HJ/EDMarch 13, 2006

Designer dressmaker does it all

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Joann Lind of Cokato needs to stay both confident and flexible as a seamstress.

“I just never know for sure. You don’t know what’s going to come today or tomorrow,” Lind said.

Lind has sewn and designed everything from wedding dresses to tailored suits to jeans and sweatshirts in her 45 years of sewing. “I’m really not afraid to tackle anything,” she said.

If Lind gets a sewing project she has never done before, such as a bound button style pocket, she studies the patterns until she figures out how to do it. “I wait until morning, when it’s nice and sunny, and look over the pattern. That’s how I’ve learned,” Lind said.

“When I started this, I knew nothing of smocking,” Lind said about the beaded wedding gown she made 15 years ago for her daughter, Julie Lawrence.

Lind designed it from scratch. She took ideas for the ruffles, smocking, beading and the matching hat and veil from $1,000 dresses she saw in stores. “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said.

Last summer, Lind sewed three wedding dresses at one time. It usually takes her about a week to sew one dress, though, and the people of the Dassel Cokato area have been good about allowing her a month to complete each garment, she said.

“I don’t have a whole lot of trouble getting it to fit,” Lind added.

Lind measures thoroughly. Sometimes customers will come in for measurements for alterations and don’t realize their garments need more fitting than what they’ve ordered, she said.

“It takes patience with people,” Lind said.

She doesn’t tell them outright what to do. “It turns them off,” she said.

Instead she makes suggestions or pins up the garments and ask their opinion about the fit. “It’s their thoughts as well as my own,” she said.

Lind is especially particular about the stripes in a plaid lining up precisely. “If the plaid doesn’t match, it’s not made to wear,” Lind said.

Lind allows her creativity to go in whatever direction it flows.

“I never know what I’m going to come up with for myself,” she said.

Once she shortened a leather skirt and saved the remnant of leather she had cut off. Later she saw an expensive jacket with a leather collar in a store. Lind was sure she could duplicate that jacket herself, using the leather she had saved. Lind made a suit for herself.

Lind has made or altered innumerable bridesmaid dresses over the years. She has three sewing machines to handle the volume, she said.

Lind started taking in sewing when one of her daughters was little and was often ill. Lind could stay home with her and make money at the same time. The Linds have three children, Lori, David and Julie.

First she sewed a dress for a friend. The friend told someone else about her work and soon, by “word of mouth,” she has been designing, sewing and altering ever since, she said.

“I like dressmaking type things best,” Lind said.

Lind especially enjoys altering wedding and bridesmaids gowns because she knows it is so much less expensive than store alterations, she said.

She also alters men’s clothes too.

“You treat a blazer for a man pretty much the same as for a woman,” she said.

Men usually want the inseam taken in or the pants’ legs shortened. About 30 percent of her alterations are for men, she said.

“Right now I have a pair of pants to patch,” Lind said.

Lind also has fixed blankets, shortened curtains and done other “odd” sewing projects, she said.

“The Lord provides me with what I need,” she said. Whenever she needs extra income, the extra sewing projects come, Lind said.

Lind also likes to enhance the pattern on fabric with beads on the more formal garments she makes. She told how one of the employees at the Cokato nursing home was married in Hawaii. Lind made her wedding dress from a simple pattern, but outlined the floral white-on-white pattern with beads, she said.

Lind sews decorative items too. Lind’s husband, Marlyn, died about four years ago. He had been ill in the nursing home before that. To remind him of the days when he was a milkman, she sewed a wall hanging collage for him about his days delivering milk to area residents.

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