From Ballroom Dance Dress to Web Designer

From Ballroom Dance Dress to Web Designer

Creative and Resourceful

I haven’t always been a web designer.

But I have always been creative and resourceful.

When I was little I would create comics for my friends to read and I made clothes for my dolls from scraps of material from my mum’s sewing projects.

Both my mum and grandmother were both sewers so there was always fabric scraps and a sewing machine to experiment with.

Dyed old sheets

In my teens, I progressed to making my own clothes from clothing finds in charity shops and dyed old sheets.

My first creations were not that great at all. In fact, looking back, they were pretty rubbish.

But that didn’t stop me. I learnt what worked and what didn’t pretty quickly for the next project.

I loved designing and creating my own clothes and with each item I made, I got better.

My parents used to compete in ballroom dance competitions (think Strictly Come Dancing) and mum would buy a used dress from a pro.

The dresses used in competition dancing could not be bought off the shelf. They were custom made to measure, which meant they were very expensive. Buying second hand dresses from the professional dancers was common place.

Even though they were second hand, they were still very expensive. A female dancer had to find a pro who was the same size and shape as you. Luckily, there was a pro the same shape and size as my mum.

It was a win-win for both the pro and the amateur levels, because the sale of the dress worn just for one competition would fund the next custom made dress for the next pro competition. The amateur saved a heap of money and had a practically new dress, worn just once.

Competitions for all levels from beginners through to amateurs and pros were held weekly all over the country and my parents would travel nearly every weekend to somewhere sometimes a few hours drive away, for a dance competition. So the dress had to withstand a lot of wear. Which meant that even as a non-pro dancer you would change your dress every 6-9 months.

Mum asked me if I would try and make her a ballroom dance dress using her ex-pro dress she had bought as a pattern.

From ballroom dress to web designerSo I gave it a go.

‘The dress was made by the daughter’

And I made my first ballroom dance dress, complete with sequins and boa feathers and it was a success.

The next one was even better.

After that mum’s dresses were my designs. Mum gave me an idea of what she would like, I cruised the dance scene checking out what the pros were wearing. I created a base pattern from my mum’s measurements from scratch to fit my mum and I used that as a starting point for every dress I made her.

In the dancing world, it’s normal to hear that the ‘girl’s dress was made by her mother’. My parents took great pride boasting to their dancing friends, that it was the other way round in our family – they went out to dance while their daughter made the dresses!

Next I found myself making dresses for other dancers and it turned into a nice sideline business.

wedding dress to web designerAdd a Wedding Dress or two

A friend asked me to make her wedding dress and her bridesmaid dresses. So I did.  I expanded and started offering wedding dress design and making.

Some brides came with ready-made patterns and fabric for me to put together.

Other brides came with pictures or drawings for me to create a design, pattern and stitch together.

And I loved it!

What happened to my dress design business?

I’ll let you know in the next post….

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