The bespoke dressmaking process

Making your bespoke wedding dress is a labour of love in four stages; consultation, design, creation and collection. Let me guide you through the process in detail.

interpreting your dreams into dressesConsultation

Initial enquiry

Your first enquiry could be through my web-form, by e-mail or telephone. I will ask about your wedding date and a what sort of dress or ensemble you would like. I am happy to answer any questions specific to your design. Then, if I have availability and think I might be able to fulfil your needs, we will make a date for a design consultation.


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coloured wedding dress with lace detail

Design Consultation

The design consultation usually takes place at my home-studio though some people opt for a video chat. In person meetings are ideal for looking at all the fabric sample books. If meeting online I can screen-share from my supplier's websites and send you samples after the meeting. You should allow a minimum of an hour for your first consultation; sometimes it may take a little longer


During the consultation we will discuss what you require and I will make notes and create quick sketches of ideas. I will be able to provide a reasonable idea of the cost of any ideas we discuss but a firm quote will be posted or emailed to you afterwards.


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Fabrics and Materials

I will advise on fabrics and materials at your consultation. I have sample books with hundreds of colours and types of fabrics to which we can refer. You can order fabrics through me or I can recommend suppliers and shops for you to visit. If you decide to purchase all or part of your materials elsewhere I can provide guidance on fabrics, weights and quantities required. I can also accompany you on a fabric shopping expedition, see the end of this page for more details.


I normally send you fabric samples and options alongside the quote letter. And once you are booked-in samples of anything missing will be provided so you can match shoes and accessories etc.


I can order extra fabric for you if you need it, perhaps for the florist, the invitations or venue decoration. I am happy to sell you fabric from my sample books even if you decide to have your order made up elsewhere!

finding the balanceDesigning your dress

Designing your bespoke wedding dress

If we are designing from scratch, any pictures or reference material you can bring with you to give me the flavour of what you want is immensely helpful. Sending me a pinterest board, links or attaching images to your enquiry email are all encouraged! References might be from history, bridal magazines, films, a picture of your venue, the colours of a landscape or anything that has some element of what you require. Before creating a new design for a photoshoot or for a costume I often put together a "mood board". A mood board is a collection of images that pulls together all the elements desired and conjures up an atmosphere to inspire the final design.


Pictures are especially helpful if you (like most people) are not sure of the technical or design terms for the style or details you require. Designing for someone who has no real idea or cannot explain what they want is very difficult but not impossible. It will just take me a little longer to narrow down the specifics.


Design consultations and quotes are free. Very occasionally I will ask a small fee if the design process requested goes above and beyond my usual offering.


Finalising your design and the Quotation:

After your appointment I will provide a line drawing of your design with a quotation for you to approve. There will be with notes on any styling or fabrics discussed. My quote for your bespoke wedding dress will list the materials and the making costs separately so you can easily understand which elements are costing how much. Some people get to the stage of finalising a design and putting down a deposit at the first consultation. For others it takes longer to define exactly what is required.


I will include options for any details not finalised during the consultation, for example, different sleeves, necklines or fabric choices for you to consider. I may mark some parts of the quote as only an estimate if the exact details of a design have not been finalised. Sometimes the amount of work involved (for example lots of embroidery) is not clear and a budget is allowed for that part of the work.


Below: quote letter and samples for Faye's wedding dress

with love from first to final stitchCreation

Making your bespoke wedding dress

All consultations and fittings take place in my home-studio so you will be completely private and you will have my full attention during your appointment. Mum's, children, bridesmaids and friends are welcome at your fittings, but please do check beforehand as space is not infinite!


I normally carry out work with reference to the line drawing that we have agreed is the final design. But we will often confirm some elements during the fittings when it's easily to visualise the real thing! For example, neckline depth, the placement of beading detail or the length of a hanging sleeve. I will charge for any extra time or materials needed if you change your mind during the bespoke making process.



Every bespoke commission will have a pattern drafted especially to fit your figure. The first step is to take your measurements. I may also take a few digital photographs of you (clothed) for my own reference.


I always prefer to take the measurements myself; this means that I can make allowances for the type of figure you have, such as a short waist, low bust or rounded shoulders. If I am making items for anyone who lives too far away to attend a measuring appointment I will supply a guide to the measurements I require. I will always suggest that an experienced dressmaker takes the measurements. And I will ask you to sign a disclaimer absolving me from any problems arising from inaccurate measurements.


Small size alterations are normal during the making process for your bespoke wedding dress. I usually leave at least 2 inches of seam allowance inside the garment to allow for changes. And I always cut the hem long to allow for shoe heels. I can take no responsibility for a garment fitting if you lose or gain a lot of weight. If you plan to diet please inform me early on and we will plan the making process accordingly.


creating a pattern for a bespoke commission by felicity westmacott

The First fitting with your bespoke wedding dress

You will need your shoes and the underwear you plan to wear on the day as early as possible in the fitting process. This is important as the shape of what goes underneath will obviously affect the clothes above! I may also ask you to attend early fittings for any corsets or petticoats for historical (and sometimes contemporary or spectacular) dresses. These foundations need to be correct before further work can be carried out.


For most wedding dresses I will make a "toile" (pronounced 'twa:l'), which is a mock up of the basic elements of your design. It is made in cheaper but comparable fabric in order to check certain aspects of style and fit before using the final materials. A toile can be helpful to prevent costly mistakes. For example, if I am working with particularly expensive fabrics, to confirm ideas on sleeve length or if you have more unusual body shape.
Left: toile fitting for Sara, below, on her wedding day


The second/third/final fittings

Most bespoke commissions will need at least two fittings, and up to four or five is normal. Your final fitting will usually be about 10-14 days before your wedding to allow for any last minute weight loss/gain. I can usually accommodate earlier or later final fittings if you let me know at the design consultation.


pictures: Vanessa's toile and third fittings

(still the hem to pin and sew)


making Vanessa's dress, toile (practice run) fitting, front
silk and lace wedding dress fitting with felicity westmacott
receiving your finished bespoke wedding dressCollection


I will prepare and steam your dress so it is in perfect condition and ready to wear. I usually advocate for separate final fitting and collection dates. It is best for your bespoke wedding dress to be taken home unworn to be ready for the big day. Your commission will be ready to transport inside a suitable length gown bag on a padded hanger.


Collecting your wedding dress

I will prepare and steam your dress so it is in perfect condition and ready to wear. I usually advocate for separate final fitting and collection dates. It is best for your bespoke wedding dress to be taken home unworn to be ready for the big day. Your commission will be ready to transport inside a suitable length gown bag on a padded hanger.


We will make a 'pencilled in' picking up date at the time you first commission your order. A final date and time can be confirmed at a later fitting. When I have finished your dress you can choose to collect right away or leave it with me for storage if there are still some weeks or months until the wedding day.


Most people collect their order in person but I can also send it by secure courier. Postal prices with insurance depend on the value and weight of your order and on your location. When posted your order may need steaming upon arrival. If you are travelling overseas

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from design to completionbespoke wedding dressesFelicity Westmacott
Dorking, RH4 1RT241 High Street• Visit the Studio •
Dorking, RH4 1RT241 High Street• Visit the Studio • 07762 543230TOUCHGet in