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How much is my custom dress or ensemble going to cost? 

This, of course, is a good question since you are investing in not only the finished dress or ensemble, but also in personal professional design, patternmaking and dressmaking services.  There are many variables I consider when pricing.  Each dress has never been made before and will never be made again!  Your price quote will be as unique as your dress. 

Generally speaking, it takes over 100 hours of labor and around $500 of materials to produce each garment from idea to wedding day.  Most of the time, the total for one of my dresses comes to somewhere around $3,500.  If a another garment is added to the look, such as a jacket or custom undergarment, the quote for the entire ensemble will naturally be a bit higher.  (Note: Strapless dresses almost always require a custom undergarment.)

The first $300 of your dress is due at the design consultation.  50% of your estimate is due in order to begin patterning, another 25% before cutting the real fabric and the remainder is due when your dress is complete. 

How long does the dressmaking process take and how far in advance must I book?

The process takes approximately 3-6 months from signed contract to finished garment.  That time is reserved exclusively for you! I create only one dress at a time, therefore  advance booking is encouraged.  Contact me and send me your completed questionnaire as soon as possible and make sure your date is still available.

Where will we have our fittings/meetings? 

Currently I work out of my home: a little 850sf millhouse just outside the historic district in Hillsborough, NC.  My carpenter husband lovingly renovated what was a dilapidated 1912 millhouse into an extraordinary and charming home where I hope you will feel very comfortable.  It is not a luxurious place, (so if you were commissioning a custom gown for a full ‘princess’ experience, I may not be the dressmaker for you), but the humble abode and the lack of staff keeps the overhead costs low and the personal connection high! We may also have fittings at your home, or at Mulberry Silks, if you’d rather.

Do you do alterations? 

Custom dresses are made specifically to your measurements, so no alterations are required!  Your dress is not finished until it fits you perfectly.  I do not do alterations on other designer’s dresses. 

What should I do to prepare for my consultation?

Contact me via email or phone and I will send you a helpful questionnaire

Then, go out and try on dresses.  The instant gratification that you get when trying on a variety of finished dresses is an experience that some brides really love, yet one that you do not get when commissioning a custom dress.  The experience will also help you see what styles, silhouettes and fabrics you are most comfortable in.  You may be surprised at what flatters you!  If you find your perfect dress in a store, congratulations!  Your search is over!

If your perfect dress simply is not out there, take what you learned from your dressing room experiences and find pictures of dresses and wedding day inspirations in magazines, movies, books, websites...    Do not limit yourself to modern photos.  The most successful dresses are usually updated versions of looks ‘from another era’.  Most importantly, do not limit yourself to pictures of ‘wedding’ dresses. We can alter the design of anything you love to make it look more ‘bridal’.    Maybe you like the sleeve from one dress, the neckline of another, but want it all in different fabric. Or maybe you aren’t sure what you like or look good in and are in desperate need of design help!  At this point, send your questionnaire to me (along with any clippings you’ve accumulated) and together we will come up with something that is ‘so you’!

I don’t live in the area.  Can I still take advantage of your services?  

I am located in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  My dressmaking process is very personal.  Your presence and participation is integral to the services that I offer.  Staying true to this standard, I am only able to accept clients that can personally attend all of their consultations and fittings (a minimum of 5 meetings over 3-6 months).  Naturally, almost all of my brides are local. 

If you are from out of town and still would like one of my custom dresses, you may either meet me locally or pay my expenses to travel to you. In doing so, we don’t have to compromise the quality of my services due to distance.

Do you make veils and/or accessories? 

Yes!  I can also create a veil, veilette, headpiece, hat or hair accessory to match your dress, as well as pretty much any other handmade accessory you can dream up.  I’ve done custom bouquets, purses, shawls...  I offer this service to all of my brides, but if we can fit it into the schedule, it is possible to also add a custom headpiece or other small accessory for your bridesmaids, or other members of your wedding party.

Can you make all my bridesmaids dresses too? 

No.  I personally create all of my dresses from start to finish.  I feel it is important to have all my time and focus on you, the bride, and not divide it between the entire party.

What should I bring to my fittings?   

For measurements, mock-up fittings and fabric fittings it is important that you wear or bring with you the exact foundation undergarments and shoes that you will wear on your wedding day. If you don’t have them yet, wear something as similar as possible.  The accuracy of your fit depends on it!

Do you use green/eco-friendly practices?

I only use high-quality natural fiber fine fabrics i.e. silk, cotton, wool, linen...  Fabrics and supplies are also bought from local small businesses (mainly Mulberry Silks in Carrboro or Mary Jo's in Gastonia).  Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture dresses are 100% locally made. No factory, no sweat shop, no shipping, just little ol' me in my studio in Hillsborough. Each client works one-on-one with the person who threads the needle and makes every stitch.

Your work looks vintage.  Why? 

We are not used to seeing well-made well-designed clothes in modern day fashion.  I make clothes like the ones ‘back when clothes were made’;  back when there was still innovation in cut and construction.  Back when quality was the norm, instead of the ready to wear industry of today.  Dressmaking has been streamlined into whatever is easiest and cheapest to produce from a computer pattern and a sewing factory.  Sewing is a very traditional form of art, and I hope to bring the original timeless (or ‘vintage’) beauty back to modern day for you to experience.

Photography credits:  Top: Middle Gray Photography.  Second:  Kent Corley Photography.  Third: Lauren Kennedy Photography. 

Fourth:  Eloise Farr Photography.  Fifth:  Kent Corley Photography Sixth:  Greg Pearson Photography.  Bottom:  Middle Gray Photography