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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Special Occasion Wear

By Helen Trejo

I learned to sew when I was 14 and ever since then I anticipated making a dress that reflected my creative spirit. This long awaited hope became a reality when I drafted patterns and constructed my prom dress. The dress is made of dark green satin and dark gray charmeuse. I chose dark green because green has been my favorite color since second grade and I thought gray complemented it nicely.
I was ecstatic when I completed my prom dress and wore it to my senior prom, but saddened at the thought that I would probably never wear it again. During my first year at UC Davis, my green dress hung in my closet at home, begging to catch a glimmer of light and my muslin mock-up lied messily folded up in one of my drawers, yearning for attention. It was my original, foundation piece that guided me as I made my green prom dress; unfortunately, it never received the attention it deserved.
Interest in my mock-up dress emerged during Winter Break as I looked through one of my miscellaneous drawers and found my folded mock-up prom dress under a pile of folders. I took it out of the drawer, unfolded it, and looked at the inside of the skirt where I sewed panels of different muslin pieces together. I remembered how difficult it was to create the perfect panels for the skirt section. I had to consider the circumference of the skirt when I joined it to the bodice front and back, and the bottom flare of the dress. As I looked at my mock-up, I thought of how it would look from far away and realized that the seams of the panels would not show if a person saw it from far away.
Streams of creative thoughts ignited as I held my mock-up dress. I opened my closet and took out my green prom dress. I looked at it and noticed uniformity in its texture and color. The satin and charmeuse were both soft and smooth at my touch, and the dark green and gray harmonized with each other rather than contrasted. I took out batches of left-over fabric I saved from previous projects and began to pick out fabrics that I liked. I cut them into rectangular pieces and laid them out on my living room floor. As I looked at the pieces, images of me making my first tote bag popped into my head, sewing my first dress for a class, my twin sister cutting out her fabric for a pair of pants, and my sister wearing the graduation dress she made. I was in awe of the load of memories my mock-up prom dress would have.
I appliqu├ęd each rectangular piece of fabric onto the mock-up and made it more vivid with the contrasting colors and prints on the fabrics. I also hand embroidered swirls of different colors to make the dress lively and as dynamic as possible.
This dress transformed from a plain dress into an eloquent dress that could speak for itself by conveying an abundance of memories just by the sight of the fabrics. Although it took me an enormous amount of time to complete the handwork on this dress, I treasured every second. I was completing something that I shared a strong personal connection with because it was a mock-up of my prom dress and carried fabrics full of memories. It took a lot of patience and determination to complete and I am very proud this dress. By completing this dress I felt empowered to complete anything I wish. This dress was in the sustainable portion of two fashion shows and continuously brightens my day as it hangs in my living room.



Anonymous said...

The concept of reusing scraps is enticing, keeping in mind that our world if becoming more thoughtful about waste reduction and sustainability. Helen's muslin dress is very motivational in that it has brought up the idea of creating new outfits that inspire emotion from different memories.I love it!

Anonymous said...

I went to high school with Helen and she made a lot of creative, crafty accessories and clothes and I was always amazed at that. She has quite the unique talent for designs and patterns and bringing them together in beautifully created attire. The dresses she made posted above were fantastic!

Anonymous said...

The sustainable dress is very interesting, to me it says a lot about her as a designer, and the thought that goes into her work. This dress does not rely on the 'flash' that distracts people from the idea that brings a dress together, which is a relief to see in the work of an up-and-coming designer's work.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

I remember seeing Helen's dress for the first time and thinking, this is very uncommon. To me, that is what stands out the most: seeing something fresh and new. The colors in her dress stand out to the eye like a breath of fresh air for the lungs; and to find out that she put a lot of work into it makes it all that much more inspiring. It is very universal in the sense that it is sustainable, required techniques learned in class taken from all over the world, embodies inner motivation from the maker, and, visually, contains a lot of diversity. It is definitely a work of art worthy of consideration, though, and wonder.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the fact that the various fabrics used for this dress held lasting memories in addition to its sustainability. The construction of the dress is impressive, especially with the inclusion of embroidered elements and the color scheme is refreshing. Keep up the great work! I hope to see more of your creations in the future.

Annie L. said...

It was wonderful how every part of that dress had meaning and thought put into it. Wonderful piece Helen!!