Noemi Mendez, a 15-year-old girl from Cherry Valley, came across a crocheting video on YouTube one day and thought: “Oh, this looks interesting. Maybe I could try and do it.”
What began as a simple hobby soon gave her the idea to challenge herself and make something for an incredibly special day: a dress for her quinceañera.
“I wanted to test my limits, see how far I could go with crocheting,” Mendez said.
A quinceañera is a tradition in the Hispanic and Latino communities, celebrating the girl's 15th birthday as a rite of passage into womanhood.
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Aside from planning things like the date, invitations, food and dances, one of the biggest and most important aspects of a quinceañera is the dress.
Mendez’s mother, Daisy Hernandez, says she encouraged her daughter to make her own dress because she knew how creative and talented she is.
“Just go for it, try to make it, and if for some reason it doesn’t work out at the end, we can always look into buying one,” Hernandez said to her daughter.
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It took Mendez four long months of hard work to complete her dress.
“She goes from school, and then she would come home, and then maybe do some homework, and then go straight to crocheting, and then back to homework,” Hernandez said.
The dress was a complete surprise to her family who showed up at her quinceañera.
Though some of her close family members had heard of the idea, no one knew what the dress would look like until the day of.
“They were surprised. They were really proud, and just stunned to believe that I made it by my hands,” Mendez said.
Hernandez says her daughter is a very giving person, and originally suggested making her own dress to try and help lower the cost of the quinceañera.
“It was just really sweet of her to even think of that as well,” Hernandez said.
Mendez says that aside from her quinceanera dress, another one of her creations she’s been most proud of was a sock monkey she made.
“I’m thinking of crocheting a cardigan next, or in the future I might do my prom dress,” Mendez said.
Since she was a little girl, her mother says she’s always been creative.
“I’ve always told her she’s gonna be an entrepreneur. We’ll see what the future has for her, or what she has in store for all of us," her mother said.