my daughters dress. I was overrun with orders from our dance studio. For the most part people were great, but there are always those few that blow it for everyone else. Because I'm doing it from home and I'm just a MOM, they expect it for nothing. I can't wait for Oirachtas to be over. After that, I'm just making the dresses I want to. If someone at the studio wants to buy it, fine, if not I'll take it to a feis to sell. I've been approached by many people from other schools who would be thrilled to buy a dress. There is a huge demand, and not a lot of supply.

-I agree wholeheartedly with the above posters. When you start that first dress, add up every little bit of time it takes you, from start to finish. You may be surprised at just how much time it actually takes. For example, purchasing fabrics -- If you spend time driving to fabric stores or on-line searching, keep track of that time also. Your time is precious, and you should charge for it.

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[> [> Subject: Sewing for others as a business

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Date Posted: 14:38:33 03/15/01 Thu


Before you take the plunge, there is a lot to consider. First you need a pattern. You can contact Irish Threads, find them through Ann's Place. The common sizes I sell are girls 8, 10, 12 and ladies size 12. You also need designs. You can buy the 7 Gates designs through the Ceili Company, also found on Ann's Place. You should look at as many dresses as possible before you begin. They are very, very time consuming and really not something for a beginner sewer. Some of the common things in dresses right now are lots of shiney fabrics to ornament the dress as well as shiney sleeves. Neons were in, but now they are going out. They will probably come back someday. Lace on the sleeves is common, lots of swarovski rhinestones. Too much to go into now.

-Solo dresses are much more difficult to make than it may first appear - at least the kind that have the hefty price tags. You might be able to make simpler "Riverdancy" dresses for adults. Adult dancers usually do not want costumes that are as elaborate as the younger dancers, and they will often opt for something with less stiffening. I know from experience that getting the level of stiffening expected in a championship level solo dress is easier said than done. But even for the simpler dresses, dancers generally want quality. When you speak of designs that are not stitched but "sewn on" I think you must mean applique as contrasted with embroidery. That you are not familiar with these terms makes me think you may be a novice seamstress. It just might be possible for you to find a school that needs a seamstress for their school costume or for beginner costumes (if the school costume is quite elaborate, as many are). Certainly, practice with a dress for yourself or your sister and you'll get an idea what you're up against. Yes, bloomers and crowns are generally included in the "package".

-If you are not a very accomplished seamstress, then I would not encourage you to tackle something like this. Practice as some others have suggested, on a dress for yourself or friends. There is much more involved here than meets the eye. The fabrics and trims are expensive and you can get in over your head quickly if you don't know what you are doing. Working with someone that is already doing your school dresses would be a good idea. This will give you an idea of what you are in for before you dive in and find out you are not cut out for this, or don't have the skills necessary. Then again, you may have and you will have a good "in" with your school, and off you go! Good luck. I love making them, and I waded in the business after doing applique professionally for almost 20 years experience. Look at my site, www.seamssewnice.com and you will see some of what I do. Please write and I'll answer questions you might have if I can.

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[> [> Subject: What to include with dress

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Date Posted: 22:14:17 09/18/01 Tue

When you get a dress made to order does your dressmaker make you a headband too???

-When I maked a solo dress, my price includes the dress, shall(cape), bloomers to match the lining, and a crown. I suggest that when you employ a dress maker, you ask what her price includes. I also include a ziplock bag with an 8"x8" swatch of each fabric used in the dress as well as a list of all the embroidery/satin stitch threads on an index card. This way if there are any *accidents* with dresses, the little rescue kit can sometimes be enough to save the dress.

-I provide a crown, scrunchies, and flashpants with each solo dress order. Each individual dressmaker has her own way of doing things, though;)

-Usually the dressmaker can make them. Whether they are included in the price is another question. my dress quotes are for the dress and bloomers. I give a discount on any tiara, headpiece, or dress bag that is ordered though.

-I always include the headband (tiara) and bloomers.

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[> [> Subject: velveteen dresses

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Date Posted: 16:26:44 04/04/06 Tue

i'm very interested in making my own dresses for church, but i'm always afraid of velveteen but i think those are the most beautiful materials to work with, please give me some pointers, i just want simple patterns, something i won't make too many mistakes with. i would really appreciate it. thanks

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[> Subject: Ergonomics

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Date Posted: 13:44:09 03/14/01 Wed

I am experiencing some back pain when embroidering for long periods of time and I think it might be related to the height of my sewing machine table and the chair I am sitting on. Does anyone know a good formula for chair and table height? Any other suggestions?

-I'm not sure if there's a "formula", but the head tailor at one of my first tailoring jobs - years ago - was adamant about our chairs and machines being at the proper height to save our backs. When sitting, your knees should be at a 45 degree angle. If you are having to bend your neck or lean forward at all when sewing, raise your machine. Also - very important - sew with both feet on the peddle. Using one foot can throw your back out of alignment.Hopefully you are using an industrial machine so that you have the oversized foot peddle. Home machines, with that tiny peddle and no height adjustment, are notorious for causing back problems!

-I worked for a retail store for a while, sitting on a folding chair and using a home machine set up on a banquet table. My back was a mess! Now that I have my own business, I'm anal about my machines and chairs being adjusted just right!

-Sometimes it is not the height of the table and/or chair, but the angle of your back when sewing. Most people end up leaning forward to see what they are doing. Before you go and buy another table and/or chair, first try putting something around the size of an art gum eraser (the tan ones) under each side of the bottom of your machine in the back. This will tip your machine forward slightly which should allow you to sit straighter in your chair while having your back supported by the back of the chair. This may be enought to eleviate your back pain. If it doesn't work for you, then look for a new table and/or chair. I always like to try the easy and/or cheap solution first.

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[> Subject: Keeping a Seamstress

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Date Posted: 13:15:46 03/15/01 Thu

I'm the parent who posted below about our experience with dresses. While I'm not a professional seamstress, I have done enough sewing to realize what a difficult task an ID dress is (the waist seam wouldn't even fit through my machine). I am concerned about the way some parents treat the seamstress and would like to have suggestions from seamstresses: what can parents do to support the seamstress and keep her sewing for our school? (Unfortunately, throwing some parents out of the school is not an option :-) . . don't you wish you could sometimes? ) Are there things we can do to help the measuring process (aside from stopping the dancers from growing!), to insulate the seamstress from the most difficult parents, etc. If I hear one more parent say "I could make that dress myself and do a better job" I think I may go ballistic. I made my own wedding dress, but I wouldn't attempt an Irish Dancing dress. Help!

-This is a difficult one to answer. Some very basic, but large points are: Be on time. Payments and appointments should be there when scheduled. Be polite. We are service providers, not sub-servient. We often have other deadlines to work around, not just yours, and family obligations also. Be appreciative of the work being done. It is a lot of work to make and alter these garments. Don't complain that the bodice is 1/2 " too long, and then, after it is altered, complain that it is too short in a month when you daughter grows! Don't tell me I am being ridiculous to want to be paid for an alteration. Mt time is valuable, at least it is to me! This is just a start. I am sure we can all come up with some more ideas.

-I agree with the above poster, and would like to add to it.
Please try on your daughter's dresses at least once a month. We all know that kids grow, so don't be caught off guard at the last minute. Any seamstress that does good work tends to stay busy, and around Oirachtus, Nationals, and St.Paddy's performances, things really get hectic. Please don't wait until the last minute, then be upset that we are already booked up. I once had a mother call me two days before the St. Paddy's day parade, who was shocked that I didn't have time to knock out a dress. I was told "But it's ONLY a dress!" Most of us are sewing every available minute at those times. We also have families which are important to us and need our attention. If your seamstress works out of her home, respect her privacy. Just because we're here with our families does not make it appropriate to call or show up at any time of the day or night. I've had customers call as early as 7am, and as late as 11 pm, and show up unannounced on a Sunday afternoon when I had a houseful of company and was having a barbecue! I've been told by a customer "Considering you work from home, I thought you were available at any time." Not true. I try to work appointments around your work schedule, and often take appointments at odd hours to accommodate you, but please realize there is only so much I can do.

If you decide to purchase a used dress because the price is right but the size is way off, or it is in poor condition, don't expect your seamstress to work miracles. If I can salvage it, I will, but if I say I can't fix it, believe me, don't argue. I have no problem at all with you taking it to another seamstress, as I have my standards and will stick by them. I don't want a dress going out of here that I wouldn't want my own daughter or a friend’s child to wear. Yes, I realize that Irish dance can get rather expensive, and I feel for the families that have a hard time affording the costumes -- If I didn't sew, I'd have a hard time affording it too. But sewing is my livelihood, and I depend on my paycheck -- just like you do. Payments need to be made on time.

Please don't say "But I just need...." when I have already told you that I'm booked. Twelve other people have already told me that, and it doesn't give me more time. If you call, wondering how long it will take to get a dress at that time, don't expect to call back a month or two later and get the same time frame. If you order a dress, get a due date promised, and stick to it - don't call back expecting to get it early. If I can, I will, but it is not always possible no matter how hard I try. It's always a good idea to check with your seamstress before purchasing a dress that needs altered or repaired before your child can even wear it. I'd much rather be honest with you and tell you what can and can't be done before you even spend anything. It's much better to know if it'll cost you too much to make the dress wearable (or if it's even possible), than to end up spending your hard-earned money on a dress you can't use.

If you want to order a solo dress, make sure that you get your teacher's approval if it is needed - please don't make that my problem. Some teachers have very definite ideas on when and what kind of a dress they'd like to see their dancers in. Make sure that you have ordered what you and your teacher want. After the price has been set and fabrics ordered, is NOT a good time to change your mind. If you have to do this, realize that you will incur additional costs, and the dress may have to be pushed back.

If you have an appointment and can't keep it, please call and say so. I understand that things happen, but please let me know out of courtesy. I may have other customers coming, and it is awkward and disruptive to have someone show up while I am working with someone else, or in the middle of something.

Above all, please treat your seamstress with a modicum of respect. Yes, we are in a service-oriented profession, but we are human too and have feelings. I've sewn for a living for over twenty years, but still cringe when a customer feels the need to "explain" to me how to do my job. If I didn't do a good job, then I wouldn't be working up to sixty hours per week and turning people away.

I'd never even seen an Irish dancer until about three years ago, but am totally enthralled with the Irish dancing community. And what a strong one it is! I've made good friends of parents, dancers, and teachers alike, and enjoy my job and 99% of the people I sew for. It's just that 1% that drive us nuts! I didn't mean to write such a book, but I'll now step down off of my soapbox, slide it back under my cutting table, and get back to sewing, so that I've got a few more dancers ready for Oirachtus. Thanks for listening.........

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[> Subject: Price of Dresses

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Date Posted: 13:30:48 03/15/01 Thu

I would like to know what price range people's dresses are. Also in what currency. No need to leave your name unless you want to. My lowest is $550.00 and highest was $1500.

-My daughter recently bought her 1st solo dress. New dresses seemed to run $900 and up with a wait of 6 months or more. Used dresses seemed (to us) to be very over-priced. I think many solo dresses are sold within schools and never make it to the open market. The used dresses we saw were "weird" designs, very worn, unflattering colors, etc. It didn't seem worth it to pay $800 for a design & colors we didn't like, when a new dress is not that much more. (If you are ordering a new dress, keep resale value in mind. Someone else may not want to wear your family crest!) Also, a used dress may need alterations, which can add several hundred dollars to the cost. We finally bought an off-the-rack dress in a classic design for about $600 dollars, which we will probably re-sell within our school.
New school dresses (in the mid-Atlantic) seem to run $400 and up. Our school dress is much less, but it is an elegant design with few colors. Also, I think the school pays for the fabric from dance-out funds and the dancers pay the seamstress. It is definitely less expensive to have a seamstress make the dress (the company that sold us the solo dress said they could not come close to meeting the price of the school dress), but it is difficult to find & keep seamstresses. . I think we're on our 3rd seamstress in less than 3 years. There is tremendous demand for ID dances, but I guess it's not profitable enough to attract providers. I think part of the problem may be that some dance parents are very critical & demanding, and seamstresses decide that it's just not worth it.

--Couldn't agree with you more--I also sew--and will only put dresses together for close friends, or parents that I know well---just because many parents are hypercritical and demanding --if you think competition at dance is bad--try sewing for these moms!

---Definitely agree with your point. Many of these hypercritical parents don't have a clue what is involved in the construction of a dress, and feel that they "own" anyone they have hired to perform a service. I also have limited my sewing, stamping and embroidering of school dresses to people I know well. One woman, after being told her it would take 6 months to hand embroider a dress, became extremely rude and verbally abusive because the dress was not ready in 3 months. She has 4 girls in our school and now has such a reputation among all the seamstresses that no one will make the new style dresses for her daughters.

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[> [> Subject: Price School Dresses

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Date Posted: 12:15:00 03/06/02 Wed

As a beginner my daughter has been wearing the skirt and blouse thing, but she will have to get a school costume soon. It is made of gabardine with just some celtic knotwork on the front and around the bottom. And it is lined in satin. I have been told that the price of $400.00 is typical. Is that true. That seems so high to me for one dress.

- Ours is $400, sounds very similar.

- Our school dresses (gabardine) are $275, but that's considered cheap.

- Something else to consider is how much embroidery there is in the dress. I tried to work with a school who just had "embroidery" I have a commercial machine, and the embroidery alone took 12 hours to run. Most commercial embroideries charge by the stitch count. The stitches on this particular dress were in the 800,000 range, and the dress cost only 400. Many people do not realize the time that is spent on even a little embroidery, and that is where the cost comes into play. This particular school dress took longer to run than a solo dress for half the cost.

- Ours are gabardine, $375, but very heavily embroidered.

- You should ask your daughter's teacher if there are any used dresses for sale. My school has a gabardine dress w/ embroidery for around $350. I got a used dress for $150. The prices of used dresses will vary depending on who's selling it.

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[> Subject: How Much Time to Complete a Dress

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Date Posted: 13:47:45 03/15/01 Thu

How much time do you estimate you put into each costume (let's say something in-between a simpler solo and a championship solo dress)? Between shopping for fabrics, cutting, sewing, fittings, etc. I ask because I am making my second solo costume for my children, but people are asking if I am going to start making for other people. My husband thinks it would be a wonderful business opportunity, but I think I am far too slow at the whole process to really make it profitable. Although I have to admit that the second one is going along smoothly and more rapidly than the first one did. But I really think I am too slow to do it for other people. That's why I'd like to know how long it takes you professionals to put out a solo costume.

-I spend about 50 hours per dress. Mine are quite intricate. You need to figure how much you think you can get for your dresses, as well as your cost for materials etc. It's more a labor of love for me that a moneymaker. The nice thing is that you can do it from home on your own time. Don't over-commit though!

-Wow !! I consider myself an expert but I can only make a beginner dress in that time. I figure 80 to 120 hours depending on the dress. Just don't let "friends" take advantage of you by expecting low prices. You can make more by doing ready to wear and taking them to a Feis.

-There are companies that put out 5-6 a week, and individuals who sew four or five a year to cover hardshoes and trips. I am sure that you could fit in there somewhere, and increase production if and when your time allows. I am very busy with custom orders, but I would do off the rack if I had to start over again. There is a post down below remarking on the problems of doing custom work.

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[> Subject: Alterations

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Date Posted: 13:20:14 03/15/02 Fri

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[> [> Subject: Make Shorter Charges

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Date Posted: 13:22:57 03/15/02 Fri

As dressmakers, what would you charge to shorten a dress (at the waist), ball-park wise? Just wanted to get an idea and see if its worth it!

-I shortened a couple last year, and it takes hours to take it all apart, neaten it up and put it back together. I charged $10 an hour, so about $60 in total.

-shortening a costume is not as easy as it sounds most costumes are way to short at the waist, people forget how close our waists are to ,our backsides and not so close to our chests. I take 75$ for that service and i think I earn my fee. Its all about practice, no dressmaker alive will not learn something every garment every time, and I love restoring costumes wedding gowns doll houses ,everything but myself.

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[> [> Subject: Basic Pattern Alterations

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Date Posted: 17:49:55 08/14/03 Thu

Alterations for custom fit--I have received many inquiries about how I make these changes. So--since it is a very lengthy post

-By using the Irish Threads pattern, you will not have to scratch thy head and wonder how do I make this thing fit. Pat has done a wonderful job on the pattern and it is very easy to alter.
Some supplies to make the alteration process easier: clear see thru ruler marked in grids--usually clear with red or blue lines--available in most quilt or art supply stores--this is not a rotary ruler--it is very thin and the pencil tip can ride easily against the ruler without adding fractions/mm to the pattern being drawn. Mechanical lead pencil with very thin lead--or a pencil with a very sharp point. I also have what is called a flexible curve that you can purchase in any art store that carries any sort of drafting supplies. It is made of a flexible plastic that can be bent to mimic perfectly any curve and makes drawing bust curves a snap. I do not use pattern tissue or paper--I purchase drawing paper on a roll at a blueprint shop. It is thicker than pattern paper but much lighter than heavy poster paper and will take the heat from an iron (so one can use it to make transfers as well.) That is basically what I use.

When making a totally custom piece, I take more than the one measurement. I take a measurement around the waist, bust, underarm to waist, back from neck to waist.
If the measurements come up something like the following:
Bust 31 inches
Waist 25 inches
Underarm to waist 7 inches
Back neck to waist 14 inches.
Sleeve: measure from shoulder dimple to hem edge--then add 1.25 inches for upper and lower seams.
I then pick the pattern size that will most closely go with the bust size. I don't even worry about the skirt at this time as it is all straight lines and no need to take that on at this time.

Using the pattern from Irish Threads as your master--pick the pattern that most closely fits the bust. Waist is a very easy adjustment. Draw off all pattern pieces and make sure that you mark all the length/shorten lines. These are the most valuable pieces of marks you need for pattern adjustments.

Here comes the adjustments now---With the above measurements, the pattern piece may be for a 32 inch bust--then you need to subtract the 31 from the 32 and you will come up with 1 inch. Most people make the mistake of just adding to the side seam--this does not work as you have 4 pattern pieces and need to adjust each accordingly. Divide the 1 inch by 4 pattern pieces and you will come up with .25 inch (1/4) that needs to be added to each pattern piece. What you then do is divide the 1/4 inch by half and you come up with 1/8 inch that you will add to each side of each pattern piece. Sounds complicated--but it isn't. If you needed to make the pattern smaller, it is the same formula--only instead of adding the amounts to each pattern piece side--you subtract instead.

Bodice length--from the back neck to waist--measure the pattern--take into account that the pattern piece has 2 seam allowances of 5/8 of an inch at the top and bottom--so when measuring the pattern from top to waist--mark the seam line at the neck and the seam line at the waist and measure. The entire back may measure from top to bottom 14 inches, but when you subtract the seam on both top and bottom, the true measurement is only 13 3/4 inches. Your client has a length measurement of 15 inches--you need to subtract the 13 3/4 from 15 inches to come up with your amount of adjustment that needs to be made--1 1/4 inches needs to be added to The pattern. I take a piece of paper and draw 2 parallel lines 1 1/4 inches apart. Slash the pattern on the lengthen shorten line and tape the upper part to the top of the line and line up the lower edge with the bottom line and voila--you have the added length. The reason you subtract all seam allowances before making the length adjustment--your body measurement does not allow for seam allowances. The underarm measurement is used at this point for reference only. Make the same adjustment to all pattern pieces.

Sloped shoulder is quite often encountered in custom sewing--not just dance dresses--but also in real life. This is by and far one of the easier adjustments to make. If I notice that a client has a considerable down slope in the shoulder, I will take the following measurement and adjust the pattern. I take a straight ruler and hold it on her shoulder and then measure the amount of drop with another ruler--normal is about 1/2 inch. Just hold the ruler horizontally from the center back neck across the top of the shoulder and then with another ruler, measure the amount of drop to the shoulder dimple (same area that you measure for sleeve length). Note this number. For the purposes of an alteration we are going to set this number at 1.5 inches. Severely rounded shoulder. At the pattern, lay the first ruler horizontally from the back neck across the top of the pattern to the shoulder--horizontally like you did on the body. With the second ruler, measure the drop--make sure you measure down to the seam line of the pattern--not the cutting line-- and make a mark. Draw the new seam line and then draw the new cutting line. You will see a marked difference in the angle. Once again, you make the adjustment to center front and center back pattern pieces. If the shoulder is straighter than normal--almost blocky--you will do the pattern in the exact same way only you will raise the shoulder slope instead of lowering it. Sleeves are easy--draw the pattern piece from your master and again--mark the lengthen and shorten lines--add or subtract at this line only. The reason that lengthen shorten lines are placed on patterns in certain areas is to keep the line of the pattern.

Once I have these adjustments made. I make a mock up--I don't use muslin, I usually use a fabric called weavers cloth--the reason I use it -- it is heavier and will drape in about the same fashion as the stabilized silks, lycra, and gabardine will. Some folks skip this part as one of the steps--but for a custom fit it is vital.

If the client is within driving distance (reasonable) I have them come to my home and then I make any needed adjustments to the fit of the muslin. If there is too much fabric in the upper chest, I pin out the excess. I will then slash the pattern in the appropriate spots and tape out excess. This part comes from trial and error. If the client lives outside of a reasonable driving distance, I sent the muslin to them and ask that they make sure it fits properly. If they don't have a clue, I have them go to an alterations shop and I include instructions on how it should fit and have the alterations person make sure it is pin fitted properly. When both the client and I are satisfied with the fit, I then use the muslin as my pattern so to speak. It has worked for me every time and to tell the truth--the largest share of the dresses I have made are all from out of area.

I hope this has helped and that you can visualize how these things are done. It was all greek to me until I took a fitting class from an expert. I took this class long before I got into doing custom work. The $50 fitting class has paid for itself in spades. The person I took the class from has been a guest on many of the sewing shows and her technique is easy and works like a charm. Necia

-Necia, My dd is slender with VERY wide shoulders. Should I still base sizing on bust measurement and just widen the shoulders? If so, do you have any tricks up your sleeve for that?

--The easiest way that I know of is to cut an L shape from the center of the armseye straight across to about where the center of the shoulder seam would be. You then cut up towards the shoulder seam to within 1/2 inch of the cutting line. This will allow you to swing the piece out and add inches to just the back piece. Make sure you keep your master as you will need to redraw the shape of the back of the armseye. You do not want to make the shoulder seam itself wider--you just want to add space to the shoulder area. When you play with it you will see what I mean. If you are near a Barnes and Noble or a library, a great referance book is Fitting by Sandra Betzina. She has several ways of doing this and it would probably be written in better terms. --Necia

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[> Subject: Business Plan 2006

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Date Posted: 12:06:23 01/30/06 Mon

I still plan to do mostly custom dresses 29.79%

I will be doing fewer custom dresses and more OTR 32.98%

I will not do any more custom dresses; only OTR 20.21%

I have never done custom dress; will continue with OTR 17.02%

Total Votes: 94
From Celtic Flame January 2006

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[> Subject: Sample Dressmaker's Contract from Colorweaver

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Date Posted: 21:07:24 03/14/07 Wed

Custom Irish Dance Solo Dress Contract/Order Form
Thank you for choosing ***(your name or business name)*** to create your dancer’s custom solo dress. Please read over this contract/order form, fill out as thoroughly as possible, initial at the bottom of each page and sign the last page. Mail it along with your $300 deposit check (payable to **********) within one week to the address shown above. Your booking reservation is considered pending until this contract and the deposit are received.

Dress Price and Payment Terms: Solo Dress Budget or Price Range $_____________________ (please initial)
We will make every attempt to stay within this range. Fabrics will be purchased and designs will be used which fit your budget as closely as possible. Please be aware that sometimes unexpected costs, such as an increase in fabric prices or fees related to imported fabrics, can occur. Some designs or dress features are also more time-consuming than could be foreseen and can add to the final price.

The $300 deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to the dress price. The total dress price will be calculated prior to completion of the dress. An invoice will be emailed to you showing the deposit paid, total dress price, packaging charge and applicable state sales tax (in-state customers). An estimate of the shipping/insurance charge is also added. When final shipping charges are known, over or under payments are billed separately. Payment by bank check/cashier’s check is due upon your receipt of the invoice and should be sent by return mail.

Included in the solo dress price: Dress, Cape, Kickpants, Embroidered Headpiece, Bodice Mockup
Not included in the solo dress price: Shipping, Insurance, Packaging, State Sales Tax (in-state customers)

No dress will be shipped or released until payment is made in full. If you instruct us to hold shipment of the dress, you agree to pay for the balance as invoiced. In the event the invoice is not paid within 10 days of issuance, a service charge equivalent to three percent (3%) of the unpaid invoice will be charged for any portion of each month the invoice remains unpaid, plus reasonable storage fees.

Completion Schedule: Timeframe_______________________________ (please initial)
Your dress will be completed within the approximate timeframe as shown above. Note: Situations beyond our control can come up which may cause a delay in dress completion. Personal or family illness, backorder of required materials or emergencies are impossible to predict. While our record of staying on schedule is excellent, no guarantees can made for meeting specific competition deadlines and we assume no liability in that regard. It’s best to have a back-up dress you can use, just in case. This disclaimer is standard within our industry.

Dress Details:
The order form included here is used to determine dress and trim fabrics and to create the design. It also allows us to get a “feel” for the likes/dislikes of the dancer. Many examples of ***(your name)*** dresses are shown on (*** wherever you have pics***) and give a good indication of our dress style. Certain dress features (such as peek-a-boo pleats, sculpted neckline and sleeve edge, design on entire sleeve) are reserved for very top-end costly dresses. Our designs can sometimes incorporate the “look” of some of those features while staying within a smaller budget, though.

Custom Solo Dress Contract/Order Form Page 2
Please be as thorough as possible when filling out the order form and relay any specific wishes or concerns. Note that the order form is used as a guide in creating your dancer’s custom solo dress. We retain complete artistic license on every dress and will make decisions based on features we feel give the utmost stage presence and will best compliment the dancer. We use custom (***your name, if applicable***) designs exclusively. Due to scheduling constraints, extensive consultations are not available.

Fabrics are chosen based on current trends and customer wishes. Samples of dress base fabric can be mailed, upon request, once deposit and signed contract are received. There are certain fabrics we will not use due to their very poor “wear” reputation or exorbitant costs. We use only top quality fabrics and assembly techniques, but keep in mind these are very delicate costumes and we do not guarantee their durability.

Dance School/Teacher Rules:
If your dance teacher requires input in your solo dress decisions, it’s your responsibility to have all the proper information prior to making a booking. It’s best to know the dance school expectations and rules ahead of time. This saves lots of frustration, confusion and time on everyone’s part.

The dress must fit snugly in the bodice, especially at the waist and be above the top of the knee when pointing. Length requirements vary from teacher to teacher. Please check with your teacher for his/her length preferences. A bodice mockup will be sent, based on the measurements you provide. Instructions for proper marking and pinning will be included. The dress will be assembled based on your measurements and the mockup. Alterations are not included nor are we responsible for customer measuring or mockup fitting errors. Our seamstresses have extensive experience with both solo and class dresses and are very good at what they do.

Costume Quality:
We pride ourselves on producing top-quality, cutting-edge dance costumes. Only high-quality fabrics are used, though please be aware that these fabrics are delicate and oftentimes fragile. Techniques are used which offer the best level of durability possible. Please note, though, these are dance costumes and extreme care must be taken of them. Due to the nature of most of the trim fabrics, these costumes can not be dry cleaned. Also, due to the nature of the fabrics used, wear, especially at the outside corners of the skirt panels, is a common occurrence. Also, wear can occur in areas where the hard shoes hit against the dress in certain dance moves. As each costume is individually hand-made, inspection is made during construction. Each dress is guaranteed to be in perfect condition when placed in the shipping box or given to the customer. Please inspect the dress upon receipt and relay any concerns immediately. As **(your name)** has no control over the use and care of the costumes, all liability ends when the customer takes delivery.

Designs are Proprietary It is understood and agreed that all designs, plans, specifications, drawings, tracings, and images of the dress in its completed form are the intellectual, confidential and proprietary property of (***your name, if applicable***).

Attorney’s Fees In the event any action is necessary to enforce the terms of this contract/order form, or our invoice, the prevailing party in any such action or mediation shall be entitled to recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Applicable Law and Venue We agree that the terms of this transaction shall be governed by the law of the State of ****your state****. The proper venue for any action pertaining to this transaction shall be the County of ****, **your state**.

Return Policy These are custom dresses made to your measurements and notes on the order form. As such, returns are not allowed and all sales are final. Examples of our dresses can be seen ***(whatever applies)*** and references are gladly given. Each dress is created to be a unique expression of each dancer, with artistic license and interpretation being retained by (***your name***). Our dresses are checked for quality prior to delivery to our customers. Please look over the dress upon receipt and verify that everything is to your satisfaction. We cannot accept returns unless the item has obvious flaws, or if WE make a mistake. We are not responsible for damages after the dresses are dispatched from our premises and are under no obligation to make repairs once the garment has left the studio. If you find a flaw in craftsmanship, you must contact us within ONE day of receipt of the item to report the flaw. After we approve the return, you must mail the item back within two days of contacting us. If you wait to return the item, we will not accept it. There are no exceptions to this policy, so from the date you receive the item, you have three days to get it back in the mail to us or we will not accept the return. The customer is responsible for any and all shipping and insurance costs. The customer must insure the item. We absolutely will not issue refunds for items that are lost in the mail when being returned to us.

Custom Solo Dress Contract/Order Form Page 3

Order Form: Dancer’s Name___________________________________ Age_____

Birth Date_________ Dance Level_______ Dance School &Location____________________

Teacher’s Name_______________________________________________________________

Parent’s Name ________________________________________________________________

Address ______________________________________________________________________

City, State, Zip ________________________________________________________________

Phone __________________Email that you check often_______________________________

Dress Details: If you prefer us to make the design decisions, please indicate “*(your name)* choice”.

Preferred fabric: brocade, organza overlay, lace overlay, dupioni silk, metallic silk, lycra or lycra-type fabric, glitterball, other (describe) _______________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________*(your name)* choice______

Main dress color or colors: ____________________________________________________________

Do you prefer a one color or multiple-color dress: (dress center panel different color than rest of dress) single color_______ two colors________ multiple colors______ *(your name)* choice_____

Do you prefer sleeves to match dress color? Yes______ No_______ *(your name)* choice _____

Main trim colors: __________________________________________________________________

Any colors you definitely don’t want on the dress: ______________________________________

Design Style/Styles you most prefer:
____Geometric ____Knotwork ____Flowing/Soft ____Bold
____Elegant ____Traditional ____Modern ____Celtic

Any ideas you have about your dress and want us to be aware of. Be specific and descriptive!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________*Please send a photo of your dancer and photos or descriptions of dress styles that you like or don’t like. We will not copy the designs of other dressmakers, but appreciate knowing your likes and dislikes.

I agree to the terms and conditions as stated and implied herein and am contracting **(your name, business name)** to create a custom Irish Dance solo dress.


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