Sparkleskirts has a multitude of gorgeous skirts available but sometimes you want something just a little different, well luckily they offer custom orders. I had a great experience ordering custom skirts recently and wanted to share the details of the process in case you might want to take the plunge and get your own. If you’re new to sparkleskirts, check out this post about why I won’t run in anything else.
A couple of things to note, while Sparkleskirts will do custom skirts, they do not do costumes. While you can select a specific fabric, it would have to be made in one of the pre-existing styles like swing, hiker, slim, sparklelights, commando or twinkle.
There are three paths to getting a custom sparkleskirt, the team order, the group order and the single order. I’ve participated in two of the three processes and have been thrilled with the results. I’m going to lay out the process I followed for getting a single order custom skirt made and then I’ll explain how the other orders are the same and different. So here we go:
1. Find Your Fabric.
There are lots of places to search for that perfect print (or solid). You want to make sure that the fabric is spandex and is 4-way stretch (you can use 2-way stretch for a swing or hiker but it would have to be made with a black waistband instead of a self waistband). Some great places to look are Spandex World, Spandex House, E-bay (search spandex fabric), American Spandex, Designer Alley Fabrics, Spandex Depot, your local fabric store or even a lucky find at a garage sale. Spandex World and Spandex House are the regular suppliers for Sparkleskirts, so they may be the easiest to work with. I got this one from Spandex House:
Many of these sites will let you buy a sample swatch for a nominal price. It can be hard to visualize a whole skirt just from the website or even from a swatch, so you’ll have to use your imagination! Also, one thing I found through this process is that there is a LOT of ugly spandex out there! Hooka fabric? Yikes! Although maybe this could work for an Alice in Wonderland themed costume!
If you find the fabric you want, don’t order just yet (see #3) but don’t wait too long, these big fabric shops seem to cycle through their fabrics fairly quickly so what you see today may not be available a month from now.
2. Decide on the Details.
You probably already know what size you need, but you also have to decide which style you want (see this post to see the difference in hiker, swing and slim). If your custom fabric is 4-way stretch spandex, you can choose to have a black waistband (this is the several inches top section with the zipper pocket) or a “self” waistband. A self waistband is a waistband made of the same fabric as the skirt.
Other decisions to make are whether you want the standard black shorts or to see if you can get shorts in a different solid color to complement your skirt fabric. You can often get the pockets made with the same material as the skirt too. Sometimes the cuffs of the shorts can even match the skirt!
If you are getting a hiker length skirt, you also need to decide whether you want to get the external pockets on the skirt or just have the pockets on the shorts. This is also your opportunity to get your skirt made a little longer than normal or to get a skirt of one size with shorts of a different size. If you’re getting a vented slim, you can even choose to have it made with the zipper on the back and vent on the front.
Since you’re having a custom made anyways, make sure to get it done exactly the way you want. The helpful staff at SparkleSkirts is a great resource for figuring out your options so you get the skirt you’re dreaming of!
3. E-mail SparkleSkirts.
Before you order the fabric! You want to make sure that they are still accepting custom orders and that your fabric is going to work. In the past, Sparkleskirts would shut down custom orders during their busy race-prep season in the fall through spring. This year they have hired one seamstress (Mary) who is devoted to customs full time. While they are planning to continue offering customs year round, it’s a good idea to check first because there may be times that are extra busy where they have to focus on their basic stock production which could cause delays for custom orders. (Updated to note that all customs are temporarily shut down right now).
It’s also a good idea to send them the details on your fabric just to make sure it’s going to work for the skirt process. If you’re buying it online, you can send them the link to the fabric and/or the item number. Just sending a picture of the fabric makes it more difficult for them to locate it to make sure the fabric is workable for a skirt. The e-mail is located on the Sparkleskirts site under FAQ and they do an excellent job of guiding you through the process. They’ll need to know everything you decided in #2 as well.
If you choose to do this process over the phone, it’s a good idea to follow up with an e-mail confirming all the details!
4. Order Your Fabric.
In almost all cases you’ll need one yard of your desired fabric for any size or style skirt. You can choose to have it shipped directly to Sparkleskirts HQ or you can have it shipped to you (if you want a sneak peek) and you can ship it or drop it off (if you’re nearby).
You can also choose to let Sparkleskirts order the fabric for you. I’m a bit of a control freak so I wanted to do the ordering myself! In most cases, it works out a bit cheaper that way as well (see #6).
5. Wait Patiently.
Now we wait. For the fabric to be delivered. For your order to be placed in the que of other custom orders. This can take several weeks, so be patient and know it will eventually be your turn.
6. Pay For Your Skirt.
Sparkleskirts will let you know when it’s time to pay for your skirt and will send you a link to a special star on their website to pay through.
Generally, if you pay for the fabric yourself and ship it to Sparkleskirts, the cost is the same as a regular skirt. If you have Sparkleskirts buy the fabric on your behalf, you generally pay $20 more than the price of a standard skirt. The extra cost is because they lose the economies of scale and it just takes extra time to cut and properly line up the fabric when they are just making one (or a few) skirts. There can be extra charges for certain fabrics that are more difficult to work with like plaid and for very expensive fabrics.
7. Wait Patiently.
And now you wait again. For several more weeks. I think it was five weeks from step one of the process to the day I got my skirt. I knew it would be a while because they had lots of custom and group orders going on, so the wait wasn’t unexpected. The worst was the couple of days between getting my shipping notice and getting the skirt!
If you’re wondering why the process takes so long, one part is the large demand (no FP+ here to skip the line) and the other factor is that to make one custom skirt, Mary has to cut seventeen pieces of fabric by hand with scissors and then sew everything together one piece at a time. So, it takes several hours just to make one custom skirt.
And then the glorious day arrives when you receive your long-awaited custom skirt. Open the box and try it on! Make your friends and family admire it. Post photos all over cyberspace so everyone can see your amazing skirt. Glory in your first run in your one-of-a-kind treasure.
Accept that you’ve become a bit addicted. Stalk all the sites in #1. Hoard fabric as you save up for your next custom skirt! Here’s my next custom that I will be getting in the near future:
I hope this helped answer your questions about the custom Sparkleskirt process. The group and team orders are similar but on a larger scale. Typically if you do a group order of a custom fabric and can get 24 or more people to order you can save on the extra custom charge by turning your custom order into a group or team order. One person needs to coordinate the group order. Here’s Wendy’s gorgeous DaisyCrazy in hiker:
It’s also good to note that getting a custom made does not make that fabric exclusive to you, if someone else requests a custom made of the same fabric, their request will be granted too. On the other hand, there are some fabrics that have been used for team orders that Sparkleskirts may not approve for use for another team/group/custom order. Team and group orders are produced at the larger main sewing facility and require more coordination due to the larger number of people and skirts involved. They may also be shut down during busy race and expo season. Communicate early to make the process smooth!
Sparkleskirts let me know before I ordered my customs that one of the fabrics I was going to use would be going into a regular sparkleskirt production this fall, so I decided to wait until then to get it cheaper. Which is just another reason why it’s a great idea to communicate with the staff at Sparkleskirts before you order your fabric! Just remember that they go through some very busy periods and often are traveling for race expos, so be patient and you can always give them a call if it’s urgent.
Fair warning: this process can be addictive! Have you ordered a team/group/custom sparkleskirt? What would be your dream custom sparkleskirt?
This is part of the Tuesdays on the Run linkup with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs. Your post can be on the topic of the week or on any running related topic. Check out the other blogs linked below to find some new favorites!