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!

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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.

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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!)

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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.

MATERIALS

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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

Upcycling an evening dress into an Edwardian ball gown.

Knowing that I sew, more than a few people have given me bags of old dresses and clothes for me to rip apart and reuse the material. I love it, you never know what sort of fabric you might score, it’s like Christmas! However, I’m getting a huge pile of dresses in my closet all of which are intended for ‘cutting up one day’. The truth is my pile is getting a little out of hand!

Anyway, one of the dresses I had back there was my size, in colors I like, so I tried it on for kicks. Urgh. It has an empire waist which personally I think is the most hideous fashion ever. Sorry, not sorry. It also had thin little spaghetti straps. Not really a flattering look for me as I have broad shoulders and strong arms. 

 But then, wait! The general shape and cut was right, it just needed a little work and tada! Edwardian ball gown!

Usually, I hate wearing something I haven’t made completely. It’s not that I’m snobby (well, that much) but when you sew, everyone expects that everything you wear comes from your own hand, and I hate disappointing them by saying that ‘I didn’t actually make this’. Also, why wear something someone else made when usually I have so many ideas to make my own?

But is it always practical? A frugal budget can leave little room to afford yards and yards of new fabric every time you need a new gown. No shame there, that’s just being responsible. Also, I’ve wanted an Edwardian gown for some time now… but when I’m I ever going to get a good chance to wear one? Unless I throw my own party, none.  So why not upcycle an old dress into a new one?

Or, in this case, a new dress into an old one!

 

The dress before alteration. The under skirt is a very pale, creamy gold.

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Adding sleeves, just pinned down here. Sorry about the wrinkles, the chiffon scrap have been bundled in a bag for a month or two.

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The sleeves drape down the back, making the very distinct v-shaped back that you saw at this time.

 

…And a sash. The sash is cream colored, I tried a black and gold sash but the gold on it was too gold an clashed with the skirt. I think the cream gives it a very authentic look!

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Then I added some applique at the bottom of the cream/gold skirt. Normally ball gowns were heavily beaded but my patience doesn’t run towards beading for hours on end, so the appliques are sequined designs cut out of a remnant and sewn on. Good enough for me.

 

And done!

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Yeah, still a mass of wrinkles!

In barely an hour, I added a complete, new historical dress to my wardrobe, how fantastic is that??

Historical accuracy: Well, the general shape is good, we won’t discuss the fabric, or zipper placement.

Cost: Dress -free, Sash-free, Chiffon for sleeves- 2 small folded squares from a MASSIVE length of chiffon I bought cheap earlier this year. Let’s say $1?  Other expenses sequined applique cut from remnant fabric from Joann’s, two black glass beads for the points of the sleeves. Both remnant fabric and beads were bought for other projects a while ago and I used barely any, so yes, I bought them, but it hardly counts. Let’s say $2?

Still need: Full length black gloves. Pick up from a Halloween store next month. I really need a period corset, the Edwardian shape is very distinctive. However, since I really have no place to wear this, the time and money it would take to make a proper Edwardian corset really isn’t practical, or high on my list of things to do. Eventually!

 

I have a lot more dresses, so consider this the first in my Upcycling series. This was definitely the easiest one, the rest should be a bit more tricky!

St. Patrick’s Day Craziness

I probably should have guessed this would happen, St. Patrick’s Day preparation started and I completely abandoned my blog! In my defense-Damn was I busy!

Last year I made our school new performance skirts, well this year it was time to make the matching tops. You might recall that last year I made almost 30 skirts and completed two solo dresses-in two weeks. Crazy, right? I promised that there was no way that would happen again.

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Yeah yeah yeah…

With one thing and another it was suddenly the end of February and I had *Drum Roll* OVER FORTY PIECES TO SEW. And, just to be perverse, I once again had exactly two weeks to make them all. Well played universe. On top of the sewing, this year I was also in charge of making the matching headbands. Yes, thankfully headbands are a good deal easier… but I had around 20 to make.

 The new costume tops were to premier on March 11th, 8:00 Pm.

I finished sewing March 11th, 3:00 Pm.  A whole five hours to spare!

In the end I sewed 45 costume pieces (Tops, boys’ vests, and more of the skirts from last year) and made 20-25 headbands, I forget exactly. There were several days were a sewed for 15 hours…Whew!

The tops were a collaboration between myself and a local Irish Dance Solo Dress maker, LinDesigns of Florida. She did the embroidery and created the shirts. But enough talking, here are the pictures!

 

The front panels fresh from the embroiderer.

Embroidered with the Aranmore 'A'.

Embroidered with the Aranmore ‘A’.

The very first show to use the entire costume!

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

Boynton Blarney Bash, 2016

And from the parades!

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Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

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My best friend and I ready to dance through the parade! Photo credit to Melissa Price of Priceless Photography.

 

In one weekend, my work danced in three parades and multiple festivals and then danced through St. patrick’s day. I know I like to complain about the work, but honestly, it’s worth every moment of it to see my hard work on stage and hear the dancers tell me how much they like it. I feel so lucky to be able to both dance and sew for my amazing school!

Hope everyone else had a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day season!

Astrid Photo Shoot

Since we were heading to the park for a small shoot (see last post) I figured it was the perfect time to finally properly document my Astrid costume. This was made two years ago for Halloween and was more a triumph of time than of skill. It also isn’t a 100% accurate reproduction, at the time I had a day to make it so had to make certain changes. However I’m still very pleased with this outfit and I’ve worn it several times now. I paired it with Molly’s Toothless costume for a fun shoot.

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Sadly, Molly’s costume blends in too much to really make it out. And she was far more interested in the squirrels that were taunting her off camera than in posing-hence leash!

 

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12654303_1113180442067889_7916766046843505363_n  We were having quite a cold snap for South Florida and the park was freezing! But since I was dressed as a fur-clad viking I feel this only enhanced the shoot.

It’s always fun to see people’s reaction when you and your friend are wandering around dressed as a viking and an evil queen. One guy came up to us and told us ‘we looked weird’. However, he was definitely smoking something out there in the woods, so he was hardly one to judge. Gotta love the locals.

Fort Pierce Pirate Fest next weekend!