Queen of the Summer Seas Part 3

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look at some of what goes into making a fancy dress. But I hope you enjoy looking at the results even more!

I found a beach in Jupiter that has these amazing rock features. It’s about a mile south of Blowing Rocks Preserve, which I’d previously visited and knew was awesome, but also knew did not allow photo shoots. (If you live on the east coast of South Florida, Blowing Rocks is a sight you need to see!). The beach I found still had the amazing rock features, but no rules regarding photos. Perfect!

My friend and I packed up and drove about 45 minutes to get there. First we scouted out the terrain and marked some spots we wanted to use. And then I hauled all my gear into a grungy little beach bathroom and got dressed.

Somewhere along the way of my costuming career, and dance performances, I’ve become quite immune to feeling ‘weird’ in public. Which is a good thing, because I made one heck of a spectacle, trodding across the beach and rocks in my big floofy, hoopskirted dress. Weird looks abounded.

Ignoring the confused stares of the locals, we clambered up and down rocks for probably close to an hour. It was about 90 degrees, brilliantly sunny, super windy, and I was rock climbing in a corset and hoopskirt (Not recommended, by the way). I can’t applaud my friend enough for putting up with the heat, and climbing slippery, sharp rocks to get the best pictures possible. With the wind blowing in our ears, and me usually out on a rocky ledge, we couldn’t hear each other, but she managed to get hand signals across to get me in the pose she wanted. The beautiful pictures we got are entirely credited to her hard work. (I did feed her afterwards)


Feet tucked into a crevasse in the rocks. ^ The skirt looks like pooled water!

20170802_121909My hair is mimicking my tentacles!


The rocks took my breath away. So much of Florida is just flat, different terrain gets me excited!20170802_122120

The overskirt in action!


Out on a ledge, looking over my ‘Kingdom’ 🙂


This is my entry picture for the contest I’m entered in.^

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^This is my favorite shot! I love my tentacles!!



All the way out on a ledge. Funny story: I saw the ledge and said something like “oh wow, imagine a shot out there.” And my friend being a slight worry wart, panicked and yelled. “No, I forbid it!” Needless to say, two seconds later I was clambering out over the rocks. And yes, they were very slippery and very sharp. It was also difficult since I couldn’t really see where I was putting my feet! But worth it, I think!


Close up of crown, necklace, bodice detail and my friends fabulous job at doing my makeup. You remember those Rubber tentacle finger puppets I said I bought? Well here they are as the tentacles in the crown. They were a ghastly pink, so I painted them, cut them and wired them on. I knew I wanted tentacles on the crown, and I’d originally thought clay, like the necklace, but I was worried about the weight, and them being broken by general klutziness (like me whacking my head repeatedly on things) . These were light and easy to work with. Even if their existence in the fist place sort of baffles me. Who spends money on these for their intended purpose??

And that’s that! I hope you enjoyed the pictures! I find out the results of the contest in about 2 weeks. Wish me luck!


Queen of the Summer Seas Part 2

Part 1 here :https://dancingseamstress.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/queen-of-the-summer-seas-part-1/

So the last post ended with the construction. Next, the decorating!

I did some research and found that Octopi are quite the avid little hoarders. They seem to love shiny things. I wanted to reflect that in the dress. I began collecting all sorts of bits and bobs to decorate the corset. Old crystals that I had floating around my room, pearls, suitable beads, etc. And then Michaels had a fantastic sale and I scored some shell beads!


To add a little extra sparkle, I purchased a gross of Swarovski in Scarabeus Green, which is a greenish blue. In retrospect, I probably should have picked a different color as these blend right in to the dress, but oh well, they sparkle!

Playing around pinning a few decorations here and there. I wanted it to feel somewhat organic and to capture the idea of the sea, so I cut out some ‘seaweed’ to tack to the bodice.


The skirt also got the sparkly treatment. I hand sewed dozens of sequins along the hem. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the color of this two tone organza?!?!?

It was about here that I was reaching the finish line and stopped taking progress pictures. Honestly, I’m impressed I manged to take this many! So after all this I whipped up two black velvet arm covers (Handless gloves? What do you call them?) and a little shrug made out of fish netting (Michaels, if anyone needs to know) . I decorated the shrug with yet more pearls, sequins and crystals and added a few more drapes of sea weed to hang gracefully.

Well, that’s how I put it together, are you ready to see the finished product?


Of course you are.

(Forgive the mess, busy sewing and all that!)


This is the only picture I have of it on Sue, it doesn’t really show off the tentacles. It does, however, show off its awesomness (She said humbly).

The necklace was handmade out of clay, painted and decorated with swarovski and a ‘fairy’ stone. Pearls connect it.

I am unabashedly proud of this dress. I’ve been dreaming of it for years and it’s finally a reality. A few days after completion my friend and I packed up and drove to Jupiter for a photo shoot. We got some simply AMAZING pictures that I can’t wait to share with you in the next post!

So, how much goes into a dress like this? Well, let’s see.


Blue/green two tone Organza-3 yards

Lime Crinkle Organza-3 yards

Black shimmer Organza-Bought 3 yards, used 1 1/2

Purple Shimmer Organza: -2 yards (FREE!)

Black and purple cotton scraped together from stash for non-sheer underskirt, -3 yards

Two tone Avocado Green Taffeta-2 yards.

Black Crushed Velvet- 2 1/2 yards

Bag and a half of Stuffing

Duck canvas for Corset lining- From stash, plus muslin lining for velvet.

Steel Boning

Fish netting

Sea Shell Beads/sequins/swarovski/pearls/various gewgaws.

Rubber tentacle finer puppets. (yes, I’m serious, but wait till you see what I used them for.)

That totals up to about 16 yards of fabric used in the dress.

For a total cost of approximately: $113.

Not bad! Luckily some things were in my stash (boning, lining, etc.) and I’m an extremely frugal shopper who hates to waste a penny, so the cost of this dress remained reasonable.  (not that I’ll be dropping 100 bucks on materials for one dress again any time soon). The true cost was time!

Next, the photo shoot! Let’s see this thing in action!

Queen of the Summer Seas Part 1

Confession time. I’ve got a thing for tentacles. No, I don’t know why.

In August I set myself the task of sewing a costume that has been on my mind for years. An ‘Octopus’ gown, a la Ursula from the little mermaid. I’ve been lusting over the idea for ages, but 1: it was going to be a ton of work, 2: a lot of money for the fabric, and 3: no place to really wear it which sort of makes it hard to justify spending said money.

Well, a local pirate fest recently announced a costume contest, all pirate, and sea-themed fantasy costumes accepted. HALLELUJAH, a reason!

Here is the original idea sketch. It did change slightly from beginning to end, but then everything I make does!


Here’s the fabric I collected for the project. Fun fact: there are about 16 yards of fabric in this picture. And this isn’t even all the fabric!

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Cutting and pinning pieces!

Testing the different layers of the skirt, there are four layers of fabric to create the rainbow-y waters effect I wanted. Super washed out in this picture due to sun coming through my window, hang tight, I have better!



Testing the overskirt minus the underskirt. This part was, unsurprisingly, the hardest part of the dress. Getting the chiffon webbing between the tentacles was a nightmare. On the other hand, I’d chosen a crushed velvet for the top of the tentacles, which is super stretchy. As I started cutting them out, I panicked and told myself I was an idiot, Velvet stretches! It warps! I would have to layer and adhere it all to make it behave, adding a ton more work and fabric to the equation. Then I calmed down, took a breath, and realized that the warping, stretching velvet was PERFECT. Look at how those tentacles are twisted and writhing! In any other situation it would have been a disaster, but for this my miscalculation was serendipitous!

Plus as a bonus, I managed to get all eight tentacles stuffed with only a bag and a half of stuffing, I’d been expecting half a dozen, at least. I stuffed them very lightly at the top so the corset can settle over them comfortably.



Above, the corset, with boning channels sewn, top bound, ad middle insert all sewn in and pretty. But far from done! Part 2 coming this weekend!