Sewing for the Stage

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Photos reproduced by permission of Gabby Wong
By Vera Lin

It all started one summer in middle school when senior Gabby Wong decided to take an introductory sewing class. Inspired to continue pursuing fashion after having taken the class, she bought a sewing machine and began to practice at home by replicating easy pieces that she saw online. She later moved on from replicating pieces to altering dresses. After practicing to the point that she was confident in her sewing abilities, Wong took on her first real task: creating her own prom dress. After buying materials from fabric shops in the city, Wong designed and sewed her junior prom dress on her Singer sewing machine.
“It took a while,” Wong said, “but at the end, I was very happy with my dress.”
As the 2016 Fashion Show season approached, the coordinators of Fashion Show remembered that Wong designed her own prom dress and asked her to design dresses for the event.
Agreeing to design for Fashion Show, Wong began a month-long process of working with the coordinators to design pieces that would highlight this year’s Fashion Show theme, the circus. Wong’s job was to create fashionable dresses that integrated the circus theme that the coordinators wanted to represent.
The task required much hard work and time commitment. “I had to blend what they wanted with what I was capable of doing,” she said.
In the beginning of the design process, Wong would sketch dresses and send the sketches to the coordinators. The coordinators would then respond with ideas and constructive criticism. After going back and forth with a few sketches, Wong and the coordinators were ultimately able to decide on designs for the dresses.
To create the dresses, Wong needed to carefully plan the designs. “Sewing the dresses required a lot of planning,” said Wong, “Each piece needed to be made separately and then assembled, sort of like a puzzle.”
While the design and sewing process was not easy and required much time and effort, it paid off for Wong, who received recognition and applause from the audience as her pieces were showcased on the 2016 Fashion Show stage.
“It felt awesome,” Wong said, “No one really knew that I design clothes, and it was an honor to design for my friends.”