Monday, April 18, 2011

Sew What?! wacky tacky Goes to the Prom!!

"Gee, thanks Skip!"

Prom season is upon us!  At this point in my life, I feel much closer to the type of "senior" prom where octogenarians are given a corsage/boutonniere and wheeled out to the multi-purpose room to listen to a Glenn Miller CD.  Despite the disturbing feeling that on the best of days I have the emotional maturity of a 12-year-old, I have recently reached the 30-year mark and realized that I have crossed the threshold into being "old."  Any rationally-thinking person over my age would scoff at the notion that thirty is old.  I quite agree but "old" has been thrust upon me by a younger generation who, out of sheer obstinacy in my opinion,  refuses to understand any of my pop culture references.  Moreover, when they are aware of said references, they insist on thinking of them as novelties of a simpler time.  Only a short time ago while driving, my teenaged sister's teenaged friend asked if I had ever heard of a particular "old" (there's that word again) band.  Who, I wondered.  Herman's Hermits?  No.  Buddy Holly and the Crickets?  Guess again.  The Paul Whiteman Orchestra?  Not even close.  My horror when he uttered the words Stone Temple Pilots was disguised only by the tissue-thin veil of my own uncomfortable laughter.  As I righted the steering wheel to keep the car from swerving off the road, I thought "Was it so long ago that 'Plush' was in regular rotation on the radio?"  Without my permission, I had become the old guy in the car (only magnified by my desperate search to find a station playing an STP song). Without my knowledge, I had jumped from youthful to elderly simply by my overwhelming desire to shout "Slow down you hot rodder!" at passing cars and "Do we all have to listen to that?" 

Again, aside from the occasional complaint about my ability to feel barometric changes in my knee, I don't feel old.  Nevertheless, I am reminded of my unavoidable march toward AARP qualification by these kids.  Mary, a high school senior who challenges my references to Who's the Boss? and Mr. Belvedere with a completely-genuine blank stare, needed a prom dress.   The very fact that my thoughts about her attending her senior prom included "Wow, it seems like she was just in kindergarten," really cement the fact that maybe I have become old.  Her dream dress - one of those frothy, draped-chiffon numbers that epitomize 1950's formals.  I appreciate dresses of that sort but I had to be perfectly honest with myself; draping and chiffon are well beyond my skill-level.  In contemplating design ideas for her dress, I decided that I would share a few photos of prom seasons past as well as my finished product. 

The Promenade
Fifties Formals

A charming couple
Apart from the fact that this photo makes me laugh, I really
like that white dinner jackets seemed to be the order of the day.
Wishing I was there.
I shouldn't say this, but is there anything better than the solo Prom photo?
Where are they now?
This appears to be an ad more than
a candid photo but it sure looks good.

I'm sure at some point in history, home-sewing was a far more economical option than purchasing ready-to-wear garments.  Now, I suppose, the value in home sewing is determined by custom fit and unique style.  Even though I am overwhelmed by a mountain range (yes it has gotten that bad) of material, thread and notions, it still seems that no matter what project I undertake,  I still spend lots of money on finding exactly what I need to finish.  This prom dress was no exception.  I already owned the lace but due to my forgetful nature, it took at least three expensive trips to the fabric store to get everything I needed.  Overall, I like the way this wacky tacky dress turned out.  It has the distinctive flavor of a 50's prom dress and suits Mary to a tee!

Mary and Chris look lovely surrounded by a field of yellow wild flowers.
Our talented sister-in-law made Mary's wrist corsage and Chris' boutonniere
and did Mary's make-up.

Gettin' the party started early!!
Mary wore her vintage crinoline.
I really like this one.

The under dress was made of ice-blue taffeta with boning in the bodice and the overdress was made of dusty-blue lace.  The gathered, two-tiered skirt was supported by Mary's vintage crinoline and horsehair trim.  I made a corsage of satin ribbon, a lace remnant and miniature blue roses.  The shawl was of the same lace and I cut away the excess material around the flowers to create a "fringed" edge.  Mary wore a combination of heirloom/costume and contemporary jewelry.  Chris wore a vintage 1950's suit and tie.

The backside of Prom.
All I know is that my prom photos didn't look this good!!  All of the modern prom photos are courtesy of super-talented photographer Jessie Stopnik at - be sure to check out her blog and contact her for all of your professional photography needs.


Mr. Tiny


  1. Truly talented! Mary as your subject really highlights your skill and creativity. The photos are beautiful. Love it.

  2. This is pretty darn amazing! I just love that color blue- it suits Mary to a "T". BRAVO, Mr Tiny- another masterpiece!

  3. So great. I love that you brought the lace up to the neckline...that's one of my favorite styles. That sort of innocent sexiness. The bodice fits her so great, bet she was the bell of the ball.

  4. Great work as always! Mary's lucky to have such an awesome brother.

  5. Excellent work Chris! I love Mary's dress. She looks perfect!

  6. I love everything about this! Somehow I became 'old' this year as's nutty, the kids I work with remind me all of the time. LOL I love the dress for Mary, it is fantastic! It made me think of my prom dress, my mother made it out of vintage material that my grandmother had horded. I remember you really liking it at prom...a million years ago. ;)

  7. Love this post! I was once asked by an 8th grader if I had ever heard of this old band called Nirvana. Gasp. Yes, we are there Chris, the old 30. Mary looks fab as always, and your sewing skills makes me want to try to kick mine up a notch!

  8. Thanks everybody!!! These two kids do clean up pretty well. Cari - I want to see pictures of your prom dress! Now it is on to the next projects - finishing beach pyjamas, a 40's play suit and a 30's evening gown for Catalina! The fun never ends!

  9. I am a girl in my early 20s and went to a catholic high school for 4 years.our parish that was affiliated with the school had strict dress code requirements.For our confirmation at 16 in the 10th grade,the boys had to wear white suits and us girls had to wear white formal,floor length,short sleeve dresses with a veil,gloves,white tights and white mary jane symbolize the purity of our baptisms,we had to wear a white cloth diaper and adult size plastic pants under the tights with a white tee shirt tucked into the tights.For our prom,the boys had to wear their white suits and us girls had to wear our confirmation outfits.they were all required for our prom.