For about two months and a half, one of my students and I worked on a pretty big project: her High School graduation prom dress! Although I've been an off and on (more on in the last couple of years) autodidact sewer since I was 10, I've never sewn a full gown/dress/outfit. Actually that's not true.. the first dress I ever sewed for myself was a frilly nightgown, using leg and arm pieces of flannelette my father had brought home from a service call at a pyjama-making textile factory. I had a little bit of experience hand sewing for my Barbie dolls and thought why not make something for myself? It took me weeks but I was SO proud. I have no idea where that thing is now!
Sewing proper clothes has always been on my to-do list however, even though it seemed a bit daunting and complex. Ironically, when I was 18, I also tried sewing my own grad dress, but failed so miserably at following a pattern and gave up when the bodice didn't fit.
Since 2012 I've been teaching the basics of sewing to a small amount of students during private lessons. Previously I worked at a shop and atelier where I taught the basics of sewing as well to small workshop groups. I don't really advertise about being a sewing teacher because I live quite a bit far away from the island and my current part-time job and lessons eat up a lot of my time prep and travel wise. Despite, word got around, and last fall I met my new student, T (name kept for privacy, also why her face is blurred in the photos). We started with simple projects and very soon she wanted to sew an outfit for a school assignment. Although her skill-level wasn't quite at the point yet where she could sew clothing on her own, because I was able to guide and help her (and do a bit of the sewing myself) we proceeded and the results were great. We made an adjustable gold sequins tie, a short-sleeved white blouse with a short collar, and a black stretchy fitted long-sleeved dress.
Then her eyes were set on an even bigger project: her prom dress! I was a bit worried at first, but was assured that we would choose a simple design. Sewing clothes is never simple though, it is a true labour of love, especially when made with a domestic sewing machine, there are certain limitations. I didn't doubt my ability but I knew it would be a time-consuming project to produce with a beginner sewer. The initial steps of cutting out the pattern and the test pieces were all done by T with a bit of help from me. Eventually I had to step in as half seamstress/half sewing teacher since the deadline was approaching and there were growing concerns that we wouldn't finish on time.
Luckily we did :)
We followed the VOGUE 1434 pattern and it was T's idea to make it into a two-piece and forget the belt. We used silver sequins mesh for the top and lined it with blue broadcloth. We used blue taffeta for the skirt and accented it with a ribbon trim of crystals.
Her final fit was pure magic.
Altogether it was quite the adventure and I learned that I can most definitely sew fancy dresses and that I actually really enjoy it.
This most likely won't be the last one!