Queen of the Summer Seas Final

So today is World Ocean Day and I thought to myself, ‘this would be a great day to throwback to my Octopus Dress’. And then it hit me that I have a blog. A blog I’ve neglected. A blog I never posted the results of the costume contest on.

Um, hi guys, how y’all doing?

So anyway…

I won!

Those two little words blow my mind. I’ve simply never been lucky enough to win anything before. Also, as a writer, I feel it’s pretty easy to get used to, and expect, rejections, even if you’re upbeat and roll with the rejections and move on, you can still start to feel a bit downtrodden. Winning something, even just a costume contest, breathed a little bit of wind back into my sails.

Having won the contest I was obligated to spend both days at the Pirate Fest that had hosted it as well as appear as a guest judge for their Mermaid Pageant. I would have spent both days at the fest anyway, so that was fine, and acting as guest judge was a neat experience! I also won a big tote bag of Pirate Fest merchandise, some of it was pretty cheesy, like a a little foam pirate hat (I think I gave that to one of my dance kids) but some of it was nice, like a gift card to Hoffman’s Chocolate factory, and a huge, good quality pirate fest travel cup. I also won a professional photo shoot which took place on the second day of the festival.

It’s been so long now that I unfortunately can’t recall the photographer’s name (oops), but she was a pleasure to work with and had lots of ideas for posses and was able to guide me through them. The only thing I will say is I thought the choice of location was odd, she wanted to do the photos on the train tracks. It’s artsy and the photos did come out beautifully, but I probably would have chosen something more pirate or sea themed as a back drop. But again, no complaints, the pictures my friend took for the first photo shoot have an excellent backdrop so I don’t mind the train tracks in these ones!

Funny story though, my dance school was performing at the fest on Saturday Morning. I was supposed to walk in the parade that morning as well, in costume. I started with the parade then as soon as we went past the stage where my school was supposed to dance, I tore away from the parade and shucked off all the skirts and tentacles just in time to practice the new choreography with the group (We had a newly choreographed pirate dance drama made just that week for the show, practice was vital!). I had to keep my corset on and wear the dance top over it. After we practiced the drama a million times (ok, so probably only half a dozen), and then danced it full out during the show, I literally couldn’t breathe! I almost had my very own Elizabeth Swan moment. When I practically collapsed after the show I had to keep insisting to people that I wasn’t tired, or hurt, or out of shape, I just hadn’t been able to draw a deep breath for the last hour!

I am NOT perpetuating the myth that you can’t breathe in a corset. The corset I was wearing was fully boned, tight, sturdy and I could normally breathe just fine. Just not after dancing in it for almost two hours straight!  After the show I had to put all those layers of costume on again (and boy was I hot and sweaty by then…) but wow was it worth it! I have never in my life had so many pictures taken of me in costume. It took forever to make my way down the streets because mostly I just stood and posed with growing lines of people! It was overwhelmingly awesome. It was a fairly expensive and time consuming costume to make, but the kids who stared in awe at my tentacles and the people who wanted pictures with me made every bit of it so worth it. While a big part of what I do is for personal satisfaction there is nothing like knowing so many other people liked my work!

Anyone have a favorite costume they’ve made or worn? Link in the comments, I’d love to see!


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!

100 days to Halloween Shoot

I’m trying to get back on the regular-posting-train, I swear! I’ve been busy with teaching dance camps and sewing. I have some exciting news on that front, but for the moment let me share with you a quick photo shoot I pulled together to celebrate the official 100 days to Halloween countdown.  (Y’all know I live for this )


This was a quick costume, the pieces created at different times. It’s vaguely inspired by the turn of the century Edwardian gowns, but obviously with a modern goth flare. The new underbust corset is the piece that initiated the whole dress.



Our Halloween theme this year is going to be a witch’s town. We’ve decided to call our fictional town Dreadfell Hollow and this seemed to be the perfect way to introduce our theme. 050056

How fabulous is that pearl collar? I inherited it from my late grandmother. It’s faux pearls, but that makes me more comfortable using it for costuming purposes. Here I think it looks like a spider web made of pearls. 06420170722_173450

Hair styled by the fabulous best friend. certainly can’t do this ^, I get fed up with the weight of my hair and usually quit. here’s a tip, if my hair looks nice you can probably assume my friend was behind the scenes styling! 😉20170722_17385820170722_174428

Realized now that I failed to get a close up of the corset. It  has an adorable pattern of dancing skeletons on it and will shortly be available on my Etsy page.

Which, by the way, recently surpassed 20 sales! HUZZAH. (hey little steps are important!)

Ren Fest Costumes

My friends and I got together for a day at the Renaissance Fair. This should be a fun sewing opportuity  for me, but I have to admit, it drives me crazy. Half of me wants to study the period it’s set in and go Historically Accurate, the other half wants to go full out fantasy.  Que internal battling, dozens of hours on pinterest trying to decide, several calls into the bff and one extremely stressed out me. I do this every freaking time. This usually leaves me with a week to a few days to get my costume together.

Of course, I’d volunteered to dress my friends too, so here’s what we all eventually decided on.

Dragon knight

To match the theme of the helmet she bought last year, I made a knight’s tabard. To mimic chainmaile I used this old cloak that my mom had bought from party city eons ago. It was made of this strange, silvery, meshy, stretchy material and the cloak itself was torn and old. I squeezed out just enough and I think it got the point across!

081085(This is my favorite shot! I love the sun bleeding though)


Poisoned Rose Corset

This is the first part of what will eventually be a full costume, but all we had time for was the corset. Made of a rose pattered green jacquard and boned with steel, my friend paired it with faux leather pants and a lovely black shirt.


Dragon Queen

This is what I finally decided on (obviously I went with fantasy in the end) Floor length sleeves mimic wings and the shoulders and top of the bodice are adorned with dozens of black scales and dripping silver chains. I cut out the scales individually out of some sturdy black satin then ran the edges above a candle flame to seal it. The stomach is designed to look like a dragons chest and stomach scales.


I really wanted to get pictures that looked more, I dunno, Fierce? You know to fit the whole dragon queen idea of the dress. Sigh, it can really suck to have such a baby face. Last night I was running a quick Irish dance show at a pub that just opened. I walk in and greet the owner. She say’s “oh! The dancers! Great I was just looking for you!” and walks right past me and goes to my mother. I am twenty four years old, darn it, my mom was only there because she and my dad enjoy getting out and having a drink at these events, and half the time no one believes I’m in charge because they assume I’m sixteen or so.

Anyway, that little anecdote out of the way, I’d like to find a new setting to shoot some more pictures of this dress. I don’t *love* it, but I put so much work into that I think it deserves some better pictures. Anyone have a dragon I could borrow for a photo shoot? Please? I’ll return it, I swear. Maybe.

Halloween Photoshoot

First week of October I had a photoshoot with an actual photographer (as opposed to my friends and I snapping away on our phones). The experience itself was really incredible, most of the time I’m completely awkward when getting my picture taken. Someone will ask me “Ok, how do you want to do this?” Or worse, “Pose.” And my brain freezes.

Melissa of Priceless Photos was great, she came prepared with ideas for poses and gave me the perfect instructions. Check out her website http://www.pricelessphotosbymelissa.com/ And then scroll down to see her work!


Dress 1 The Hallow Queen.

Funny story… I had months to prepare for this shoot I had plenty of dresses but nothing that I was super excited about. The night before, the words Hallow Queen popped into my head and I dove into my stash like it was the deep end of the pool. The corset was something I’d previously started then forgot about, so all I had to do there was finish sewing the boning channels, bone it, then bind the edge and pop some grommets in that sucker. The skirt I whipped together, blessing myself for accidentally buying that orange chiffon. The spiderwebby shrug is something I’ve had hanging around for years.

Any way, I finished the dress about two hours before I had to leave to meet Melissa. Why do I do this to my self??

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Oh… That’s why.

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Apparently this was Melissa’s first time having a skull in her photos! 😉


Quick note, the tree in the above photo is kinda special. We found it in this park when I was a kid and immediately noticed that it is extremely different from all the other trees. It simply looks like a magic tree. I’ve been visiting this tree for most of my life and it’s always a great place for pictures.


Dress 2 My friend called this my dark sleeping beauty dress and I made a face at her because I don’t agree, but now it’s stuck in my head and that’s all I can think to call it.

I made this over a weekend, posting the steps on my facebook page as I went. Some of my followers answered when I asked what sort of sleeves/ skirt I should give it and here we go! I matched it with a burgundy rose patterned cloak for some shots, the cloak is available on my Etsy page.


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*note to self, petticoat not long enough*


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