Above, Jolene Morales, who does tailoring and alterations at Golden Coin Laundry & Dry Cleaning, in addition to sewing custom bathing suits.
Threads of the Batavia community are sewn into the eye-catching swimsuits flaunted on numerous fashion show stages.
The careful hand of Jolene Morales stitches custom swimwear items for models to wear at events as large as the Buffalo Fashion Show, Fashion Week of Rochester and Miami Swim Week.
For about two years, Morales has been a tailor for Golden Coin Laundry & Dry Cleaning in Batavia and a Batavia-based company called Blue Coral Swimwear. Her love of sewing, however, began when she was 10 years old.
“I’ve been doing this so long that this is what I’ve always done," Morales said. "This is my passion. When I’m not here, then I’m sewing at home.”
Prior to running the tailoring and alterations department at Golden Coin, Morales sewed for PetSmart in Brockport, the P.W. Minor shoe manufacturer in Batavia and a wallet retailer in Nashville, Tenn. Morales has learned how to sew professionally through her work experiences, trial and error and collaborations with designers.
Morales joined Blue Coral Swimwear during her first year at Golden Coin because Callista Gifford-DeHart, the daughter of Golden Coin owner Margaret Gifford, is the founder and designer for Blue Coral. Gifford-DeHart started the company in 2014 in Delray Beach, Fla., and launched her first line the following year.
Once clients, models and pageant contestants order their personalized swimsuits online, Gifford-DeHart sketches a look and sends the designs to Batavia. Morales then properly sizes the material, delicately cuts the fabric and sews the pieces together. After the labor-intensive two-week process, Gifford ships the finished products to customers nationwide.
“Between doing the bathing suits for [Blue Coral], I also do the regular tailoring," Morales said. "Right now, it’s wedding and prom season, so at one time I had six wedding gowns and five prom dresses."
“When I’m working on the bathing suits, it has to be one-on-one with just them because of the type of material it is. It’s not like working with normal material. It is very slippery, and it’s very high quality.”
The precision and detail of Morales’s tailoring do not go unnoticed. The outfits have received positive feedback from women of all body shapes who express their confidence and body positivity in the swimwear. Customers report “how much they love them, and how comfortable they are,” Gifford said.
Blue Coral launched in 2015 and expects demand for its swimwear to increase, which may lead to an expansion of the sewing department at Golden Coin. Since tailoring is becoming a lost art in Genesee County, Morales thinks it’s worthwhile to educate her children and other students about sewing and alterations.
A key to Morales’s success is that Blue Coral and its customers prefer hand-stitched products to mass-produced, factory manufactured swimwear.
The need for local expertise is the reason Morales is currently tailoring outfits for the 2020 season with the latest materials and threads. She is excited for her new pieces to debut at the Washington, D.C., Swim Week Fashion Show in late July.
To find out more about Blue Coral Swimwear and to shop, click here.
Below, an example of a custom-made swimsuit fashioned by master seamstress Julie Morales by Blue Coral Swimwear.