The search for your dream gown: dressmakers

From style to price it's no easy task finding the perfect wedding dress. Here, Pamela Armer gives a how-to guide on working with a dressmaker to make your dream design a reality.

  • Story by Words Nicky Pellegrino

From style to price it's no easy task finding the perfect wedding dress, Pamela Armer gives a here's how to guide on working with a dressmaker to make your dream design a reality.

Word of mouth is the best way to find a dressmaker with the experience and flair to turn your vision into a reality. If you know exactly what you want – having scoured magazines and the Internet for ideas – then a dressmaker may be the most economical option. But North Shore dressmaker Pamela Armer says her service is not for everyone.

“Some brides seem to love the process of having a dress made for them,” she says. “They’ll bring friends and family to fittings and drink champagne. Others seem nervous so I might suggest they go elsewhere and try on some ready-made dresses and more often than not they’ll ring me to say they’ve bought one, and that’s fine.”

If a bride decides to employ Pamela’s services, there will be a consultation about ideas, fabric and the fit, then she’ll assess what style suits their body shape. A design is drawn up and, if the bride is happy, Pamela will then provide a price estimate. “The more layers a gown has, the more expensive it will be,” she says. “And lots of beading can also throw the cost right out.”

Working within a bride’s budget is an important part of a dressmaker’s service. Pamela helps brides find the right fabric and suggests ways they can save on money without compromising on style. “With one dress the beading was so expensive the mother and grandmother did it themselves. They worked between 10 and 12 hours for four days. I felt the dress should be framed because of the amount of love that had gone into it.”

Pamela’s creations cost more than a designer gown but less than something off the rack. “But I’ve done a couple of dresses for $400. One was for a beach wedding in a simple soft white lawn [high thread count] fabric.”

Your dressmaker can also make the veil and attendants’ dresses. According to Pamela, the trend this summer is for bridesmaids’ dresses that finish just below the knee rather than full length. Bear in mind you’ll need to watch timelines during peak season as any good dressmaker will likely be flat out. 


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