Sewing for the Stars – Part 2

When we left off, our heroine mother was trying to procure a reasonably priced prom dress for her daughter.

Julie Schaefer, owner of Head to Toe Designs, moonlights as the fairy godmother of said heroine mother. She doesn’t have a magic wand but wields a sharp sewing needle (just look at that Irish Dance costume pictured above!). Our story continues….

The year is 2017 and we decided to shop for Greta’s Senior Prom dress. Initially, Greta talked with Julie about designing a custom gown. But we decided the price was out of our ballpark. My older daughters are naturally frugal like me and they love a good bargain. When it came time to selecting prom dresses, a trip to an expensive boutique was out of the question. We headed to Goodwill. But let’s call it Goodwill Couture.

Our local Goodwill is an absolute goldmine. There is always a fantastic selection of formal gowns for rock bottom prices. I think people must donate these after wearing once as a bridesmaid or at a prom. A bonus is that the girls are virtually guaranteed that no one else will show up in their gown. And we are saving the Earth, one dress at a time.

For Senior Prom, Greta chose a delicious salmon-color dress which brought out her natural red highlights. Final cost $11.87 with tax. And a trip to Julie’s house. Which cost a wee bit more.

Julie altered the dress until it fit Greta like a glove. She stitched down a fabulous rhinestone appliqué at the ruched side. To add more bling and comfort, she crafted a 3-strand rhinestone asymmetrical strap, stretched from front to back. Julie trusted me to hand stitch it down. I hate hand stitching.

As if she isn’t talented enough, Julie also designs custom costume jewelry. Remember, she mostly works with competitive dancers and part of any competition is making sure the judges can’t take their eyes off you. Think bold. Loud. Something to catch the light. She loaned Greta a pair of extraordinary earrings and a bracelet (hidden by the bouquet in the pictures) with enough bling to stop a bullet, à la Wonder Woman. The dance floor disco ball must have been jealous.

Everything came together for our princess in time for the ball.

This particular year, most girls chose either neutral or dark tone dresses. Greta was one of the few to bring some color into the pictures. I thought she looked like a million bucks!

Fast forward two years. Angela’s senior prom dress cost $19.43 at Goodwill. Inflation. Once again Julie worked her magic. The dress was a lovely shade of merlot with beautiful pleating across the bodice and in the skirt. There were even side pockets for her hands. Julie designed a lace overlay and hand-sewed it to the bodice of the existing dress. Angela was much more confident not having to fuddle around with a strapless dress.

For a little more pop, Julie bedazzled the overlay with small rhinestone studs.

Angela is blessedly tall at just a smidge under 6 feet. When she put on her 4″ big girl heels, there was no need to hem the dress. Hallelujah! As a bonus, her date was still taller. Barely. When all 6’4″ of her floated into the picture party, she turned heads. Pure class.

My favorite part? Well, as my dad would say, we were at the picture party with all of the swells. High rent district in the big city. Several of the moms asked about the provenance of Angela’s dress. I answered that it was a couture gown and my designer had done some restyling. As my brother Dennis would note, I was factually accurate but substantively misleading.

All of this would have been impossible without Julie’s vision and talent. Coming soon, look for my interview with Julie. Including her memories of designing for the Purdue Dance Team’s performance on Dancing with the Stars!

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