Meet Keighley’s Wedding Dress Maker
09 Aug 2011
Meet Keighley’s Wedding Dress Maker
Linda Davey loves her job. And why wouldn’t she? All day long the mother-of three is surrounded by reams of silks, satins and chiffon, creating the most special dress a girl will ever wear
Linda, a bespoke dressmaker, who works from her Keighley home, doesn’t just make wedding dresses; she also turns her hands to gowns for the bridesmaids; waistcoats for the groom, best man, ushers and page boys and even one-off designs for the mother-of-the-bride.
The bride’s gown however is where Linda’s heart truly lies: ‘I love the wedding dresses,’ she says. ‘The bigger the better, I love all the pleats and details and especially enjoy working with silk and the more expensive fabrics. It just plays really nicely; I can do so many nice things with it to create a gorgeous gown that the bride will adore.
‘The rush I get when I’m able to see my brides go into the church is immense. If they live locally I’ll help them to get ready on the morning. I’m always reminded of the Royal weddings, as the bride gets out of the carriage you see the dressmaker fluffing the dress and making everything perfect. That’s something that every bride deserves.’
Linda, set up her dressmaking business, Dresses at No 9, last year. Work was steady and then Linda got a phone call that would make business even better: ‘One of my brides, Nadia, rang and said she hoped I wouldn’t mind but her wedding was going to be featured in a national bridal magazine,’ explains Linda. ‘She said she’d mentioned me in the piece and hoped that was OK! Mind! Of course I didn’t mind! It’s every dressmakers dream! When her wedding was featured that’s when things really took off.’
It’s all a far cry from when she failed her dressmaking O-levels! Linda’s career began when, working for Pronuptia, she was approached by a school friend, Louise asking if she would make her wedding dress.
‘Louise asked if I’d go with her to look at wedding dresses,’ explains Linda. ‘But she just couldn’t find anything she liked; she’d like the sleeves of one, the fabric of another, so we decided to bring all those aspects together in one design and she asked if I’d make it for her. I thought, OK, let’s go for it, so I did. We chose the fabric together and a pattern which I altered to incorporate the other details she liked and it all went from there. After her wedding I was approached by three of her guests asking if I could make their gowns. There was no internet in those days, it was all word of mouth.’
Although she’s been making dresses for brides for more than 20 years its only in the last two that she officially launched her business.
‘My youngest child has started school and I wanted to bring some extra money into the household. Up until then I’d been fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mum. I think people think that a bespoke wedding dress is going to cost an arm and a leg but it needn’t be that way. I get my fabrics wholesale and pass that cost saving back to the bride, so they’re basically just paying for my time.’
Bridal gowns are obviously a bit more expensive; but Linda says bridesmaids dresses normally come in at around £150; when you consider these are made from pure silk and usually include a ‘corselette’, a support panel with the correct boning and wiring to ensure that the top of the dress fits properly without you constantly having to adjust it.
Linda has made dresses for clients across Yorkshire and the country but there are things she won’t do: ‘I always say I’m not a designer; I am a dressmaker,’ she says. ‘I wouldn’t re-make one bride’s dress for another client - it’s not fair on the bride. She’s spent so much time researching dresses, she deserves it to be unique to her. If a bride comes to me and says she wants Nadia’s dress I’ll work with her to design something special to her. It might be based on the same pattern but will reflect her style, likes and dislikes. Likewise I won’t rip off another designer. I know how much work goes into designing a dress; they might charge high prices but I believe they’ve earnt that right.’
Dresses at No 9: 01535 663389, www.dressesatno9.co.uk
Rob Booker: 0113 270 2440, www.robbooker.co.uk