Editor’s note: This is a mini-series containing four stories leading up to the fashion show Friday in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Ballroom.
Sandra Fanning, a junior fashion design major, started sewing early in her education career at sixth grade.
But Fanning said her inspiration comes from her grandmother and her mother.
“They’ve showered me with clothes, and they’ve always had clothes,” Fanning said.
Her other inspiration is "W Magazine," a monthly fashion magazine. Fanning refers to it as her “fashion bible.”
Fanning started sewing in sixth grade when she took a class. Her teacher started telling them about upcoming projects, and Fanning became more interested with each project. After she made clothes in class, she kept going with it. Her freshman year of high school, she received her first sewing machine. Fanning took every sewing class offered at her high school. “If this is how I can make clothes, then why not learn this skill,” Fanning said.
For the fashion show, Fanning entered three garments. One is a Japanese-style kimono. She decided to make the kimono when she found satin she liked at Jo Ann Fabrics. Fanning decided to make a kimono because it would be something different. Another piece she entered is a 1950s dress she made in around four weeks for class. Fanning decided to make a dress because other students were making blouses. The final piece Fanning entered is a knit cardigan she made in her class as well. While students were making leggings, she decided to do a cardigan because it would be something easy to put on during the fall. “I just love to be creative and different,” she said.
Fanning has also made some jewelry in the past. She said she enjoys beading and making bracelets. Fanning said she finds that making jewelry is very theraputic, especially when she has headaches. She has made beaded headbands, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and paper beaded necklaces. Paper beads are ripped up paper, like from a favorite magazine, then the paper is rolled around something like a skewer, then Fanning said she dips it in wood hardener once a day for three days and then she strings them on with other beads.
Currently, Fanning is working on an 18th century-style robe in her free time, inspired by the late Grand Duchess Andrea’s mother Alexandria. Fanning said her style was iconic. She has also been studying her for a while. Fanning found a pattern for a robe from and started working. The pattern also has a pair of slippers that Fanning is currently considering making. She is also thinking about making a nightgown to complete the outfit. Fanning is using different material than what was on the original pattern; this is how Fanning is making the garment her own.
Beyond the clothes and jewelry, Fanning also makes sketches. She has been sketching since she was 3 years old. Fanning has notebooks, sketchbooks and loose pieces of papers containing all of her sketches. She said she keeps a sketchbook next to her bed; sometimes she has a dream of something she’s making or a vision of something she is working on, so she will sketch it out before she forgets when she wakes up.
Fanning did not know about the fashion show until her instructor, Valerie Birk, mentioned it to her. Birk had also mentioned how the skill level did not matter. Then Fanning decided to enter in her pieces, as well as model the 1950s dress she entered — something she is nervous but excited for. “It’s like a dream come true, because I’ve always wanted to enter something I’ve made into a fashion show, I just never had the opportunity,” Fanning said.