Sew Good: Student shares how she adds her own touch to formal dresses


Each stitch brings success for junior Laine Liston. She learned from her grandmother how to sew.

Sally Panis, Features Editor

Sketching out possible silhouettes, junior Laine Liston crafts each formal dress with her own embellishments of personality and style to create the perfect look. Learning from her grandmother Liston mixes new and old techniques to make blouses, skirts and accessories. 

Liston’s first fashion project began in the eighth grade with the arrival of the May Crowning ceremony. She wanted to express her new look to showcase maturity going into high school.  However, due to COVID-19, Liston never had the chance to wear the dress. However, she gained a new skill set and bonded with her grandmother. 

“I’ve kind of known how to sew like my whole life,” Liston said. “My grandma started teaching me when I was really young. It’s a fun little relationship since she lives in Indiana but my mom will send her pictures of the stuff I make. She gets impressed and says she could never have done that.” 

Once her first dress was created, Liston’s interest in fashion grew further and led her to reinvent and add new components to the May Crowning dress. Thrifting and reusing pre-owned dresses, Liston created looks for her sophomore Sadie Hawkins dance and her junior homecoming. 

“I wanted to change it up and, so I altered some things,” Liston said. “I changed the sleeves and added new details. After that, I’ve continued to alter dresses to make them different. However, this year’s prom dress was all made from scratch.” 

Liston’s prom dress vision reflected back to her May Crowning dress. Seeing the dress as a good fit and unsure where she would wear it in the future, Liston gave the dress a new purpose and life. 

“The base of the dress was already pretty nice and I decided to alter the sleeves a little bit, the neckline and the overskirt. I also made a bodice to go with it because I thought that would work with it. I thought it would be a nice detail to use old dresses that I’ve made previously and like to update them to make my own personal style now.” 

According to Liston, she often battles with her Singer sewing machine, but the struggle is a part of the design process. Liston leans toward vibrant colors and eccentric patterns to reflect her own personality and sense of style. 

“I’ll take inspiration from stuff but then usually I like to draw it out since it gives me an idea of what I want to do,” Liston said. “I’ll do a full-color sketch so I can get a palette, then I’ll like to look for patterns that are very colorful. I don’t like strapless stuff personally or my skirts super-fitted.” 

Adding elements like bows and pearls make a dress complete for Liston. As senior year draws close, Liston has planned her prom dress for next year. 

“Next year I want to do something like a black base with a scoop neck with spaghetti straps,” Liston said. “I plan on doing an overlay that I would crochet, and it would be a whole-length dress that kind of flares out at the end. It would take a long time, so I have to start it now.” 

The struggle of finding a dress that both encapsulates Liston’s personality as well as fits her properly led her passion for sewing to expand into formal dresses. According to Liston, feeling confident in her outfits is essential and makes for an enjoyable experience. 

 “I usually have a hard time finding dresses that will fit me well or like dresses that I can buy,” Liston said. “Even if I buy a dress, I’m probably going to want to change it anyway. So in my mind, I might as well just make my dress. Plus, then it’s different. No one else will have this dress, which is fun.”