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Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I feel like I hit the "mother lode".  I just bought myself a new serger; I had an industrial serger ages ago and it caused me such heartache, I got rid of it and went back to finishing my seams with the overedge options on my sewing machine (believe it or not, I'm using the Kenmore sewing machine I received as a college graduation present).  I know, that's double the seams; but it was truly less aggravation.  So, I started doing research on sergers again knowing that technology improves with time.   I made a decision to purchase a Brother machine and started using it this past weekend.  Awesome!  I can't wait to really dive in to all the features it has to offer.
But, even better I also hit an awesome fabric sale through a local designer who was selling off fabrics and trims at below wholesale prices.  She had some amazing deals which will work great for the bridal designs I have in mind.  Look at the scrumptious white fabric with the embroidered flowers, it just screamed FLOWER GIRL to me.  I'm about half-way finished with a dress already!
The beautiful pearl and sequin encrusted alencon lace is just a remnant; but it doesn't take much to add some embellishment to the bodice or skirt of a wedding gown!

I'll be posting pics of the finished products....and for those of you who may be wondering what ever happened to the lace overlay gown?'s finished!  My daughter and I had planned our styled photo shoot this past Saturday but were snowed out.  So, you'll just have to wait a bit longer.  The unveiling (just a little bridal humor) is re-scheduled for mid-April. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013


I had this romantic idea of making petit fours for Easter.  I think they're so cute and dainty.  I scoured recipes, Pinterest and the like and with what I read I was confident I could pull this off.    Well, I'll take you through the steps and show you the end product.  I'm not too proud to share my failures; I'm just bummed they didn't turn out as I had hoped.

The Petit Fours of my dreams

Petit Four Disaster....not even Martha can save these suckers!

I started with a store bought pound cake (like many of the recipes suggested); and cut it into 1 inch squares.  Easy enough.... I even cut some into two pieces to make a layer cake and used seedless raspberry jam for the filling....yummy!    That's where the fun ended and the disaster began.  The frosting recipe came together well--but obviously there's a technique, tip, trick whatever you want to call it that these bakers didn't quite                              want to let go of...        Sounds simple, just pour the frosting over the pieces; and use a spatula to help with the sides.  REALLY????   As I used the spatula, crumbs flaked into the frosting...all the while the frosting on the top of the cake was hardening very quickly.  So, I tried another technique, forget transferring the frosting into something you can pour with; I just used a gravy ladle and spooned it over the cakes...better, but still bare spots on the sides and more frosting was on the cake pan underneath the wire rack than was on the cakes!  REALLY?  Okay, how about I pick up the cakes in one hand and while holding it use a knife to scoop the icing right onto the side of the cake while holding it over the bowl.  Plop..right into the bowl...the sucker broke apart.  REALLY!!  That's it...I'm done!!  So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  No more petit fours for me...well, I mean no more home made petit fours.  I'll order them online with plenty of time to spare for Easter 2014.  For this Easter, I guess I'll look at the good 'ole recipe book for one of my tried and true desserts that I know the family enjoys.   Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I am totally infatuated with Shutterfly.  I have created several photo books through their website, plus I created a "share site" after my daughter's wedding to share the photographs from her wedding with our family members that are scattered all across the country.    Their products are so cool and their customer service is awesome!
  I just finished my fifth photo book.  My first adventure was to create a book for my mother-in-law of our 2009 family reunion pictures from Winter Park.   That was followed by three wedding albums, and my latest was from our recent trip to Sedona.  They have all types of options in the way of sizes, covers and page types, plus if you're creative like me you can really have fun creating your own custom book with embellishments, backgrounds and text boxes.
My next big project is to scan the really old family pictures and put together a series of family heritage albums that I can pass on to my daughter.   I have so many old photo        albums that are just falling apart, including my own wedding album; the photos are aging and the pages are a mess.  Some of these pictures are absolutely priceless and date back to the 1920's!   If I don't do something to preserve them, they won't be available for generations to come.  Check out their website.....they always seem to be running some type of special discounts, including free shipping from time-to-time.

It's so cool, pulling into my driveway and seeing the orange Shutterfly box waiting on my front door step with my latest book in it.   Enjoy!

Saturday, March 9, 2013


I have had several gals ask me about the number of hours it takes for me to create a wedding gown and also the cost of a custom gown.  So, I thought I would share the information in case there are other who may be wondering the same thing.   Here's the pricing for a Shea Marie designs gown:

Consultation:  FREE

Design Services:  $275.00
  • We'll take a trip to a *bridal salon and try on various styles/silhouettes to find the gown(s) that reflects your unique style and is most flattering to your body type.  From there we'll consult on the gown's design elements and I will finalize the design details and develop a sketch.
  • We'll take a trip to the fabric store to select the fabric and trims for the gown
  • You can plan on a minimum of four fittings:
    • Muslin bodice fitting
    • 1st fitting:  gown with undergarments (bra and slip)
    • 2nd fitting: gown with undergarments and shoes
    • Final fitting
* I have made "long distance" gowns....obviously, in that case photographs of yourself in various styles that you like can take the place of a trip to the bridal salon.  It just takes more phone calls/emails to ensure I know which design elements you like.  From there, I 'll sketch up the design and you will approve it before I get started.
My niece's gown took 13 yards of fabric

Material Fees:  varies
There are a number of factors which affect the overall price of the material fees.  First, the silhouette of the gown itself drives the yardage required:
  • a very full skirted/ball gown is obviously going to call for a great deal more fabric than a form fitted sleek design.
  • The next element is the train; the longer the train, the more yardage it will take:
    • Court (1 ft.)
    • Chapel (3-4 ft.)
    • Cathedral (6-8 ft.)
With that in mind, a full skirted ball gown with a chapel length train can take approximately 12-18 yards of fabric; a sheath design with a court length train may take only 6-8 yards.  Finally, the price per yard will affect the cost.  A polyester satin can cost $9-15 per yard; a raw silk can run $20-40 per yard.  To me, this is an individual preference and I try to work with my brides to find the fabric they want at the most reasonable price.

Labor Costs:  varies
I charge $30 per hour for my labor.  Again, the hours involved in the draping, cutting, and sewing of the gown is dependent upon the design of the gown.  I can give you an estimate during the consultation as to how much time may be involved.
My daughter's gown took 18 yards of fabric; material costs were under $400.00
The lace overlay gown that I am working on right now, is just about complete and ready for the unveiling (no pun intended) later this month.   It is a much more sleek silhouette which took 7 yards of fabric; material cost is just under $350.00.  I have approximately 2-3 hours of work remaining on it, which will put the labor hours at approximately 25 hours.  I'll be adding a picture to this post when it is complete and of course, all my designs are on my website: Shea Marie Designs

I hope that helps; a custom gown CAN be affordable!   Wedding gowns are my all time favorite type of design work.  They truly allow my creative juices to flow....especially when the bride gives me some creative license.

I'll be honest, every gown gives me fits at some point in the project, whether it's fighting with the fabric (like my sister-in-law's gown), or going through a dozen needles due to the beading (like the one I'm currently working on).  The struggles are all worth it, when the gown is complete and the bride looks absolutely stunning and is overjoyed with the result.   It's then, when my heart is full of pride and I am so thankful to have played a part in making her dreams come true.