When Wilmington, North Carolina-based designer Meredith West Owens was ready to tie the knot, she knew this was her chance for making her design dreams a reality: “A dream of mine has been to design my bridesmaids’ dresses as a gift for my best friends. I wanted each dress to be a reflection of my girls who have unwaveringly supported us from the beginning…while also being my biggest cheerleaders for the past 10+ years.” One look at Meredith’s wedding photos and it’s no secret her custom-designed dresses were the talk of the evening (after Meredith’s dress, of course!) We can’t wait to give you a behind-the-scenes look at Meredith’s process and how Spoonflower helped her dream become a reality with custom-printed fabric.
Meet Meredith West Owens
I am a graduate of the Fibers and Surface Design program at North Carolina State University, College of Design, earning a Bachelors in 2013 and Masters in 2017. My research in school focused on surface pattern design and a personal process for translating handmade marks through digital technologies systematically. I have always loved repeat patterns and really found my niche in making original illustrations and artwork functional through the avenue of custom surface design. I am definitely a pattern and textile junkie and I love that I’m able to do what I’m passionate about for work!
After graduation in 2017, I took a job as Senior Designer for the fabric and wallpaper design company House of Harris, where I learned so much about design and business for the industry. I am really thankful for my experience there!
Shortly after our wedding, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a creative business owner and launched A La Mere: a boutique design house celebrating custom illustration + surface design through paper, pattern, apparel and textiles. I am so excited to see what 2020 has in store for us!
What inspired you to use Spoonflower for your wedding?
I used Spoonflower in undergrad and grad school for projects! We were super fortunate to have Spoonflower’s support of students in design and it was helpful to practice and test the process from handmade marks to computer to fabric (or wallpaper!) Spoonflower is the best direct-to-consumer DIY company I’ve been able to find. I knew the quality would be excellent and the color matching would be spot on. Also, the quick lead times and no-minimums are almost unheard of. It was a no brainer for me!
Let’s talk dresses! Each of your bridesmaids wore a dress in a unique design that fit their personality. What was the process for creating each design?
A dream of mine has been to design my bridesmaids’ dresses as a gift for my best friends. I wanted each one to be a reflection of my girls who have unwaveringly supported us from the beginning…while also being my biggest cheerleaders for the past 10+ years. They are all so special and uniquely enrich my life in their own ways. This is why each dress pattern and style is totally different—to celebrate that!
I sent out a survey to find out what silhouette each bridesmaid would feel most comfortable in. Then, I wrote three words for each girl that described their personality and style. That really influenced the process from sketching, print design, color selection and scale—all the way to the finished product. I designed each fabric and had it printed through Spoonflower. Since I’ve always been obsessed with surface design, pattern and textiles, of course they each had to have their own special print. Then, a local seamstress (magician) helped draft all the flat patterns and constructed each one based on the sketches I gave her. Before I found CJ, three other people actually turned me down because it was a big undertaking (which was totally understandable). I am so thankful CJ was able to help bring my vision to life!
I started with my sister’s dress. As Maid of Honor, I wanted her dress to be the most involved and more of a “novelty” print. From there, I knew I could pull elements to create seven more patterns that were different but remained cohesive. I also really wanted the fabrics to tie back to our paper goods used throughout the wedding. The goal was to encapsulate the feeling of a particular location, a sense of being on an island, rather than a season. The colors were inspired by the landscape and natural elements. We wanted to incorporate iconic island motifs such as a lighthouse, herons, rope, coral, the marsh, seagrass and more. I was hoping it would feel warm, familiar and like an endless summer.
Once I finalized my sister’s design, I ordered a fat quarter sample from Spoonflower to make sure the colors translated well. I’m always amazed by the accuracy from screen to fabric! I was working on all the other dresses simultaneously, trying to make sure the scale and colors all worked as a collection together. Luckily one of my bridesmaids was in design with me and was able to help with some virtual critiques. My mom, husband and sister also helped to keep me sane—and all my friends were so encouraging and supportive! The most challenging part was creating the fabric file for uploading in a way that would create accurate placement of the print on the body. Fortunately my seamstress was so amazingly helpful with that as well!
What really brought each dress to life is the way my sister, sister-in-law, and each of my girlfriends rocked them—they are all so beautiful, inside and out, and looked stunning. They trusted me, encouraged this crazy idea and were all very patient during the process. I couldn’t be more grateful.
Which Spoonflower fabrics did you use and why?
We primarily used the Silky Faille and Poly Crepe de Chine. I did a Chiffon overlay for my sister’s dress since she was Maid of Honor. I had a sample pack and took them to CJ to see what she would recommend based on the final dress shapes I wanted. She was really impressed by the Spoonflower fabric offerings and helped me select the appropriate fabric for each silhouette.
*While Silky Faille has since been retired, you can learn more about all of Spoonflower’s available fabrics here.
What was it like to see your bridesmaids wearing dresses featuring your artwork on such a special day?
Very surreal. They are all so stunning and would have looked incredible in anything! But, to see them in something I created specifically for each of them was really humbling and just the icing on the cake of an amazing weekend.
What advice would you give to future creative brides and grooms adding custom design elements to their wedding?
Don’t be afraid to break away from the typical bridal design and traditions and make decisions based on what reflects you and your significant other best! Of course if you’re designing something for your wedding party or other special guests, I would say it’s really rewarding to think about their role in your life and how your design(s) will celebrate them.
Just three weeks before her wedding, Meredith decided she also needed a custom jumpsuit for their rehearsal night! Not ready to commit to a completely customized wedding? Say “I Do” to these seven DIY projects for your special day.
Photography by Amanda & Grady Photography
About the Guest Author
Meredith West Owens is the owner + designer behind A La Mere. She is a North Carolina native specializing in custom illustration and surface design for clients ranging from stationery and paper goods to textiles and wallpaper. Meredith’s ties to her coastal hometown of Wilmington, NC are influential in her mark making and motifs. See more of her work and life on Instagram: @designalamere + @meredithwowens!