Click here to listen to Manuel, a Hawaiian song.
Choose Windows Media Player.
My bioligical dad brought me a hand crank sewing machine back
from WWII. The sewing machine was made in Germany and did a
simple chain stitch but it served its' purpose. At age 4, I made
my own doll clothes.
My grandmother was a seamstress. I paid careful attention to
how she made my aunt's formals and my dresses. She would hold
paper up to my body, used a pencil and sometimes just pins to
outline my body. Then she would use the pattern she created
and cut out the fabric. She made dresses, shirts, shorts, formals,
and did alterations.
Note: when I say costumes, it is clothing for the entire family.
I would lay my dolls down on paper, trace their outline to create
a pattern. Then I would cut out the material, and make the doll
clothes on the small chain stitch sewing machine. Today, that
sewing machine is a collector's item. I wish I still had it.
For my ninth birthday, I received a portable electric sewing
machine and I have been making my own clothes ever since.
During my senior year in high school, I remember making a dress
before bedtime and wearing it to school the next day. After
all 'I didn't have a thing to wear in the closet.' (Smile!)
After graduating from high school, I married a military man.
Observing the way a professional military uniform place altered
one pair of my husband's kakhi's, I determined I could do a
better job. They merely took the shirts in at the side seams
without cutting away any fabric. It was obvious the uniforms
had been altered. I also altared his "mess dress" and over-coat.
My opinion of alterations is that you should not be able to
tell the garment has been altered. It should look new. Hence,
I have been doing alterations since age 18. Hmm-m-m, that
gives me how many years of experience? I was born in December
1940. You do the math, late 1944 to the current date.
I tried working for a well known formal wear business. They
liked my sewing skills and were going to teach me how to make
tuxedos. I quit because the pay was not enough. However, when
I find the picture I will upload a newspaper article that has
me wearing the Bi-Centenial costume and holding up a western
suit I made for my son.
For clown costumes, I have a personality test you can take to
determine the type clown character that best suits your personality.
From that we can decide which costume you should wear and then
decide on the fabrics and colors too.
Please note that I am retired; however, I will offer consultation
for you if you wish.
Size22 shimmy dresses made for The Magic
Dragon Clown Supplies, and Costume Shop
in Irving, Texas. They were made of
washable satin and 7" long fringe.
The headpieces were made with feathers
and sequins. The draw string purses were
made from the left over scraps of satin.
Shimmy dresses are normally only available
in sizes 8-12; however, larger women do
request this type costume. There is
seven yards of fringe on each dress.
The store is no longer in business.
This Marie Antoinette costume was for the
Bi-Centenial celebration when I lived in
Carthage, Texas. I won a blue ribbon at the
Louisiana State Fair in Shreveport, La.
The entire costume was handmade, not one
stitch was done on the sewing machine. The
separate bodice was brocade velvet. The skirts
and the rest were satins and lace. The bodice
back fastened with tiny buttons I hand covered.
The lace ruffles were hand pleated and sewn on
as I made each pleat. I used left over brocade
velvet to cover the shoes.
I used this costume and a western outfit I
made my son as visual aids for a report I gave
in American History in college. The outfit was
a suit coat, slacks, a shirt, and a bolo tie.
My teacher asked if the costume fit me. I tried
it on and it did. He had my picture taken for
the college newspaper along with me holding
the western outfit. Here the costume is on
display in a store window at Birdwell's Dept.
in Carthage, TX. Years later I sold this costume
to The Magic Dragon Costume Shop and many
times wish I still had it.
This costume jacket was designed to
resemble that of the rock group,
Paul Revere and the Raiders.
I had to create the pattern by
altering and combining two patterns.
It is a cutaway in the front and
tails in the back. I made the frogs
and sleeve stripes from scratch.
The guy in the picture is Mark when
he and his brother, Mike, had the
band known as The Shades in
This sweat suit was made in the
soccer team colors, blue and yellow.
The boy in the photo is Joey in
Fort Worth, Texas.
This blue swim suit was an Oleg Casini
one piece bikini. My mother said she
guessed it covered enough. Yes, I made
this too and the woman in the photo
is me in my younger days as a divorcee,
pre widow-hood and pre injuries.
This summer formal was a long sun dress
with spaghetti straps, three skirts; the
underskirt, two sheer skirts one of which
was a solid color and the other a floral
print. The overblouse had 3/4 length
sleeves and a sash that wrapped around
the waist twice. The dress had hand
rolled hems and french seams. The woman
in the photo is me when I used to sing
at weddings. This was in Longview, Texas
where I sang at a co-worker's daughter's
This is the same belly dance costume. I performed
at a singles April Fool Costume party. When the
host said it was a costume party I told him I
might wear my belly dancing costume. He asked
if I could do the dance and I told him yes, I
was a dancer in Michigan. He then asked if I
would dance at the party and I said yes. The
first dance was a veil dance without the zils.
Then a finger zils dance followed by a basket
dance and I think I did a cane dance. One guy
tried to balance the basket and could not.
There is a head piece worn that the basket
sits on top of. This was fun. And this picture
was funny. That stuffed penquin was looking
my way. Oh to bend backwards like that today.
This was April 1992 in Fort Worth, Texas.
So this was post car wreck injuries. I
did make this costume. When I changed out of
costume and people picked it up they could not
believe the weight. With all the pieces, yes,
it was very heavy.
I did the upholstery on the amusement rides at the Fort Worth Stockyards
in the Stockyard Station area. Plus, I also came in third in National
( MOTTA ) antique car upholstery competition.
Click here to see the rides and the trophy.
You can be inovative. I took an aunt's black lace dress size 16
and made a size 8 roaring 20s dress. I took the short sleeves
off and made cloche type hats by sewing them together. Flowers
are easy to make with left over fabrics and ribbons. I used
scrap fabric from the dresses to make draw string purses and
A velvet dress I bought at a thrift store I shortened, took
the long sleeves off, made slits on the side seams to just
above my knees and connected the slits with strips made
from the scraps from shortening the dress. That was another
roaring twenties dress. A feather from a tiny stuffed toy
peacock purchased at a garage sale was used to make a head
band using beaded trim. This dress was worn for a performance
at Maple Hill Mall in Kalamazoo, Michigan. An elderly gentleman
friend of mine was retired from Gibson Guitar and had a studio
in his home. He recorded music using his guitars and an organ.
At the performances we did he played his steel guitar and
used the recorded music for the accompaniment music.
A neighbor was given a size 48 mens's 3 piece suit. He did not
have funds to have it altered which most seamstresses would
not have tackled but I did. He had been out of work for over
6 months. I resized the jacket, the slacks and the vest down
to a size 42 and charged him $5.00 to save his pride.
The music: "Manuela" recorded and sequenced by Kalani Nishimura