Tuesday, 27 November 2012

This year, right now, and plans going forward into 2013.

Hello everyone. I thought the time was right for some information about what's happening here at the head quarters of Rachel Lamb Bridal Design. This is likely to be of special interest to potential bridal clients and will help explain my recent erratic, cryptic or (rarely, but sorry if it occurred) nil responses to enquiries.

I'll do my best not to rant, but I can't promise.

If you have read this blog this year, you may know that I am an adopter in waiting; I'm approved but not had a child placed yet. This year has been very difficult work and adoption wise because of the way Social Services work, combined with the common misunderstanding that things are somehow easier planning and timings wise, if one is self employed. E.g. I can just stop work at the drop of a hat. This isn't so when I work to immovable deadlines with huge lead-times, or, as has already happened once this year, worked 70 hour weeks and cleared my diary of work to go on adoption leave, only to have the adoption not take place. Sadly, I cannot then 'just go back to work'. The work has to be generated.

This has been tough. We (my husband and I) have been 'in the system' now for nearly 5 years, and for myself, trying to keep work up and running while at the same time, not knowing when the phone is going to ring to tell me that I might need to stop for a bit, is very difficult. I've turned away people when I needn't have done so, I have ceased training for things I could be qualified in by now, had I just continued.

This is how it has been for us as potential adopters. It is the way it is. I realise there is a lot of media stuff going on about adoption at present. I'm not going to go there in this post.

Anyway, the point of this post is to give some info on what my position is work wise, right now, and going forward.

We have an adoption 'lead'. I can't say more than that. I've learned too late and to my cost, not to say too much, as one can go right to the brink and then have it fall through. In order to accommodate the uncertainty of this 'lead' and the work involved in having to prove that we can be parents (again), I have decided not to take on any more work for spring 2013 weddings. So what that means is, if you are getting married from next September 2013 onward and are interested in my service, please do get in touch. If your wedding date is any time from now to next August, then it's likely I won't be able to help you. I'm sorry. I hate to turn work away, but this uncertainty is what we've been dealing with for years now, and I can't change it. The only way I can change it is to withdraw from the adoption process, and we aren't ready to do that, yet. This doesn't apply to you if are already booked in with me for a wedding date prior to next Autumn - don't panic ladies - we've already discussed this.

So, in an ideal world, I will adopt, take some months off on leave, and then be back working again. (Like a 'normal' person!) I won't be giving up my business - I have worked SO hard starting it, building it up and keeping it going over the years. It is a labour of love, and I love my job and working with my clients. We will be adopting a school age child, so there won't be years of time off, it's just going to be a few months.

If it goes ahead.

So. A final recap: At present (27 Nov 2012), please contact me if your wedding date is from Sept 2013 onwards. If your wedding date is before this, by all means make contact, but I can't be certain if I can help - I will discuss this with you.

Which brings me on to my next point. I know I'm a pain to get hold of. PLEASE leave me a message if you make an enquiry by phone. I will answer if I can, but if I can't I am either contorted underneath a dress, threading invisible sequins onto a garment, in a fitting, a meeting or not about. The best way to enquire is to email me, then I can get back to you when I am free, which is usually towards the end of the day.

So, I hope that makes sense, and that this goes some way towards explaining the situation at present. As a confirmed control freak, I can tell you, it isn't easy to live and work this way, but one thing it has taught me is that I can wait; I can deal with uncertainty - in some things, and I can be flexible - in some things.

I'm not going to post any more this year, the rest of the year will be spent getting as much practical dress work done for existing brides, in anticipation of something happening soon. Should circumstances change and I become available again next spring, I will post on here to let you know.

Happy Christmas to you all, I'll start posting again in the New Year :-) xxx

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Real Wedding: Relaxed Country Bride

Here's lovely Poppy wearing her wedding dress. Poppy really is a country girl at heart - wellies, dogs, mud (she won't mind me telling you that) and an easy and comfortable life. She wanted a dress that reflected that, and that she would feel easy and comfortable wearing. So soft, feminine, no boning and a small train that can easily be hitched up later on.

Poppy's dress is a gentle A-line shape with a scoop neck and loose sleeves. It's made from a heavy silk crepe with a soft lace overlay and soft satin hand-tied sash. I added some small pearls around the neckline and on the sleeves to give a small and gentle gleam. No fuss.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Real Wedding: Glamorous Retro Bride

This is Sophie, who wanted an old fashioned type of glamour on her wedding day.

Late news item: the photos of Sophie's wedding were taken by Tapas Maiti and you can find more info about him and his service at www.tapasmaiti.com

Isn't the picture above lovely? I think the tones of the stone and tiles complement her beautifully.

Sophie had specific ideas about what she wanted - a dress that could be worn again, and a kind of detachable train, both of which should be in colours rather than the usual ivory.

Marrying in the Cathedral, she wanted to make an impression and fill the space, yet not be encumbered with the train later on in the day.

We looked at various images of glamorous women from the 1950s and Sophie even took a picture of a china ornament that she owned, to get the feel of the slightly 'bouffed' train look that was required.

Sophie's dress is a dusty pink silk overlaid with an ivory and gold beaded lace. The challenge was finding the right dress and train colours to complement the lace. I have some close up images of the lace to show you next time - it's really pretty.

In the picture below, she has removed the train for dancing, which shows off the simple fishtail shape of the wedding gown underneath. And taken her hair down, I notice - so two looks in one!

I think the glamorous look was achieved - she looks splendid in my opinion :)

I'll post some more images of the dress and train in close-up during manufacture, next time.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Work in progress, continued

Remember this dress I showed a picture of at the toile stage?

Well it's slowly progressing! Above was the toile (prototype) made from calico. Yes, I pinned all those pieces on something that it's then necessary to take apart again.

Below is a picture of the real silk dress in progress.

Today I started beading those squares onto the main body of the dress. Phew!

I really enjoy this sort of day, working on something where I'm sitting still and doing a repetitive task like this can be very relaxing and leaves my mind free to wander.

But I think the idea of doing this sort of work does weird things to my brain: First thing in the morning, I optimistically think such things as 'Yes, I'm sure I'll have half the dress done by sunset'. The sun is not yet set, but it is fading, and I'm about 1ft up from the hem at the back... and I'm not hanging about!

It's important that I get the timings right, as this is a sample dress and needs to be priced correctly.

Whilst working on the above, I've also moved forward in the audio book that is Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I have to be in the right mood for this story as it seems to be as epic as the beading on the dress, so they're well matched today!

Progress all round! :o)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Mother of the bride, groom and anyone else...

...if you aren't a mother of somebody, that's OK too.

I've recently been making a dress for a mother of the groom. I have made a few 'mums' over the years, but it's not something I do regularly.


Anyway, I thought I'd get my act together and take some pics of work in progress of this dress, and up to the finish.


This is a very simple shift dress, quite Audrey looking. I tend to make relatively simple dresses for bridal party people, because often they might not be the type of person that likes wearing matching dress, jacket, hat, bag and shoes etc. I get the idea from feedback that it can be quite tough to find an outfit if you don't feel like a typical bridal party mother (as dictated by the high street), or if you just want something easy.

Or perhaps the wedding or event is a small and/or quiet affair and a simpler dress is required? Whatever the reason, I like making dresses like this, and have lots of 'why don't I make more of these/make one for myself?' type of moments, when I'm making them.

In the past, when I have received an enquiry, I've often said I don't make anything (for sale) other than bridal gowns, but as you can see, I am shifting perspective on this.

The reason for saying the above, is/was purely practical: sourcing fabric for an outfit other than a wedding dress can be tricky. It can sometimes take days, weeks, months, and in one case, years, to find the right fabric.

These days, in most cases, I ask that the client, that's anyone other than 'the bride', supplies the fabric. So for example, the fabric for this dress I'm showing you was supplied by the client, and I supplied the trims, beads and linings, which we discussed when she originally came to talk about having something made.

Alternatively, the client could come and discuss ideas and we could decide what types of fabric might be best, before they then go off for a fabric finding day.  Sometimes I am able to supply the fabrics, but that is almost always a silk or silk blend.

The design often develops as I/we look at the fabric, talks about requirements, and generally get a feel for the event and personality of the client. Sometimes, the client comes along with a definite idea of what they would like, and that's OK too, as long as the fabric works with the design. So if you're not sure about the fabric, but are sure about the design, it's better to wait until we've discussed it, or to get a small sample of the fabric, just in case it might not be suitable.

This dress is going to be worn with black pashmina shawl, tiny black hair piece, black strappy shoes and pearl accessories. Easy.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Summer bride

Here's Nisha, the summer bride in the title.

Nisha is very petite and didn't want a dress to swamp her; she knew she would have a bespoke design and have it made for her. We went for quite a simple slim silk Dupion dress in ivory, with a pretty, twinkly lace overlay.

The dress has a seam under the bust (empire line) which is really useful if you're petite, as it draws the eye upward and gives the impression of a longer waist and legs.

The lace is an ivory base with 'latte' high-lights within it.

Nisha's pictures were taken by photographer John Harris. I've mentioned him before - he really is very good. As I was looking at the photos I realised I was welling up; he really knows how to capture emotional moments perfectly. If you're a sentimental sort, best get some tissues handy for the next couple of shots!


Aahhh :)

Friday, 14 September 2012

Wedding bags preview

I've started to make some accessories.

I'll start by showing you the bags I've recently made.

These are great for carrying the essentials - purse, keys, phone, tissues, small umbrella - that type of thing! They are what I always think of as 'bucket' shape.

The bags are made in silk Dupion, some with lace trims and/or beading, and can be made to order, or in different shades.

What do you think?

The actual bag section is approximately 20cm tall and including the handle approximately 33cm.

Great for brides, bridesmaids, and in darker colours, as evening bags.

They will be for sale soon, I'll post where and when.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Late summer walk...

...or is it early autumn? No matter. It's that transition phase.

Do you fancy a walk? Come for a gentle ramble with me and him.

I like to walk around my neighbourhood and village, every day if time allows. I love just looking.


 I had intended to take pictures of hay bales - the rolled up type, because I love how they look. 

They're such an unnatural shape. Like alien life-forms, or as if some large hand had just rolled them there.

Inevitably we got side tracked by other stuff too.

I love looking at wild stuff randomly growing. I like looking at the textural mass of tangle - I see it as a whole...


...and the individuals that make up the tangle. Both are inspirational to me.

I wonder if we would find the nettles above prettier if they didn't sting, and the umbel shaped things less attractive if they did?

More aliens have been busy here...

I've been thinking a lot about 'inspiration' lately, in part because I'm often asked what inspires me in my work. Perhaps some more on this another time.

How do you define inspiration?





 What a perfect fluffy ball!

Fascinating textural teazle! :)

Nearly home.

Love this amazing green.

Today: It was very hot on this day above, and in the few days since the weather has changed to much cooler, most of the hay bales have been taken away for storage and the hedgerows have been trimmed. I'm trying to feel rational about this, but admit to a bit of sadness. With the change of light and the foliage cut everything looks very different and pre-winter. I don't feel ready for jumpers yet! (Or for sewing with the lights on.)

Some more real weddings pics to come soon :)