Now that you’ve been privy to my little black book it will probably be no surprise that I really enjoy phase two of my commission work. Fabric sourcing.
Many of my clients have very specific ideas and know exactly what colour they would like for their outfit, but don’t necessarily understand about different fabrics and their qualities.
As mentioned in part one, I keep a wide selection of short lengths of various fabrics in my studio so that clients can get a feel for the weave and fibre content of a fabric and how it will behave as a garment.
Once favourites are chosen we then get down to the tricky business of colour matching. There are so many shades of ivory, cream, oyster, champagne and white, if a wedding dress is to have more than one type of fabric in the design then it’s really important to get a good match that behaves well in both daylight and under various artificial light sources.
Before hitting the shops I tend to refer to my trusty catalogues of fabrics from my suppliers. We look at the variety of colours available in each quality (“quality” refers to the exact weight, width, finish and fibre content of a fabric, ) and choose a few fabrics to order samples of.
This works brilliantly for plain coloured dresses and is how I most often select fabrics for Mother’s of the Bride outfits, but if a dress requires lace or textured fabrics it really is best to see them on the roll. So off to London we go!
Becca fell in love with a scrap of fabric I had in the studio, it was a not-quite-blue, not-quite-green, not-quite-silver that could best be described as ‘sea foam’. We knew it would be a tricky one to find, but undeterred she, I and her Mum made the pilgrimage to Soho in search of our Holy Grail.
With such a specific shade in mind you begin to feel a little bit like Goldilocks. Too bright, too pale, not quite subtle enough…
We were honing in on that colour but couldn’t find anything that looked that ‘Bridal’…
Then we found this stunning beaded chiffon in the exact colour! Becca hadn’t any intention of wearing anything as glitzy as a beaded fabric but after a few minutes in front of the mirror she was sold. The beads add a weight to the fabric that means it falls in luscious drapes and would make an amazing bias-cut top, perfect for our two piece wedding outfit. The fabric has a look of having been rolled in sugar crystals, giving it an all over texture and a more subtle sparkle than if it was sequinned or even embroidered with clusters of beadwork.
To get the effect of how this colour was going to look from head to toe, we wrapped Becca up in the fabrics. Using a fine gauzy tulle as a sleeve and a lightweight satin which was the perfect colour but unfortunately didn’t have the weight we needed for the wide leg palazzo pants I’d designed. The design is really coming together, she already looks like a Grecian goddess.
Here are our finds with the original scrap of silk from our consultation, I never thought we’d be so lucky in finding the exact colour.
Yay! That’s one happy lady.
Having exhausted the shops for a heavy silk satin we took advice from the staff in Broadwick silks and the number of two specialist dyers. We would have to commission a piece to be specially dyed to match the rest of our fabrics.
I havent dyed anything since college so was really glad to be calling upon the skills of the professionals, I called Nicola Killeen textiles, and chatted to her about our problem. She told me that they mostly work for film and theatre and don’t really take on fashion or bridal commissions. I reassured her of my background and that I understood the risks involved in having a fabric dyed (there can be irregularities and flecks in the finished piece due to the fine grains of pigment used in the process) and she was happy to take on our little project.
I sent a sample of our colour directly to Nicola and ordered the heavy weight satin to be sent directly to her from my supplier.
They set up a dye bath, test samples of the fabric until the exact colour is achieved and then dye the whole piece.
It took a couple of weeks but when the fabric turned up it was perfect!
I ordered little beads from a shop I’d found in Cambridge whilst on a weekend break the previous year, and the hunt for our materials was over.
Time to get cutting!