Saturday, February 27, 2010

Serving Those Who Serve Our Country

As part of my business of serving others through my sewing skills I am asked to frequently alter and place service patches for many service men and women.  This is an amazing group of people who depend on me to provide a service that is exact. 

Some are new and others have been serving our country for many years.  But what they all have in common is a great deal of pride and dedication to their service to our country.  They show respect to their uniform as they bring it to me for their specific alteration need.  They have an expectation that when they leave their uniform in my hands, that it will be done well and to the specifications of their branch of service.

In return, I find that I am honored to serve these men and women who risk their lives to protect me.  I find that I am more aware of my work as I measure and re-measure the placement of their service bars and stripes, before actually securing them to their uniforms.  I find that I have an additional element of pride as I serve them.

When they arrive for pick-up, they inspect their uniform, as it represents who they are and what they stand for.  My hope is that they leave totally satisfied in my work, knowing that they can wear their uniform with the pride that they carry within them. 
To those who serve our country, thank you for allowing me the priviledge of serving you with my sewing skills.  It is a honor to serve you in this capacity.

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Custom Seamstress
Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Delighted Bride and Mom

One of the many joys I am blessed with, is when a bride requests something unique for her dress.  Most often my job will be to take in the bodice or the waist along with the hem.  Sometimes I will be asked to add some trim, remove a flower and reshape the shirt, or simply remove the sleeves.  But my most recent job was different than most, yet provided the most fullfillment  It was taking something old and creating something new for the bride.

The bride's mother saved her own wedding dress, in hopes that one day her daughter would wear it at her own wedding.  What a joy it must have been when her daughter said she wanted to wear it.  The only thing that would be different would be that she wanted her dress to be restyled to a more modern look.

Those of us who got married in the last 70's through early 80's remember the high collars and puffy sleeves, and other Gunne sax style dresses.  The dress that was to be restyled had the high collar that zipped up in the back, which the bride decided needed a little updating.  The bride provided a picture from a bridal magazine, sharing what she wanted her dress to look like.  To provide this look, I removed the collar and netting that was on the neck, shorten the zipper creating a "V" shape in the back, and reapply the original lace that was on the original dress.  Both the bride and myself were excited to see that would could use all that was on the original dress without having to use anything new.

The work was tedious, yet such a delight.  I love to create unique items, including refashioning any garment of clothing when I have the opportunity.  The easiest part of my job was to understand my clients desire, which she was able to clearly communicate  her wish.  She knew what she wanted, had a picture to help share her idea's, and I was able to move forward with her request.

The dress is now complete.  The bride arrived with her mom today for the final fitting.  And the most full-filling part of my job was when the bride smiled and shared how happy she was, along with her mom sharing that I did "magic" to her dress.

There is nothing more satisfying than a job well done, where the client leaves with a huge smile of delight.

Enjoy the after pictures!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To Be a Seamstress

Being a seamstress allows me to use needle and thread to alter, repair, create and tailor custom and ready made clothing, as well as create a variety of other items from doll clothing, infant blankets, specialty clothing on through to include home decor type items.  There are many titles and definitions that describe the work that I do, from seamstress, dressmaker, crafter, and tailor. 

Custom dressmaking and tailoring is when one creates clothing to meet the specific requests of their customers.  This can be done using existing patterns as they are designed or altered to meet the customer's preference of style and fit, as well as creating custom patterns specific to the customer's measurements.  The custom pattern making I provide is generally on the small scale, creating patterns for dolls as I replicate fashions as requested by clients, as well as young infant clothing.  For adults, I often use ready made patterns and alter then to meet my clients request.  Occasionally, I will create a custom pattern for adults, but it is not a frequent need.

Part of  a seamstress job is to help educate customers in fabric selection for their style selection.  At times, when a customer requests it, I will spend the time shopping with them to get the fabric that is best for their style preference.  Depending on the style of their dress, it is important for me to share with them how one fabric would work better than another for their style selection.

With dressmaking and tailoring one needs to measure and fit through to the completion of the garment.  Depending on the garment, this could take from two to six fittings.  A bridal or other formal dress will take up to six fittings, where a man's vest could take two with a final fitting upon completion.

Tailoring also incorporates altering ready made garments to better fit my clients.  The most common request is for pant hems, but I frequently fit jackets, take in waistlines on slacks, jacket lining replacement and more.  In some cases, a customer will request that I add inside pockets to their jackets, change a collar, restyle or refashion a specific dress, etc.  Tailoring is about creating a look and fit that makes my customer comfortable, from the young child in dance or a recital, the office professional, to the bride and her bridal party. 

Alterations and mending services allow customers the freedom to bring along a basket or pile of mending they don't have time to conquer, as well as an individual item that needs a hem, zipper replacement, seam repair and more.  This could also incorporate mending or altering bridal and formal wear.  In addition, it not only relates to clothing, but also to the other sewing needs a client might have. 

The goal of my seamstress work is to provide a quality, finished product, using my skills, in order to give my customer what they would otherwise not be able to do themselves, or find elsewhere.  Sewing is not only a "job" but  an enjoyable career where I meet interesting people, where others are able to enjoy the gift of my sewing skills.

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Laura - Custom Seamstress

Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties
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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Refashioned for a modern, elegant look

It is such a delight when a client comes in with their idea of what they would like to have for their wedding dress. 

My most recent client arrived with her mother's wedding dress.  In her desire to wear her mom's dress, she also wanted to refashion it to be more modern for her own personal style preference.

The request was to remove the high collar and full back zipper and transform the dress into a more modern yet elegant style.  I removed all the trim and neck netting, shortened the zipper, secured the bustle buttons, and changed the back to a v-shape providing a very elegant look for the bride.  After all the work was done to remove the old, the next step was to use all the original lace trim along the new lines of the bodice lines.  The bride requested that the lace overlap the edges, providing a lacy effect along the edges of the dress.

One knows that the bride has made a wonderful decision when clients, who come by for their own alterations, see her dress on the dress form and share how beautiful the dress is.

I personally love the old fashion look, so when she brought the dress to me, I was thinking it was beautiful to begin with. Once I understood what the bride wanted, I was able to take her mom's beautiful country style wedding dress and transform it into a more modern, elegant style that I was honored to create.

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~
Laura - Custom Seamstress

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Something old, something new, something unique just for you

It was a pleasure to be interviewed by a local reporter to be included in this years 2010 Bridal Guide, provided through our local paper, the Concord Monitor.

Although my sewing services are varied from meeting the needs of many, from infants through adult as well as your home, this particular article focused on my services that I provide to the bride who wants to wear her mom or grandmother's dress, or use their own dress for something special after the wedding.

From refashioning an old dress or one you find on sale that you want to make more "you" to Christening gowns, wraps and more.

~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Laura - Custom Seamstress
Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties

Here is the article, written by By Victoria Shouldis/For the Monitor January 19, 2010:

Get the perfect fit out of an heirloom gown

Here’s the problem. You’ve got your mom’s wedding gown or your grandma-on-your-father’s-side wedding gown and you’re planning on getting married. Naturally, you’d like to make use of that heirloom gown.

But there’s a problem. Or two. It turns out you and grandma had different body types. Or you know, you love the gown, but not necessarily on you. Or you love elements of the gown, but not the whole package. Or maybe the gown hasn’t been preserved exactly correctly, so that a lovely dress that was once a pure white is now something of tinged-yellow.

What can you do? Do you have to toss the heirloom dress and buy something brand new, perhaps beautiful but lacking in the character that comes with history and family stories? No! You can visit a talented seamstress instead.

Laura Field is a local, talented seamstress. She has been running her Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties shop out of her home in Concord for nearly a decade, specializing in everything from new gowns to alterations to exquisite clothes for dolls.

The good news? Field has some solutions for that old family gown.

The bad news is that a gown, in general, only has so much give, so an alteration to make, say a size 4 dress into a size 6 is possible but beyond that is unlikely. (Making gowns smaller is a bit easier, but again, with major size alterations come changes in proportion and appearance of the dress, so there are limits there, too.) Field also notes that you can’t just go by label sizes.

“What is called a size 10 today might have been labeled a size 14 20 years ago,” Field said. So you have to go by actual measurements and not just label sizes.

So a gown can be let out a size or so; Field can also substantially alter that old family gown, to, say, remove some of those flourishes that the modern bride doesn’t care for, or the more restrictive designs that were all the rage in eras past.

“Often times brides have me change things like those lace, high-neck collars,” said Field. “Many people don’t like those.”

Okay. But what if that beautiful, family heirloom wedding gown just isn’t going to make that transformation into your wedding gown? How can that treasure still be a part of the ceremony or other family tradition? Field has a proverbial wedding chest full of solutions.

“Christening gowns. This is a very common use for family gowns – I take the family gown and turn it into a beautiful gown for a baby’s christening,” said Field. “And then that gown, in its new form as a christening gown, can be passed down to other generations as a christening gown.”

Field said gowns can be transformed into non-wedding wear: suits for the bride or even bridal bags or gifts for the bridesmaids.

Field also has tons of ideas for incorporating that old gown into something, well, new, for the wedding ceremony itself. The gown can be turned into tiny pillows for the ring bearers to use. The gown can be incorporated into a new gown’s veil. Or it can even be transformed into a shawl, designed to wrap one both in soft comfort and family history.

Drawing from her own specialization in doll clothing, Field also suggested a very non-traditional way of preserving and honoring, say, grandma’s old gown: doll replicas.

“Some people might want to do this especially to honor a couple in the family who’ve been married for a long, long time: we can take the wedding gown and turn it into a replica of itself on a small doll,” said Field. “Then that treasure can be kept and passed down as a memory in a curio cabinet.”

With many of Field’s ideas, the seamless (pardon the pun) transition of old gown into the new gown is one that will not be readily apparent to the eye. But families will share their stories – as families do – and soon, everyone at the ceremony will know, say, that that veil contains a piece of grandma’s wedding gown, or that that gown the first grandchild was christened in was once the gown that great Aunt Cordelia was married in.

“What’s great about incorporating the old into the new is that you satisfy that old, traditional bride’s creed: something old, something new, something borrowed,” said Field, who is busily wrapping up work on her daughter’s wedding gown. (She’s also bringing food and being asked to play flute at the ceremony.) “We don’t quite have the something blue part, though.”