The Perfect Prom Dress – The Mother’s View


Getting a dress, or any item of clothing, made specially for you is one thing, standing back & watching from the side lines is something else.  Getting involved and helping make it is something completely different.  Here is the story of the Perfect Prom dress, this time told from the mother’s point of view.

When your daughter says she needs a prom dress but REALLY hasn’t seen anything she liked but she has drawn what she would like…what do you do? Well I called Wendy Harrup of Anything but Ordinary. What followed has been about making dreams come true, rekindling hobbies and ending with a dress fit for a princess.

It all began with ideas, fabric thoughts and measurements. This started with meeting Wendy in her studio ‘The Bye Studio’ based in her garden, one afternoon in March. Having shown her my daughter’s sketch it was a huge relief to discover that Wendy could see what she was trying to create and enthusiastically began making suggestions about how it could look. Fabric books then began to appear along with samples of fabric that Wendy had in her workshop. Just a couple of hours later, Wendy had a good idea of the fabrics needed and Islay could see the start of her dress. Measurements were then taken and, although this was a bit daunting for a self conscious teenager, Wendy handled it all with patience and humour, to make Islay as relaxed as possible. fabric, croppedJust a little while later it was back to The Bye Studio to see the fabrics and the black toile or mock-up of Islay’s outfit. This was to be a skirt and corset top as Wendy suggested this would be more versatile and adaptable in time to come. It was hard to imagine how Wendy had managed to translate measurements into this outfit but it was a perfect fit and being that Islay is very slim it was great to think that she wouldn’t have to have tucks in her clothes for the first time in along time !!!!!

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With Wendy getting along with the corset side of the outfit, it was then she suggested that perhaps I would like to make the skirt, with her guidance and support. I had sewed before, whilst at college, but was apprehensive about doing something as important as a prom outfit. However, once again, Wendy came up with the solution that I could sew at The Bye Studio with her on hand to direct and advise as required. This certainly seemed like a good compromise and so for three nights in a row I found myself in Wendy’s sewing room , with the birds singing, her two cats making occasional appearances and the gentle hum of a sewing machine. All this was interspersed with gentle chatter and instruction when required. Not once did I feel that I had asked a silly question, when I needed reassurance in the next sewing step I was doing, nor did Wendy ever make the instructions difficult to understand. As the skirt started taking shape I began to remember why, with my first ever wage packet, I had bought a sewing machine … there is something very satisfying about watching a garment come together.

Our next visit was probably the most exciting as Islay’s vision was finished and now about to become a reality. Just seeing the corset on a mannequin made us both gasp but once it was on Islay and she went out into the garden in the sunshine, the reality was even better than we had ever imagined.

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It was the most amazing dress and fitted like a glove. The colours were perfect for my titian haired daughter and the detachable sleeves gave her the cover she wanted to be able to feel confident in wearing it. Added to that were her unique blinged shoes which Wendy had allowed her to create and it was a dress fit for a Princess.

On Prom night Islay looked beautiful, with her hair cascading down, the gold of the sleeves complimenting the beading on the corset and an Aston Martin to get her there. Her friends thought it was amazing, which I believe is a true compliment bearing in mind they all looked beautiful too.

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Huge thanks to Wendy for making her dream come true, rekindling my love of sewing, and giving us a truly wonderful experience to go in both our memory banks for many years to come, I am very proud to be able to tell people that I made part of Islay’s outfit and that I played a little part in her prom night.

Just one week later the outfit was in use again. As Wendy had predicted, it was very adaptable and the corset was worn without sleeves, over denim shorts, for Islay’s 16th birthday. Once again it looked lovely and I have no doubt it will be seen again in the not too distant future.

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So, do you have a project started but not yet finished, or perhaps, like me, you just need someone to guide you a little. If that’s the case then call Wendy and join one of her sewing bees or discuss with her your next dream outfit, because they really can come true.