Miss Teen of Minnesota 2016, Alexis Schugel, with seamstress Dolores Pemble, owner of The Spool House, Hastings, MN. Photo courtesy: Alexis Schugel.
Of all the VIPs on your pageant team, one of the MVPs is likely your seamstress. These talented, detailed team members stand by your side through the good and the bad as your wardrobe is developed. These highly skilled professionals deserve to be celebrated for their contributions to making contestants and titleholders look their very best. Read below for five signs to rejoice in the fact that your seamstress is an expert!
1. Steers you clear of disappointment A good seamstress understands what works and what doesn't work in making modifications to a variety garments. It's possible that you have an elaborate vision in your mind of what you want your fun fashion to become. Based on a number of variables, she is able to tell you in advance if your idea is possible or not. This saves from future disappointment and gives you the ability to start on plan B. "You want a seamstress who will listen to your ideas, but also knows to forewarn you if it is not structurally advisable," said Dolores Pemble, professional seamstress and owner of The Spool House, in Hastings, Minnesota.
NAM Florida Jr. Preteen 2016, Ayla Friedman, looking classy in a yellow dress by professional seamstress, Shirley Prodell. Photo courtesy: Shirley Prodell Facebook.
2. Makes lemons out of lemonade "Don't be afraid to shop all kinds of outlets," Pemble said. "It's amazing what you can change if you have the right seamstress to help." For example, perhaps you found the coolest dress on a consignment rack for just $50. At that price, you just couldn't pass it up, even though it was five sizes too big. Your seamstress to the rescue, of course! While quite a bit of work, she knows how to cut it down to size, and make the proper adjustments to make it the perfect fit for your shape. She'll advise you if the adjustments just aren't possible and when your dress should be returned to the sale rack. (Read: How to Find Your Dream Gown Within Your Budget)
Royal International Miss New Mexico 2017, Jordyn Campion, with a seamstress at A Perfect Fit, Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo courtesy: Kelly Campion.
3. Listens to you One of the top things I looked for when seeking out recommendations for a new seamstress (thanks, Paula!) was someone who would listen well to our needs. Unfortunately, our former seamstress had different ideas that didn't mix well with the pageant industry, so we had to move on. As a contestant or titleholder, it's okay to come to that conclusion if you must. An expert seamstress will offer you a consultation before services to determine the best plan of attack for any given project. It should be a mix of intertwining her ideas with yours, as you collaboratively move toward the final product. Just as she listens to you, she'll expect the same in return. "Be open to hearing other ideas," Pemble said. "A seamstress may think of something that you didn't think was possible!" (Read: How to Create a Winning Pageant Mindset)
Savannah Leyde, formerly Mrs. Minnesota USA Universal 2016, became the currently reigning Mrs. North America Universal 2016 with the help of dedicated seamstress Sue Richardson of Oh Sew Special, Edina, MN. Photo courtesy: Savannah Leyde.
4. Creates more bang for your buck A stellar seamstress will give you more bang for your buck in the long run. It is possible for a younger competitor to keep one dress while growing over the course of a few years, just by making a few simple modifications along the way. She knows not to cut material out of the sides so that it can be let back out, for example. As a titleholder, she knows that you are busy with appearances and that you need clothing that is flexible and easy to maintain. Consider a huge wardrobe "win" for Chesney Seagraves, Young Miss of America 2017. Ann Deal, the Official Seamstress of American Pageants, Inc, crafted a near-custom ensemble for Chesney with just the top of a cocktail dress (see photo below). "Chesney has pants, shorts with a fun fashion skirt, long skirt, short skirt and two tops that are all interchangeable on this one," said Sunny Hill, President of American Pageants, Inc.
Young Miss of America 2017, Chesney Seagraves, in a semi-custom outfit by Ann Deal, official seamstress of American Pageants, Inc. Photo courtesy: My Heart's Desire Photography/American Pageants, Inc.
5. Knows the requirements of the industry A top-notch pageant seamstress knows you can't be on stage with a dress that is too long, or you stand to take an awkward tumble into the laps of your admiring judges. That perfect, stage-grazing hemline is within your reach through a few fittings with your seamstress. "Alterations are a good investment," Pemble said. "If the dress doesn't fit you right, it affects your performance and presentation."
Chesney Seagraves, Young Miss of America 2017, pictured in another semi-custom outfit by Ann Deal (pictured), official seamstress of American Pageants, Inc. Photo courtesy: My Heart's Desire Photograpy/American Pageants, Inc.
Going Forward If you don't have a seamstress on your pageant team, it is definitely worth the effort to consider finding a reliable professional in your area. A seamstress that understands the importance of good customer service and deadlines is imperative. To find your seamstress, start asking other pageant contestants and titleholders, or find one here by searching our retailers. When you start exploring options, check out the environment when you stop by the place of business. As we all know, pageant attire isn't always cheap, so make sure that you are comfortable leaving your gowns there. If the shop is within someone's home, be on the lookout for cats, dogs or other things that might cause you an allergic reaction next time you wear the gown. Who is your favorite seamstress (or for the guys, tailor)? Give your favorite MVP a shout-out in the comments! Who knows, you may help another pageant contestant develop a lifelong connection with one of these remarkable professionals.
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