I feel like I should partially explain why I was gone for so long.
1- I was busy sewing, go figure!
2- My husband and I are in the middle of adoption proceedings and it takes time to sign fifty forms stating that you aren't on the child abuse registries of the state you spent a summer in when you were only 18 (true story, peeps).
3- I decided it would be a good idea to start my own line of bridal gowns, so I was basically chained to my sewing machine.
4- Realized that I would make more money working the fry vat than doing highly specialized sewing. Climbed into a vat of Ben and Jerry's and had trouble heaving myself out.
5- Bridal line decided not to sell yet, so belly-flopped back into the sugary goodness.
6- Still traumatized from this nutter
Here's the deal, my pretties. I work in an industry where my clients demand monumental feats for pennies on the dollar. "But, my dress only cost $1500. Why does it cost $200 just to hem it??" Well the simple answer is that I am not a young factory worker "overseas" who is getting paid $40 a month. It costs $200 because it is going to take me about 6 hours to do. I have to remove the lace along the bottom (gently so as not to damage it), unpick the lining, move the horsehair up, hand sew the edge so it looks pretty, sew the lace back on by hand, hem the inner lining, and shorten the 4+ layers of netting. Oh, and that doesn't even factor in driving to fittings, dealing with 10:45 p.m. phone calls, and having your mom/grandma/sister/friend/dog all giving me the stink eye and ask me if I know what I'm doing. Fair enough, I ask myself what I am doing in this business all the time.
My favorite is the cheap bride. The one who has an oh-so-tragically small budget of $10k or so. This poor little flower is very tender and must not be upset because she already has so much to deal with. She can't be bothered to keep track of what's going on in Egypt because what is a revolution compared with the injustice of only having $700 to spend on flowers! She is convinced that wedding dresses are so expensive because of the shops bumping up the price so much and if she could only get rid of the retail element, surely she could get a custom made silk gown for $600 or less. After all, she wants tea length, so that's like 30% less fabric. That should directly correlate to the price she pays, no?
Not only no, but hell no. The fabric is only a very small portion of what makes a dress cost what it does. I may only use $100 on fabric, but I still have to pattern, cut, sew, and fit the blasted thing. Oh, and tea-length can suck it. Take a look at your jeans. Now imagine how many seams were sewn, and how long it took to put together. Now let's think about how much that changes if they are 7 inches shorter. Wait. Give it a minute. Ah, there you go. Yes, it is EXACTLY THE SAME NUMBER OF SEAMS AND STITCHES! Gah. Sorry about the anurysm there.
Now, on to the issue of commisioning something vs. buying off the rack. Allow me to use an analogy to illustrate why the supposition that avoiding the shop will cost you less money. Let's say I want to buy a guitar, but I can't find one that is exactly what I am looking for, plus they seem expensive. If I decide to get one custom built from Gibson from just the wood I want, with my perfect pickups and detailed inlay, do you suppose I will pay more or less than I would buying a factory made guitar sold in a shop. If you said "more" then reward yourself with a cookie, because you won the prize of "common sense" that illudes so many girls whose are too distracted by the shiny new finger trinket they find themselves in possession of.
Brides, if you ask me to make a custom dress for you for less than retail (and with less than 3 months time) I'm going to sue you for damages since my *facepalm* will be strong enough to cause irreperable damage.