Sunday, November 28, 2010

Special Occasions Fashion Kit

When your aspiring fashion designer has lost interest in paper dolls and flimsy tissue paper gowns and has begun to tack together swatches of fabric and drape them over dolls, its time to introduce them to the next step in dressmaking and design. Special Occasion Fashions by Creativity for Kids is a kit with everything needed to design beautiful dresses and outfits. Gorgeously packaged it includes a soft dress mannequin specifically designed for pins to be stuck in , a satin starter dress, yards of pastel fabric, a variety of trims, good quality tape measure, thimble, sharp fabric scissors, sketch book, sketching pencils, fabric swatches and satin pincushion. To add that special pizzazz, the kit also includes sparkle fabric paint, two tiny tiaras and veil accessories.
This kit is an upgraded version of the original, specifically for young designers to allow their imaginations go wild on bridal and prom gowns.
The first thing you will notice is the high quality of each of the inclusions. Lace, satin and embellishments are supurb. The scissors are sharp and pins of seamstress quality .
The mannequin is a touch of genius as an inclusion with the kit.  Styled like the old fashioned Victorian dress dummies, the body is a stiff but very squishy foam; making sticking pins into very easy. This is perfect when draping the fabrics or attempting to fix a trim or neckline.
Another brilliant inclusion for the kit is that it comes with a simple satin dress, already assembled and ready to embellish.  I would highly recommend this as a starting point in testing trims and colours and point of discussion and observation.
The sketch book has high quality paper included, with each page displaying a style of dress the young designer can alter lines, colours and embellishments with.
Despite the kit including a very pretty pink bag to keep everything together and organized, a small compartmentalised two tiered box might have been a better choice for practicality and as part of training toward the next step as a designer. The bag simply lumps everything together, allowing threads and yarns to tangle and fabric to crumple.
The age range suggests that it is suitable for ages 9 and upward.  The ability to stitch and sew has long been lost in most young people.  Whilst this kit might have had a high appeal and practicality 20 years ago, the skill sets of a normal tweenager is vastly different now.
Older tweenagers may be more likely to have the dexterity, fine motor control and skills to cut and sew tiny dresses, but most would not have the interest or inclination to pursue this. A 9 or 10 year old will require heavily support, in order to successfully produce a gown.
Although the size of the dress would certainly fit a “Barbie” sized doll, techniques in finishing a dress are fiddly and time consuming.  Unless the child has a real passion for finishing projects and for high detail, I believe many will give up in frustration.
The instructions on Special Occasions Fashions state the intention for the kit is for children to design the gowns with the included fabrics and embellishments in mind; rather than to get hung up about the production of the dress itself. Although the instructions are clear and it gives good examples of starting points, I have my doubts that the skills involved in the production of even a simple dress would be abundant within most communities. However, all of this can be avoided if this kit is used in a learning environment where the mentor and young designer take small steps, chunk  time and effort and plan each project dress.  The kit has a lot going for it; good quality sewing supplies, attractive fabric and trimmings and a mannequin which allows the designer to pin and drape fabric directly onto the body. Certainly, it would be a perfect gift for a child whose interests in this area are already piqued and they need a push to develop the skills towards dressmaking and design.
For more information on Special Occasions Fashions and Creativity for Kids  check out their facebook page or website.
Annie would  like to thank Creativity for Kids for the opportunity they gave her family to play with their wonderful product. 

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