By Design

By Design is a shop where clients can experience having a garment custom made for them for any occasion. Or no occasion! Owner, Lillian Bates, sews with couturier methods acquired over 40 years of experience. Her wide range of knowledge in garment making allows creativity for nearly any need. Along with this By Design also houses the By Design School of Fashion. Students are taught sewing from the beginner to a masters level of skills. Lillian's students have been accepted to the Chicago Institute of Arts and Parsons School of Design in New York.

By Design is set in the former boiler room of the former Mississippi Lime company. The brick walls and three levels add to the Soho feel. We've also been told it has the feel of an Italian couture salon. Here at By Design a client can shop for fabrics for themselves or for us to create a one-of-a-kind garment for them.

Large windows in the 16 foot high main room allow a view of our beautiful Mississippi River where barges flow by under the suspension bridge.

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Latitude: 38.889452 Longitude: -90.184854 Elevation: 443 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Lillian Bates

Seasons Open

We are open year round

Locally or Family-Owned Business Notes

Lillian lives and works in Alton.  She has been in this location, 136 Front Street,  for over 8 years.  "Living and working in town is a joy" says Lillian.

"Alton is a wonderful community.  The river downtown area, Christian Hill area, Uptown and North Alton all work together creating a close place, a feeling of being home."

Accessibility Notes

Our front door, restroom and main entry hall are wheelchair accessible.  Lillian often works with her wheelchair clients in the entry hall, discussing projects and showing fabrics.

Pet Friendly Notes

Clients often bring their pets (their babies!) with them into the shop.  Water is always offered to pets in the shop.

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