I get questions like "Why does it cost more to have a dress made than to buy it off the rail? " And "What is your minimum cost for labor, so that I know what to expect and if I can afford you." also "Can you break it down for me? I will buy the fabric if that helps?" or Client: "I want to have this dress made but in white for a function" Me: "Is it a wedding dress? " Client: "Yes, are you going to charge me more now?
The reason you are paying more to have a dress made is that you are getting a unique and custom design. This design may come from an image on Pinterest or just something that you dreamed up over the years or perhaps you wanted me to get creative because you know and trust my work. But to make a dress even from a picture is the same as to design something from scratch. Once we've established the shape, style, and silhouette of the dress, a process I call pattern development needs to happen. This process takes more time than all the consultations, buying fabric, answering your emails, cutting, and sewing the dress.
This is not easy for anyone to do! A lot of technicalities goes into this process, and without this process, you cannot make the dress. Pattern development is where style lines and measurements come into play, creating something from nothing. This is the most important part of the design; this is the design! Everything you want and all your dreams for this dress relies on how good this pattern is and it takes time, a lot of it.
Calculations, knowledge and years of experience are all mixed. What will be created is a very specific kind of recipe to an acquired taste. Thinking hard about what it should taste like, the formula is created. I add the ingredients and make sure the heat is just right. First, some steam appears, and with confidence, and perseverance I am now cooking up a storm. By stirring often, I create a balanced consistency that finally comes to a boil. My trained hand takes it off the warm plate just in time and put aside to cool down. All my hard work paid off, and I am left with a concentrated mix of genius ready for sampling.
How long does it take to cook you might ask. Well, it depends on what your cooking!
The sample is not yet perfect, so the pattern needs to change here, and something else needs to fall away there. Let's make the changes and then cut a new sample but... oh no now that the new sample is done it's still not perfect, so I repeat the process, patience being your best friend and worst enemy.
Finally, I have something that I am proud of, it's been refined, and I am happy to take it can to the fitting. At the fitting the waist needs to move up, the shoulder must be thinner and the neckline lower. Ok so repeat the process one more time :)
Every material has a different recipe; therefore it is very important to know what kind of fabric you want. Good quality fabrics make the design process much more fun and give me the margin to be more creative and produce a high quality work. ( good and bad quality, by the way, takes the same time to produce) So yes, trying to save by bringing your own fabric will cost you more in the end.