Do-it-yourself haute couture

There’s a point in every teenage girl’s life when she wants to stop fitting in and start standing out. Kinsey Sutherland, a senior at Eagle Point High School, had reached that point by the time she began considering what to wear for prom, which happens tonight. I wrote about her decision to sew her own gown in an article today about the resurgence of sewing.

TV shows such as Project Runway have served as an important reminder that the only way for a girl on a budget to obtain one-of-a-kind haute couture is to make the garments herself. (Mind you, you’ll need to hone your sewing skills before your creations resemble anything in the haute couture category.)

To design her prom gown, Sutherland visited a website that allows you to design your own wedding gown online, such as the Wedding Dress Creator. She mapped out her look there before finding two patterns she could combine to bring her vision to reality.

She chose a strapless design with a ruched bodice, a midriff panel that was a last-minute save when the dress construction went awry and a flared, paneled skirt that swept the floor.

One of the pieces of material she used for the dress came from the high school’s donation box. If you have some extra material around that you don’t think you’ll ever get around to sewing, consider donating it to the high school’s sewing lab.

The dress is made of toile and midnight blue crinoline set with silver sparkles reminiscent of a starry sky. The gown took her about two weeks to make and cost her $40 to make, versus $100 to $300 to buy her own.

Best of all, Sutherland can rest assured that she won’t see any other girl wearing the same dress.

Sutherland’s design is a good example of how far ambition and determination can carry us in our pursuit of a one-of-a-kind look. The only sewing creations the 18-year-old had to her name before she designed her prom gown was a pair of pajama bottoms and the initial sewing project in Eagle Point High School’s Clothes I class, what’s referred to as a fat-quarter purse.

This is a good project to start on if you’ve never sewn before, as it involves mostly sewing straight lines. It also will give you the first satisfying taste of making something that’s uniquely you. The panels in the deep bag, which I have already envisioned using as an eye-catching gym bag, provide plenty of room for self-expression. Sutherland’s bag had a different color and print in each panel. See Kwik Sew’s pattern.

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