Students utilize creativity, individuality when handmaking their own prom dresses

Marissa Ryan

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Senior Jessica Qu stitches fabric during advanced fashion. Qu said she plans to major in fashion in college.

From mermaid style to ball gowns, there seems to be an endless number of prom dresses available to fulfill a high school girl’s image of the perfect dress. However a few like Jessica Qu, advanced fashion student and senior, find that the perfect dress is in the hands of the creator. Qu, who plans to major in fashion in college, is among the minority who choose to plan, stitch and sew their own prom dresses from scratch. 

“At first, the novelty of making a prom dress seemed really cool to me, but later on, I really enjoyed the creative aspect of it,” Qu said. “As a person who’s also gone prom dress shopping, I feel like there are many instances where you’re like, ‘I love everything about this dress except…’, so it’s nice to be able to completely design your own.”

Qu is not alone, as Morgan Gibson, advanced fashion student and junior, also created her own prom dress this year.

Gibson said her dress is black and gold because she wants to feel bold at prom.

Junior Morgan Gibson trims the hem of her prom dress which she created in her advanced fashion class. Gibson said she spent about four months making this dress and said the work all paid off in the end when she had a completed product.

 “I would say (making a prom dress) is empowering because it’s actually the first dress I’ve made, but I wanted to challenge myself to make something more different, difficult and elaborate. I think it’s empowering because you get to shape it to how you feel and your personality,” Gibson said.

Advanced fashion teacher Judy Fisher said her students get a little extra excitement when it comes to making their prom dress. 

“It gives the student the chance to have exactly what she thinks of as the perfect prom gown, and there will be not a single other student at the prom that will have the same gown on that she has on,” Fisher said. “It shows her individuality, her creativity and I think it makes (students) feel fabulous.”

Qu said she finds it silly to spend a lot of money on something that is often of poor quality and will only be worn once. 

“It’s empowering to wear something you made because it makes you feel proud and accomplished, like all your hard work paid off,” Qu said. “Sometimes, though, I think it’s difficult because as the person who made it, I tend to be hyper-aware of every flaw and imperfection it has, even when they’re too small for anyone else to notice.”

Gibson said she contemplated buying her dress for convenience purposes, but said she chose to create her dress because she was inspired by her grandmother.

“(Making my own dress) has more meaning to me because my grandmother used to make prom dresses herself, and after she was done she would always make it into something else,” Gibson said. “You can always make different garments after the event is over.”

Fisher said the techniques used in creating prom dresses enable students to advance their sewing career due to the high skill level needed to create such dresses.

“A lot of prom dresses are made with satin, and there is special hand stitching that is used with satin projects,” Fisher said. “The same thing (applies to) chiffon and lace, so there are more couture techniques used compared to making a sundress.”

Gibson said she took about four months both in and out of class time to finalize her dress.

“When you first make your dress, you think, ‘Wow, is this going to turn out good or turn out bad?’ You don’t realize how many hard hours are spent making it, I’m really impressed with what I made,” Gibson said.

Qu said she believes the process of making these elaborate gowns can require a lot of dedication and drive. 

“I think everyone who has made their own dress agrees at times it can be very frustrating or stressful,” Qu said. “But in the end, it’s really rewarding to know all the work paid off and be able to wear something you made.”