Tag Archives: sequins


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.

Done enough to wear – magical day.

27 Jul

Finally at the DAY!  Done enough to wear.  If an emergency competition broke out tomorrow, it could be safely worn.  Of course there is still work to be done!  Of course some things are attached with safety pins!  But this is all par for the course.  It is a great feeling to imagine the dress as it will look out on the floor.


We, the Design Helper and I, have gone with the wispy, feathery bits of floats that seem so popular now, plus some ribbons, which are fun


I think perhaps a few more to add some volume are called for.  Will know better when we get some video of the dress in action at practice.


More rhinestones are in the mail.  Will be adding more dark stones to the top to make a better contrast and something will be added to the skirt.  Not sure just what yet.



Drat – still seeing the belt overlap.  Something will have to be done with that.

That’s it for the sneak peek!  Hope to dance this lovely dress in Seattle very soon:-)

DIY hair ornament – Claire’s hair jewelry hack

26 Jul

Ah, the old “take the photos and never do the blog post trick, eh?”  I took these in May and just found them following some hair ornament conversation on Pattern Review.  I wanted a bigger ornament for several reasons – to cover the insertion point of the hair piece and any messy hairdressing I may have done there, to make adding the ornament quicker and to make it easier to put on and take off.

Here’s what you need: an inexpensive hair comb like this one from Claires  , some coordinating hair swirls  or other lovely bits of whatever, bathtub caulk that dries clear, scissors, pliers, bag to cover your kitchen cutting board, heavy powermesh fabric or something similar – pleather might work, plastic knife or popsicle stick for spreading, elegant wig stand (mine is a yogurt tub holding my pressing ham (covered in plastic) and it works quite well, iPad, bluetooth speakers to listen to Stuff You Should Know and other education podcasts while working.



After deciding the general shape and cutting several layers of power mesh, spread the tub caulk on the mesh as evenly as possible.  Let it dry for at least several hours.

Cut the little corkscrew backs off of the individual ornaments and arrange them on the backing.  Secure them with globs of caulking and allow to dry. Trim the backing when it is all dry.


Put a line of caulking on the comb and set the new piece in place.


I suspect I supported this in some ingenious way until it dried.  Finished piece with the hair piece.  No photos yet – hope to get them at the next competition!


One little weird glitch is that the caulking reacted with the metal and it is a lovely turquoise now.  I would perhaps give the comb a few coats of clear nail polish to prevent that next time.

Portland Rose Festival and River City Ball

22 Jun

One of our all-time favourite competitions for so many reasons!  We met our good friends Terry and Candy there six years ago and we love meeting up with them, dueling on the dance floor and going for beer afterward.  What could be better?


Here we are in the new hall at the Ballroom Dance Company in Tigard, near Portland.  Lovely floors, lots of mirrors to distract us as we put our first Open choreography on the floor (eeeek!) and wonderful people running the comp and cheering us along whether we deserved it or not.

Hair and makeup took 2 full hours.  We heard an interview with Dmitri Zkarkov where he said, “if we have nine hours, it takes nine hours1  If we have 20 minutes, it takes 20 minutes.”   I need to learn the 20 minute kind…..


Front of the hair.  Isn’t the upholstered wall lovely?


Side view.  This was the first time I had a near hair malfunction, but was rescued before the first heat by a fellow competitor who had LOTS of pins to lend me.


Back view.

Results were good!  First in Senior II and Senior III Gold, second in Senior III Novice and third in Senior II Novice.  Gotta love a small field!

Great beer afterward at Max’s Brew Pub.

Photo links day!

25 Jan

The wonderful Nelson Wong has his photos from the Vancouver Challenge Cup ready to view today.  Here are some links to photos of us:

Great tango face

Deliriously happy in quickstep

Good view of the right side of the dress   and Bill looks pretty happy, too.


Vancouver Challenge Cup. The New Comp in Town.

19 Jan

The Vancouver Challenge Cup  is the newest ballroom competition in the BC, Washington, Oregon area and oh so welcome since we no longer have the Grand Ballroom for hosting local events.  (Glad to see the videos are still up though!)  The venue is lovely and I have to say I was pretty comfortable with the Ladies Dressing Room being in the preschool classroom!  Felt right at home:-)

Though Bill is struggling with some foot issues, which may be plantar fasciitis, we managed some good placings.  do we count the first place in a solo foxtrot?  well, why not!

Though I am still having a sewing block and not managed to get a new gown ready, the hair department has been busy.  Two new hairpieces made their debuts this weekend.  And a good thing I took both, as the first one got hopelessly tangled in hair net and glued into the ornament.  The photos from Friday are a bit dark.  Must remember to get daylight shots!  Also, never do a chin-down photo ever again.


Love the back view.  The ornament there is a corkscrew type little gem that just winds into the hair and stays. Love them!


The matching ornament comb that became hopelessly tangled when I tried to get it out in the evening.  Lesson learned!


The head turn.


Day Two: a little blurry, but you can sorta see the crystals stuck on the bun.  I cut up a bracelet that snagged on EVERYthing and used the sparkle for the hair.


Back view:


Side view – ack!  No chin down!


Side view done right:  fuzzy focus is almost as good as botox.


Tango face.  Lashes thanks to Anne-Marie


Now smile, he says, as he moves the camera…


Now the only question is which hairpiece to tidy up and take to the Southwest Regionals?

Holiday Classic – Living Vicariously

15 Dec

Just had a Facebook post from Stefanie, who some of you may know from her blog, Biggest Girl in the Ballroom.  She is dancing Pro-Am with her pro, Ivan Dishliev in the huge, huge Holiday Classic in Las Vegas this weekend.  We attended this comp in 2007, before we started competing and it was spectacular, overwhelming and a ton of fun.  The thought of competing there would be completely terrifying if we had to dance against Stef and Ivan.  They are spectacular.  Take a peek!  Biggest Girl in Motion

This photo just screams “dance” to me.  Total abandon and love of movement.  I’m not a good judge of Latin technique, but I would put money on that being pretty fantastic, too.  Way to go, Stefanie!  Love watching you dance!

Closeups by request

26 Jul

Here are a couple of close up shots of the skirt with rhinestones and sequins.  At the moment I am leaving this gown lightly decorated.


Wow!  When I click on these I also can zoom in, which gives a seriously detailed picture!  I am constantly amazed by technology and how much cool stuff I can do sitting at my kitchen table:-)

New record!

25 Jul

The Fab Fifties dress is now complete and except for fabric acquisition and some pattern drafting, it only took 6 weeks!


It helps a  lot that I am off work for the summer and have extra time, but several of those days were non-sewing days due to dance camp, so this has really been a quick one.


This can only mean one thing – Dress # 9 is on its way!

Moving right along

23 Nov

Cut out the under dress in pale blue stretch mesh

No, the lengths are not quite equal. One day I will level them up ahead of time instead of after it is sewed together.

I also cut out the panels for the inner layer of underskirts and started experimenting with gathering.  Definitely needs 3 rows of  gathering stitches.  I put it on the red so you can see it better.

Here it is all gathered up:

After some steaming and trying pleats instead of gathering and a few other fiddly, interesting experiments, here it is inserted into the skirt kinda sorta the way it might eventually, possibly look.  This is the under layer, not the pretty, sparkly one that will sow in the end result.

Obviously the rest of the skirt will be poufy and also highly crinolined and the pick ups will pick up into the top, which is currently not on Miss Mitzie, but I think this will work.  I do have to make the panels much bigger at the top to get enough fullness and it will take a ridiculous amount of thread and gathering and futzing.  Grrr…. I once vowed to never gather another skirt and here I am doing it again!

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