A couple of days ago, I chanced upon BestDressed’s Instagram page to view a project she originally designed. It was this gorgeous mini dress with a flared skirt and puff sleeves. I’m assuming that Ashley was originally inspired by the Insta-famous Selkie dress that’s all over social media. I happen to own the Baby Banana Puff number, so I absolutely had no reason to make another version. But, c’est la vie—I still wanted to try.
What made Ashley’s version so enchanting to me was not primarily the silhouette. Her fabric of choice featured this gorgeous vintage floral fabric. In a bizarre turn of events, I happened to chance upon the same kind of material at my local thrift store. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very different from what Ashley had, but it still imbues that same antique vibe. Instead of flowers, I got fruit, which in my opinion is a lot more decadent.
The construction itself wasn’t very hard. With that being said, I did run into a few problems regarding fit, so I had to add more fabric in the back. It’s a bit janky, but you honestly couldn’t tell unless you really squinted at it. The dress itself is relatively heavy, due to the fact that it comes with chiffon lining on the inside.
It’s Toronto Metropolitan University, but we’ll discuss the name choice on another day.
My passion for fashion is a decade-long love affair, so it ultimately made sense for me to pursue my studies. I remember driving up to God knows where with my mother in the passenger seat and the casual topic of sewing came up. After a thoughtful conversation, she encouraged me to spread my wings and dip my toes into the creative arts. I was filled with excitement and hesitation. For one, it meant another four years of essays, homework, and commuting. It also drove a colloquial axe into my future savings, in hopes of renting my own place. But, she convinced me that it was more of a once-in-a-lifetime investment. Would I regret it? It only took me a few seconds to say yes.
It was relatively easy picking my top three.
During the time, COVID was still a rampant issue, so I decided that international studies were not the most feasible option. Inevitably, I chose Ryerson, George Brown, and Humber as my top-tier contenders. I knew that Ryerson had the best program since I was already exposed to the fashion curriculum there. Ironically enough, the application itself was trickier to fill out compared to the portfolio itself. I’ll spare you the details, but basically, it was a bunch of hopping back and forth about completing the right forms and submitting the correct documents.
The portfolio consisted of an essay and three creative works. I knew I had the write-up in the bag, so I decided to focus a majority of my time on the projects themselves. I chose to create my own outfit from scratch, which proved to be quite expensive. I wanted to show off my passion for fashion history, as well as demonstrate my sewing skills as well. I came up with a bejeweled corset and a slim turtleneck dress underneath. I also wanted to include a French hood for a bit of sophistication. It wasn’t integral to the look, but I needed to balance out the glitz showcased on the top.
I won’t go into the specifics about how I constructed this outfit, but let me tell you—I was definitely self-conscious about my own sewing skills and pattern-making abilities. The fit wasn’t exactly perfect, but my mom gently reminded me that every fashion school candidate applies with some sort of detriment. At the end of the day, it didn’t look so bad. Thank god for angles and the nuance of black fabric.
If you happen to chance upon this article looking for tips and tricks, I’d be more than happy to share my own experience. The best advice that I can ever give is to proceed without insecurity. It’s normal to have imposter syndrome, which is why it’s important to remind yourself that school exists to improve your abilities. Other tips include starting early, making sure you have enough fabric, and try on the garment as much as you can.
After months of nervously waiting, I’m happy to report: I GOT IN! I was waiting for that offer of admission to come in before uploading the post. Of course, I would’ve published this article regardless of the result, but the tone of the write-up would’ve been more somber if it was a deafening negative.
Before I end this post, here are a few concept sketches I illustrated for other outfits. They’re a bit more complicated in design, so you can see why I opted for the corset/turtleneck look to help save some time.
Sewing is a spontaneous moment for me. Not to sound pretentious, but I only turn on my Brother H537ST when I feel myt creative juices flowing. My skills, patience, and attention seem to falter when I’m clearly unmotivated. It’s the reason why I only sew every other weekend, or on a random Thursday night. Yes, you can probably slag me off for being lazy, you can hold me to it.
For the reasons stated above, my sewing projects are a mix of completed garments and quick-fix thrifts. First up on the bat is the upholstery corset. I scored this gorgeous floral material from my local Value Village, which I think was originally used for furniture. Nevertheless, I decided to ditch dining room chairs and opt for a classic corset.
By now, I’ve constructed nearly 7 designs over the past year, but I couldn’t see past anything but a Bridgerton lace-up moment. I utilized a pattern made by Nava Rose and cut out two copies: one for the main fabric and one for the lining. I adjoined the two pieces together and turned the whole corset inside out to hide the raw seams. The result is a stunning corset that can be worn casually with jeans or a cute tennis skirt.
What I’m wearing
Next up on the chopping block is a white satin slip. Originally, I wanted to create a poet blouse with puffy sleeves, but I didn’t have enough fabric for it. Instead, I opted for a bustier, spaghetti strap moment with cups and a ruffled front. If I had enough material, I would’ve definitely made the top more voluminous and dramatic. If you zoomed into the picture, you can probably see that the hem is unfinished. Of course, I plan to complete a rolled hem, but I thought the raw edge gave a sort of ‘sensual’ feel to the outfit? I don’t know, but it gave me ‘Elizabeth Bennet and Mr.Darcy conversing in the rain’ kind of vibes. Composed, but oddly seductive.
What I’m Wearing:
Earrings: Sukoshi Mart
For my last project, I wanted to upcycle this stunning dress I thrifted at Talize. I’m not familiar with the brand, and I can’t seem to find the tag on the gown since I’ve cut it. But, it appears to be a Korean company that’s long been out of business for some time. Originally, the gown touched the ground—which gave the illusion of a wedding dress instead of a casual, romantic number. I decided to make a tiered effect by cutting the outer hem shorter than the lining. The sleeves naturally puffed out into a ‘winged’ effect, but I decided that it wasn’t really my style. So, I opted to gather the puff to help accentuate the shoulders. The result is still a bit outlandish for my liking, but I think I can dress it down with an oversized romper and some sneakers.