I am privileged to know some incredibly talented people. One of them is my friend, Julie Schaefer.
A mechanical engineer by training, she now owns and operates the amazing company Head to Toe Designs.
She designs dresses for athletes, performers, and dancers all over the world. She works with Ballroom, Classical, and Irish dance studios and creates ensembles for dance teams in every genre imaginable. Not limited to custom work, Julie also does alterations, embellishments, and restyling of existing pieces. Her dresses once appeared on the popular television show Dancing with the Stars.
If you could take a field trip to her studio, you would see two 15 needle industrial embroidery machines, a fabric room, sewing room, and embroidery room. Not to mention Swarvoski elements, trims, and appliques. And the most amazing stash of fabrics you can imagine. One of the studio floors is even heated! It really is a phenomenal place.
Julie is in high demand as her work is exquisite. She does not advertise as her business is completely word-of-mouth referrals. Her attention to detail is exactly what you would expect from an engineer. She is upfront on her pricing and honest about her timeline. She is quality worth paying for when the occasion warrants.
Julie was first my friend but then became my savior when I attempted to sew Greta a party dress for her Junior year dance. It started well and ended poorly with a severely pointy bodice. Greta refused to leave the house wearing the dress and the dance was a few short days away. I wish I could share a picture but Greta refused to indulge me at the time. It makes me giggle to remember it.
*Note to Self: When you want to put a picture on your blog to illustrate something, don’t randomly Google search terms, such as “pointy bra”. The results are scandalous.
Under the cover of darkness, we whisked the dress to Julie’s studio. She reassured me that I had followed the pattern correctly, but that this particular pattern company had not updated their bodice design since the 1960s. Hence the pointy cone look. She immediately went to work, completely redesigning the top of the dress, correcting the offending bodice, and adding the coolest twisted straps.
But why stop there? Julie said a subtle hi-low hem would take the dress to the next level. By the next day, she had completely redone almost everything. There couldn’t have been more than a couple of my original seams. Knowing it was important to me to feel like I had contributed something, she left me the hem. I hate hems.
Here is the final product. I wish I had some better pictures. Greta is on the right in blue.
After this experience, Greta was rightfully skeptical of my ability to deliver a suitable dress on my own. In my next post, I will tell you how Julie took off-the-rack Goodwill dresses and transformed them into spectacular prom gowns for the girls.