The difference between made to measure online and locally made

Most people don’t know the difference between made to measure online and locally made, so let me enlighten you. I hope that by the time you’ve finished reading this article you’ll understand why the pricing is different too.


Spring and Summer are certainly the seasons for getting married and when you’re looking to buy a wedding gown it’s no easy thing. One thing is for sure, made to measure will fit you perfectly or will it?

Let’s talk about made to measure by your local dressmaker designer (that’s me). This is where you actually get to deal with them face to face, they take ALL your measurements and they also know where on your body to take the measurements. The design is created based on your body shape and you receive advice from an expert. If I’m designing your gown it will definitely be based on a vintage pattern. You get to go through fabric choices and colours with them and lots of exciting conversation about how your dress will unfold. They make your gown up in a toile, you have several fittings, etc, etc and you walk away with your beautiful dream gown that fits you perfectly.

My made to measure gown by Catherine Colubriale Couture. Back in the day BEFORE I wore vintage.


Now let’s talk about made to measure online. First of all you look at photos of dream dresses on your computer. You see one you love, you contact the supplier. They tell you which body measurements they require and you then take your own measurements and feed that back to them. Even though this is called made to measure you cannot actually alter the design of the gown you have chosen and here’s why.

Your wedding gown is mass produced!

There are huge cutting machines that have been set to cut out the templates for the wedding gowns. Imagine several layers of fabric all piled on top of one another and a big sharp bladed machine comes down and cuts out the pieces of YOUR dress.

The next step is for them to look at the measurements you have given them and then they stitch those pieces of fabric together according to your measurements. What you don’t realise is that they don’t actually trim away any of the excess fabric once they’ve stitched the dress together. In fact there is an excess of several inches of fabric in the seam allowance. Is this so bad? Well, to give you an idea, during the fifties dresses were designed to fit you perfectly and snugly and to achieve that seam allowances were two inches generous and they also did things like trim darts in dresses to achieve that figure hugging look. Several inches of fabric in the seam of your gown will not have your dress sit flat against your skin, particularly when we’re talking about at least 3 layers of fabric. It can create a lumpy and overall bulky look. I’m sure this is not the look you are going for.

The other thing worth mentioning is that the stitch length they use to stitch your dress together is a size 4. I use an industrial sewing machine for all my work and stitch length 4 is the longest stitch on my machine.  This is how they can stitch things together so quickly and hence make it economically. We in the industry would call this a tacking stitch, not intended to stay in permanently. I use a stitch length of 2.5 for most of my sewing and would drop it down if I wanted a really fine look.

Fabric choices

If you’re not educated in fabric types and not everyone is, then you might think you’ve gone and bought yourself a silk dress when in actual fact it’s some kind of polyester. I have actually seen this happen before. I can assure you I’m not making any of this up. I’ve had the pleasure of working on several wedding gowns purchased online and what I’ve written about in this article is quite common.  Even though you think you’re buying made to measure, there is no way the online supplier can know about your sway back, or your left shoulder being lower than your right or the fact that you’re short waisted. Despite giving them what seemed like hundreds of measurements.

I know that your wedding gown is a really important feature of your wedding day and when you’re making that much of a financial commitment why is it ok to cut back on the cost of the gown. Surprisingly a really simple but well fitted gown won’t break the bank and you’ll look like a million dollar babe!






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