Ketterman tailors prom dresses


Courtesy of Annie Ketterman

Ketterman and her boyfriend, Colin Conahye, get ready for Homecoming. Ketterman originally made her dress without the intention of it being her Homecoming dress but decided it looked nice and wore it to the event. “I felt like a princess in a cocktail dress,” Ketterman says

Bryana Ayala, Reporter

Junior Annie Ketterman has started getting ready for the upcoming prom season by taking tailoring orders from her peers.

Ketterman did tailoring orders for prom dresses in the previous two years and got into sewing a year before. Ketterman started her sewing hobby after watching Jane Eyre. She loved the dress of the main character and decided to make it herself. 

“I read a lot of historical novels, and I really like the regency period. I really like Jane Austen and [Charlotte] Bronte and all that…I loved her dress so much. It is plain, but that’s how she’s supposed to be. I made the patterns myself and then I started sewing,” Ketterman said. “Romance novels from the 18th and 17th century is how I got my start. I love the regency era because the skirts are so long…I enjoy those books so much, and it’s partially because of the era. I’m just really into historical stuff. I found it really interesting, and I started looking it up which is when I started to feel like I could really do this.”  

When she started sewing, Ketterman wasn’t thinking about the idea of tailoring. A previous sewing teacher had asked her to tailor a few girls’ prom dresses one year, and she’s been keeping up her business ever since. 

“I initially didn’t want to get into women’s fashion. One of the sewing teachers asked me if I would do it for cheap. I agreed, and since then I’ve been getting orders. My prices have gone up a bit, but I also get around 20 orders every prom season,” Ketterman said.

Ketterman’s first experiences with sewing were made by hand as she didn’t have a sewing machine. She made the patterns herself and got help from her grandmother. Although, she made quilts which weren’t always appropriate for clothes. Ketterman used the internet to help her learn how to stitch and even watched surgeon videos.

One of the things that Ketterman needed to get accustomed to was tailoring on different body types. Because her mannequin is similar in size and shape, working on different body types was a new experience for her. As Ketterman learned, she started working on making pleats and darts in clothing to better fit her clients.

“I really like tailoring stuff because I get to meet new people, and I get to practice on different body types…When there are people who are curvier or bigger in one part of their body, I need to make a lot more darts because it’s not just like you can blow up the whole piece and then it’ll look nice on the body. Also, I got conscious of poking people with needles because I need to put so many darts in,” Ketterman said.

Ketterman has had a lot of support from her family in the last few years. Her father was the one to buy her a Brother sewing machine and has taken her to stores like Joanne’s to buy supplies. Her mother also shows support by asking for clothes and wearing them around.

“He’s [her father] very nice. He doesn’t always ask me to do stuff for him. I know some people will think I’ll do it because we’re friends, but my dad always offers to pay me. Even for small things like a hole in a shirt,” Ketterman said.

Along with family, Ketterman’s friends and boyfriend are also big supporters. Her friends will ask for her to patch up various types of clothing which gave Ketterman some experience with different fabrics. Her boyfriend will also take her to stores for fabrics and other materials. 

“He takes me to Joanne’s a lot and then I buy everything even though I know he doesn’t like being there,” Ketterman said. “My friends definitely gave me a head start because they had a lot of stuff they needed to do.”

While getting to learn more about sewing, Ketterman explained her experiences with new difficulties. She mentioned learning from previous mistakes while using her sewing machine.

“The amount of garments I’ve messed up is insane…The dress that was inspired by Jane Eyre, I ran it through the machine, and I was so proud because I was done with this big skirt and then half of it just fell apart,” Ketterman said

Another difficulty of tailoring has been time management and her orders. In the past, she’s taken up orders that have been close to the final date which shows to be a big stressor. 

“A month before prom, I won’t really take more than 10  to 15 orders because then it gets to the point where I have to refuse some people. I feel bad, but I’m one person. It’s not like I have a shop. I just go down to my sewing room and then I’m just there for three hours. The first year that I did tailoring, this one girl wanted everything…It took me like three weeks to get done. I told her I was leaving it in the sewing room for her to pick up. She was panicking, and I was like there’s just this one bead left and you’ll be fine. That’s why I no longer do big orders only a few weeks in advance of the date,” Ketterman says.