Patrice Mason has been sewing all of her life. She cannot remember a time in her life when she wasn’t creating something with a piece of thread, fabric, or a pattern.
A Memphis native, Mason has lived in New Albany since 1994 and has been calling New Albany and Union County home since then. She currently works as an elementary teacher at East Union Attendance Center.
“I have been sewing all of my life. I joked with my grandmother that as soon as I was picked up from the hospital I was already sewing,” said Mason.
Mason said that she lived a block away from her grandmother and began sewing with her as a little girl. She said that at age 7 is when she remembers taking an item to sew on independently, which was a dress.
What Mason is known for in New Albany is for creating and sewing the maroon velvet homecoming dresses for New Albany Homecoming Queens as well as for homecoming maids in the past.
She has created 10 homecoming dresses total, but has created hundreds of other dresses, including homecoming maid dresses, bridesmaid dresses, pageant dresses, prom dresses, and many more outfits.
She has been creating homecoming dresses off and on since 1997 and also made 2011 New Albany Homecoming Queen McKinley Ranager’s dress.
“What’s great about making these dresses is forming bonds and friendships with these girls that I may not have ever met otherwise. Kristin Buskirk is a great example,” said Mason. “You really get to know a girl when you go through the fittings, the making of the dress, the questioning of what she wants, the parts that make the dress unique to that girl, and more. They tell me what they want and I just put it all together for them.”
All of the dresses she has created have all been unique from one another. She created a short-sleeved maroon velvet dress for homecoming one year, which was considered scandalous. She has added rhinestones, she has dyed lace, pearls, and sequins, and more to create that perfect fit for the girl in mind,
Mason has known Catherine Ann Herrington since she was in the second grade. She created Catherine Ann’s homecoming dress in 2004 and she said that she went back to older traditions with a detachable train and lace.
“I dyed three different pieces of white lace three different ways and put pearls and sequins on the dress also. I had never done a dress like that before. When Cat saw the dress, she was so happy that she was crying, Those are the moments that make doing this great,” said Mason.
Mason keeps everything that she has ever made. I grew up making my clothes, my sister’s clothes, my children’s clothes, and more and I have saved every scrap of material.
Mason and her grandmother would go to children’s fashion shows when she was little and they would go home and buy the pattern and fabric and recreate the dress or outfit. She said sometimes she will go to a store and see a dress for $100 and will buy the pattern and fabric and make it for less than $20.
She said that she prefers the old-fashioned way of hand-stitching, but sometimes does use a sewing machine.
Mason talked about working with velvet. She said, “Velvet can be very tricky to sew with. Velvet ‘walks’ and it cannot get wet. I always start out with the dress size bigger than the girl really is because you cannot hem velvet without it being shown. Most of the dresses I make for homecoming are wine or burgundy colors, but I have made maroon velvet dresses before.”
In the past, she used white velvet to make homecoming maids dresses.
“Sewing is a lot of fun and it’s a labor of love and I have met so many wonderful young women and girls throughout the years,” said Mason.
Mason believes that quilts are special because they tell a story behind every stitch and every piece of fabric. She also thinks that everyone needs to know how to sew even if it’s just the basics that are learned.