I can barely sew a loose button on my coat, let alone do a proper stitch. If I were to attempt to actually make something wearable I think I’d end up looking like I got mauled by a wild animal. So naturally I have a deep admiration for people who can design and sew their own clothes.
Recently, a girl’s graduation gown has been going viral across social media. It is a beautiful hand-painted dress that she designed, sewed, and – shall I repeat – hand-painted all on her own!
Once you see the beautiful creation, you’ll be even more impressed to learn that 17-year-old Ciara Gan had very little sewing experience when she started the project, and she relied heavily on the guidance of YouTube videos to complete the job.
Ciara did admit that she worked a bit with her mother. But it paid off in the end, as she managed to create a gown that was worthy of a real-life fairytale.
Ciara spoke to Today and said, “For the whole of March, my mom and I made (and) sewed each panel of the skirt one by one. It took me about a whole month to make the whole thing.”
The hand-painted flowers themselves took a whole five days for Ciara to complete. However, the teen said they were worth the challenge.
“The whole process was so rewarding afterwards because I was able to wear one of my own creations,” she said.
When she wore her gown to her graduation in the Philippines, she not only wowed her fellow students, she also wowed the world after she posted her dress to social media where it captured thousands of hearts.
Ciara told Buzzfeed News that she had originally hired someone to design it for her, but she wasn’t happy with the way it was turning out. That is when she decided to take on the job herself and the already-talented artist managed to put her stamp on it.
It was actually Ciara’s mom who encouraged the teen to try making the dress herself, and the worked on it together as Ciara says the two of them “loved the challenge.”
Speaking to Today, Ciara said, “My mom and I are best friends. We work on DIY projects together all the time.”
She also added for Buzzfeed News, “Because I love to try new things, I thought why not? It was my last big event for school and I had about a month of graduation practices, so I’d be able to focus more on making my gown without worrying about schoolwork.”
Ciara’s design started out with a simple concept of a miniature model. Once that was made, Ciara and her mother went out for the supplies, buying 13 yards of fabric, crinoline, boning, and Swarovski crystals.
Then they got started on the dress, sewing each panel of the skirt individually. When they managed to fully construct the gown, the real fun began for Ciara, who meticulously painted on the flowers to the skirt using acrylic paint.
The entire painting process took her five days to complete.
If you’re wondering where the inspiration came from, each element to the dress was inspired by things that evoke joy in Ciara.
She explained to Buzzfeed News, “As nerdy as it may sound. I chose emerald green because I’m an avid Potterhead and a proud Slytherin.
The flowers on the gown are orange tiger lilies, and that was draw by inspiration from the novel, “Tiger Lily”, written by Jodi Lynn Anderson. In addition, they are also meant to reflect Ciara’s colorful personality.
“I strayed away from basic roses and dainty florals because although they’re pretty, they don’t reflect my personality. I love the vibrancy of loud colors like orange and green – they speak more about who I am,” she explained.
Ciara deliberately kept her gown a complete secret, so when she showed up to her graduation ball in her dress, her classmates were stunned by her talent in hand-making her dress.
She said, “When I first showed up at the event place, my one classmate took a double take to make sure what he was seeing was right! He told me, ‘I thought it was printed!’”
She told My Modern Met that everything she learned from watching YouTube tutorials. It was even only her second sewing project ever attempted.
She told Today, “The last time was prom during my junior year, where I had to redo my dress’s whole skirt in two days and stick over 200 crystals on it!”
From the photos that she’s shared on Twitter of her dress, the gown post has acquired nearly 400,000 likes as people are stunned by Ciara’s artistic talent for someone so young. Some people have even gone ahead and created fan art of the gown.
“I still can’t believe it,” she said, speaking to Buzzfeed News. “When the numbers increase I realize that so many people have seen my gown.”
The teen is now getting requests for commissions, something that she really appreciates.
She has tweeted that she’s currently open for requests for various types of art.
“I could really use the extra money for my 5 month summer,” she admitted.
For now she’s only accepting local commissions in the Philippines – so for now at least, international orders may have to wait.
For now she’s excited to create more sewing projects after the fun she had making her dress. Surprisingly, she’s not planning to attend fashion school. Ciara graduated from high school with a STEM focus – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – and has plans to pursue the scientific field.
“I know I have a lot more to learn and I’d like to grab every opportunity I can,” she disclosed to Today.
It’s clear that she’s just starting out her life and has the world as her oyster. We wish this graduate a lot of luck in life and can’t wait to see where she ends up with her designs.