Sally DiMarco is an assistant professor and coordinator of the fashion design/merchandising program for Baltimore City Community College, formerly the New Community College of Baltimore. She spends most of her free time drawing fashion designs and often stays up until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. putting her ideas to work. Ms. DiMarco and her husband, environmental scientist Dr. Frank Monteferrante, along with their 3-year-old son, Paul, also spend a lot of time with their extended family and are planning a vacation to the Caymen Islands in August.
How would you describe your taste in clothing?
I think it's pretty basic and traditional, but I can go a little crazy design and make most of my clothing, working with natural-fiber materials. I am in an art field, but when I'm teaching fabrics and techniques, I like to demonstrate that to my students.
What's the newest thing in your closet?I just finished a floral-print sheer dress with shorts that coordinate to go under it to wear in the Caymen Islands.
What's the oldest thing in your closet?
I have garments that date back to the mid-1800s that I bought years ago at antique stores and I use in my costume design class. My students get a kick out of a pair of old underwear I have from the 1850s. They're like pantaloons -- like Mary Had a Little Lamb. They didn't sew the crotch seam then, so they could just squat to go to the bathroom. It was really pretty practical.
What's the most expensive thing in your closet?
I do have a mink coat, but the most expensive thing I ever made is a purple silk dress that I made to wear to a relative's wedding. The sleeves themselves cost me $250. They're made of imported french lace embroidered with ribbons and sequins. The whole dress cost me about $600 to make.
What's the least expensive thing in your closet?
A pretty white cable knit cotton sweater with a navy blue border that I got at a red-dot sale at the Hecht Company. It was $29, and I think it's Evan Picone. I made navy silk shorts and stitched a pattern of gold beads on them to match it.
Do you have any tips to share for people who'd like to make their own clothes at home?
First of all, if you can't sew you need to take a sewing class, of course. Anybody can learn how to sew. Once you can sew, you need a decent sewing machine and a decent iron. Also it's important to use better-quality fabrics. Synthetics that are often less expensive are hard to work with -- they don't behave very well. Try to use fabrics with natural fibers that have some body to them.
What advice do you have for caring for clothing?
First, keep closet door closed. Closets have doors for a reason -- the sunlight will fade fabrics. Also, plastic bags are taboo -- they'll discolor fabrics and they're especially bad for furs. Don't pack clothes into closets, either. Fabrics can get crushed and wrinkled, and if the garment is velvet or something else that can't be ironed, it's destroyed. Be careful, also, of hanging knits or heavily beaded clothing -- they can grow a size on hangers, so you're better off folding them over hangers or folding them carefully in drawers.