Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adventures in Unconventional Sewing Part I

     Sometimes I get a picture in my head of a specific dress that I want, but no matter how many hours I spend searching for it, I can't seem to find the perfect fit. Enter fabric, thread, sewing machine, and a few hours of my time. I am by no means an expert seamstress and this was the first time I've really sewn on my own. In fact, I hate conventional sewing...absolutely hate it! All the technicalities of following a pattern bore me to death and I usually end up skipping ahead due to my impatience. When I was little I would ask my mom if I could help her with her current sewing project, but by the first ten minutes of reading the pattern instructions I would lose interest. Most sewing projects I've done before have either ended up half-finished or finished for me by someone else, so when I was faced with a prom dress dilemma this spring I decided to get a fresh start on my sewing experience.

     As a senior this year, I knew I wanted to go to the junior prom, but I also knew that I couldn't afford an extravagant dress since I had already gotten one for my own junior prom last year. I looked around for cheap dresses at stores like Charlotte Russe but with that comes the possibility of someone else wearing a duplicate of a widely produced dress sold in thousands of stores across the country. Plus, I couldn't get this amazing dress from Nasty Gal out of my head. I knew I wanted something unique, edgy, and affordable so there was only one other option...making my own!

     I sketched up exactly how I wanted my dream dress to look during a boring day in Americana--comfortable to dance in, subtly sexy, figure-flattering, and in club-worthy metallic. I not only wanted something unique, but something I could see myself in months from now at a party in Boston.

Some magazine clippings, my drawing, and a fabric swatch as my inspiration.

     After my design was finished it was time to collect all my supplies and get started. In the beginning I wanted a gold lamé fabric, but after finding out that lamé was extremely hard to track down, I found a dark green fabric with a hint of gold shimmer that was better. I had to do some more improvising when I couldn't find a pattern I could work off of. Instead, I saved more money by making my own! I laid out large sheets of paper and traced a strapless dress I already had for a base. I then altered it to my design and measured everything to ensure that it would fit.

Creating a relative pattern for my dress.

     Then came putting the pieces together! From the start I didn't want anything to be too complicated so I came up with my way of risk-taking, no-regrets, dive-right-in sewing! I just stitched the places I thought should be sewn and went from there. If I made a mistake I adjusted whatever I had to. Around ten hours later, it had gone from a few lines on paper to a wearable dress!

My friend Rose and I went to the prom together...girls' night out!

     I'm really glad I ended up making my dress for prom this year. I always love making things I can wear and it felt really good to put effort into something that I could be proud of. I also think that this sewing experiment made me discover another way to express myself and take risks. Making bold moves such as cutting fabric without a very scientific pattern and sewing away even if I wasn't sure how the end product was going to come out also made me more confident in my sewing skills. Doing things your own way can be rewarding in so many ways and I hope that I've inspired at least one person to try it. Whether you make your own necklace or rip a tee to look like a runway creation, sometimes it's what you can make with your hands that is more special than what money can buy!

To be continued...

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