I recently completed another Prom-style dress for my daughter to wear to my son's wedding. It takes a lot of time and skill to make a formal dress. Formals are usually made with expensive, slippery fabric that usually frays all over the place. Sometimes there are layers of fabrics-- sheers over base fabrics. And these dresses are always lined with another slippery fabric. Adding any embellishments usually requires hours with magnifying glasses in good light. It takes skill and patience to tackle such a project.
Imagine my surprise to learn that a young man of 25 years has over 40 such formal dresses in his portfolio! And he's not even attending a fashion design or art college! He saw a need for these formal dresses and he filled it.
After Brian Youngblut took a ballroom dance class at Brigham Young University he was hooked. As he progressed to competitions, he saw the need for flashy dresses for his partner. To win, a couple needs to stand out from the pack of other dancers, as well as dance well. Brian explained, "Dance is an aesthetic sport. Judges will look at things like how your feet are turned and how you're moving your core, so you want a costume that accentuates that."
Additionally, Brian understood the need for modest dresses. Ballroom dance competition is known for it's revealing dresses, but Brian is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. One of the teachings of the church is to dress modestly. Many of the dresses on the market would be inappropriate for Brian's dance partners. And having a designer come up with a modest design and make it would be terribly expensive! These are students after all!
Brian's solution: he would make his partner's dresses! He inherited an old sewing machine from sister-in-law and took some leotards and fashioned up his first outfit. He learned the basics of sewing from his mom as he was growing up, so he'd call her when he hit a snag. Soon he was designing dresses and making them up with his own patterns (another amazing advanced sewing skill. Believe me.) When he found a dress form on Craigslist, he excitedly snapped it up. His excitement shows in his blog post:
So my treasured find of the week is this singer adjustable dress form brand new on Craigslist for DIRTY CHEAP! With said dress form, and fabric from LA's Fashion District, I was able to whip up a sweet design for Cait's new dress in no time! So with this gem I have full confidence that I can start making most of our costumes, which I've been wanting to venture into for a while. Now I don't have to just draw up designs I can actually make them right in front of me...I've found that newspaper is great for making patterns, and any questions that you may have can be easily answered between Google and YouTube...gotta love modern technology. (Make it Count, May 5, 2011)
Normally you don't hear of Business majors getting excited about buying used dress forms. But Brian isn't your average student. He's gone on to sew formalwear for clients in Beverly Hills, California, selling one dress for $3500. That's a great start in a career in business or clothing design by any standards.
Brian didn't worry what others would think of him when he decided to sew dresses. He just dusted off his machine and his sewing skills, researched what he didn't know, called his mom for help and learned from his experiences. Each dress probably got better as his skills improved. His dress form probably did make the process easier, especially to get the fitting perfect. He probably had a few disasters, but he didn't let them discourage him. He kept designing and sewing. He had big ideas and didn't flinch. Even his mom wondered how he'd make some of his designs a reality. She said, "When I saw some of his designs, I thought, 'how did you get that out of your head and onto a dress?'"
Brian is a great example of fearlessness and determination, qualities that will make Brian a success in any field.
Make it count-- Brian's blog found at http://brianyoungblut.blogspot.com/
Smith, Sara D. Sewing with the Stars. BYU Today magazine, Summer 2013, pg. 16.
Watch a cool video interview with Brian at http://magazine.byu.edu/?act=view&a=3199
Photo courtesy of BYU Today