Tailors Keep Busy This Prom season

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Jessica Roth, 18, Fishers, a senior at Fishers High School, tries on her prom dress in front of the mirror for Village Tailors owner and seamstress Ana Shull after having the dress hemmed for Fishers prom, which was May 7 at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the same location where Noblesville High School prom is tonight.

It’s the first prom season since the pandemic that Ana Shull has been busy with prom dress alterations.

There were no proms in 2020, there were proms with lots of Covid guidelines and rules in 2021, so a lot of kids didn’t go to prom.

“But this year, the proms are on,” said Shull, who’s been busy “hemming dresses, shortening straps and taking in waists” on dresses in all colors.

With Noblesville High School’s Jr.-Sr. Prom tonight at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the “red carpet dresses” are coming out.

“I’m just happy that the kids get to go to prom,” said Shull, of Noblesville, as she kept working, sewing on a brown prom dress on one of two Bernina sewing machines at Village Tailors, a shop that’s been in her family since 1986, duly noted on a sign in the front room.

So what’s popular in the red-carpet dresses this year? “Sequins, long, slits,” are among the characteristics of this year’s prom dresses, she said. “Some are very full. Some are very form-fitting. Lots of colors.”

And shoes? “Some just wear Converse,” Shull said. “Some of them wear 3-inch heels. It’s all different what they wear.”

Dresses range from new off the racks, to thrift stores, borrowed or handed down from friends or family. Some are free. Anything goes.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Village Tailors owner and seamstress Ana Shull sews a prom dress for one of the local proms. Noblesville High School prom is tonight at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

Shull said besides prom dresses, she’s also been getting more guys’ dress suits, with lighter colors the most popular, mostly new, for alterations work.

During prom season, she stays later than store hours. “We gotta get done what we said we’d get done,” said Shull, who works alongside longtime seamstress Tina Beaver of Cicero, who has been an employee at Village Tailors since 1994.

“I just did one today that’s all beaded and sequined and weighs a ton, and they needed it hemmed,” Shull said. “But you couldn’t cut it because the beads were all sewn on individually, so if you did, the beads would just all fall off. We folded it up and hand-stitched it around, so then afterward she could just take it out and resell it. Normally, we would sew them and cut them.”

After each alteration, they press out what they work on. But they don’t press the entire dress. “We direct all of that to Bolden’s (Cleaners on Eighth Street),” Shull said.

(The Times photo by Betsy Reason)
Village Tailors owner and seamstress Ana Schull (left) of Noblesville and seamstress Tina Beaver of Cicero look through prom dresses in an array of colors for this year’s local proms. Noblesville High School prom is tonight at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

They sifted through the array of prom dresses in various colors during my May 6 visit just before the May 6 Fishers High School prom, which also took place at the Children’s Museum.

The seamstresses have also done prom-dress alterations for Hamilton Heights, Westfield, Elwood, Guerin, Tipton and Sheridan proms.

“Noblesville’s our big one though,” Shull said.

Village Tailors is a more than 35-year-old clothing alterations service in Noblesville. Shull has owned the business since 2008. Her mom, Maria Whiteman started the business in 1986.

“It’s always been in Hamilton County. First, it was over by Lions Creek Apartments. Then Carmel. Then we’ve been in this location 22 years,” Shull said of her alterations shop at 1110 S. Ninth St., located on the back side of Ginger’s Cafe and the Dollar General buildings and accessible on Ninth Street, just south of Prevail and across the street from Bailey’s Barbershop.

She doesn’t do same-day dresses, but sometimes she can turn around alterations for the next day.

Shull enjoys seeing and working on the variety of dresses. “It’s fun seeing the girls come in, trying the dresses on, how excited they are. We always have one dress, we’ll say ‘this is my favorite.’”

Village Tailors used to be open six days a week. But during the pandemic, the shop went to fewer hours, and Shull enjoyed it. Now, the shop is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, just 18 hours a week, and by appointment, closed Sunday-Tuesday. “I’m kind of liking the shorter hours,” she said.

“There’s obviously more going on now than there was in 2021,” Shull said. “If there’s nothing going on, people aren’t needing clothes altered. They’re sitting around at home in their yoga pants. Obviously now there are more weddings and proms going on.”

She loves her job because, she said, “You do something different everyday.”

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