What Dresses for Graduation
Tracie Setzer learned to sew heirloom garments by hand when she was only 15 years old. It wasn’t until she became a mother that she started sewing them on the sewing machine, mainly for her own children or close family and friends.
Tracie was offered a job at Beth's Heirloom Sewing when it opened in 2005, which is where she’s gained most of her experience. In 2009, she was asked to make her first heirloom graduation dress. “I was really nervous about that, but I had a lot of help from Mrs. Beth who was also making a dress at the time for her niece,” Tracie said. Together the two made their first graduation dress and have continued making them ever since. The mother of two has made 34 dresses since the 2010 graduation class and continues adding more each year. “It’s truly a joy to get to know the senior girls and their moms each year,” the seamstress said. “It continues to be a blessing.”
The Making of an Heirloom
Girls begin contacting Tracie about making their graduation dresses up to a year in advance. “The sooner the better to ensure a spot is held for you,” she said. The mother of two typically has at least three or four dresses going at a time, which helps her work around the girls’ schedules. Each dress takes at least a month to sew, fit and deliver, assuming the girls are available for approximately three fittings and that everything goes smoothly.
At the first meeting, girls bring in pictures of past dresses they like, or the seamstress sketches a dress according to what they have in mind. “We take parts and pieces of dresses they like and design a dress that ‘fits’ the individual girl,” she said. The dresses have similar components, but each is made specifically to complement the girl wearing it. “You just know that it’s the right dress for her.”
And as for Tracie’s 10-year-old daughter? She already knows exactly what her graduation dress will look like. But we’ll have to wait a few years to see!