Gosport-based weapons engineer mechanic Simon Alexander was as much at home making ball gowns as he was working for the navy.
Mr Alexander, 26, cut out designs in the HMS Dolphin wardroom and sat up all night to complete a dress.
He said: ‘I bought a simple pattern but had no idea what I was doing.
‘The finished article was useless.’
But, Mr Alexander’s perseverance paid off.
‘I got better and word of my gowns spread .’
He was introduced to Patricia Hoper who ran a ball gown hire agency at Lovedean, and he supplied her with a new dress almost every week.
Mrs Hoper said: ‘Three of his dresses were featured in the Miss Southsea final and they are always in great demand from customers.’