From the first design to the final dress

February 2023

Being a fashion designer is often thought of as glamorous work. While it can be glamorous at times, for me, it is not so much glamorous, as it is both challenging and exciting. From the first design to the final dress, creating a gown for someone for a special occasion is work that requires dedication, close attention to detail and patience.

Granted, unless you are involved in design work, you cannot really be expected to understand what is actually involved or what to expect when working with a designer. So, in this piece, I briefly touch on the process that I generally follow in creating a dress for a client and the magic that takes place behind-the-scenes!


1. Meeting, designing and drawing

Working with me begins with an initial consultation. At this first meeting, you are able to view a sample of the collection piece(s) of interest to you (if you are looking at a made-to-measure piece), or otherwise, if you are after a custom creation, we discuss initial design ideas, taking into account your style and requirements.

If you’re having a custom gown made, there will then be a design meeting where I present you with a few designs based on our initial conversation, having spent some time sketching and collecting fabric samples for you.

In this meeting, fabric options, details, construction and approximate pricing will be discussed with you. Sometimes, a few design meetings are needed to finalise the design.

2. Creating, sewing and fitting

Once you have approved the design, your dress will go into production. This means that the technical side of construction will be mapped out and patterns will be created according to your measurements and the design.

The patterns are then cut from fabric and a toile is created. A toile is a draft of your gown made of calico or a like fabric to assist with the fit of your garment, before your gown is actually made from the fabric we have selected.

Once the toile is ready, it will be fitted to you. Depending on the design, there are usually a few toile fittings. Following each fitting, the relevant adjustments to the patterns are made and a new toile is prepared for you.

3. Embellishing, finishing and handing over!

Once we are happy with the look and fit of the toile, the final patterns are created and cut from the chosen fabric. Any embellishment often occurs at this stage and the dress is sewn up to a point and fitted to you at the garment fitting(s).

Any minor fit alterations are made following these fittings, and then there is the final fitting where you get to try on your gown for the last time.

It is then pressed, packed and ready for you to take home!

Hopefully this gives you a little bit of an idea of what you can expect in working with me as a designer and in having a gown made. Of course, every designer works differently and the process may vary accordingly, but generally speaking, the process is often quite a personalised one.

Yes, having a dress made is more time-intensive and sometimes more costly than buying a ready-made dress but working with a designer one-on-one means you are actively involved throughout the process and play a part in creating that little bit of magic that is yours to keep!

Dora xx



Hi, welcome to THEODORA KOUTS® and thank you for taking the time to read my article. I am a fashion designer and dressmaker based in Sydney, Australia. I started my eponymous label in 2016 offering high-end, made-to-measure and custom-made evening gowns. With a sophisticated yet delicate aesthetic being the hallmark of my brand, my pieces reflect an unwavering love of structure, soft silhouettes and subtle detailing. 

Beyond being a designer, I have a background in corporate communications and I am a mum of two (endearingly energetic!) young children. When I am not working or running around with the kids, chances are you’ll find me at a concert or at the theatre, on the tennis court, with family and friends having a laugh, or sitting poolside on holiday! 

You can find out more about me and how I can help you at


Disclaimer: Please note this article is purely an opinion piece and is not intended to be taken as advice or otherwise relied upon. Use of this article including any text and images, is limited to non-commercial, personal use. It is not to be otherwise copied, amended, adapted, published, printed or otherwise reproduced, in part or in whole, without the prior permission of Theodora Kouts Pty Ltd.

© Theodora Kouts Pty Ltd 2016 – 2023.