Sewing an outfit for
a real person — not just a mannequin — is nerve-racking
enough for third-year fashion design students at Mount Mary College.
But this summer, students in Sandra Tonz's
tailoring class were handed the kind of assignment that leads to nail
biting. The college's new president, Linda Timm, asked them
to create an outfit she could wear to today's inauguration.
Not exactly the type of customer you want to
accidentally poke with a pin.
"Not a lot of
us have worked with a client before, and she is such a client,"
said student Jessica Frantal, who, along with other members of the
class, weren't planning on sewing fancy buttonholes in executive
silk when the course began. "I think we were all a little apprehensive
when she first came in."
Timm, who will be sworn in today as the college's
10th president, had been impressed with work of other Mount Mary fashion
design students, which she had seen during the program's annual
spring fashion show last year.
So, inspired by a peer who made a similar request
at another university, Timm asked the tailoring class to create something
"feminine, but very professional" that would hold up well
through a busy day of inauguration activities.
"I really enjoy
getting to know students and working with students," Timm said.
"I wanted to have the opportunity to showcase what our students
are doing in the fashion area."
Consultations on Timm's custom-made ensemble
began early in the summer, with discussions about design, material
and color. Timm told the students she would prefer a long jacket,
and brought in a blouse in her preferred shade of blue.
From that point on, it was one challenge after
another for the students. The exact blue Timm requested was not available
in the correct material at local fabric stores.
Students, as well as Tonz, their teacher, made
treks to Chicago to find the silk crepe in the right hue.
Next, the students created a version of the
three-piece outfit in muslin, a tough, basic material used before
making patterns, which took several weeks. When the group was finally
ready to sew the ensemble, there were still more setbacks. The fabric
the students chose to line the skirt, blouse and jacket was so slippery,
students wondered how they would finish.
"It was like ice
on ice, it was terrible," said Neenee Lor, 20, another student
in the class.
The project was so involved, students —
many of whom juggle school with caring for their families —
came in on their own time, children in tow, during weekly fittings
In the end, however, the students did finish,
with a few added flourishes, as well. During one of the last fittings,
the class surprised Timm with a monogrammed inscription on the jacket's
From our Hands
Mount Mary Tailoring Students
Timm's eyes filled with tears when they
unveiled the inscription. She said she was glad she chose not to shop
at a department store or online for her big occasion.
"It wouldn't have been nearly as
special," she said.