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More good results

7 Aug

Seattle Star Ball was lots of fun and lots of dancing.  In spite of good air con, we were dripping after each round and especially after the back to back rounds. They are really tough when they include quickstep and we definitely did not place as well when we were asked to “please stay on the floor.”  We need to remind organizers, as much as we love and appreciate their enormous amounts of work and what a nightmare scheduling must be, that we are not called “senior” dancers for nothing.

All that being said, we did manage to win Senior II Silver, and that is against youngsters of only 45 years old. YAY!

Shopping results also good. A return trip to Fabricana netted us organza for both of the next two gowns, so they can be started as soon as Candy’s is done. A good incentive for me to get moving on it ASAP. A fun little accessories store in Northgate mall had great crystal stuff on sale, so glittery head bands, earrings and bracelets found their way home with us, as well:-) Photos to follow.

Some links for you: Getting our medal from Benoit Drolet!  Yes, it was hot  but we had lots of funDanced a lot. I had fun, at least.  Yes, those are rhinestones on the lashes.  There ya go – a smile from Bill, too.

Time to just hang out

7 Jul

I’ve done a bit of experimenting with the horsehair braid and I like the results.  The photos are only so-so.  I think they look a lot better in person.

Then I wrapped the silver trim around the middle of the dress form to (I hope) prevent the body of the dress from stretching quite so much.  Turns out I like a few of the looks it created.

Ha! I just realized I did not look at the back at all.  Well, this has to be decided by Candy in the end and she may have found a silver sparkly belt that works even better.

Sewing stuff:  The underskirt and the skirt of the dress are hand basted on now.  Usually I will not hang a skirt until after they are all sewn on, but since there may still be alterations and because this is not as heavy as a Standard gown, the hand basting seems to be enough.  For Sheila P, who recently claimed she wants to “look up my skirts” here are some photos:

Ignore the weird indent on the left side of the photo.  The dress form stops there, but IRL Candy has legs there, so it won’t look odd.  The upper area of the red, where I have put a couple of white pins, is the body suit.  The middle section is just a tube (essentially a tiny mini skirt) that is just there to hold the flounce.  It will just be zigzagged in place.  No need to turn it under or finish the edge because it is a non-raveling knit.  I will trim off any excess when the dress is nearly complete.

Oh – this is a good place to point out that I made the flounce following the instructions in the Pattern Review Tips book.  It was a tiny bit tedious and I think I made it worse by using plastic sheeting instead of paper, but it worked perfectly.  Love this book for all the tips and tricks, but also because I “know” many of the contributors online.  and if I still have questions, I can just go to the Pattern Review Message boards and one of the 300,000+ members will help me out, often within minutes!

The part with the blue post-it is the main body of the dress.  I made it quite a bit longer than I expected to need so I could accommodate the flounce.  It will also be trimmed closer to the end of the project.

You can see that I have left the side of the flounce open.  This is another design decision to be made.  It might be fun to have the opening so the red can peek through, or maybe we want the red sewed up and the top layer open or who knows?  All easy to do.

I have turned the top edge of the top layer of flounce under to avoid the raw edge of the fabric from running or snagging.  I will top stitch it with a wide zigzag in the end.  This boucle fabric hides stitches so beautifully, I think I could sew it in neon yellow and it would just blend in, but I went and got some matching thread anyway:-)

Okay – fun sewing done.  Now to go and replace a jacket zipper:-P

Now we’re getting somewhere!

5 Jul

The skirts are coming together and starting to look the way I had envisioned them.  I still can’t seem to make the reveal of the red skirt an equal length from the top skirt, but since they will change as they hang, I think I am going to leave well enough alone for the moment and baste them in place.

Back view.  I like it!

Maybe with a silver belt?

Or hip line detail?

Or belt plus some neckline trim?

I have tried quite a few variations, including some with darts to make the dress more fitted, though I am still partial to the looser waist because I think the latin movement makes such nice folds and lines that way.

On a body with arms.

Back view.  Should have raised my arms so you could see the shape better, but too late now.

Tomorrow – adventures with horsehair braid!

The good, the bad and the OMG, I can’t post that horrible photo!

4 Jul

This looks good!

This looks good!

This is awful.  And there are a few more that are seriously un-postable. Yuck! The dress is really too short, definitely not as deep a slope to the skirt as I wanted and add the pasty white legs (good news – the sun is actually out now, so there is hope…).  Yep, this is for information and possibly entertainment if you like the “so horrible it’s funny” sort of thing.  *Sigh*

Everyone needs a dress form

3 Jul

A dress form is a fabulous tool and makes ever so many things about sewing garments soooooo much easier.  But the real reason you need one is so you can feel like you really, really know what you are doing in your sewing room. Take a look at this:

Does this person not look like she is a seamstress or maybe even a tailor?  The only thing missing possibly is the wrist pin cushion.  I realized the other day, sitting on my wheely office chair, fitting this cool Latin ballroom gown for Candy that I thought “wow – this feels like photos I’ve seen of actual costume makers!”  Maybe it is also partly because this is the first thing I have made for someone who is not family (well, dance family, of course!) and I am having to think about how it will look on real Candy as opposed to brown paper  Candy Wrapper, how it will fit a moving body, whether she will like it, etc.  Weird and kinda cool:-)

Pinning the skirt.  I am having a heck of a time getting the layers just right so the red underskirt peeks out just enough from the top layer.  This may have to wait until I can pin it on Candy herself.  We are already gearing up to take 2 ballgowns (Standard ones, so B..I..G..) and possibly the sewing machine and maybe the serger(?) on holidays with us. LOL

OK this one is so I have a pictorial record of my cutting table being nearly cleared off. Yes, it does happen!  But you can also see the base of my dress form, which is the wheely part of a thrifted wheely chair plus pvc pipe and cardboard pipe.  There are times when I wish it had brakes, because it rolls away just at the wrong moment and I am glad I made the Candy Wrapper a bit taller than IRL because she is easier to work on that way.  I might alter my own DTD to be taller and just measure appropriately.  I will just pretend “I” am standing on a chair.

Moral of today’s post – get a dress form and feel like a pro.

An aggravating little problem

30 Jun

This issue has been with me since the very first ballgown and it keeps returning.  It is undoubtedly operator error in using the Kwik Sew method of elastic application.

Here is the top of the leotard for the Candy Wrapper.  You may notice that the bottom of the curve bows outward slightly and the armscyes also do this.

Begging your pardon Ms. Wrapper, for taking a photo down into your papery cleavage;-)  You might be able to see it better here.

The back lies beautifully flat, thank goodness, as it might be on view in the final gown.

I remember trying all sorts of different ideas with the first gown, but don’t remember the final fix.  My sense is that there is a little too much elastic and that I should remove just a bit more so that it is slightly less than a 1:1 ratio.  This is slight and it will be under the main gown, so I think it will be fine, but I sure would like to sort it out.

Okay – the sewing mavens at the Pattern Review Message Boards have spoken and my guess was correct.  The next body suit I make will have a tiny bit of stretch in the elastic so that it is a slightly less than 1:1 ratio of elastic to fabric.  Thanks everyone!

Shaping up

30 Jun

The back drape

This actually looks quite a bit better in person.  It has a bit of a bulky appearance here that I don’t think will happen when it is on Candy.  If it does, we will do some editing.

Ack!  A weird snag and the front looks all messed up.  This fabric does snag rather easily and has a tendency to pull.  But it really looks and feels quite gorgeous:-)

I have the sleeves on now and have started the body suit.  A quick visit to Capital Iron for thread and managed to pick up some fun silver trim from the remnant bin.  That will await client approval, though.

….Deep breath and……cut!

28 Jun

Pattern pieces laid out

- correct pieces on fold?  Check!

- correct number of pieces to cut? Check!

- space remaining for a second flounce and/or slips, OMGs and boo-boos?  Check!

- Fiskars previously trashed from cutting miles and miles of other glitter fabric?  Check!

- Promise faithfully to scissors (even though I try not to anthropomorphize my sewing equipment) that they will be sharpened soon?  Check!  (I didn’t put it in writing, though…)

So nothing left to do but dive in and cut, especially as the Master of the House has his favourite chair just off to the left there and has been known to spill the odd bit of coffee or other beverage on his way to the recliner.  Here goes nothing!


Through the magic of the internet, you are spared the image of my crawling around, cursing and praying at the same time.  This will all end well, right?  So far, so good.  Yes, you do see a slight extension in length in a couple of places, juuuuuust in case.

So far I have sewn the CB seam and pinned the cowl in place.  Looks great and the drape of the fabric is lovely.  Technically the drape should have been cut on the bias, but the flow and drape of the fabric made me think it would work.  I have done the proper diagonal thing on muslins before and not found it to be essential with a drapey knit.

Once I get the front attached to the back, I will get some photos up.  Friday is my last day of work, so progress should be rapid after that!

Great results from the Pro Am Fiesta and a Candy Wrapper Teaser

24 Jun

The Pro Am Fiesta at the Grand Ballroom in Richmond BC is a new competition for us.  Originally meant to showcase Pro Ams – where students dance with their teachers, more Am-Am divisions have been added, so we happily joined our friends from near and far for a very busy night of dancing.

We still get pretty mixed results from the judges, but more seem to like us now than they did awhile back.  We made all the semi finals and finals for all of our events and just barely missed the podium a few times.  Best result was a first place in Senior III Silver Standard.  Which means all of our competitors are 55 or older and we danced Waltz, Tango and Quickstep a bunch of times with a diminishing number of competitors on the floor with us.  Was it a bunch of sprints or a marathon?  Maybe a marathon of sprints:-)

Ad we got a chance to try the Candy Wrapper on the actual Candy herself!

Here she is!  It is a bit big and loose, but It is all very workable and we have a wonderful starting place.

Back view.  The blue peeking out is the body suit.  I like the idea of the body suit fabric showing there and possibly putting a bit of sparkle on it.  For now I plan to leave it that way until fittings in the final dress can be made so we see how the drape will flow, etc.  The length of the skirt and the angle of it will also not be determined until it is in the final fabric and Candy is in her heels.  I expect to put at least one more layer of flounce under the layer that is here now.  That will make it more fun and the skirt will be heavier and more likely to stay in the floor-ward position.  Candy and I, along with many other Senior III dancers, feel pretty strongly that we don’t need to show as much skin as the youngsters do in order to be lovely and amazing.

Reaching the $%#@& ! it point

18 Jun

It has become clear to me that the desire of this Latin ballroom gown is to not be as fitted as I was originally thinking.  And Candy has constantly requested it to be not too tight, so who am I to disagree with my “client”?  LOL So here is the new, improved base dress, with new, improved test fabric (many thanks, Lynn!) .  Sleeves and skirt flounce to be added tomorrow, if the fates allow, there may be a quick body suit zipped together and we will be set to do a full try-on, or as I believe the big kids call it – a “fitting” on Saturday at the Pro-Am Fiesta!



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