Wedding dressmakers specialise exclusively in wedding fashion, so they must possess attention to minute details and the skill to manipulate materials such as satin, lace and beading. A dressmaker isn't necessarily a designer, but the job often utilises many of the same skills. Wedding dress boutiques and workshops or design companies employ dressmakers, although many work in self-owned businesses or on a freelance basis.
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There are no strict educational requirements for any kind of dressmaker, but studies in fashion technology help. Dressmaking is like any other art in that those who have a passion, talent and drive to master the technical skills can make a career of it. Another important requirement for a wedding dressmaker is the ability to listen to the client. Dressmakers who listen well are better able to produce the client's vision. Even if a dressmaker isn't a designer, drawing and sketching capabilities are crucial to translating ideas into wedding dresses. An aspiring wedding dressmaker can develop valuable skills during an apprenticeship or on-the-job training.
Wedding dressmakers must possess the same abilities as top-notch tailors, such as taking accurate measurements of the human body. If a client desires a dress from a photo, for example, the dressmaker must sketch it out (front, back and sides), translate it into correctly sized pattern pieces, cut out the layers of fabrics and put the dress together. Since wedding dresses are more complex than most other fashions, the maker has to be able to correctly and flawlessly join the parts, which calls for in-depth knowledge of dress construction and a deft hand.
Fitting a wedding dress requires that a dressmaker study the garment on the client's body and take the appropriate measurements (which might have changed since the initial measurements) to fit it to her like a couture gown. The dressmaker marks alterations by pin-folding the fabric or marking it with a fabric pen. Poor measurements or markings result in an inexact fit and can be the difference between an exquisite dress and a mediocre one.
When a wedding dress is made entirely by hand, the detail work (such as beading or lace) is usually sewn on prior to the final alteration or just after the final alteration, depending on its complexity and the dressmaker's skill. Correct alteration work requires the dressmaker to maintain the drape and symmetry of the garment while refining the fit. If any previous stitching needs removal, the dressmaker must use care in ripping it out.
Good marketing and business skills are an important asset for dressmakers in the competitive wedding fashion industry. It is crucial that an independent dressmaker be able to estimate the cost of the dress and price it for her client. Dressmakers who work in-house for other designers don't have to worry as much about marketing themselves since they execute others' designs, but dressmakers who work on their own can expand their business with proper promotion. One way to do this is by shopping sample dresses to the largest wedding dress emporiums so a much wider bridal audience sees them.
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