Sewing Project: DIY Prom Dress

My 17 year old self believed firmly–cringe–that she was far too cool to be caught dead at the prom. At the time I think I saw it as some stupid high school dance (and who chose that gawd awful dance playlist anyway??). But two days before the affair, I had decided that if I could MAKE my dress… well then the silly little right of passage was one I could get behind. It would give me an opportunity to showcase my art. Feel seen. 

Two days for making a prom dress is an ambitious goal, but also one that is entirely fitting to who I am as a person: ambitiously crafty and also, intensely hyper focused when it comes to my projects. Before attempting this undertaking, I had completed a handful of garments, both with my next door neighbor who first taught me the basics of sewing, and through a 2 week, 9 hour a day intensive sewing summer class I took at the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena (a place I feel beyond fortunate to have had access to). 

I started by using an old dress pattern from that class to draft a new one out of tissue paper. I had this vision of a long pink gown made of chiffon and sequined like it was designed by Elie Saab (LOL), but two days is no time for that. 

I had read somewhere that when sewing with chiffon, it is extremely useful to pin tissue paper above and below the fabric because it keeps the fabric from getting pulled into the sewing machine and/or ripping (because chiffon is so fragile). It also helps to use a new, sharp needle. I followed both of these pro tips and they worked like a charm. 

My dad let me stay home from school for those two days (because who needs to go to Calculus class second semester senior year anyway?) and I finished the bulk of the dress in a 14 hour period where I worked straight through without taking a break (re: ambitiously crafty and also, intensely hyper focused when it comes to my projects). The finished product looked nothing like I had imagined per se, but I remember feeling on top of the world after finishing it. I was so proud of myself for starting and finishing the project. For showing up to prom in a dress I designed and made. Is crafter’s high a thing? Because I felt positively euphoric.

I couldn’t find a full length shot of the dress so included one of me and my best friend.

Dress made in 2015, excerpt above written retrospectively in 2021

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