Made To Measure: the luxury of having your desires made

I believe that the power of choosing is one of the most important thing in life. In plus size fashion, it becomes literally a luxury. Do you recognize yourself in these situations?

You shop everywhere, and find nothing of what you’re looking for; even for simple clothes like a black jacket…

Your personal style looks nothing like the latest trends…

A special occasion has you searching for a fabulous dress, but your fabulous body cannot fit so well in them…

You are sure of yourself and know exactly what you want; but it’s just not possible to find it in your size…

Curvy women read the same magazines, watch the same telly, work, go out and live the same life as their slimmer friends. All these needs and wonderful ideas that stay in dreams only… It’s all just frustrating.

I’ve been offering my Made To Measure couture services, specialized in plus size, for 15 years now.  It’s such a joy to create and work for a clientele of all ages, budgets and tastes! It gave me the incentive to share an example of the whole process, with a real contract for a client who generously accepted to play the blog game.

In the course of the next few weeks, you will accompany Yaël and myself during the 3 steps of a Made To Measure contract; from the first informative meeting, the fitting to final delivery. Let’s demystify all this!

FIRST STEP – The Informative Meeting

If you think you recognize Yaël, it’s because she has been a model for several of my collections. The coquettish young woman wrote me on Facebook to commission a custom jacket for her Curvy Cats burlesque show next April 18th. I’m overjoyed to help create a stage costume for her! We fix a meeting to start the project.

1) Photograph: Andrea Hausmann, Makeup: Gabrielle Willis    2) Photograph: Andrea Hausmann, Makeup: Stephanie Guida, Hair: Marie-Hélène Moccia, Nails: Isagel Mtl

1) Photograph: Andrea Hausmann, Makeup: Gabrielle Willis 2) Photograph: Andrea Hausmann, Makeup: Stephanie Guida, Hair: Marie-Hélène Moccia, Nails: Isagel Mtl

We meet at my atelier to take measures and discuss her precise needs. A size 18-20 tailcoat tuxedo jacket in black with silver sequins details? No problem! We establish the style details together looking at examples on the web, and design a perfect version adapted to her taste and silhouette.

We then discuss budget. Yaël wants to pay as little as possible, since this is a stage costume and will not be worn that many times – maybe a few extra wear for special occasions, of course. But I understand that for this specific project, importance will be on final looks instead of fabric quality, sewing complexity and absolute comfort. Perfect! We will save enormously by choosing beautiful synthetic fabrics that will retain their form and colour. I suggest making sure the fabrics and construction are washable – yes! a washable jacket! – because the poor garment will have to endure sweat, makeup and spraynet every time… It’s much more economical to forgo the dry cleaning. In Made To Measure projects, we can really adapt the item to your very needs: price, colour, length, number of pockets, protection, closure style, silhouette fitting… Almost everything is possible, even copying a prized article you cannot find in stores anymore. All you have to do is make an appointment to discuss your ideas.

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Once all the info is gathered, the final price for my services (pattern, fitting, sewing) is calculated in advance, and won’t change unless the client changes her mind about something. The fabric and notions (buttons, zippers, ribbons…) price is left to determine after their purchases. This is where big savings can be made. For Yaël, we agreed that I would shop for fabric and notions by myself, since it’s a fairly straightforward project. But in fact, there are 3 different options here:

  1. The client brings the fabric and notions to me, because she knows about sewing and loves to purchase these things herself. This happens rarely, but it’s an option.
  2. We shop together in specialty stores; after setting a shopping meeting, I accompany and guide you in finding what we need. This option is best for special occasions, printed fabrics, special colours or if you’re still not 100% sure of what you’ll prefer. My hourly fees for this are determined in advance during our first meeting.
  3. I shop for fabric and notions by myself. When the fabric is simple, the colour is classic or when you can’t fit shopping in your busy schedule, the client often prefers to let me do it. This is the cheapest option because I can shop faster, and do it part of my normal business activities. So, the price I will be included in advance part of my normal services fees.

The first informative meeting is always free, whether you decide to hire me or not. I’ll offer you a precious advice; never be afraid to say exactly what you think or be shy to ask questions. A trusting relationship between client and designer/seamstress/tailor is built on his or her expertise and knowledge, having people’s skill, understanding all the different silhouettes, but also on your desire to thoroughly communicate your needs and share your insecurities.

Steps summary for the Informative Meeting (free):

  • Schedule meeting via Facebook, e-mail or telephone
  • Meeting at the atelier (1/2 to 1 hour)
    • Clients needs and budget
    • Measurements
    • Design and agreement about the dates (fitting, delivery)
    • Deposit (50% of total cost – balance is due on delivery of item)

The meeting is over, I have all the information, deposit is made, I can now begin working on the project. I have ideas for buttons… I cannot wait for our next fitting meeting to show her!

Resolutions from a designer’s heart

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I believe that resolutions should encourage us, not make us feel guilty.  At mid-January, I hear more complaints around me than bursts of pride.   Why wouldn’t we dip into our hearts to make this new year a permanent gift?

A clean slate that permits you to dream about achieving coveted goals will energize some, and stress the rest of them…  It’s so easy to forget oneself when work takes most of our days.  For my part, I renounced rigid resolutions by choosing feel good objectives, pleasing and comforting to me.

Let me share with you those personal resolutions, where I fished into my past and present passions, as well as my future aspirations.

PAST : Read my magazines, cover to cover.

As a teen and young adult, I read all my magazines, every month;  a cornucopia of fun and information where the artist and the marketer in me swam with relish.  Life’s whirlwind now sees those hundreds glossy pages pile up after a quick browse.  Such a waste!  So I’m up to it again, to the great pleasure of my eyes, my head and my heart.

PRESENT : Be more daring with makeup.

Cool nails.  Check.  Flashy lips or daring eyeliner?  Check.  A simple way for feeling very womanly and/or rebellious in a few minutes, at minimal cost?  Double check!

FUTURE : To always write more, every day.

Be it into my journal, for this blog or for my professional projects, writing can take so many forms!  Liberation, inspiration, creation, planning…  The act of writing makes my smile and opens my mind.  Bonus?  More chances to use my new iPad mini that follows me everywhere, and those cute notebooks I’m collecting – inspiration can strike anytime.

For 2014, I wish you’ll get all and more of what you need.  We have the chance to be unique creatures, all of us.  Don’t be afraid to shine, to slow down or to accelerate…  2014 is YOUR year!