Heaps, Mary Modest Fashion: Within Reach Creating Modest Casual Daywear for Women Ages 20-30 Faculty Mentor: Catherine Burnham, Home and Family Living Dept. My primary goal with this project was to increase awareness of modesty and provide more options for apparel that is both modest and fashionable. My secondary goal was to start up a sewing business, focusing on patternmaking and custom work. I believe I met the first goal, with plenty of room for increasing awareness. The second goal, has morphed and evolved into a more practical aim that better reflects my current situation and pursuits. Increase Awareness of Modesty and Availability of Modest Clothing One venue intended to increase awareness of modesty and provide greater accessibility to unique modest clothing, was the fashion show held September 7, 2006. The last few weeks preceding the fashion show were some of the most intense of my life. I spent all day, every day, designing, sewing and fitting. I was blessed marvelously, however. Fitting problems resolved themselves. Sewing mistakes were rectified. And best of all, the Lord gave me a peace of mind when I felt as if I would fail. In the end, I was able to have eight of the ten planned outfits to a point that could be modeled at my fashion show. I decided to simply get the outfits ready to be displayed, since the event was a fashion show, and not advertising sale of the exact outfits displayed. The look and style of the outfits were the important aspects to display to the audience, and not the finishing details. Several friends came to my rescue by lending their assistance in the sewing process. While I reserved the designing for myself, I made use of the skills of a few of my associates by overseeing them as they sewed up seams, constructed waistbands, and finished edges etc. Without this added labor, I would not have come as far as I did. With more time, I would have finished the outfits entirely. That was one aspect of my project that I had some difficulty with: time management. The process for designing and constructing was so time intensive, that though I’d been working for the past year, not until I buckled down and dedicated all of my time, free from school and work constraints, was I able to make sufficient progress. This gave rise to the concern as to whether this process of creating clothing would be a viable option for the average consumer, or for myself as a designer. The still evolving conclusion I have reached is that I can do this part time at a quality that is acceptable to my clients. Through experience, I have discovered that being sure every tiny detail is exactly correct, that every seam is even, and every stitch straight are not immensely important details to my customers. Many of them are so happy to have something unique that they only ask that it be attractive and utilitarian. With this in mind, I can speed up the process by focusing more on the overall appearance and less on ensuring every seam is exactly straight with zero tucks. This focus actually increases my desirability to clients since I am able to complete orders more quickly, but still have them be at a level acceptable to my customers. Unfortunately, this solution to solve my time crises was not acceptable to my mentor. She believed that I should have done all of the sewing myself and that it should have been higher quality than just what was acceptable to potential clients. While I appreciate the angle from which my mentor is coming, I did not find all her suggestions viable for me. I am sure I did not always manage my time perfectly. In all likelihood, I could have learned how to speed up some of the steps, without compromising quality. I probably could have planned out my schedule to allot more time to my project. However, with the time constraints I experienced, and since I was attending school or working nearly all of the time I was working on my project, I believe I did quite well. I feel I did the best I could with my individual circumstances, and I am sorry my mentor and I did not agree. Starting up a Sewing Business My husband and I collaborated to create the name “YouNique Chic” for my up and coming business. We wanted it to reflect that my designs are not the average trends you might find at a store, but new and innovative, yet fashionable. My husband had business cards made, which we displayed at the fashion show. Though the business has not officially been registered yet, the name is getting out. The business generated so far has been not simply purchasing patterns, as I had previously planned. I’ve found there is greater demand for finished garment. Since my fashion show, I have had a total of four orders, with two more pending. One of these pending orders is for multiple outfits. These orders have ranged in nature from custom work from original designs, to working from a manufactured pattern, to letting down a hem in slacks. Additionally, I recently had the privilege of having a booth at a boutique fair. Though sales didn’t go as well as planned, I did sell one little girls’ Christmas dress with an order for two more. To make these dresses, I used my design knowledge to modify the manufactured patterns to better fit my desire for the outfits, as well as to fit the various sizes of my customer’s daughters. The fair was also a good venue for publicity, and I passed out a few cards, some with promising prospects of future orders. As my unofficial business slowly and shakily gets off the ground, I’ve begun to discover that my desire for it to become full-time is waning. The work consumes a lot of time, and though I don’t mind bringing in a little extra money, I’m grateful that business has not skyrocketed. My greatest satisfaction, is being able to help others with my skills and knowledge. To see my customers enjoy their new one-of-a-kind outfit or see their relief when I can help solve a clothing crisis is the greatest motivation to keep me going. Conclusion Overall, I believe my project was a success. I have been able to encourage modesty in principle through conversation and pragmatically through designing and constructing modest attire for others. I have learned some new strategies, notably, better time management skills, including where to spend the bulk of my time and what standards need to be met to satisfy my clients’ needs for prompt completion of attractive clothing. I hope to continue promoting modesty by using my skills in a positive and productive manner.
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