Commission a Garment

Great idea! Here's a step-by-step guide to the ordering process.

Step one: Initial Contact

The first thing to do when you've decided that you want something made is to send me an email and let me know what you have in mind. If you have drawings or pictures you'd like to use for inspiration, include them. Maybe it's a scan from a book. Maybe you see something on this web site and can't live without it. Maybe you have a specific event in mind and need the perfect outfit. It's okay if you don't know exactly what you want – we can work with you to flesh out the details of the project into a contract sketch. Your email should include:

  • Your name, email address, and general location
  • A description of the project or event you have in mind
  • Any sources or references you'd like to use
  • Your timeframe – is there a specific deadline?
  • Your approximate budget if applicable
  • A full-length photo of yourself (so we can get a basic idea of what figure type we'll be working with)
Contact us!

We will send you a questionnaire if necessary to help guide you in providing additional information we need to define your project specifications. We will exchange contact information and set-up a meeting at our location at the San Jose Woman's Club in San Jose, CA.

Step two: Initial Consultation Fee

A $150 non-refundable consultation fee is required to secure your place in our work queue. On receipt of this fee we will schedule our initial meeting during which we develop the project in detail. Payments by cash, check, or credit card via Paypal are all welcome. At the end of the initial consultation we will plan our next meeting to go over a contract sketch and estimate.

Step three: Consultation and Design Process

At the initial consultation meeting we can begin developing a detailed plan of action. Our goal is to go through possible styles and fabrics and establish a rough sketch of what you are looking for. We have numerous books and reference materials available for browsing. All clients are encouraged to bring in images that they like and that inspire them. You can find inspiration almost anywhere. Knowing what appeals to you and excites you can help in the design process. One tool that we have found very effective is a Pinterest pinboard of inspiration images.

Step four: Contract sketch, Estimate, and Measurements

Contract sketch

This meeting will include reviewing the contract sketch, deciding on optional design elements, and taking a full set of measurements. The contract sketch is developed to describe both visually and verbally the specifics of the project. It will include fabric samples and/or descriptions of the type of fabric required (eg. silk, linen, cotton, etc.). This sketch and the accompanying notes are a description of every piece to be included in the project estimate and contract.

When we're happy with the contract sketch and have picked materials, we will provide an estimate and contract for the garment. The contract will include a photography preferences sheet so you can decide when and how much of your project will be shared online, if at all. We can keep your project completely secret or keep you and your friends and family updated on details during the process via our blog. Many of our clients have enjoyed seeing their projects come together online, though brides and clients showing at specific events may wish to wait until after the debut before showing anything online.

After we have come to an agreement on design, fabrics, and budget, and have signed a contract to that effect, a 50% deposit is due. A full set of measurements appropriate to the garment being made will be taken at this meeting.

Often people will want to add additional items to a project in progress, which will require their own separate estimate forms and contracts or addenda to the original contract.

Fitting the mockup

Step five: Mock-up and Fittings

Most but not all garments will require a mock-up to ensure a proper fit. We start with your measurements and the agreed-on design and construct a mock-up from less-expensive materials. We then adjust the mock-up on you to work out any final changes to the pattern. On average there will be 2-3 fittings but rarely more than 4. We can estimate the number of required fittings and work around your schedule and travel times to get the best fit in as little meetings as possible.

In some cases though, multiple mock-ups may be required, particularly in the case of design changes midway through a project, or given a change in materials or in the size of the client.

Note: It is important that all undergarments and shoes be brought to every fitting. If you need to buy specific support garments or are ordering a corset to go under a gown it must be ordered and completed before we start construction on a gown.

Completed gown

Step six: Final Fitting and Payment

At this point the garment is completed! But before you take it home, we want to verify that everything fits as it should and make any final finishing adjustments.

Of course, payment is due in full before you take the garment home. Take a look in the mirror and smile – this is your very own one-of-a-kind luxury garment!

Step seven (optional): Studio Photography

We offer a free one-hour studio photo-shoot for any client who models their garment for our website. This requires about 1-3 hours of your time depending on how much set up, dressing, and make up are required, and can be done during the final pick-up or scheduled at a later date. It will be necessary for you to read and sign a model release for our records. In exchange for your modeling we offer a set of 4-5 web-site-ready proofs plus a frameable, professional-quality 11X14" print of your favorite shot. Please look through our galleries to see examples of other clients who have modeled for us.