274. Prom Runway

Home sewing ain’t like it used to be.  For those of us with big families, it used to be a great way to keep everybody clothed at a pretty reasonable cost.

When the kids were little, I sewed all their winter coats,  jackets, pajamas, school blouses and shirts, dress-up clothes, and summer garments.  I got to be pretty fast at it, we saved money, and I liked doing it.   

As the sweat shops in the third world countries gradually swallowed up the garment industry, though, a sad thing happened to the world of home sewing.  Because of lowered demand, the excessive price of fabrics has pretty much ruled out home sewing for most of us.  It really isn’t economically practical to sew for your family anymore.  Even if you assign no value to your hours of work, the final expense of the home-sewn garment can never compare favorably with a similar piece bulk-produced as ready-to-wear.

The one time sewing IS worth it though, is when you’re doing it for something that you want to be one-of-a-kind.  Such as a prom dress, a wedding gown, or any other apparel that the wearer has a design in her mind and that you think you can execute.  If you can do even a semi-skillful job of it, she at least can wear it comfortably knowing that nobody else is going to show up wearing the same dress.

Of course, not all your projects will be successful.  When I read my granddaughter Gretchen’s notes this week about the prom dresses she wore in 1998-99,  I basked in the glow of eternal sunshine.  I had forgotten about the dresses she wrote about. I only made three of these, but try to imagine my pleasure at reading this from Gretchen:

It was so fun to look at these dance pictures! I have not seen them in so long. What fun memories! In high school, you made three beautiful dresses for me that I wore to different dances. I still have all three dresses saved at home because I love them so much!

The first is the long blue dress with the white bow on the back with the blue shawl.  (Editor’s note: this is the dress you read about on yesterday’s blob).

 I wore the blue dress to my Junior Prom in the spring of 1998. My date was one of my best friends at the time – Peter Beard. I went to most dances in high school with him. 

I attached another picture of Peter and me at the 1997 Winter Dance from our Junior year.


The next dress you made for me is the beautiful long red dress with the velvet corset top and long satin skirt. I won queen of the Winter Festival my Senior year in high school in the winter of 1998 in that dress. My date at that time was Ryan Miyake, another good friend.

The long pink dress with the low back was for my Senior Prom in the spring of 1999. I broke up with my high school boyfriend right before the Prom that year so three of my good girl friends and I bought each other corsages, went out to dinner, and went to the dance as a group. I went with Cat, Vicki, and Elena. The three of us had the most fun at that dance than any of the others we had attended. 

Seattle University had a prom-type dance during my Freshman year of 1999 and I attached a picture of that one as well. The photographer made me sit in a chair for that photo because I was so much taller than the friends I went with: Brian, Bartek, and Jenny.

I loved going to dances in high school, but my favorites were the ones when I got to wear one of the dresses you made. Thanks for reminding us to reflect on these fun times, it has been so fun to read your blogs about people’s dances and to see their photos. Also thank you for making the memories extra special by making these amazing dresses!

To tell the truth though, it wasn’t the dresses that were amazing. It was the young lady who designed and wore them.  The nice thing about sewing for appreciative kids is that they may be doing the designing, but because you’re the one doing the stitching, they let you bask in the glory.

And sew it goes. 

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3 Responses to 274. Prom Runway

  1. Marianne says:

    You did a wonderful job on this blog. I found it from looking at your post with the Iwo Jima flag raising, I think # 94. I am just starting with blogs. Keep up the wonderful work.

  2. Linda Lewis says:

    Hi Pat,
    Fun to see your beautiful grand daughter in her beautiful dresses!
    I know exactly what you mean about not being able to afford the cost of the material and only as labors of love are they made. I may have written about my daughter going to her prom. She wanted a raspberry chenille dress with the poofy hem line. She chose Vogue advanced pattern. I stayed up all night sewing it. When she anxiously tried it on, it looked not like her. She went to a friend’s to get dressed and when years later I saw the picture of the dance that she had hidden, I think, she was wearing a cute black velvet short dress. She finally admitted she appreciated how hard I had worked on the dress, but it looked embarrassing to her, so she did not wear it. We had a good laugh.

  3. A relative says:

    I loved seeing all of the dresses Octo-woman created for Gretchen. I forgot how lovely the back of that pink dress looked with Gretchen’s long tall frame. And the blue dress with all those fittings and adjustments! Gretchen ended up being the most beautiful and most comfortable girl at the dance. Thank you for sharing all these old dance photos with all of us!

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