Lifestyle & Human Interest

Teen Becomes Disney Princess After Sewing and Painting Her Own Dress for Graduation Ball


You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Perhaps you’ve heard a parent mutter it under their breath, and if you’ve spent any time on this planet, the sentiment is probably quite familiar to you on a personal level.

In general, if you have a vision, you should be the one to execute it. You can learn the skills you need to bring your imagination to life, but trying to impart your dream to someone else is close to a fool’s errand.

Ciara Gan is a 17-year-old from the Philippines who had a vivid vision. She could see, in her mind’s eye, exactly what she wanted her graduation dress to be like: sleeveless, dark teal and illuminated with bursts of orange in the form of lilies.

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The teal, white and orange color scheme was unique, and the embellishments she had thought up would make her dress truly one of a kind.

To bring this project to life, Ciara and her mom did what any sensible person would do: They went to the experts.

Do you know how to make your own clothes?

Sparing no expense, the mother and daughter provided the seamstress with all the materials necessary, including the expensive Swarovski crystals — but the dress that resulted was a disaster.

Undaunted, the duo decided to take matters into their own hands. This time, the result was stunning.

“My mom and I … sewed each panel of the skirt one-by-one (there are about 12-13 I think!),” Gan told WTTG. “It took me about a whole month to make the whole thing (conceptualizing and drafting). For the painting, it took five days.”

“I really wanted my dress to reflect my personality, thus the lilies and bright colors,” she said. “My dress tells a very personal story about the things I hold close to my heart — lilies, the color green, painting, and creating new things.”

Her classmates were duly impressed with her handiwork, and it wasn’t long before photos of the dress and its maker were circulating online. Ciara quickly developed a fan base and even started getting commission requests — which is great, because she’s trying to save up for college.

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Some people even commented that she looked like a Disney princess, and Ayim Lee wrote, “hey @DisneyStudios, you got new story for a new princess. The Painter Princess ?.”

“I started getting messages about commissions to make art for people,” Ciara told CNN Philippines. “It warmed my heart because I love it when people ask me to make art for them. So it really makes me really happy.”

Her skills shouldn’t surprise anyone, as her family is naturally gifted in the arts. Perhaps because of — or maybe despite — that, Ciara isn’t looking for a career in the arts, but she does plan to keep art a main part of her life.

“I actually want to develop more skills … that’s why I’m taking up a science-related course instead,” she said. “I want to be able to hone my skills in the arts, but learn something totally different along the way!”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking