New dress is done!

15 May

IFB 2018 ivo

Many thanks to Ivo Dmitrov for the fantastic photo at the Island Fantasy Ball in Nanaimo.

A new dress for Mitzie!

18 Mar

It has been a good long while, but dressmaking is finally happening here. We have been busy with practice, competition and with a new, wonderful grandbaby. Our first:-)

This dress has been progressing at a glacial pace, but now looks like a dress, at least. We are working on the premise that instead of standing out from my wonderfully tall partner, if I blend in a bit more it will look like we “match.” It was inspired by watching a similarly height challenged couple in which the lady wore black.

“That will never work!” I thought, but as I watched, I realized that it really did work, partly because the usual colour contrast of her bright colours against his black suit wasn’t there, but also because they looked like a pair that belonged together.

So rather than go straight to black, this one is a deep burgundy with black accents.  Stoning to be discussed shortly!


Yes, there is a new dress started!

17 Mar

Just a teaser, folks, but there has been work done on a new dress and I will get some progress reports going soon.

Here’s the base pattern


Nailing it Part III – Paint Nite

19 Mar

Or day…day is actually better. You get more drying time and that is good. The down side of daytime nail painting is that you are likely to have tasks that need to be done shortly after the nails are dry. So really, it is all about planning.  There are web pages and videos galore explaining how to actually put brush to nail, but the planning is important.

  1. Assemble your tools. Polish, polish thinner, polish remover, cotton, orange sticks, q tips etc., etc. Having it all together before you start makes the whole experience nicer.
  2. Check your stuff.  Have you got base coat, main colour, quick dry top coat? Is the polish gloopy? Make sure you thin it before you start. Will you be doing clean up? (ummm…yes, you will! If the pros need to do it, you sure will.) Have your polish remover and tools (a little brush works well, but orange sticks or a cut off q tip sticks are also great) ready to go. Pour the remover into a small container and make sure it is nearby but won’t tip over. Some tissue or a small scrap of fabric is good for wiping the brush or stick.
  3. Pee. Yep – nothing like getting all the polish perfect then needing to head to the head! While you are there, put your hair up if it is long.
  4. Glasses. Gotta be able to see.
  5. Light. Here is where daytime helps. Better light makes any paint job easier.
  6. Podcasts, Netflix, computer whatever. If you have something to do all lined up and you don’t need to use your hands to get it ready, you are more likely to keep your nails nice.
  7. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate. Get it ready to go before you start and in order to have the best results, try to refrain from indulging until the job is done. Especially the wine.

So how was the competition?

7 Mar

We have so many wonderful friends, family and coworkers who follow our dancing and it is always lovely that they remember we had gone off somewhere to dance, though we are rarely 100% comfortable telling them our results. Dancesport is judged and as such, is both predictable – most judges will dislike our height difference – and unpredictable – same judges unexpectedly fall in love with one or two couples that we almost always finish above.

Judged sports are weird. Ask my partner/spouse/design consultant about judged sports and he will give you a serious rant about how awful they are and how they really shouldn’t exist. But don’t ask him to give up competing in the ballroom!

There is a wonderful blog post at Riot and Frolic about this. Kate Bratt is a professional dancer in the US and her blog is great reading all the time. But Why I’m Okay Not Making the Final is especially pertinent to our dancing right now.

It isn’t so much a list of excuses as much as a list of what IS for us right now and an understanding of what our goals for competition need to be. Now – to be fair, she does have the “four little kids with one baby under a year” card to play, which I don’t have, but there are many reasons we didn’t and shouldn’t have placed at our last two competitions.

  1. We have recently moved up to Pre-Championship and Championship levels. This has meant all new choreography, almost completely new steps, many changes to accommodate our skills (or lack thereof) as a couple, etc.
  2. Most of the people in pre-Champ and Champ have been there for a lot longer, are better dancers and will instantly be placed in the top 6 by the judges.
  3. We have been fighting injuries since November, which included a long layoff with no dancing at all. Fitness levels have declined (understatement!)

So really it has been about our personal goals lately and will continue to be for awhile.

  1. Don’t fall down.  This has jokingly been a goal all along and until 2 weeks ago we were great! But Bill slipped on the edge of his heel and went down. Jumped up and finished the round. No injuries! He has earned a badge of honour I have not yet accomplished:-) But this past weekend we managed this goal well.
  2. Get through the new choreo smoothly, especially Quickstep. Mission accomplished there. Not brilliant and not perfectly on time yet, but better.
  3. Recover from crashes and bumps better. About 50-50 there. Sometimes we intuit what the other is thinking and we move easily and others not so much. I admit I have the benefit of the big guy as the elbow blocker for this!
  4. Cope with the cardio aspect better. I think so.  We have only been back to practicing rounds for a couple of weeks, so not adjusting, posing and otherwise delaying the start of our round (aka the Senior III start) too much is good.
  5. Have fun playing with our friends. Always!

Next week is our Clubs Closed competition (more of a demo, really), so another chance to don the garb and glue on the lashes. Then a few weeks before the new and improved Pacifica Ball!

Nailing it, part II. Care and feeding of…

27 Feb

In Grade 8 we had a sewing teacher named Mrs. Lyons. When she was expecting her first baby we wanted it to be a girl so she could name it Karen. And her middle name would be Feedingof:-) I think it ended up being a boy.  Too bad.

Basic nail looking-after is not hard.

  1. Wear gloves when you can. Water is really rough on nails. I have my hands in water a lot at work and I can’t always wear gloves. But I do when I can.  And although at least one person online wears gloves sealed with elastics while washing hair, I’m not willing to go quite that far. But we do have a hot tub which I indulge in regularly and I now hold my hands out of the water as much as possible. It looks a bit like I’m praying .
  2. Get good files. Finer grits are easier on the nails and good files work faster so shaping is not so tedious. I am searching for a good Czech glass file now, but the higher quality emery boards I picked up recently are already a vast improvement over anything I have used before and I like that the grit is printed right on them. Just like sandpaper!
  3. Use cuticle remover and good tools. I’ve been told by aestheticians that I hardly have any cuticle, but it still makes a nice base for polish if that little bit that grows up the nail is gone. Orange wood sticks and cuticle stones are great. And no soaking before doing cuticles! Because water.
  4. Oil your nails. There are many brands and DIY versions of nail oil. Figure out which you like and go for it. Mine is a closely guarded secret of mostly olive oil, some grape seed oil, jojoba oil, a couple of drops of tea tree oil and one Vitamin E capsule. Put it on your nails and let it soak in. If you have time, do it several times. If you are going to put polish on, wipe the nail with alcohol so the polish will stick. Oil your cuticles and under the nail daily – several times if possible. You can do it while you are binge watching something on Netflix.
  5. File carefully. Again, many sources for “how to” on filing. If you like video, try loodieloodieloodie’s Youtube channel, or for text and photos, go to her blog.

Nailing it.

16 Feb

Soooo….last year at Easter we went to the Canadian Championships in Calgary, Alberta.  I really wanted my nails to look nice and, because my nails have almost always peeled and peeled nail areas don’t hold on to polish, I caved and got acrylics. And they looked gorgeous. And since they put gel polish on them, they looked gorgeous for quite a few weeks.

And then they started to come off and then I had to deal with the fallout. Yuck.  Again. Enter our good friend Mr. Google (or maybe she is Ms. Google.  We don’t really know.) Since then, I have found good, bad and indifferent sources of information about how to manage nails.

If you spend any amount of time doing this, you will find a couple of sources cited all the time. Makeup Alley is one of them. Their message board dedicated to nail care does have nail care tips, but generally at the moment it is a nail art board. Ask questions and they will give you quick, friendly and very helpful information, but the majority of the daily reading is nail art “spam” (which I think means, “show polish and manicure”) photos of NOTD (nail of the day) and lots of discussion of the many, many, many colours, brands, sales, wish lists etc. of nail polish. But not an easily searchable resource.

Loodieloodieloodie is the improbable name of one of the best resources online for all things nail related.  Along with many gorgeous photos of her magnificent nails, “Loodie” gives wonderful tutorials on all sorts of nail issues. And she is a self-proclaimed “geeky scientist” so she explains why acetone is not the enemy of nails (that would be water) and other great stuff. But she is no longer actively blogging.

So I have learned some stuff in this quest and I will share it with you here. Today’s tips are about products.

1 – base coat.  I bought base coat. It didn’t help!  BUT.  There is a thing called ridge filling base coat.  Guess what – it not only fills ridges, it also sticks to peeled nail areas.  Bam! Game changer. As soon as I tried this stuff, things started getting better. I have 3 brands now and haven’t formed a firm opinion of which is best. Stay tuned.

2 – 100% acetone. Best thing ever.  You need it to remove gels, but it is also quicker and easier to use for removing any kind of nail polish.  And yes, you can use the stuff from the hardware store if you really want to go the cheapest route. Add a bit of water and glycerine and you have a knock off of a pricey brand of moisturizing polish remover. Instructions from Loodie.

3 – Quick dry top coat. I bought top coat. It helped, but I often messed up the polish before it dried. Putting the top coat on very soon (2 – 5 minutes after the last coat of polish) helped, but I would still get dents, dings and even sheet marks the next morning in spite of doing my nails many hours before going to sleep.  Quick Dry Top Coat.  Sally Hansen in the red bottle.  Another game changer!

My nails are still peeling and they are not yet at a place that I consider photo-worthy. But they are a nice length and they hold polish for 3 – 4 days at a time. Yay!


Done enough to wear day!

14 Feb

Well, this gown and the yellow studio do not play well together, but here it is. There will be another float on my right elbow, proper hair (the real fake hair – this is the fake fake hair), makeup, earrings and, as always, a strong possibility of more rhinestones, but this is the general picture.

Fingers crossed for an injury free practice today, so there is a possibility of competition next weekend.


5 Dec

Figuring out how to get rhinestones off an old gown is an interesting challenge.  There don’t seem to be any instructions anywhere on how to remove jewel glue and no ideas even for a solvent that would work.  The only person I knew who had tried to de-jewel a gown had soaked pieces of the dress in water and laboriously picked them off.  Sounds too hard to me!

But as I slowly cut the Disney Princess into strips of stones, I noticed that small stones would almost fall off if the fabric was pulled tightly. It only works well for stones under 20 ss. Larger ones will come off, but the foil backing almost always pulls away.  Fine if you want clear stones, but keeping the AB effect is nice.

So here is the strip of fabric with small stones:


Give the strip a bit of stretch:


And a bit more:


And more:


Be careful not to break it (but sometimes it will anyway):


If you are lucky, the stones will just pop right off the fabric:


But even if they don’t, you can now run a thumbnail along the strip and the rest will tumble off.

I did this in front of the TV with the strips in a giant plastic mixing bowl to catch the stones.  They do tend to fly around, so the bowl worked well as a catching device. Perfect for watching ballroom videos on YouTube.  I recommend some Strictly Come Dancing – the UK version (original) of Dancing With the Stars.

The process with larger stones will be coming along soon.

Yay! They arrived!

26 Nov

Rhinestones appeared yesterday. I am now very busy. That’s it.

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