Make Your Own Prom Dress

Afraid of wearing the exact same dress as someone else on prom night? Then design your own with the help of this six-step guide.
by Sharlene Tan   |  Jan 23, 2011
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  1. Think of a theme.
    Imagine what your gown would look like. Think of s dress you've seen in a movie or a fabulous gown worn by a celebrity to an awards night. Or think of your personality. Are you romantic? Shy? Outgoing?
    Formal and evening wear trends for 2011
    are ruffles, sheer, laces, metallics, and military-inspired, just like what Scarlett Johansson, Lea Michele, and Mila Kunis wore at the 2011 Golden Globes. Dresses with bold patterns like stripes and floral prints will work, too. Your dress doesn't have to have a lot of details for you to get noticed. Always remember that the basics and simplicity will always make you stand out from the rest.

  2. Gather ideas and inspiration to create a mood board or a look book.
    With the theme or look in mind, surf the net for photos, movie clips, fashion sketches, and anything that will help you work in your design. Look for red carpet photos of celebs you can get inspiration from. If you want a princess-like look, watch movies like Princess Protection Program or Princess Diaries or download photos of Cinderella, Belle or Tianna from The Princess and the Frog. If vintage is your thing, search for silhouettes and patterns from the '50s and '60s and dig through your mom's old clothes to study the shape of the clothes. You can also buy pattern books from bookstores for more ideas.

  3. Start sketching.
    Put all your printouts and cutouts together in a scrapbook or sketchpad. Start sketching your ideal prom dress by combining all the ideas and looks you've gathered. (Say, you like the scrunched waist from picture A, the details on the sleeves of picture B, and the draped neckline of picture C.) If you don't know how to draw, get a pair of scissors and cut out your favorite parts from each picture. Then put them together like pieces of a puzzle.

  4. Scout for fabric and materials.
    Looking for the perfect materials for your prom dress may take days or weeks. Be patient and take your time. On your first trip, visit different textile stores and as for fabric samples. When you get home, lay then out on a table and make your final pick. The best place to look for fabric is still Divisoria, because that's where the wholesalers are.
    Divisoria fabric stores:

    1. 1. Linea Victoria – NS20 Tutuban Primeblock
    2. 2. Fabric World - Stall K1 &K2 G/F Cluster Bldg, Tutuban Center Mall
    3. 3. New Highton Fabrics – 106 Ledesma, 853 Tabora, Binondo
    Hit the mall:

    1. 1. Carolina's Lace Shoppe – SM Malls and Glorietta
    2. 2. The Fabric Warehouse – SM Malls, Greenhills, and Acropolis
    3. 3. Expressions – Shangri-La Plaza and Glorietta
    Designer Debbie Co's fabric tips:

    1. Use stiff fabric such as taffeta if you're making a piece that has a lot of volume, say a balloon skirt.
    2. If you're aiming for a Grecian inspired look, which is very soft and flowy, use light fabric such as chiffon or jersey.
    3. Other fabric options you can consider are:
      1. Satin, a very popular fabric for gowns
      2. Shantung, lightweight fabric with rough texture
      3. Crepe or georgette, very thin and lightweight
    Shopping Tip:
    When shopping for fabric, bring your own sketches, mood board, and look book so you can show the sales ladies what you're planning to make. This will help them guide you on the length of fabric to buy and suggest other fabrics as options.
    Color Choices:

    Take your skin color into consideration when deciding on color. One of the quickest ways to know what color suits you best is to check your closet and see what color you have the most of. Chances are, that's what makes you beautiful and flatters your skin tone. Here's a quick guide:
    1. Fair skinned girls will look great in pastels and soft neutrals. Colors like camel, peach, and golden yellow are for girls with very fair complexion.
    2. 2. If you have a really nice tan, pick fabrics in orange, gold dark brown, camel, or beige to enhance your color. Red, white, and black are perfect for olive skin and darker complexion.
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  5. Finalize your design and take into consideration your body type.
    So you want the exact same dress Anne Hathaway wore at the Golden Globe Awards, but she's thin and you're pear-shapeddoes that meanyou have to settle for Queen Latifah's gown instead? Of course not! Make a few changes to your dream gown to make sure it flatters your body. Many girls make the mistake of relying too much on style, copying everything down to the littlest detail. Change the neckline, the cut or length of the skirt to suit your shape and you'll be surprised at how great the dress will look on you.

    Body Talk:

    1. Girls with large hips – make sure your prom dress has as A-line cut to make you look slimmer. Pair this with a top that is more fitted than your bottom and avoid straight and narrow styles.
    2. Girls with a full bust – skip the spaghetti strap gowns and opt for either strapless or wide straps with a square neckline, which is flattering and will give better support.
    3. Petite girls – settle for cocktail-type dresses and avoid gowns with too much or very heavy fabric because this will just weigh them down. Go easy on accessories and wear high heels to look taller.
    4. Skinny girls – use printed fabric or add details on the waist like beading or a thick waist belt.
  6. Go to a seamstress and ask her to make your dress.
    If you don't know anyone, textile stores know seamstresses ho usually buy fabric from them. You can also try the textile area at Kamuning Market in Quezon City. They accept sewing jobs. Schedule fitting sessions with your seamstress so that you can have it altered before the big night.
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About the author
Sharlene Tan
Former Fashion Editor, Candy