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!

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Haunted Pirate Fest 2015-Vending!

After months of prep my first show has come and gone! I’ve always enjoyed this festival as a patron and I enjoyed the experience of spending the weekend as a vendor. So how did it go? Financially better than I expected. I’m not rolling in money but since I secretly feared I wouldn’t make a cent I’m pretty happy! And again, first show, you can only expect so much. The learning experience was the true prize, I’m full of ideas for the next show. Most of all, I had fun. My family all pitched in to help, my best friend spent the weekend with me, my booth was right next to our friends’ booth, and I got to share the event with my dance school!

Fussing with the displays.

Fussing with the displays.

I rearranged the booth several times so that the dance table and my wares got equal exposure, and also to experiment with what worked best. I somehow forgot to get a picture of the dance table so you’ll just have to believe that it’s out front!

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Sue got to come out for the weekend, she seemed to enjoy the attention!

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Last time I hire a pirate to help with the booth …

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My main piece sold the first day!

008It’s badly displayed on a hanger, clearly some more forms are on my future shopping list.

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We performed Saturday evening, leaving my mom to watch the tent for me. We pulled together a pirate themed performance to suit the occasion:

Opening reel

Opening reel

My old Ren Fair dance costumes got an upgrade.

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The little girls were decked out as mermaids and danced to Pirates of the Caribbean 4’s Jolly Sailor Bold mixed with a light jig.

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And my friend and I were given permission to come up with a special pirate routine using a hornpipe, He’s A Pirate, and mixing in some sword fighting!

P1020091 P1020084 We had three practices to put this together and we had a few minor flubs on stage but we covered well enough and the crowd really got a kick out of it!

The second day of the festival my friend and I were asked on stage to dance with The Craic. My family and I have always enjoyed their high energy music and it was thrilling to be part of their last show of the day. Luckily we both had our hardshoes with us! Check out their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/craicshow, they’re seriously the nicest people!

All in all a successful weekend!

Black and Purple Solo Dress

For those of you outside the Irish Dance world here’s a quick summary of the solo dress. These are dresses worn for competition that are completely unique to each dancer. They are covered in traditional knotwork and are usually made out of velvets and covered with Swarovski crystals. Dresses made by the leading dressmakers can go for for thousands of dollars.

Now, Irish dance fashion is constantly changing so I feel that calling them ‘traditional’ is pretty much bull. They’re no more traditional than those Shirley temple wigs. But whatever, they’re beautiful and sparkly so who cares.

I have made several for myself over the years. The first were pretty awful, looking back. But trial and error teaches you more than anything else so when one of the girls in my school approached me about making a solo dress I felt that I was up for the challenge.

She wanted hers to be simple (remember, this is relative) in black and purple. She had a specific request, she wanted ‘lace up’ on the front of the dress. We sketched some ideas back and forth until we were both happy then it was off to find fabric.

The fabrics.

The fabrics.

While I waited for the fabric to come in I started working on the stencils for the knotwork. I don’t have a big fancy embroidering machine (Yet) so for the embroidery that makes a solo dress I have to get a bit creative.

Stencil, This piece is for the top of the bodice.

Stencil, This piece is for the top of the bodice.

First I cut the stencil out of a cereal box (The thickness is perfect) then line velvet and use the stencil to mark the design on the back of the lined velvet. I then cut the design out of the velvet and lay it on top of the fabric that will show through, in this case white satin. This is later satin stitched to the dress itself-every raw edge must be covered with the satin stitch. It’s a time consuming job but the end result is worth it.

A happy dancer!

A happy dancer!

This dress is decorated with only a tiny scattering of Swarovski at the dancer’s request.  

The dress in action.

The dress in action.

We were both very happy with how the dress came out! And while my dresses probably won’t be mounting the podium at Worlds any time soon, I’m excited to continue exploring the possibilities of future solo dresses!

Next: Pictures of MY solo dress.

St. Patrick’s Day 2015

Another St. Patrick’s Day season come and gone. Our school participated in three parades and more shows and festivals than I can count. We had a lot of new choreography to memorize this year and on top of that I had thirty performance skirts to sew. AND I was hired to sew a solo dress for a girl in our school. Wait, I’m not done.

I had TWO WEEKS to sew all of it.

Well, ok, I had a couple of extra days to sew the solo dress, but still.

On top of a serious time crunch I also had to worry about running out of fabric. We ordered a bolt that we estimated had just enough fabric for all the skirts. If we had underestimated we never would have been able to get more in time.

Happily I finished with not only fabric to spare but a full day ahead of schedule (sleeping was put on the backburner for the last week). The solo dress was finished in time to be worn for the weekend shows so it was time to pack everything up and head out to dance.

Dancers on the float at Hollywood parade wearing my skirts. I'm second from the end.

Dancers on the float at Hollywood parade wearing my skirts. I’m second from the end.

The skirts are boxpleated and reversible, the other side being black with a blue edge.

The reverse side of the skirt, they're not actualy that shiny in real life, not sure why it looks so shiny here. Photo credits to a photographer SOL Exposure.

The reverse side of the skirt, they’re not actually that shiny in real life, not sure why it looks so shiny here. Photo credits to photographer SOL Exposure.

Next post: The solo dress!

Oireachtas Manuscripts and Guinea Pigs, Oh My!

Well, the Oireachtas has come and gone. I was hoping that my four hand team would recall. We didn’t. It was a bit disappointing because we danced amazingly and it sucks when you know you did your best and it wasn’t enough. But as bummed as I was I’ve bounced back and I’m ready to go again (let’s face it, I’m used to rejections and disappointment, I’m a writer!).

While our team might not have placed, I’m still proud of how we danced and of our school! We came away with two World qualifiers ( 3rd in girls U12 and 4rth in boys U12!!!) and a National qualifier. Not too bad for our young school!

 

Last month I mentioned that while I wasn’t competing in NaNoWriMo I was going to use the month to focus on my writing and get back on track. I didn’t write an entire novel in a month but I did do something better. I fell in love with a new project! Now I have something to engage my imagination while I put my other manuscript aside to figure out what’s wrong with the darn thing.

I think one of the hardest thing for a writer is to admit that ‘this’ novel may not be the first one you publish. We get our hearts set on them and to put them aside feels like giving up. Well, there’s no way I’m giving up and I live for the day I get to see it in print but I’ve admitted that this might not happen immedietely and now I have another project to fall back on. And I can’t wait to see where this one goes!

 

And, finally, the baby watch is under way!

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Valka has been moved to her own cage now and resides in a place of honor in the living room where we can monitor for babies all day (and shower the mommy-to-be with various delicacies …). Since we don’t know how far along she was when we got her we don’t know how close she is. Guinea pigs gestate for around 60 to 70 days. It could happen in a few days or two weeks. Either way, we’re ready.   

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P.S. Spell check is trying to tell me that ‘gestate’ is not a word. Spell check, thou art worthless.