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A customer recently asked me if I would ever consider making dresses for Petites which really surprised me because our dresses already fit many petites very well. Just to clarify a 'Petite' is a woman that is 5"4" and under. The definition of Petite is not about 'size', it's possible to be a small woman and be petite or a plus size and also be petite. We certainly make dresses that fit many types, heights and sizes of women.
As a Petite woman myself, I understand the dilemma of a short woman. In fact this was one of the catalysts for me to begin designing dresses in the first place. Dresses on the rack never did fit me, they were always too long in the waist, which meant that the smallest part on the dress sat right at the fullest part of 'me' (my stomach). When I started designing Cherry Velvet almost 10 years ago, I absolutely made sure the dresses would fit my body. Right?!
Many of our classic styles sit high on the waist, sometimes also known as a empire waist. The bonus of this empire style cut is that it also gives you more fabric across the tummy and can actually fit taller woman as well. For reference, we do make also make dresses that fit more traditionally in the waist length for women that are taller.
But if you're short like me and I know many of you are shorter, (several are 4'10") this is what you need to know. The really important measurement for a petite woman is the waist length. This is measured vertically from the prominent bone where your neck intersects the top of your back straight down to your true waist. Many of our dresses are really quite short waisted and sit right under the bust line which makes them very suitable for petites (Some styles are more suitable than others).
Sometimes the upper bodice length is too long for petites and this can be remedied by having the strap shortened. If you're concerned about overall length, hemming a dress is the easiest alteration, far easier than waist length. especially in the cotton fabric we use. Any seamstress should be able to do this for you.
The best Cherry Velvet dress styles for Petites include Brigitte, Doris, Brooke, Chrissy, Olivia, Rhapsody and Marie (in the plus sizesonly for Marie). If you ever need help or advice on fit please don't hesitate to send me an e-mail and include your measurements. (instructions here in our fit guide)
We get asked the question a lot if we ever make custom dresses and the answer is no, nor do we plan to add 'petite' dresses specifically. On a positive note we will continue to vary the cuts of our styles to fit many different body types for as many women as we can and especially woman with the curvy bits we love :)
Thanks for sending in your Cherry Velvet questions! We caught up with Diane as she opened up about what she's doing next, her process and her take on the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
I have a lot of trouble doing up the zippers in the back of the dresses. Would you ever consider changing your zipper to have a pull that would allow the use of a zipper helper?
Great question. I'm so glad a few of you brought this to my attention. I've always cheated and pulled the dresses over my head without ever undoing the zipper. (as a plus size this is possible, but not for the smaller sizes) So going forward I've changed the zipper we're using away from the invisible style zipper. The tiny pull does not allow the attachment of a ribbon or hook to help with doing up the zipper. So starting with our next dress, the Olivia, most of our dresses will come with this new exposed zipper that allows for the attachment of a longer zipper pull. I want getting dressed to be easier for you!
What trends do you follow when picking prints?
As a dress company inspired by vintage dress designs, I admit we really don't follow a lot of trends. Every season I comb through the fabrics offered by a multitude of fabric companies in search of the prints that I think you will love to wear. Lately, I've found a beautiful 70's inspired floral, and as 70's fashion has seen a resurgence in the past year or two, that's probably the closest we get to a 'trend'.
Do you follow colour trends? Is that a byproduct of fabric trends?
Again I have to say, I don't really follow colour trends much. Perennially popular are black dresses with bright prints. I do try to keep a nice assortment for all of you with colours like red, blue, aqua, purple and the occasional green. Less often you'll see colours like pink, orange or yellow, even though I truly love these colours. Right now I'm considering a print with a goldenrod yellow background.
Are you the only designer or is there a design team?
I am the only designer, however my staff does provide feedback and input on choosing new fabrics. I did have an assistant designer a while back, but she left on maternity leave and I have not replaced her.
When will the Vanessa dress come back in stock? I am looking to update my wardrobe with dresses that cover the chest area a bit more.
Thanks for your feedback. I agree the Vanessa was a great style, however it was hard for the factory to sew the tip of the V neck accurately and I was not 100% satisfied with the result. Hence I decided to discontinue this style. There is going to be an updated version called Jacqueline that will be loosely based on the Vanessa but with a change to the neckline design.
I think you will like the Olivia, this classic dress is suitable for work as it covers the chest nicely. I had planned to cut this new style weeks ago but, unfortunately there have been two unforeseen delays with the fabric. The Olivia dress is in production now and I'll have this one for you very soon in 6 lovely prints.
Do you make any styles that are longer?
This is a question we get asked a lot. I would love to make a few dresses that are longer, but the reality is that takes a lot more fabric to do that. The cotton we use is very narrow, only 42" wide, so making longer dresses really adds to the cost of the dress. I did make a style that is longer called the Waterfront dress and it comes in 4 beautiful prints here.
Have you watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel? Did any of the dress styles in it inspire you?
I ordered Prime just so I could watch Mrs. Maisel. I was not disappointed, the clothing was fabulous! There was an adorable stripe dress that caught my eye later on in the season. I'm always looking for a stripe fabric that's just right to make a sundress. I did find one for Spring that's inspired by the bands on vintage Pyrex kitchenware. Making a stripe dress offers unique challenges but the results can really be striking. Besides her dresses, I was enamoured with her coat wardrobe! Just WOW. So many beautifully cut and tailored coats and those beautiful bright colours!
I would love to know what the process is for when you make a new dress design. Are there special ladies that inspire you and you create a dress that you feel is "them"? I ask because I have noted that all your dress designs are ladies names.
I confess that usually I have an idea of a dress I'd like to wear myself and I go ahead and make it happen. Sometimes I see a photo of a dress that inspires me that was worn by a famous star like Marilyn or Dita. Or I imagine one of my girlfriends or customers that I think would look amazing in my design. I am absolutely inspired by the female figure. It's so important to me that my dresses really look good and flatter a women's curves. Not much makes me happier than seeing my ladies looking and feeling amazing in my dresses.
I really love the Marie dress with the zipper in the front. Will you ever make any other front zip styles?
As a matter of fact, I'm planning a sleeveless style with a front zipper in the Spring. I'm guessing it'll show up around March as long as the fabric fairies are on our side and the Spring fabrics arrive in a timely manner.
How do you encourage/support your creative spirit during this pandemic?
Other than slowing down a bit mostly due to delays with the fabric supply, really my creative drive is still strong. I truly love my job and so it's not like work to me. I love to look through fabrics and plan what's coming next. The pandemic has impacted my social life far more than my creativity. If anything, the slower pace has encouraged more time to be creative. I have new dresses and prints already planned into next summer.
How do you measure for the varying sizes when making dresses? (Some companies are so off)
When I make a dress pattern for the first time I start with a block which is the technical term for a base pattern. By reusing the same base pattern each time it allows for more continuity of fit. In the final result there will be some variation in the fit between styles, but that does allow for the variation that happens naturally between women's bodies. There are other natural variations that occur with fit, for example if the fabric changes, the fit can also change. After the pattern is finalized the grading rules are applied to create the other sizes. This means the pattern grows and shrinks from one size to another by the same amount no matter the dress style.
What are your top 5 favourite Cherry Velvet dresses ever?
Oh well, that's easy and hard to answer at the same time. Often my favourite dress is the one I'm currently wearing! My all time favourite dress is the Norma, I just love how it enhances the feminine figure. My favourite Norma prints are Unhappy Hour and Santas in Space; both amazingly artistic and special prints. My next favourite dress is Doris, because I love the cut of this style around the bust. My favourite Doris print is Enchanted garden, it's a spectacular large scale floral in shades of pinks, blues, purple and jade. The Shelly dress is another favourite named after my girlfriend Shelly and my favourite print is called Party dot. It was black with vintage coloured dots. A classic! The Brigitte in the Camera print will forever be my favourite sundress. I love the shorter length (I'm short) and the open keyhole back detail. *Please note none of the prints I've mentioned are still available
What is your inspiration for choosing new prints for each season?
Customer requests are often my motivation for looking for new prints. I also might look for a colour we haven't had for a while. But mostly I just look for the the coolest, the most beautiful and unique prints that I can find that I think are worthy of becoming a Cherry Velvet dress. Last year when we did a survey the top requests were dinosaur prints and florals. So I've been looking hard to find these prints for you. You might have noticed our amazing "Dino-might" glow in the dark print, and there is another Dinosaur print coming very early next Spring. Also, I've found lots of beautiful florals for Spring and can't wait to show them to you.
Thanks again for sending in your questions!
We're always happy to hear your opinions, suggestions and feedback. Feel free to send in your comments anytime!