I’m making a formal dress at the moment. For Willow actually. This is the third such dress I will have made within the last eighteen months and I’m getting to be quite good at it…even if I do say so myself.
I find it a little bit ironic really, that something labelled so domestic and seen as such a ‘girly’ thing to do, is in fact so incredibly liberating. Being able to sew means I never have to buy off the rack. It means I can create any item of clothing I want and have it exactly the colour, fit, shape and fall I want. It means I get to be an individual when it comes to the style stakes.
For the girls for whom I sew, it means their formal (read ‘prom’ if you’re not from Australia) dresses get to do the same things for them. Last year, for example, one of my girls got to hand select the shiny things she wanted added to her dress. She got to have a zip with diamante teeth in it rather than any old zip. She got to choose fabric that suited her skin tone perfectly and wear a dress that fit her like a glove despite the fact that she is not a generic shape (who is really?).
Following that I made Willow’s semi-formal dress. A short little number with a tulle underlay. The final product virtually screamed ‘Willow’ and suited her down to the ground. Better than that, it also fitted a girl who got lost somewhere in the traditional sizing process.
This year, I’m making Willow’s formal dress and it’s going to be beautiful. Less of a dress and more of a corset and skirt arrangement, but when we’re finished it’ll look like a dress. I’m so excited to make it I’m really begrudging doing anything else at the moment…which is saying a lot because there’s a lot of book stuff going on.
I guess my point is that being a dressmaker, I can absolutely say, that the most difficult and yet most rewarding part of dressmaking is the individualising of a design. It’s taking a concept and shaping it to fit different shapes, attitudes and events. That’s the craft and skill in the whole process, not churning out seven hundred of the same. So I guess that’s why I’m rapidly losing patience with designers who say they must continue using rake thing models to display their clothing (as the clothing supposedly ‘hangs’ better from ‘hangers’ rather than women). If their clothes don’t fit real shapes…then where is their skill? Where the pride in their craft?
It’s an odd form of emancipation…but I think more people should learn to sew!