Do you only work with Sydney clients?

No, of course not! Obviously if you are in Sydney or able to get to Sydney, it makes it a lot easier for us to meet in person and do fittings, but I work with customers from all over Australia and the rest of the world. I'll ask for lots of measurements, details and photos so I can get a really good idea of your size, and if you're still not sure, I can post a calico toile for you to try on before I start work on your dress.

What the hell is a toile?

It's a quick version of a dress made in cheaper fabric. I make these for various reasons: to test that the pattern pieces fit together properly; to work out sizing issues before I start on the main dress; and to give you an idea of how the style will look on you. This is all included in the final price of your dress. 

Who does the pattern making/cutting/sewing/beading/embroidery work?

I do all of that. It really is just little ol' me in the studio and your dress is designed and made from start to finish by me, right here in Sydney. It is a time consuming process but it means I'm accountable for all my work and you don't have to worry about lost pieces, unexpected delays or children slaving away in beading workshops. Your dress won't leave my studio until you come and pick it up yourself.

Can I use your images?

As long as you credit them, yes! I get most of my business through word of mouth so I LOVE it when people share what I'm doing with their friends & followers. Feel free to use anything you find on my site (as long as it links back to here) or email me for hi res photos and/or extra information.

Can I come and visit you to try on samples?

Sure! I'm still a few years off opening a proper shop front but you're welcome to come to my home studio in Dulwich Hill to try things on or chat about a custom order. Just email me and we'll set something up.

What if I freak out and change my mind after ordering a wedding dress?

Email me straight away and see where I'm up to with it. If it's not too late to make changes, we can have another fitting and talk about what is possible. This will add to the original cost of your dress.

How long does it take to make a dress?

How long do we have? Basically, I'll aim to get it finished and delivered to you around a month before your wedding date. If that's a year away, then yay! We have heaps of time to really work on making your dress amazing. If it's six weeks away, well, I'd better sew quickly! I'll always let you know if what you want isn't possible in the timeframe available, but it doesn't hurt to ask. You might be surprised at how quickly I can make your dress dreams happen.

Why do I have to wait till a month before the wedding to get my dress? I want it now!

A lot of brides lose or gain weight leading up to the wedding - whether it's due to stress, dieting, exercise or too many pre-wedding dinners at the pub (me). It's best to do your final fitting close to the wedding date. That said, if you really want it by a certain date, I can make that happen for you.

How much is this going to cost?

I work with a wide range of budgets. Custom wedding dresses start from around $800 for a simple, well made dress and can go up to $3000+ for more complicated designs. The prices are based on cost of materials and time spent working on the project. We will agree on the final cost early on in the project and I will stick to that budget - I would never turn around and tell you that you need to pay more, unless you wish to change the design halfway through.

My ready-to-wear samples are cheaper as they are often made from surplus materials and are made to fit my mannequin (Australian size 10), which saves a lot of time on pattern making and fitting.

I have a tiny budget and don't fit your sample size. Is there anything you can do for me?

As much as I love coming up with new designs for every bride (it's my favourite thing about custom bridal!), it's easier and faster for me to recreate an existing design. So why not have a look at my past work and see if there's anything that interests you? I could make your own version in your size, and I can find a nice fabric that will keep the costs down for you. Beading and traditional lace can add a lot to the cost, but using more modern lace or textured fabric can be a nice way to add interest to a design without getting too expensive.

Do you make men's wedding attire?

I make ties and bow-ties for men. My ties are hand sewn and personalised with a name label, making them a great gift for your groomsmen!

I have some basic training in tailoring, so I am able to make suits and shirts if you really want me to. Having said that, I respect that tailoring is an art which takes years to master, and is best done by those who specialise in it. 

Do you do alterations?

I generally don't do alterations on new dresses. Vintage dresses are a different story - one of my favourite things to do is give new life to vintage pieces. Want to wear your mum's wedding dress but don't love the style? I can turn it into something that suits you. Have a beautiful heirloom piece of lace? I'd love to carefully restore it and use it as the centrepiece of your dress.

Do you only do vintage inspired stuff?

Vintage and retro wedding dresses are my favourite thing to work on, but it's not all I do. I'm a highly skilled and experienced dressmaker with an open mind, so I'm happy to work on any project you can dream up. I love a challenge and I won't try to steer you towards tried and true styles. I really want to come up with a unique design just for you - so no one else in the world will have a dress like yours!

You're pretty new at this. Do you know what you're doing?

I'm relatively new to the bridal business but I've been sewing and making clothes my whole life. I have a degree in fashion design and I've worked in the fashion industry. Don't worry, I've got this.

Where can I see more of your work?

If you click on any photo on the portfolio page, it will take you to a separate page with more photos and details about that project. Or if you'd rather click through them all, here are the bridal projects I've uploaded so far:

 

How do we make this happen?

Email me at ali@bell-street.com with three essential pieces of information - what you want, your budget, and your wedding date. I can't wait to hear from you.