I specialise in designing and making handsewn dresses from silk and natural fibres.  Silk wedding dresses, evening gowns and luxury day wear for ladies.

My practice as a designer dressmaker means that I work out the designs, which you can choose from my collection of made up dresses and gowns, from my portfolios of sketches and photos of designs I have created for customers and for my collection.  Or I can make sketches for a bespoke creation.  In my portfolios there are sketches of complete designs for dresses and gowns as well as sketches of necklines, sleeves, skirts, bodices for inspiration to start me sketching a unique design.

Please note that I do NOT make trousers.

If you contact me before an appointment and give me an idea what you would like, I can prepare preliminary sketches to send to you to look at before you visit.  Or I can sit with you and sketch during an appointment; I can combine both methods to make working sketches for your dress.

I will then make the dress pattern from dressmaking tissue paper specifically for your hand sewn creation.


 I only work from my own designs for these.  You can choose from my portfolios of surface decoration designs or I can create a unique design for you.


I have very large ranges of dress materials I can order from trade suppliers so I can show you fabric swatches that I have from my suppliers. I specialize in working with 100% Silks with hundreds to choose from in very wide colour ranges, as well as Wool, Cotton, Linen, velvets (including Silk mix, Cottons and Viscose) "fancies" and English, French and Italian laces  I can soure some organic, "eco" and recycled fibre fabrics including recycled Polyesters and some recycled or organic fibre laces.  I do sometimes work with quality synthetics (Polyesters, Polyamides) and artifical fibres (Acetate and Viscose).

If I don't have something in my swatch collection then I can usually order some or even sometimes borrow a hanger with a large swatch. Some suppliers will send a stock cutting of the current batch colour; some will reserve meterage for a fabric quality with no obligation, and I like to give customers a swatch of fabric to ponder on before purchase and also so that they can check this next to the colour of shoes, accessories etc.

My suppliers offer a cut length service, so I can usually order a minimum of 1 metre, sometimes a minimum of 2 or 3 metres.  A few suppliers will supply less than 1 metre.  All at trade prices and a wider range than can be found in most shops.

Some fabric companies offer a dyeing or bespoke weaving service, subject to minimums which can be quite small.


Some clients are happy for me to go ahead and cut the garment from the fabric when it arrives, ready for a first fitting, if they are sure they are happy with the design, or I can make a toile.


A toile is a mock up of the design to test the style and the fit before cutting out the dress from the actual fabric. Traditionally a toile is made from calico, which is very off-white in colour and it can be a bit stiff. So it does not suit all styles. In which case, I will use an economically priced fabric or fabrics, which is/are similar to the weight and drape of the material to be used for the actual dress.


For the first fitting the garment is just sewn with large temporary stitches. These are called tacking stitches or basting stitches. This is so that the customer has a rough idea of what the style of the dress will look like and so I can adjust the fit at the fitting. I cut clothes too long and usually with generous seams so that there is ease for the fit and adjustments of the style, hem and sleeve lengths  while the dress is being made up. If the seams were sewn properly (and pressed) at the first stage then there is a strong possibility that the fabric would be marked if the seam needed to be undone to adjust the fit.  Pressing is done when the fit is right.  It can take between 2 and 10 fittings depending on the style and complexity of the garment.


Some makers just use a sewing machine, others use a machine and hand sewing but I do all the sewing by hand so that there is as little damage to the fabric as possible, particularly as I work with silk and other fine fabrics. Hand sewing also gives a particularly soft finish to garments and it gives a lot of control to the maker when sewing together intricate pattern pieces.

Sketch of dress copyright Anne Fontenoy.  All rights reserved.


The full Terms & Conditions for dresses designed and made Face to Face are in a separate Blog post.

Dresses designed and made remotely have different terms which you will find in the Shipping and Policies section at the end of each page of this website.  

For all orders, a deposit is required to confirm a commissioned order.  The balance is due on completion.  

If clothes are made to order and personalised to your measurements, there is no cancellation once the deposit is paid for face to face orders, and no cancellation after a 14 day cooling off period for dresses designed and made remotely.  I will however, not purchase any fabrics until the 14 day cooling off period has expired.  So I cannot guarantee the fabric will still be available, unless it is from one of my suppliers who offer a reserve service. If you wish me to order fabric and  start work before the end of the 14 day cooling off period for distance commissions, please let me know and I will order fabric and start work when I receive the deposit as cleared funds.


All prices are estimated and are valid for 1 month from the date they are given to the Customer.  Any changes or additions to the preliminary design will be charged at the current rate per hour in addition to the original price plus additional material costs.


For Distance Sales you can pay through Etsy Payments or Paypal from this website - checkput as a guest if you do not have accounts with them.  I accept bank transfers for Face to Face orders and in person sales as well as credit/debit card Chip and Pin or contactless transactions, including ApplePay.  If needs be I can send a Paypment Link to your e-mail address to pay using a card.

If you wish to pay by bank transfer for Distance Sales, please contact me by e-mail to let me know what you would like to order as these transfers will be processed directly with you rather than through the Shop.


Plese send an e-mail to info@annefontenoy.co.uk for copies of these to be sent to you by e-mail (or post if you prefer).  I will send these by e-mail to you if you like when you enquire about having a dress designed for you.


Dresses are priced according to how long they take to make @ £25.00 per hour although some garments may also incur a design fee.  Hourly rate for alterations is £22.50

Prices are subject to change.

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO PRICES gives an indication of starting prices but please remember that the cost of materials is not included in these because fabric prices vary from about £10 per metre to around £150 per metre.  On average the cost of all materials for a dress can range from about £50 to £300 for synthetics although the costs per dress for 100% wool, cotton, silks and good quality laces can range from £100 to more than £1,000 per dress.

Rough Guide to starting prices January 2024 for designing and making but there will also be the cost of dress materials and haberdashery.

  • Camisoles from £200
  • Blouses from £300
  • Lined straight skirts from £300
  • Unlined full skirts from £350
  • Lined full skirts from £400
  • Lined pleated skirts from £500
  • Unlined straight short sleeveless dress from £300
  • Unlined short straight dress with sleeves from £400
  • Lined short straight dress with sleeves from £600
  • Unlined jackets from £300
  • Lined collarless short jackets from £450
  • Lined jackets with collar from £600
  • Lined Suits (straight skirt and collarless jacket) from £750
  • Lined short straight dress and collarless jacket from £900
  • Short Coats from £750
  • Long Coats from £1,125
  • Unlined and very simple straight evening dress (no bones) from £600
  • Very simple lined, straight evening dress from £1,125
  • Sleeveless ballgown with unlined skirt from £750 (no petticoats)
  • Simple lined ball gowns from £1,125
  • Short, lined straight wedding dresses from £600
  • Short wedding dress with full skirt from £1,125
  • Bridal and Evening gowns from £1,125 to £5,000; complex designs may cost more
  • Veils from £100 to £3,000. Very long veils or hand embroidered veils, POA
  • Flower girl dress from £375 to £1,125
  • Original embroidery and beadwork designs by Anne Fontenoy start from around £300 for a small piece, but may cost several thousand pounds. 


Realistically, including the cost of materials, evening dresses and adult bridesmaid dresses cost from about £750 to £2,750, bridal dresses and gowns, from about £1,125 to £5,000. Very elaborate dresses and gowns will cost more. Original embroidery and beadwork designs by Anne Fontenoy start from around £300 but can cost several thousand pounds for intricate designs.


Anne does not design or make trousers because she is a “dress lady”.  She does not work from ready made paper dress patterns because she makes her own patterns out of dressmaking tissue paper for the clothes she designs, and she does not use a sewing machine, because she creates original hand sewn ladies clothes. 

She does not use heavy corsetry in her gowns, just light boning, soft cups, and elasticated stays. Quite a few gowns and dresses are specifically designed to be worn with a bra or bodysuit for those who find corsetry uncomfortable.


Anne's sustainability policies include the use of materials made of natural, organic and recycled fibres, sewing everything by hand which reduces her power consumption, and upcycling old dresses, especially fitting and restyling the bride's mother's or grandmother's wedding dress.

For her art she works mostly with fine art papers which for centuries have been made in a sustainable way, some papers are made of acid free archival pulp from a sustainable source, others are made of cotton rag which are often off-cuts from the textile industry.  She  carefully chooses non-toxic light-fast pencils and oil pastels as well as eco-thinners for her artwork.

Cards are wrapped in clear compostable bags and she often re-uses packaging, such as used carrier bags, cardboard boxes, brown paper stuffing and corrugated paper protection (as well as used bubble wrap) to send you your orders, or for you to collect them in.

Copyyright and Design Right are retained by Anne Fontenoy