|Recent Highlands Grad Madeline Anderson designed and sewed her own prom dresses.|
Madeline Anderson's first introduction to sewing was with her grandmother, Cindy Anderson. The duo would spend afternoons together making clothes for Madeline's American Girl doll. "It was mostly her sewing and me watching," Madeline Anderson says, laughing. Fast forward 10 years. Anderson is a talented seamstress at Alterations by Frances and Polished Pearl. She was appointed lead designer within the theatre department her sophomore year at Highlands, a title she also held her junior and senior years. She designed and made all her homecoming and prom dresses (they're gorgeous). She's considering taking her sewing machine to The Ohio State University, where she'll be taking classes as a freshman this fall, and running an alterations business out of her dorm room. One can only imagine her future success.
Anderson was born near Dayton, Ohio, and one year later her family moved to Chicago. It was during trips back to Ohio that Anderson and her grandmother made doll clothes. When she was about 11 years old, Anderson inherited a sewing machine from her great grandmother. Anderson played with it a bit, but it was old and often jammed.
January 2011 the Anderson family moved to Fort Thomas. Anderson visited her grandmother more often, helping more than watching. She was 14 years old when she made her first dress. It took 10 hours of independent work, with counsel from her grandmother. "That was the inciting incident," Anderson says. She began making many small things on her own.
Once Anderson was appointed Highlands Theatre's lead designer, she learned how to budget, shop for costumes, alter costumes and make from scratch what was necessary. The Crucible, Highlands Theatre's November 2012 play was her favorite—lots of long, period dresses and lots of opportunity to make versus alter. After her appointment, Anderson also got a new sewing machine.
When Anderson was 16 years old she took her sewing machine into Alterations by Frances for a repair. She told Owner Frances Hoffman about her lead designer position, and Hoffman offered Anderson a job on the spot. "I've learned so much working there," Anderson says. And Anderson's work at the shop only inspired her to sew more at home.
"Madeline is an amazingly talented young woman who has worked in my shop for much of her high school career," Hoffman says. "Not only is she wonderful with customers, but her sewing skills are excellent as well. She will tackle any project and has made T-shirt quilts, curtains, pillows and designed her own gorgeous prom dresses. I have enjoyed watching her talents develop and consider myself truly blessed to have been a small part of it."
|Homecoming and prom dresses designed and made by Madeline Anderson.|
When Anderson was 18, she learned about a trip to India to help build infrastructure for supporting rescued girls from human trafficking through her church, Crossroads. She applied to go, and was accepted. As a result of that trip Anderson was introduced to Nicole Robyn, CEO of Polished Pearl, a local business whose mission is to provide training and jobs to women in India who are victims of human trafficking. Polished Pearl receives finished beadwork and embroidery from women in India. Anderson then works with Teresa Eklund, Polished Pearl's designer, to piece together bridal belts.
In less than two weeks Anderson will move to Columbus, Ohio, where she'll attend The Ohio State University. She's currently undecided in her major, although she has interests in history, english and design. She hopes to find a major and career that will allow her to marry her artistic and humanitarian sides. On winter and summer breaks, Anderson plans to continue working at Alterations by Frances and Polished Pearl, as well as doing side jobs for family and friends.