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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Freshman fashionista sews her own clothes

Scrolling through her Polyvore feed last spring, an online fashion community, freshman Angela Lee encountered a dainty, sophisticated white dress that she thought would be perfect for the season, but she sadly realized that it was from a discontinued collection. Fortunately, Lee knew exactly what to do: She set up her sewing machine, gathered rolls of fabric and started to make stitches.

Lee draws compliments and attention for her unique sense of fashion. She describes her style as very minimalistic, monotone and sleek.

“Fashion is indescribable,” Lee said. “It's the art of presentation and how you want to appear [to others].”

Lee’s passion for fashion originated from third grade, when she flipped through an Asian fashion magazine’s colorful pages and was amazed and inspired by the numerous styling tips and runway shots.

Fascinated by the “lavish beauty” of fashion, Lee began to watch YouTube clips of runway shows by designers such as Alexander McQueen.

Lee also joined Polyvore. On Polyvore, Lee uses a clothing catalogue to style outfits online. She can put together clothing pieces from all brands and past collections and share them with others.

As her love for fashion grew, however, Lee realized that she could not buy most of the clothes that she wanted to wear because they were either too expensive or discontinued. She then came up with a solution: to sew her own clothes.

Lee already learned how to sew at a fashion camp she attended the summer before fourth grade, where she had one-on-one help with an assistant. The assistant would do the “hard parts [in maneuvering the fabric]” whenever she would sew the sides together and the fabric would not open. With the assistant’s aid, Lee was able to figure out how to sew efficiently and correctly.

Three days before Halloween last year, Lee realized that she did not have a costume. Because she hadn’t sewn since her camp (four years prior,) Lee had to reread instructions and go on the Internet to teach herself how to sew. Even from the little experience she had, sewing came naturally to her.

“When I finished my Harley Quinn costume after twelve hours, it was [10:30] at night, but I felt really accomplished,” Lee said.

After Halloween, Lee continued to sew clothing pieces inspired by designs on Polyvore. She has made many dresses, shorts, skirts and fake leather vests for herself, each based on a creative design but coalesced with her own personal flair. The time she spends on sewing ranges from two hours to six weeks, depending on what kind of piece or ensemble she is working on.

Last spring, Lee also sewed her own eighth-grade graduation dress, which was inspired by actress Emmy Rossum’s original Zuhair Murad dress. She spent 12 hours making intricate stitches and creating the perfect fit for herself.

“[Lee] is unpredictable,” said freshman Isabelle Yang, one of Lee’s close friends. “Whatever she has her mind set to, she always goes for it, so it’s no surprise that she’s ambitious.”

Lee’s ambition proves useful when facing the challenges of making her own clothes. Lee has limited fabric resources in the area and relatively little experience, so she tends to struggle with more detailed and complex pieces.

Her current undertaking is a delicate babydoll dress. On her first two attempts, she made mistakes on stitches and measurements, ruining the fabric and dress altogether.

“Whenever I mess up, I scream and throw my scissors across to floor,” Lee said. “I’m trying to finish it slowly [for the third time] because I don’t want to mess up, but it’s going to be that last stitch that [throws me over].”

Nevertheless, Lee perseveres through the sewing process, knowing that her hard work will pay off.

“You feel that satisfaction when you make something,” Lee said. “You came up with it, you did it, you finished it, and now, you can wear it forever.”

When Lee entered high school, she continued her interest in fashion by joining the Fashion Club. She plans to participate in the Benefit Fashion Show in the spring and hopes that this year, she can make a few of the outfits presented in the show.

Though Lee knows this goal may be too ambitious, she has already proven herself to be a determined hardworker and sees herself pursing a career in the fashion industry.

“Don't settle for less than what you can do and want to do,” Lee said. “What separates good from great is just details and frustration, and hard work will pay off if you keep your expectations where they are and work for them.”

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