I rely on couture, vintage, and heirloom sewing techniques for superior craftsmanship. Raw edges are completely finished with French seams or a full lining so there will never be scratchy ends to bother sensitive skin. Seams will always be carefully pressed and graded where appropriate to reduce bulk and create a more comfortable garment. Dresses will be lined and underlined as appropriate for fabric and garment. My garments include high end details such as hand stitched invisible hems and hand picked zippers. I work with natural materials like cotton, linen or silk, and take great care when sourcing fabrics and notions to provide you the best possible quality. 

​My dresses are made to last. I offer contrasting sashes and belts to change the look for different seasons and events. A deep 4” hem is standard and I will happily let it out for you the following year free of charge so your little girl can enjoy wearing it again and again.


Before I even meet with you, I will ask about the occasion, the date, favorite styles and colors, hobbies and interests. I will research patterns, fabrics and trims and prepare a muslin to test fit. The first fitting includes a consultation. A $50 consultation fee is due at this time. This covers time I spend sketching, planning, sourcing supplies and all the things that go into imagining your special, one of a kind dress. I’ll present you with sketches, swatches and some general ideas of cost. We will make decisions and finalize the fit. Afterwards, I will compile and send an estimate based on your choices. As soon as I receive your materials deposit, I can order supplies and begin work. Generally, it’s a good idea to have one more fitting to check fit once the garment shell is constructed. This is included in your consultation fee. Depending on the complexity of the project or fit issues, additional fittings may be necessary. When finished, I will deliver the dress ready to try on. Final payment is due at this time. 

Normally, the process takes several weeks, so please contact me well in advance of your occasion. My turn around time is usually 4 to 6 weeks. I may choose to prioritize orders by event date. Depending on my schedule, I may be able to accept rush orders. If my schedule allows, I am happy to accommodate last minute orders. 


Because each dress is made specifically for you, the price can varies. Things that affect the final cost include complexity of the design, fitting challenges, cost of fabric, trims or embellishments. Fabric costs anywhere from $10 to $60 per yard, plus linings, underlining, zippers, thread and other supplies. Trims, laces, and other embellishments add to the cost, but some are much more expensive than others. Heirloom details and fine fabrics require a great deal of handwork and are extremely labor intensive, but other design details are less so. Dresses usually require between 10 and 25 hours of labor, depending on complexity. 

Dresses in colors or prints start at $250. White dresses require special handling and extra fabric. They start at $350. However, the nature of having something custom made is that it can be designed to suit you. I encourage you to contact me with your event and date, your budget and your style preferences. I will do my best to accommodate your budget without compromising design or craftsmanship. 


Additional sashes or ribbon belts make it easy to change the look and get more wear out of your dress. I also offer matching headbands and tiny replicas of the dress for your American Girl. For family portrait or wedding looks, you could order a matching tie or vest for your son. I can design a flower girl dress to compliment the bride or I can re-imagine a family heirloom gown into something new. I also enjoy making costumes for children and will happily take orders for dress up. 

Melanie Watson Custom Children’s Dressmaking accepts commissions for custom work. For holidays, events, portraits or Holy Communion, I can create a frock as special as she is.

Choosing a custom garment

A custom made dress is not only more comfortable, it offers a flexibility you can’t get from a mass produced item. Perhaps you want a style, color or quality that you simply can’t find in a store. If your child needs a special fit, store bought dresses simply won’t look right. Or maybe you want something unique to reflect your daughter’s personality or suit a special occasion.