Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. Dresses need to do exactly the same. I meet a lot of brides who have seen a dress they really love but it's just not quite the right fit. With a few sketches and a couple of fittings, we can recreate and tailor that dress perfectly - made to measure. A lot of my brides already have a clear vision for their dream dress but simply can't find anywhere to buy it. In this case I consult from reference images and sketches (or from a blank canvas) to create the perfect bespoke dress for any big occasion. Emma Birney
I come from a home where everything was homemade (in a good way!) My Mum is a brilliant dressmaker and with three daughters all chasing trends, there wasn't any item of clothing in the shops that she couldn't make a better version of. I'm very grateful that she taught me to sew as it's something I absolutely love and have been able to make a career of.
Having passed the rigorously high standards of the kitchen table college, I did a BA (Hons) in fashion design at Nottingham Trent University. I was fortunate to be selected to spend part of my degree studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and focus on couture sewing. After I came back I spent a year working for well-known tailor Timothy Everest, in London. After graduating I did some further study at the London College of Fashion, specifically on wedding dresses and spent the next 7 years happily surrounded by silk and lace which were later joined by nappies and bottles of milk.
While my children were small I took a hiatus from wedding dresses and taught sewing classes and workshops but once everyone was dispatched to school I was able to rebuild my dressmaking business and have enjoyed working on varied projects ever since.
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BETHAN DE MEL
Getting my wedding dress made by Emma was a fun journey from the very beginning. Emma was able to turn my ideas into a sketch right in front of me (amazing!) and then drew up more detailed designs to work from.
We had a number of fittings and discussions whilst my dress was being made and I was even able to source some of my own embellishments - I really wanted individual lace flowers scattered over the sleeves and train. I am so pleased that I turned to Emma to make my dress. I was so relieved to start from the ground up with a design that fitted my frame and personality so perfectly.
I loved the whole process of Emma making my dress, from when we first met to talk about it to when I got to wear the finished product! It was so exciting to see how it developed every time I saw it. I really struggled when I went wedding dress shopping as I had an idea of what I wanted but I couldn't find it anywhere.
Having my dress made especially for me was definitely the right decision. Emma was able to the take the ideas from my head and create my dream dress.
Your dressmaking... from inspiration to creation... was absolutely amazing! After our first meeting, you had sketched up the most beautiful dresses, designed just for me.
The whole process was one of the most enjoyable parts of preparing for the wedding and totally stress free (possibly not for you with the last minute alterations as I had dropped a size or two)! I think we met only a few times as I was living in Dubai but I was confident that when I returned, everything would be simply perfect, and it was.
Emma Birney Bespoke Dressmaking
5A Windsor Avenue North
Belfast, BT9 6EL