katherine summer * couturière

Fine Dressmaking in the San Francisco Bay Area

27 September 2012

Portfolio Images

Accepting the fact that my website is perpetually under construction, I felt it prudent to create a post showcasing some of my more exciting work. 

My strongest professional capabilities are in bridal and eveningwear.  I enjoy the level of diligence and extravagance allowed by the category.

This made-to-measure gown was created completely from concept for Marilee Talkington, a fiery actress with a singular vision for her black-box theater wedding.   The skirt texture, inspired by tropical leaves and flowers, was created from 8 yards of silk organza stitched onto tulle and layered over crepeback satin.  The fully boned bodice is the same satin ruched onto panels of cotton drill. 

offbeat bride red

My other great love is dance costuming.  I find that ballet and bellydance present the most opportunities for creating finely detailed works of art. 

This fully wired and strung classical tutu is made for the professional lead ballerina.  Basque and bodice are satin covered coutil. English cotton bobbinnette knickers support 12 layers of point cut hand pleated tutu net (not tulle) ruffles.  Corset and top-skirt feature black chantilly lace, black point d'esprit, hundreds of black diamond rhinestones, and vintage glass buttons.  You can see and read about the tutu in progress in this post, which I was recently surprised to find has more than 3900 views as of yet!

classical ballet tutu

One of the highlights of my career was designing and creating several key looks for Cari Borja's runway show on the Gala Night of 2006 San Francisco Fashion Week.  The Gala Night celebration also featured runway shows by bay area couturiers Lily Samii and Colleen Quen.  Cari's unorthodox construction methods turn "proper" sewing on it's head and, over the course of my time with her, was a liberating experience in terms of technique.  This gown was created with several circular layers of point d'esprit and printed peau de soie.

San Francisco Fashion

 Here's another look from the same runway show but at a different venue.

wool flounce dress

This trumpet silhouette illusion gown was created for a traditional coastal North Carolina ceremony.   The cotton/rayon bengaline gown features beaded lace hand applied to netting and finished with a silk satin sash.  All crinoline and support layers are built into the gown.

Of course, my portfolio is in no way complete without showing at least a detail one of my bedlahs, the matching bra and belt sets for bellydancers.

Bra and belt bases are first covered with silk dupioni and then lavishly adorned with trims and hand-beaded fringes.   Precious stones, czech glass, delicate beads, and Swarovski rhinestones catch the light, accentuate shimmies, and give extra impact to pops and locks.

raks sharki costume

I'm also available for simpler tasks such as alterations, but I think you can see that my more substantial talents involve one-of-a-kind pieces that are graceful, feminine, and luxurious.

If you, or someone you know is looking for something truly spectacular please feel free to pass along the link to this post. 

Resume and references are available upon request.


  1. These are best portfolio ever. beautiful design and also color. just awesome.
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