How can I become a wedding dress designer?

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Designing and making wedding dresses is a dream job for many people. Making brides’ wishes come true can be extremely rewarding.

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It also can be a challenging career path as it requires very high-level dressmaking skills. Wedding dresses are usually very intricate and involve knowledge of techniques like design, pattern-cutting, lining, boning, fitting, embroidery and beadwork. Even if you are not actually making the dresses, you need to know how these elements work.

Training

Traditionally, a designer served an apprenticeship with an established dressmaker, learning the skills on the job over a period of many years. Today, apprenticeships or internships are still an excellent route, but it’s also possible to get a degree or diploma first. Many universities and colleges offer courses in all aspect of fashion design, including business skills, which are extremely important. It’s also possible to take courses at local adult education colleges, which can be a great way to pick up the basics of pattern cutting and dressmaking. You can also take courses in bridal design. For example, the London College of Fashion offers a 10-day course, and there are others available across the UK. These will often focus on honing the specific techniques required for wedding dresses, along with the design element.

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A passion for fashion

A keen interest in all aspects of fashion and design will also serve you well, as will experience with dressmaking. Read lots of fashion and sewing magazines and blogs to keep up with the latest trends. When it comes to making clothes, start small and work your way up to more complicated items of clothing. It’s a good idea to get familiar with fabrics. A cotton poplin fabric is a fantastic “starter” material as it’s easy to work with. Once you’ve mastered this, you can move on to the trickier ones, like silk, chiffon and jersey. Thanks to the popularity of TV shows like the Great British Sewing Bee, there has been a resurgence of interest in sewing. Specialist shops, like www.higgsandhiggs.com, usually also have a strong online presence if you don’t have a local shop within easy reach.

If you’re struggling to get in to the business, try contacting local wedding dress shops to see if they’re looking for staff. You might even offer to help out in exchange for some on-the-job training.