How to make a 14 year old girl very, very happy

(Well, at least MY 14 year old girl. I can’t vouch for yours.)

1. Encourage her to begin living out her “I want to be a fashion designer when I grow up” dream a little early by designing her own junior high grad dress.

2. Offer to sew it with her.

3. Don’t change your mind, even when she shows you a sketch of a dress with about a thousand individual petals on the skirt.

4. Encourage her to make bigger petals that will have less chance of leaving your hands irreversibly crippled and your shoulders permanently hunched.

5. Take her shopping for fabric and STILL don’t change your mind even when she picks satin (every sewer’s worst nightmare).

6. Spend endless hours cutting, stitching, ironing, cutting, stitching, ironing… about a hundred petals.

7. Take her shopping again for the accent around the waist and STILL don’t change your mind even when she chooses glitter that you have to stitch in place.

 8. Spend a few more endless hours stitching, seam-ripping, cursing, stitching, seam-ripping, cursing the blasted zipper that just won’t go in properly, especially by the sequined waistband.

9. Rue the day you thought an invisible zipper was a wise choice.

10. Finally emerge victorious having conquered the myriad of enemies that took the seemingly innocuous shapes of pink satin, flower petals, silver sequins, “boning” (to keep the top rigid), and an invisible zipper.

11. Dance around the living room with her when she puts it on and both she and the dress look stunning!

12. Take her shopping again and let her pick her shoes.

13. Cringe a little, but smile and pay the bill when she picks the most impossibly high-heeled shoes this side of Sex and the City. Brace yourself (and her) for her father’s less-than-pleased reaction. Justify the purchase by saying “at least it’s only shoes she’s obsessed with and not drugs!”

14. Buy her some fancy jewellery as a surprise, just because you can’t resist helping her complete the picture. (And admit to yourself that this has been more fun for you than you expected.)

15. Keep your promise not to share any photos of The Dress online until after she’s had the Big Reveal to her friends at grad, even though you’re bursting with pride and desperately want to show off all over Twitter, Facebook, and maybe even some random street corner.

16. Consider googling “fashion design competitions for teenagers” because you’re convinced your daughter would SMOKE the competition.

17. Beam with pride all evening at the grad dinner and then the next morning at the school ceremony as you watch her postively glowing when her friends, teachers, friends’ parents, and maybe a few random people on the street ooh and aah over her dress.

24 responses to “How to make a 14 year old girl very, very happy”

  1. Amna

    You’re a good Mom. And she does look very happy! :)

  2. Trenda

    Oh, this is such a lovely story! Your daughter is a talented designer! And you are an amazing seamstress and a gorgeous Mom! My daughter dreams of being a designer too. :-)


  3. Mari

    She looks so happy! Love the dress. What a wonderful experience for both of you.

  4. Average Girl

    Wow! Very impressive! (This, coming from a woman who makes Halloween costumes with duct tape and staples.) A nice memory for all, I’m sure.

  5. dara mckinley

    Hi my name is Dara. Hiro Boga just tweeted this awesome post that truly beams. Thanks for leading the way for how to connect with and support our teenagers girls (though I have 10 years to go!)

    And yes, beautiful dress!


  6. Susan

    Ok I’ll admit it. I’m a little envious.

  7. katytaylor

    she is beautiful! and wow, Heather, as a fellow seamstres who has sewn a fancy ball dress on satin, you did A LOT of work! i know it was a labor of love, but it was a lot of labor! congrats for sticking with it and giving her (and yourself) such a fabulous experience!

  8. Kim

    Wow. Amazing. What a great, great job you did together. How patient you are! My hat is off to you! Yup, sometimes we have to listen and step in line. Recognizing when to do that is good parenting. I like number 13 justification – yes, at least it’s not drugs (or booze or any other chemical addiction). This is a healthy expression of self-hood. Congratulations Mom!

  9. Michelle

    My smile started at the first sentence and by the end I was positively BEAMING!!
    What a wonderful example you are of what being a Mom is all about. Discovering their passions, encouraging them, coaxing out the details and allow their visions whatever they may be, to come to fruition, right before their eyes!
    Congratulations to you both on a beautiful achievement.
    This was a success on so many levels!

  10. Anvilcloud

    You’re a good Mom. Eh?

  11. Kelly

    you are such a good mom, this is something she will not only remember for her entire life, it’s the kind of thing that contributes to who she is and who she can become

  12. leah creates

    Heather, you are so SUPER TALENTED! And what a great mom! Your girl and her dress are both GORGEOUS!!!

  13. darrah

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

    Will you be my mom?

    Lucky for me, my own mom encouraged my creativity and sassy style sense. I can tell you from experience, it was never taken for granted.

  14. emdsylvia

    She is definitely a talented designer already! What a wonderful thing for you two to do. The dress is beautiful and she’s lovely in it.

    This just makes me want to learn to sew so I can spend time “stitching, seam-ripping, cursing, stitching, seam-ripping, cursing” lol!

    There are a lot of petals. They are beautiful. But yes, lots of work.

  15. ccap

    The petals are just delightful. Pink, just like her mom’s grad dress. 😉

  16. Barbara Winter

    After sweating through the sewing process with you, I couldn’t wait to see what the end result would be. Now I understand the gnashing of teeth, but the end result justifies the challenge. Right? She looks downright lovely.

  17. mmichele

    Thankfully, even with a petals, a mini skirt was chosen, and not a full length ball gown.

    The dress is FABULOUS.

  18. leel

    look at her sweet face. what a gift you have given her: time together, a feeling of accomplishment, an investment and belief in her creative future and ideas. wow. good one mom!!

    and her dress choices, pretty amazing all together!! she has some talent, for sure!
    she should watch every back episode of the 7 seasons of project runway (online!). it would so inspire her :)

  19. Square-Peg Karen

    Ohsweetpickles (I’m using nice language – coz a younger person is involved) – Heather!!! Wow and wow and wow!!

    I’ve sewn elaborate costumes for competitive skaters and wedding dress type formal wear and kids’ costumes and any/everything in between and I have NEVER attempted scallops — holy hannah! I am very, very impressed.

    And what a gorgeous young lady – with uber talent for design! Yea Heather and fam!!!! (I’m so jealous of the shoes – i’d fall down in shoes like that, but i WISH i could wear them)

  20. Dovelily

    Your daughter looks simply divine and soooo very happy! Congratulations to you both on a beautiful collaboration as designer/seamstress! I’m sure she will look back with joy on this and remember that you were her biggest cheerleader and supporter of her dreams. What beautiful memories you have made together!

  21. judy

    So beautiful!

    The post, you, the dress, your daughter…

  22. Linda


  23. Paul

    That’s okay.

  24. Paul

    I would love for that 14 year old girl to stick her fingers up my ass.

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