Wednesday, 3 April 2013


As a costumer I do get asked to make some pretty weird things -
Santa suits and slave outfits come to mind here! and although I'm not one to turn anything down right away, reproducing Mina's red dress, from Dracula, on the right, was one I did have to say no to, sadly. Mostly its a case of the time, and space, needed to make the thing puts the cost up to ridiculousness, and I do like to keep things affordable.  Lauren, aka The American Duchess was asking me about commissions recently - the good the bad and the ugly - and I have been giving it some thought.

I think most costume makers have at some time or another struggled with the unhappy customer that you knocked yourself out to please.  Hundreds of e-mails to discuss every detail and in the end you  produce something neither of you is happy with.  On the other hand, I find it difficult to be really strict and dictate to people exactly what they should and shouldn't have. I'm always open to suggestions and some of my clients have come up with some great ideas that I've been really happy to work with. you know who you are RD....

I think there are two aspects of the problem. The first is trying to read the customers mind - difficult! Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, how many pictures you exchange and diagrams you draw -what's in someone's head is never going to be translated into reality. This is particularly true of people who don't sew I think, and its true in general that that gorgeous dress in the photo/picture/on the peg, will look nothing like as good on most of us.

The second part is more to do with creativity. Excuse me if I am getting a little precious here but there's a certain indefinable something that makes a dress all come together beautifully and in order to capture that I need to be allowed to work spontaneously. Sometimes the best things come together by accident - rootling through my stash and finding that piece of fabric or trim that I'd forgotten was there but that I knew would come in handy.

The turquoise ribbons for the silk passion flower polonaise on the left, were an example of this - I was looking for green or gold - but when I found turquoise and tried it - well it just lifted the whole thing, and I'd never have thought to try that colour, or suggest it to a customer.

Obviously though, I like to keep my customers happy too, so I've come up with a new commissions policy. If you see something of mine that you would like, but its sold, or you want a different size, colour, fabric or trim, feel free to get in touch, tell me what you want and I will make it up for you and give you first refusal.
Different sleeves, necklines and trims will all be at the standard prices, fancywork like frills, ruffles and pintucks will cost a little more.  That way you get to commission what you want,  I get to be creative, you only buy if you like the end result - and nobody is disappointed. I've kind of been doing this anyway and it seems to work, so now its official.

You can still order direct from my website or through my Etsy Shop, Classic Costume, and any special commission - that is outside the standard patterns, will still need a 50% deposit and the rest due on completion. Back to the sewing machine now.................

1 comment:

  1. I've nominated your blog for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award!