How do I Design a Dress?

Marco Sumayao
Marco Sumayao
Dresses should flatter clients' figures.
Dresses should flatter clients' figures.

To design a dress, the tailor should first consider the individual for whom the dress is being made. The dress should not only flatter the client's figure, but it should match her personality as well. The designer should then work on preliminary sketches and discuss modifications with the client on a regular basis. Once a final design is determined, the designer should canvass the cost of materials needed for the dress, making adjustments to the design when necessary.

A wedding dress should flatter a woman's figure and match her personality.
A wedding dress should flatter a woman's figure and match her personality.

Experts recommend that any projects that require individuals to design a dress start off with a client interview. During the interview, the designer should take notes on the client's purposes for the dress. The results of the interview will have a significant effect on the design. A client headed for a wedding reception, for example, will require a formal dress that does not match the color, cut, or pattern of the bridesmaids' dresses. The client's personal qualities and preferences matter, as the finished dress should not only look good on its own, but also be an ideal fit for the client's personality.

During the interview, the designer should take the client's body measurements. It is extremely important to design a dress that both fits the client perfectly and accentuates the best parts of her physique. The cut and features of the dress will depend largely on the client's physical properties. A bottom-heavy woman, for example, will most likely look best in a dress that balances out her figure by drawing attention to the upper part of her body. In the same vein, designers should design a dress that places emphasis on lower parts of the body if the client is more top-heavy than normal.

The designer should design a dress based on the insights gained from the client interview. A preliminary sketch should ideally be made available to the client during the first meeting, incorporating cuts, colors, and other stylistic details that match the client's personality and preferences. The fabric used in the dress is another important matter, and the designer should make swatches of fabric samples available for the client's perusal. The designer and client can then have an open dialogue regarding any alterations to the design.

When both the designer and client are satisfied with a final sketch, the designer can begin to source the materials needed for the dress. If the fabrics or embellishments in the dress are not readily available, the designer can recommend alternatives based on the client's budget and other guidelines. After receiving input, she can design a dress that includes the necessary alterations.

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Discussion Comments


@Iluviaporos - I think it depends on how good you are at innovative sewing and how well tailored you need the dress to be. This is a profession for a reason and people who just sew for a hobby aren't going to be able to complete a dress to the same standard as a professional designer.

If you want to design your own wedding dress, for example, you aren't going to want your mother to do it unless she is a professional. If we're just talking about costumes for a school play, that's one thing, but if you need the dress to be of good quality you don't want it done by an amateur. And a professional designer will be able to make it look the way you want it to, as well as function properly as a well constructed garment.


@croydon - Sewing isn't a complete mystery for many people. I actually think if you know the basics it wouldn't be that difficult to sew your own design, particularly if you were willing to pick and choose techniques from other designs.


If you're interested in getting a one-off design done well and don't really know how to go about it, you're probably best off finding someone who knows how to sew and will work with you. Most tailors are willing to take direction and will be able to follow your instructions relatively closely depending on what you want and what is physically possible.

If you want to design a dress from scratch without actually going to design school, I think this is the best option.

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    • Dresses should flatter clients' figures.
      By: Ivan Nakonechnyy
      Dresses should flatter clients' figures.
    • A wedding dress should flatter a woman's figure and match her personality.
      A wedding dress should flatter a woman's figure and match her personality.