My Son The Dressmaker

One of the things that I remember most about my maternal grandmother is that she loved to sew.  And, she was damn good at it.   Like, she could whip up a prom dress if you needed one at the last minute and she made more quilts than our family knew what to do with.  You only need so many blankets when you live in Southern California.

As a child, I remember playing with her rainbow-colored, plastic-headed pins and produce-inspired pincushion.  I’d imagine that they were tiny gum balls clinging to a giant red tomato with a strawberry repelling down the side to safety.

My grandmother would have let me help with the actual sewing, but it just wasn’t my thing.  Her talents, creativity and never-ending patience were lost on me; but C.J. would have loved her.

My mother, Nana Grab Bags, loves to sew and her and C.J. have been spending a lot of time in her sewing room lately.  They started out using fabric glue and Stitch Witchery on their creations.  Now, they have moved on to C.J. draping fabric on himself and Nana Grab Bags pinning it.  Then, she carefully removes it and sews it just the way it had been pinned.  My son cries as if he’s been assaulted when he gets a small splinter or scrapes his knee playing outside, but if he gets poked or scratched by pins while draping and sewing he doesn’t bat an eye.  Instead, he tells me that it’s okay.

My mother offers her style suggestions and they discuss design.  But, ultimately, it’s C.J. decision and Nana Grab Bags gladly obliges.

C.J. recently designed his own dress.  Brace yourself, because it’s a lot to take in.  All fabric, accouterments and placement were C.J.’s decision.

Some of the fabric C.J. selected because "it's shiny and sassy and drapey."  Clearly.

Some of the fabric C.J. selected because “it’s shiny and sassy and drapey.” Clearly.

This ribbon reminded C.J. of fairies and fairy tales and Barbie.

This ribbon reminded C.J. of fairies and fairy tales and Barbie.

These fabric rosettes are super sassy fancy flowers according to C.J.

These fabric rosettes are super sassy fancy flowers according to C.J.

He picked this iron-on patch because it reminded him of Monster High.

He picked this iron-on patch because it reminded him of Monster High.

C.J. and Nana started with  Mock Smock fabric that comes smocked at the top and pre-finished at the top and bottom.  C.J. paired it with pink glitter spandex leggings.

C.J. and Nana started with Mock Smock fabric that comes smocked at the top and pre-finished at the top and bottom. C.J. paired it with pink glitter spandex leggings.

Draping the fabric and pinning the flower and fringe.

Draping the fabric and pinning the flower and fringe.

Nana pinning the back per  his instructions.

Nana pinning the back per his instructions.

Making decisions.

Making decisions.

Nana tied the back so that it would be no-sew.

Nana tied the back so that it would be no-sew.



Working it.

Strike a pose. Vogue.

All smiles.

All smiles.

About raisingmyrainbow is a blog about the adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative son.
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65 Responses to My Son The Dressmaker

  1. Lori says:

    CJ has a fantastic eye for pairing fabrics, if this is representational of any other sewing projects. Love to you and yours ❤

  2. zombiepug13 says:

    That dress is AWESOME! Great job CJ!!!!!!!!!!

  3. OMG! Mock Smock?!!?! You mean I don’t have to learn how to sew in order for my son to make his own fancy dresses?!?! *running to Google to look this thing up, STAT!*

    • Mel says:

      It’s seriously awesome, you don’t even need to hem it, if it’s already the length you want, just sew it down the back and away you go. (even comes in maxi-dress lengths)

  4. owenblacker says:

    Doesn’t he look beautiful in it, too. And, while I totally understand why you don’t keep CJ’s face in the photos, it’s lovely to see that you didn’t crop out his smile in the last photo. *GRIN*

    Part of me does wish I’d been that creative, when I was his age. Great work! :o)

  5. jungalero1101 says:

    That pose photo is FIERCE. Love the one sleeve too.

    You and your family are truly my heroes.

  6. Harry says:

    I think I may die of adorable-ness overload! He has a talent. Versace, eat your heart out! Xx

  7. How adorable. My mom has the same pincushion. XD When I was younger she would hem, patch up, or take down anything. She never made me any clothes, but I remember her making some pieces for my dolls. I wish I had that kind of skill.

  8. Carla says:

    So glad he has a Grandma who is letting him explore his passions! My mom sewed for me and I never made maxidresses but did hippie jeans, embroidery, jeans purses, scarves, etc. Even with basic skills you can go so much! I see Project Runway in his future! He is so happy !

  9. Mel says:

    He has amazing taste!

  10. Heather says:

    Amazing. I love it too!

  11. While I agree that it’s a lot to take in, I think that it’s awesome that he gets to express himself like this! What fabulous support he has!!!

  12. Joanel Wilcox says:

    Can i buy it in a larger size????? just kidding. but id buy it

  13. Quite a fashion career is ahead of him, I think. This dress would sell!

  14. This really is fabulous! I love it! So happy to see families supporting their children’s love and creativity.

  15. Brady says:

    That boy will be a force in the fashion world by the time he hits high school.. mark my words.

  16. Ellen says:

    Fabulous!! He is going to be quite the designer when he is an adult! Can’t wait to see his designs then because this one is amazing!!

  17. Lyssapants says:

    WOW! Fashion design school, here we come!

  18. Vic Anne says:

    That is such a fabulous dress! LOVE IT!!!!

    • Amy says:

      Can I order one of those? lol I wish I had the guts to be myself 30 years earlier than I did but at least I did 🙂

  19. MM says:

    Oh! thank you for the pictures. Yes, a lot to take in. With support and nurturing like this, CJ’s talents will have a chance to flourish. So awesome, as everyone has said. I hope Nana will be around for continuing experiments and projects. I can see him making clothes and giving fashion advice as a teen. He seems to really have an interest.
    It appears the black edging was added but dropped from the final arrangement.
    I enjoy the comments from CJ on the materials he chose. I’m sure I would also enjoy his commentary about the finished dress. I can’t tell quite what is happening in the pictures of the back, with the one sleeve.

  20. Mallory says:

    So fun! I love his creation!

    My boyfriend has recently taken up sewing and gotten REALLY into it too. So far he’s making dresses for me, shirts & vests for himself, and wants to get to the point of sewing himself suits. It’s a really valuable skill to have though – there’s so much more awesome stuff you can make yourself than can be found at the store!

  21. whawhawhatsis says:

    Not only is Nana Grab Bags fantastic, but C.J.’s designing sense is already beyond fantastic! And such a happy smile — after all the sadness this week, it’s so good to see such a happy child doing what he loves with his Nana!

  22. Heather says:

    He’s fabulous. And obviously, going to be a star.

  23. AMM says:

    Sewing is so much easier — and more fun — when you’re doing it with someone else.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who does any sewing, let alone is interested in designing (draping) stuff. I’ve been sewing my own skirts and dresses, and draping and hemming are a lot harder when you only have the mirror to help you. (I don’t use commercial patterns because they’re all for woman-shaped people.)

    I wonder if there’s some sort of web site to match up people who want to sew together?

    • MM says:

      AMM – I hope you can find or start some shared sewing. I expect there are others who would enjoy that. Are you near enough a big city to have a GLBT center? Could be a good place to find others, maybe even a good place to meet for sewing.
      I am thinking of a guy I see who has the MOST beautiful layered dress he wears to dances.

      • AMM says:

        Northern suburbs of NYC. There’s a LGBTQ center about 10 miles away, I’m not sure I’d want to shlepp into NYC.

        Speaking of “dances”, contra dances & festivals with contra dances are the main places I see men in skirts (and where I wear my fanciest ones), and the men in question are mostly not LGBTQ at all, other than their non-standard dress.

        I’m almost tempted to ask at my local (non-chain) fabric store. They’ve seen me in skirts often enough, and they know I sew them, so they aren’t likely to be weirded out by the idea. And they at least deal with many of the local sewing enthusiasts.

        BTW, I want to congratulate CJ on his approach to fashion. If you’re going to dress fancy, do it like you mean it! I see so many commercially marketed outfits that start with something interesting, but then wimp out and smother it in dull conformity.

      • MM says:

        (this reply goes o he NEXT comment. Software is acting oddly and won’t let m place this where I want.)
        Yes, contra dances indeed. Men in skirts, and big full skirts at that. Contra lends itself to them. The dress I was thinking of was indeed at a contra dance. It’s owner has a male partner (so is GB I presume).

  24. Cdraper says:

    Nana Grab Bags is awesome and amazing… It looks that she and CJ had a tremendous bonding time together that he for sure will remember for the rest of his life. With a family foundation like CJ’s … He will stand firm thru the trials and tribulations that come along with child and adulthood! Thanks for sharing! Hug Nana Grab Bags for us all!

  25. Nyssa23 says:

    So cute! Glad you & Nana are encouraging C.J.’s talent! I wish I knew how to sew better!

  26. I LOVED this story – such a beautiful creation! I do believe CJ may have found his future. Project Runway, here comes CJ! I have a huge smile on my face. Many thanks to you, CJ and Nana Grab Bags!

  27. That made me smile so big. I love that you are allowing CJ to chart his own course while simultaneously nurturing creative expression. In all seriousness, he could end up on Project Runway!

  28. doubleinvert says:

    Being a child of the 1980s, I really like the things CJ designed. They look like something I’d’ve worn had I been the girl I was supposed to be back then.


  29. Pingback: Reblogging: [Her] Son The Dressmaker | doubleinvert

  30. doubleinvert says:

    Nana Grab Bags, CJ, and you are awesome!


    • SJ says:

      I’m so happy that CJ has his grandma!! I still miss mine and she died 40+ years ago. She taught me to knit which I still do today, among several other crafts. I can’t wait for CJ’s designer line of clothing. He is fabulous.

  31. serenityh says:

    So cute! I love it!

  32. Susan Mock says:

    I wish I had his fashion sense-I am so jealous. You are doing a wonderful job!

  33. Leen3611 says:

    What a fantastic Nana!!!! They make a great pair. Thanks for sharing!!

  34. Matt O'Neill says:

    As they say in the drag world : “You betta Werq!”

  35. Echo what Lyn said. My mother’s sewing talents were lost on me as well, but my daughter appreciated them. I am simply in awe of your mother’s capacity to support CJ at this level. Would that we all had been raised with such widespread love and support of who we were/are! What a finer place the world would be now!

  36. He looks pretty fabulous! Could be a future in that for the young one.

  37. Nichole says:

    I’m trying to teach myself how to sew and I dream of having kids and letting them create whatever they want. What a great bonding experience!

  38. George says:

    Wow, that’s really something, and not bad! I’ve seen crazier things on red carpets. Some nice lines there, and love the one sleeve!
    Thanks so much for including that wonderful smile in the last photo! Made my day.

  39. Lyn~ says:

    How fabulous for CJ and THE WORLD….. ALL children ought to be able to be so encouraged in whatever brings them BLISS ~ this is how to raise a Happy Confident secure human being who will be able to realize their full potential in Life! Kudos, Mom, Nana Grabs, and of course the AMAZINGLY talented CJ!!!!

  40. Dan Woog says:

    Big props for Grandma! She is as awesome as the rest of the family!

  41. Katie Louise says:

    Hey, maybe he’ll become the next big fashion designer? Who knows! He’s certainly got an eye for it aha!

  42. Ziya Tamesis says:

    That is beyond awesome! Can CJ help me design clothes? 😀

  43. pepibebe says:

    Yay for his super cool (and most likely sassy) Nana! By the way, I have the exact pin-cushion you described 🙂

  44. 'Angela' (John) says:

    I so admire you for letting CJ’s mind and spirit roam without restrictions.

    You’ve given CJ the start that EVERY child should be given.

  45. Fabulous!! I highly recommend the site there are l8ads of eboojs CJ might enjoy if he wants to learn to sew or help his nana make some clothes for him.

  46. jerbearinsantafe says:

    Fabulous! I should alert Tim Gunn that fashion’ s future is secure.

  47. Lance says:

    I always liked the sassier things in life too! 🙂

  48. The fabric is all SoCal, but the LINES….Zey are FRENCH!

  49. Rebecca says:

    Your son is just so cool

  50. ChrisCQC says:

    You know, I’m just glad CJ has you for a parent. I just am.

  51. - says:

    As someone who grew up a designer, (of things more mechanical, I’m now an architect) it’s so fantastic for CJ to be able to explore his passion like this!

  52. That smile says it all! I think we have the next fashion designer for the stars here. 🙂

  53. r313jenn says:

    Love it! Wish mine wanted to learn to sew, but he silk screens tee shirts.

  54. Deborah Carpenter says:

    I see a bright future for CJ in fashion design. The prints are a little bit clash-y but so much fun.

    *****Proud aunt of an absolutely fabulous FTM transgender nephew.*****

  55. Denise says:

    I see a future project runway winner there.

  56. NotoriousDSG says:

    He looks like the happiest kid of ALL TIME!! Congratulations, as a Mom, on a job well done!!!

  57. Harriet says:

    LOVE IT!!!

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