Designs From Time
Now for the boring...unpleasantness of my work! I know it's lengthy, but in order to avoid misunderstandings, please read the fine print!
My Customer Service Policies:
I strive to make sure you are satisfied with your purchase so that you will recommend me to others; therefore, YOUR satisfaction is of great importance to me. I take great pride in my craft and make every effort possible to create a garment that you will also take pride in wearing.
I know that trusting someone with an investment such as a wedding gown, or even an ensemble for an event purchased on-line, can be a gamble. I've had a few bad experiences myself in that regard. However, I have a strong business background and I am a perfectionist. Both my clients and my family will testify to that assessment.
When it comes to my design work, I am very mindful that every piece I design and create is a walking advertisement. I won't let a piece leave my workshop until both of us are satisfied it meets our goal - and I'm my own worst critic! I work very hard to please my clients and protect their investment. Because all sales are final, I go to great pains to ensure that each piece is of the highest quality. However, I reserve the right to decline any commission that I do not feel reflects positively on my artistic integrity and ability.
I do not discriminate or refuse any commissions based on gender, age, religion, race, or sexual orientation.
I work on a first-come basis, and only accept a limited amount of orders for gowns and doublets each year. I allow myself no less than 3 months per gown/ensemble. To be placed on my schedule for a custom gown or men's ensemble, I require a non-refundable 40% Deposit.
I cannot reserve any spots on my schedule until I have received your deposit - and my slots fill up VERY FAST! Usually by February I am booked out until the Fall.
PLEASE NOTE: Upon the receipt of your 40% deposit, it is mutually understood that you have read, understand and agree to ALL terms provided herein, and any other sections of this website that you may, or may not be directed.
What happens first?
The first step is the phone or email consultation. If you live locally to me, we can meet in person to take your measurements. At that time, we will discuss what exactly you are looking for., i.e., what era, what the garment will be worn for, the style you prefer, and your fabric and color preferences.
If you have pictures or a copy of a print or painting from history, I will ask that you send them to me along with details of your ideas, or bring them with you to your first consultation. We will discuss your detail picks and I will inform you whether or not I feel I can offer what it is you're requesting.
Once I know what you are looking for, and how many items in your ensemble you want me to design, I will send you a rough labor estimate. This estimate is NOT to be construed as the final cost. It is merely a rough estimate based on what you have communicated to me in our initial consultation.
Next, I will draft a sketch, to include all of the design elements we discussed.
If you live local, and we can meet at my shop (my home), we will go over my design sketches. If you are not local, I will email them to you for your approval, and/or for changes or additions you may wish to add.
We will review your fabric swatches, and discuss color, embellishments, trims, etc.
After our second consultation, I will follow up with a clean sketch - if any additions or changes were made at that time. I will also send an updated and detailed Labor Estimate via e-mail detailing your order to ensure accuracy. Any changes or additions need to be communicated to me via Email so that they can be documented.
Again, this labor estimate is not to be construed as the final cost, as I will add any other supplies I purchase, or items I use from my stock on hand, to the final billing statement.
Any embroidery or labor for beading will also be added to the final statement; however, I you will have agreed upon all embellishments and the cost via Email before I begin construction of your ensemble to avoid any surprise charges.
When I receive your return email, and you do not expressly disagree to all changes and design elements, I will assume your return email infers your agreement to the design, color pallet, and embellishments and I will then proceed to the next phase, by accepting your 40% deposit.
If you are planning to utilize my Lay Away program, I will send you my contract/agreement via Email, or if purchasing on Etsy it will be included with your custom order request.
Please be advised, when and if you send your 40% deposit, you are therefore agreeing that you have read, understand, and agree with ALL of the terms as outlined in the Lay Away Contract/Agreement, or my store policies, whether or not you specify such an agreement in any email or message.
Once a 40% deposit is received, I will then proceed by placing you on my schedule.
Unless otherwise specified in a listing on this website or in my Etsy store, you will be expected to provide all materials needed for construction. As a rule, I do not use my personal business account to purchase fabrics in bulk or for your special order. Please be prepared to cover the cost of ALL your materials and notions, in addition to your 40% deposit for labor. I do purchase some fabrics, trims, and notions for you, but will add the cost of these to your final billing statement. I do this in order to expedite the construction of your ensemble; otherwise, I will have to contact you and have you purchase said items and wait for their delivery to my workshop, which will add extra time to the construction of your garment.
Purchasing Your Fabric:
I will provide a list of vendors that I have vetted for quality and customer service, so that you may order swatches of your fabric choices. You MUST order swatches! Choose no more than THREE COLORS: #1 - Basic Gown #2 Forepart & matching sleeve, #3 decorative piping or an accent color.
Once you have chosen your colors, I ask for you to send me your swatches so I can verify the colors you've chosen will work together. I then recommend you purchase your fabrics.
On the rare occasion I do have fabrics on inventory, I will ask for a reimbursement for that fabric (in addition to your 40% down payment for labor) before work will begin. I do not mark up the cost of these materials.
It is imperative that you have your fabrics chosen, ordered, and shipped to me at a minimum of one two months in advance of your scheduled time slot.
***PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE FABRICS WITHOUT FIRST ORERING SWATCHES***
Too many times when shopping for fabrics on-line clients make their choices without first purchasing swatches. But the color you see on your computer monitor is NOT the actual color of the fabric. I have yet to purchase any fabric that turned out to be exactly the color I thought it was, based on the appearance of the picture I viewed on the website. Please....You absolutely MUST order swatches! You cannot match your colors without them!! Those of my clients who have tried, have ended up with a completely different color pallet, and I've had to exchange them - or worse, my client ended up with fabric they couldn't use.
How Soon To Purchase Fabrics or Swatches:
In order to ship your fabrics to me two months in advance, I recommend you begin ordering your swatches about 4 months in advance of your time slot.
Please, do NOT wait until your time slot arrives to begin ordering fabrics. I need the entire allotted time for construction; therefore, you will need to plan ahead and allow for any possible issues with back-ordering fabrics, or exchanging fabrics that might be the wrong color, or even delays in shipping your fabrics.
If you wait to order your fabrics, and they aren't delivered to me before the date of your scheduled time slot, you will have to reschedule for my next open slot; and that can be up to several months to a year. Please be aware that time spent shopping for fabrics after your scheduled time begins will cut into my production time. It is not fair to those whose appointment is scheduled behind yours to ask them to delay their orders to accommodate any lost time due to delays that can be avoided by careful and thoughtful preparation. I cannot delay my other orders to accommodate any lost time due to such delays.
I use authentic fresh-water pearls or cultured pearls. If you wish to use plastic or glass pearls, please let me know. The cost of pearls is not included in the listed prices. If a design is listed as Retail, there will be a limit of how many pearls are included; usually no more than one 16 inch strand (approx. 88 pearls) of 3 to 4 mm freshwater pearls. All my pearls are purchased from Fire Mountain Gems. They have the best quality.
Duct-Tape Double or Muslin Mock-Up:
Mail orders are tricky as I do not have a live body to make fitting adjustments; therefore, it is necessary to make a mock-up for bodices and doublets, as this is the most difficult piece to fit. Please see the section of my website for "Fitting & Measurements" and follow the instructions.
Please read the following policies carefully:
PayPal is my preferred method of payment.
As I am located in the United States, please specify USD as the preferred currency when making your payment from an international location.
If you live in the United States, I will happily accept a cashier's check issued from your bank or credit union.
All international orders must be paid via PayPal with USD as the currency.
Credit card and Debit cards are accepted through my Etsy store. If you wish to use this as your method of payment, I can generate a custom order from my store front there.
Only accept payments through PayPal on THIS website. If you wish to use debit or credit cards please do so through my Etsy store.
Make Cashier's Checks payable to: If paying by cashier's check for an item listed, please make it out to: "Christine Helman." Returning your check for errors can delay your order.
Payment in full is required before your item will be shipped. I will send pictures of your garb in various stages of construction.
Sales tax will be added to your order at whatever the current rate at the time of your order, if applicable in your state.
For Ready-Made Items: All sales are final. You may cancel your order for a ready-made item within 24 hours, provided it has not already been shipped.
For custom orders:
~ Once your 40% Deposit has been accepted, you are essentially entering into an agreement/contract whether expressed or implied, that you will be honoring the three-month time slot set aside for you, as well as agreeing to pay the specified amount of Labor. Whether or not explicitly expressed or implied there is an expectation upon the receipt of your deposit that you will, in good faith, honor the agreement to purchase said garment, and will follow through to the conclusion of the construction of your gown/ensemble.
~ Should you decide to cancel your order within the first 30 days of placing your order, a fee of $100 will be subtracted from your 40% deposit to cover my time spent in consultation, sketching, and designing your gown.
~ Any cancellations made after 60 days of placing your order, will result in the forfeiture of your 40% deposit to cover lost income in reserving your spot on my calendar and turning away other clients to accommodate you. I ONLY offer partial refunds as outlined above, and only if you cancel before any physical labor has begun.
~ Because my schedule is booked out months in advance, and placing you on my calendar means I must turn away other orders, your 40% deposit will cover any time or income lost by canceling your order after 60 days of placing your order.
~ Should you delay in shipping me your fabrics, duct tape double, or any crucial supplies or measurements, etc., that are needed for the construction of your order, and I am unable to start your order on time (by the 1st of your allotted Month), a $25 per week fee, for every week you delay will be deducted from any payments that have been made in addition to your 40% deposit, and you will forfeit your time slot by default.
I set aside a minimum of 90 days for every ensemble/gown and I MUST have that entire amount, or more, to complete the order.
~ Should you cancel an order (for any reason), or cause a delay that requires the forfeiture of your time slot, it will be left to my sole discretion whether or not I agree to reschedule you for another time slot in the future and risk any further possible losses.
I reserve the right to refuse future commissions if a client has not been compliant with my policies, has not made timely payments, or has caused a delay that resulted in the forfeiture of their time slot.
~ If your order has been canceled after your fabrics have been purchased and shipped to me, I will return your fabric at your expense - whether or not the items have been cut out. The cost for shipping and handling will be deducted from any payments you've made in addition to your 40% deposit, and the remainder will be refunded.
~ If I've used fabrics I have in stock and you have already reimbursed me for their cost, and you cancel the order after the pattern has already been cut out in that fabric, I will not refund you the cost of fabric. Instead, I will ship you the cut-out fabric without sewing it together, but ONLY if the cost of material has been paid in full. Please, be advised, once an item has been cut out, I cannot use it, and it's yours whether or not I complete the item.
~ If you have not reimbursed me for fabrics and construction has begun, I will deduct the cost of the fabric and labor from any payments you've made in addition to your 40% deposit and refund the rest. However, if the cost of the accrued labor and/or fabrics to that point exceeds the 40% deposit, you will be responsible for paying the remaining amount before your fabrics are returned. If I do not receive payment for labor accrued and/or cost of materials I have provided, any and all fabrics, whether provided by me or shipped to me by the client, will be confiscated to compensate for my loss.
Refunds and Exchanges:
For both ready-made and special orders, I will, on a case-by-case-basis, consider , at my own discretion, issuing a refund or an exchange for the following occurrences, but ONLY if it cannot be cleaned or repaired:
If the fabric is irreparably damaged during construction in my shop, i.e., sewing machine oil spills, mechanical errors that tears the fabric.
In the case of fire, flood, or pet damage while in my shop.
I do not offer refunds or exchanges based on the following:
Weight gain, wrong measurements, or if the duct tape double or muslin mock up is not fitted properly. If I am unable to meet with you to do a live fitting and take measurements, I will base your garment on the measurements and mock-up that you provide me. If the duct tape double is incorrectly constructed, or if you gain or lose weight during the time your item is being constructed, I will not offer an exchange or offer refunds.
You change your mind on your style and color choices - i.e., decide it doesn't suit you once you tried it on. All fabric choices, etc., will be authorized and purchased by you before I start work; and I will assume that you ordered swatches as I have mentioned. Periodic pictures will be sent to show the progress and for your approval during construction. If after receiving the completed garment in the mail and after trying it on you decide you do not like the style or color, even though it has been made to your agreed specifications and to the measurements provided, I will not exchange or offer refunds. All labor fees and materials provided for reimbursement are non-refundable and are not subject to exchange.
If you purchase a ready-made gown, or accessory item, you will be given exact measurements of the constructed piece before purchasing it. If once you receive the ready-made item and it doesn't fit properly for reasons of: incorrect measurements sent to me, or you do not like the style and color, for sanitation purposes I cannot sell it as a "new" item; therefore, a restocking fee of 30% of the cost of the item is necessary.
Please understand, I have no way of knowing whether or not the item has been worn prior to being returned and, therefore, I would be forced to sell any returned or exchanged item as "used" which means I would have to discount that item and take a loss.
Documenting Our Conversations Via Email.
Too often misunderstandings occur when discussing progress, preferences for design details, or changes, when conversing over the phone. Therefore, I prefer all communication is done by Email or through messages on my Etsy store, in order to document our conversation. When we do speak on the phone, or in person, I will follow up with a recap via email, outlining any and all changes. Pictures are also sent via Email to keep you updated on the progress of your order.
No additions or changes will be made without specifying in an email. It is the client's responsibility to verify that any such changes were received.
If you Gain or Lose weight:
I will be working off the duct tape double and your measurements sent to me via Email, preferably. If prior to construction, or during construction, or following receipt of your completed garment, you lose or gain weight, and your item is too small or too big, there will be additional labor fees calculated at an hourly rate of $15.00. Be advised, that I make no guarantees that your garment can be altered. Weight gain will usually require the construction of a completely NEW bodice/doublet, and possibly pants/slops. Contact me for more information to consult with me as to whether or not your garment can be altered.
Etsy: For ready made items sold on Etsy, payment is due at the time of purchase.
Lay Away: Client will be required to abide by the specifics of the Lay Away contract. See the Lay Away section on this website.
Website Storefront Purchases: Ready-made items purchased on my store front on this website, require payment in full immediately.
Custom Orders: For custom orders - Once we have reached a design agreement, work will not start until your deposit has been received - or item is paid in full, depending upon the item and our prior arrangement. I work on a First Come, First Served basis. If you find yourself delayed in paying your deposit fees and another order comes in and they pay their deposit before you do, your order will be processed accordingly.
Purchases & Orders During Holidays: Please be mindful of any holidays that might slow construction of special orders or postal deliveries when making a purchase or placing an order.
Buyer is responsible for all shipping costs. Shipping costs have been "approximated" as the weight and distance cannot be accurately calculated for all contingencies.
All items are professionally packaged and shipped. I do not use newspaper or colored paper as it might bleed ink onto the fabric.
I strongly recommend you purchasing insurance. If the item is lost or damaged during shipping, I do not offer refunds. (See section on damages below).
I ship UPS or Federal Express ground (7 to 10 days) in order to keep shipping at a minimum and track your item; if you prefer, you can upgrade to priority or over-night for additional fees, but please specify at the time of your order if you wish to do so.
If purchasing an item as a gift, please inform me and I will ship directly to the person who is to receive it, complete with a gift card and a brief note.
I will happily ship to: UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada! - or most countries where historical reenacting or events are held; However, due to its very strict customs laws regarding the importation of clothing I do not ship to Italy, nor will I label items as a "gift" in order to avoid customs fees, etc. This is fraud, and I prefer not to participate in this practice.
Bulk Orders for Retail:
I do not hire out for piece-work or bulk orders for a discounted rate to be sold by another retailer at a mark-up for their profit.
Items Damaged During Shipping:
UPS or FedEx packages each item with GREAT care to minimize the risk of damage during shipping; nevertheless, I still encourage you to purchase insurance!
This is the ONLY way you can be assured of recovering your investment if items are damaged or lost during shipment.
If an item is damaged by the carrier during shipment, you should immediately file a claim with the carrier and then let me know. Make sure you take pictures with a digital camera, and make sure your pictures are clear and in good focus. You will need these in order to file your claim. Once insurance has paid to replace your item, you can reorder.
As my clothing is one-of-a-kind, I may not be able to find the exact materials used in the original, but will do my best to recreate your design to your original specifications
When Your Order is Completed:
Upon completion of your custom order, or the Lay Away for retail order, I will contact you by Email and let you know the date the item is to be shipped and give you the tracking order, if applicable.
I can wave shipping for customers who are local to me and the surrounding area and arrange for pick up in person. I will deliver up to 100 miles from my workshop, but there will be a delivery fee to cover the cost of fuel.
Please check with me in regard to time line, i.e., my availability and the date you need the item when making a custom order.
Please do not send money until you have consulted with me about my availability. I do not like to overbook myself. I prefer to fashion no more than one gowns every three months. I don't like to rush, as I'm a perfectionist!
How Long Will It Take?
For custom orders I require at least 12 weeks per ensemble to construct your garment - possibly more if my orders are backed up, or depending upon the intricacy of your design. This does not include your consultation and the time it takes to receive your signed agreement. The three months is strictly for the construction work, i.e., cutting out your gown, sewing it, and embellishing.
If the item is heavily embellished with pearls and/or beads and/or embroidery, or hand quilting, it may take longer, but I will keep you informed in order to meet your deadline for an event.
I will send you an email with the 'expected' time the gown should be completed, or you can tell me when you need it. But make sure you allow AT LEAST 12 weeks for construction when placing an order. Again, construction does not begin until your deposit has been received and your fabrics arrive.
Please, please, make a notation of the date agreed upon. I have had some clients place an order and then a week later they write asking how soon their gown will be done. I plead your patience....Perfection is a process - and I am a perfectionist.
Orders are filled in order of date payment is received.
What about rush orders?
It depends on the item wanted, your timeline, and my availability.
As I stated earlier, I work under the "first come, first served" rule, and fill orders in the order in which payment is received. I do not consider an order officially placed until I have received payment in full or the agreed deposit.
Quality work takes time:
Please take into consideration the time needed to create a quality garment. I construct ALL work myself. I do not employ other seamstresses; therefore, I will need the entire time I allot.
I take great pride in my work; therefore, if I do not feel completely confident that I can recreate a quality garment based on your pictures or sketches, I will NOT take the order. I would rather turn down a sale than to produce an item that is inferior to both of our expectations.
It is implied by the receipt of your 40% deposit that you you have read and agreed to ALL of the store policies outlined on this website.
To Place an Order or Schedule a Free Consultation:
Please Email me with your phone number and I will call you within 24 to 48 hours of your custom request, provided that my shop is not in Vacation Mode. Since I do participate as a reenactor for the Renaissance time period. If I am traveling with my guild I may not be able to respond within the 24 to 48 hour time frame.
You are welcome to call my cell and leave me a voice message if you have not heard back from me within 48 hours! - but I can be reached by email any time through my website.
Thank you for choosing Designs From Time. I look forward to working with you !