January – May 2001
Sabrina started making Halloween costumes as a pre-teen. In her mid-20s, she purchased a sewing machine, taught herself to sew, and made her wedding dress; this launched her hobby as a seamstress. After that, she was continually making costumes for herself and friends, as well as garments for her wardrobe. She even took on a few commissions.
Several years later, and with quite a bit of sewing experience, she discovered there was an affordable, professional Apparel Design program at the College of Alameda. Sabrina enrolled immediately, starting school in the Spring. She had missed Patternmaking I, a 6-unit course which covered Drafting I, Draping I and some Construction. She just jumped right into Patternmaking II. Not only was she good at “winging it,” she also had excellent visual-spacial intelligence. (Even when she was young, she took charge of household tasks like the assemble-at-home furniture.) Sabrina loved all of her courses and excelled.
Her final draping project for this first-ever class, was the recreation of a drop-front Regency morning dress, based on Janet Arnold’s diagrams (page 49 of Patterns of Fashion). It was selected as the final piece on the runway for the school’s annual fashion show, an honor normally reserved for graduating, second-year students. She styled it as a wedding gown. And being a good fit for the size 8 dress forms, she modeled it herself. Sabrina was forced to drop out of school halfway through her second semester, due to illness. But her long-term plans were to complete the certificate requirements in Alameda, and then transfer to a four-year costume program in LA.
Regency and high-waisted cuts were some of her favorite styles. Despite a rather sparse collection of reference materials (she preferred to keep all her belongings to a minimum), she owned the whole series of Arnold books and loved to puzzle over some of the more complex garments. The cotton gown has a sheer outer layer in embroidered organdy. The fabric probably came from Poppy’s. She added a random scattering of blue floral appliqués to the finished dress.
These photos are from the College’s 2001 fashion show: Sabrina is on the runway above and below right, and posing outside with our dad below. You’ll find a few other pictures of the gown as worn by our lovely, half-sister Vanessa, on the Red Ever After page.