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.

Image result for laughing animal meme 

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!

Let’s Wrap It Up!

The end of the year all ready?! It must be, WordPress sent me an end of the year look back at this blog. Apparently the majority of my readers live in Germany? That’s awesome! Hello and welcome!

So let’s take a look back at 2015!

I started an Etsy Shop!

ladyshreds

Yeah! Go me! Sure, I don’t have a street front shop and no lackey’s under my command, it’s just me and my business cards, and my sewing machine, but I’m so glad I finally took the step! https://www.etsy.com/shop/LadyShredsDesigns

I vended at my first show!

And I can’t wait to find more! I had my eye on a Pirate Festival that we always attend in Fort Pierce but the time crept past me and now it’s too late to find a cheap hotel. Oh well, now I know better, there’s always next year for that one and in the meantime I’m searching for other shows!

My first Solo Dress commission!

A happy dancer!

A happy dancer!

Yeah, I’m still excited about this!

This Thing!

Guess who found a tea bag and ate it on my bedroom floor?

Guess who found a tea bag and ate it on my bedroom floor?

"Nope ... not me ..."

“Nope … not me …”

we tried to explain to her that dogs who sleep under the tree get kicked out but she didn't fall for it.

we tried to explain to her that dogs who sleep under the tree get kicked out but she didn’t fall for it.

What didn’t get done:

Well, one of my main sewing goals this year was to recreate the dress in the painting The Promise, by Alan Maley

https://dancingseamstress.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/alan-maley-the-promise/

Sadly this didn’t happen, with everything else I was doing I couldn’t justify the money on the fabric. YET. I still very much want to recreate this dress. Hopefully I’ll do something worth rewarding myself for in 2016, and when that happens, it’s splurge time!

A Feis

I didn’t write about this, but I had sort of promised myself that I would finally compete in an Irish Dance competition. You have to understand, I’m not afraid to dance before a judge, (I love performing!!) my nerves are fairly cool. I simply don’t like the idea, or the way our competitions run. Mostly I don’t see the point or the waste of money. But lately I’ve been getting a little curious… How would I do?

Well, I wimped out but just… maybe… next year?

Finish one of my ongoing manuscripts.

One is still neck deep in rewriting and others are half done. Pirate fest preparation really threw me off consistent writing. However, I am happy to report that I’ve quite suddenly made leaps and bounds in my rewriting-yesterday I had the best writing day in months!

So what about next year? Well, I’m not the type to make resolutions for the new year, but there are certain things I hope to accomplish in 2016. If I push myself I can maybe start querying again by, or before, summer, who knows? Maybe this will be the year I find an agent, and from there …??? I intend to further explore selling on Etsy and will be expanding my shop shortly. I also have some dance themed ideas in the works that will mix my dancing and costuming!

With so many possibilities, 365 days suddenly seems quiet short! Happy New Year to everyone!

Any writing/sewing/dancing resolutions out there? I’d love to hear them!

Wait, what kind of blog is this?

I introduced this blog as blog about me becoming a published writer so some people might be confused that I rarely talk about my actual writing. There is a simple reason for this. THERE IS NOTHING TO WRITE ABOUT. For me to focus solely on my writing would look something like this:

Monday: Wrote seven pages today, nice!

Tuesday: Eh, only one and a half.

Friday: Oh, look another rejection letter!

Sunday: Stared at the page all day, wrote nothing. Bummer.

Wednesday: Another rejection letter …

As thrilling as this behind the scenes look is I have to focus on my other pursuits as well.  I’ve seen some bloggers who talk about their books and characters but that’s just not my style, in fact I’m terribly shy about talking about my work, period (Inexplicably, I start crying. Yes, I know this is Not good, if I ever have to pitch my work face to face I’m so dead). Maybe I’ll have something to talk about when I finally finish writing/rewriting the two manuscripts I’m working on but I probably won’t be querying them til the end of the year. If nothing else at least writing has taught me patience!

Luckily sewing and dancing are just as much my passion as writing, and more rewarding. Dance camps are starting in a little over a week and once again I will be assisting as a counselor. And I should shortly have some exciting news on the sewing front, but for the moment here is a sneak peak at what I’ve been up to:

One of multiple fabric hauls.

One of multiple fabric hauls.

Leanring how to insert a busk! Black and silver underbust corset.

learning how to insert a busk! Black and silver underbust corset.

Steampunk-y corset and Pirate sash.

Steampunk-y corset and Pirate sash. The new boning is unformed to a body and is twisting the corset around oddly.

How To Make Your Ghillies Smaller.

Ghillies are what Irish Dancers wear for their soft shoe dances. It is pretty crucial that these shoes fit very tightly to show off the contour of your foot. If they are too loose than judges will not be able to see if your foot is pointed or arched.

     My American shoesize is usually 7 1/2, my first pair of soft shoes were Irish size 6 (equivalent to American size 8, I don’t remember how this happened). Way too big, my foot was lost inside them. So I went down a size for my next pair. Nope, still to big.

   Long story short I’ve owned several pairs of soft shoes and not one has fit me properly. I mean, yeah, I could just go order yet one more size down and that would probably do the trick, but I’m getting really tired of shelling out $45 minimum for shoes.  It is possible to temporarily shrink them with water and heat but by the end of your dance they’ve stretched back out.

So grab your seam ripper and a sturdy needle, I’m going to show you how to make your shoes smaller.

Please do not try this without parental approval! I don’t want to be responsible for children getting murdered by their parents because they cut up a hundred dollar pair of shoes!

The unaltered shoe heel.

The unaltered shoe heel.

First thing’s first, determine how much smaller you need your shoe to be. I could easily fit two fingers in the extra space in my shoe.

Look at all that room.

Look at all that room.

Here is the back of my shoe, a strip of leather was sewn over the main seam. Carefully pull the stitches out of this to reveal the big seam at the heel.

 

The back flap unstitched to reveal the main seam.

The back flap unstitched to reveal the main seam.

Pull those stitches out, opening up the back of your shoe. 

 

The heel unstitched and laid flat.

The heel unstitched and laid flat.

Here’s the point of no return, find a sharp pair of scissors and carefully cut down the back of the shoe, following the existing shape. Cut just a tiny bit at first, going slowly and testing the fit. Take your time here and don’t make it too small.

When you’ve cut it to where it needs to be it’s time to sew that seam back up. Use thick thread and don’t stint on stitches, this shoe takes a lot of abuse. You will probably want to find a thimble and a pair of pliers to help get the needle through the leather. It wasn’t actually difficult on my shoe, the leather is fairly thin and soft, but after a while my fingers become super sore from pushing the needle through. Seriously, they hurt as I type. Save yourself the pain and use thimble and pliers.

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096

Once you have sewn the heel closed (hopefully trying it on as you go) it’s time to put the supporting strip back in place. Secure it with some glue first so that it’s not moving as you try to sew it.

Sewing the back strip back into place. I made use of the holes that were already punched in the leather from the previous stitches.

Sewing the back strip back into place. I made use of the holes that were already punched in the leather from the previous stitches.

 Ta da!

The altered shoe.

The altered shoe.

I don’t have a picture of the shoe on me but I have since worn them to dance class and the alteration made all the difference. I *actually* have a point! They fit much better and feel nice and sturdy, I will keep an eye on my stitches though, ‘cuz it would be just my luck to have a stitch pop during a show 😉

 

Research for 1890’s Striped Gown

I was randomly searching through some pictures of Victorian gowns when I came across this painting:

stripedress

I Love it. I ADORE it. Who cares that I have absolutely nowhere to wear it and no reason to make it. This dress is happening.

So first thing’s first, a break down of the dress. The 1890’s aren’t an era I’ve spent a lot of time researching so I’ve been working on fixing that in order to understand this dress.

The skirt’s a fairly straightforward skirt of its time, what makes it interesting is the way the fabric is cut so that the stripes create a pattern. Unless that was how the actual fabric looked? I’m going to assume those are seams because there is no way I can find that exact fabric otherwise.

Next we’ve got a Swiss Waist with buttons down the front. These were corset-like (But NOT actual corsets, corsets are undergarments, they go UNDER the dress. Sorry this issue really bugs me!) garments, it will be boned and probably laces up in the back. for a better understanding on the Swiss Waist check out this excellent article.  http://thedreamstress.com/2012/07/swiss-waist-waist-cincher-corset-and-corselet-whats-the-difference/

The bodice really had me confused for a while, at first look I though it was low cut-something you only saw on evening gowns, which this is not. I spent an entire day looking at extant dresses, fashion plates, and pictures trying to find evidence that there were afternoon/walking dresses with this neckline.

Then I looked at it again and it was like an iron skillet walloped me in the head; THAT’S NOT SKIN THAT’S HER BLOUSE.

Oh, yeah, that makes sooo much more sense.

So we’ve got this shirtwaist with a matching piece of the striped fabric at her throat. Unfortunately it’s really hard to see the details in the painting so I’m still not sure how I’ll be putting it together yet.

Finally the sleeves. Those sleeves. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH THOSE SLEEVES?

My issue here is that they look like something you would have seen two decades prior when the Victorians went all patriotic and revived the colonial style briefly to celebrate our nation’s centennial. The 1890’s best known sleeves were the infamous leg o’ mutton sleeves (usually to the wrist). The sleeves in the painting do have a bit of the cap I would expect and are a little bit full.

After a ton more research I finally found one example of a dress with similar sleeves. (Though this dress might be later than the one in the painting?)

1990.28a-b 0002 

This makes me feel a little better. I want to make the exact dress from the painting but I also want to make sure it’s accurate. This is good enough for me.

I found the black and gray striped fabric on etsy; Taffeta Stripes Gray & Black 58 Inch Wide Fabric by the Yard, 1 yard Now I just have to get past my guilt of spending money on fabric for a dress I don’t need …

The bodice part and the fluff on the sleeves looks like it’s made of some sort of blonde sheer/lace. It looks cool in the picture but I’m worried how the cream will look with the gray in real life. Guess I’ll just have to wait and find out.

No matter what, I am determined to make this dress. I have never followed through and actually made a historical gown. Something always happens whether an event is cancelled or I get distracted (which happens more than I’d like to admit!) Well, not this time, I may have to ban myself from the realm of Pinterest though.

Mystery Costume part 2

Earlier I posted a sneak peek of a mystery costume that I was sewing for Halloween. https://dancingseamstress.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/mystery-costume/

Here’s the full costume.

How about a deal, dearie?

How about a deal, dearie?

Made for and modeled by my friend with the help of Kendall, our ball python. (The snake is not part of the character, she just wanted to come out and proved very helpful with posing)

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Anyone guessed who she is?

‘And if at the end of three days you can not tell my name, you must give up the child to me.’   -Grimm Brothers

 

If you watch Once Upon a Time you will probably recognize her as Rumpelstiltskin, AKA the Dark One. Trust me, whatever you do, don’t make a deal with him! Er, her!

  

Rumpel from OUAT

 Here’s the back of the coat.

Well, hello there!

Well, hello there!

I made the coat from a vinyl-ish gator skin (she found it on amazon) and brown suede. Due to Halloween in Florida not being particularly cold, I elected not to line the coat. She wore a pre-existing vest underneath it and added cuffs of the same gator skin to the top of her boots. I admit I was a little afraid of that rubbery gator skin but it wasn’t as awful to work with as I was afraid it would be. Once I figured out how to shape the collar and the ‘tails’ that hang down the front of the coat it went together perfectly. Due to the mad rush of sewing I didn’t get any full pictures of the coat on my sewing form, sorry!

Don't be afraid, dearie ...

Don’t be afraid, dearie …

Astrid Costume

If you’ve been on my blog for, oh, say, a few seconds then you probably know that How To Train Your Dragon is my favorite movie ever, only bested by its sequel. Well, How To Train Your Dragon 2 came out on DVD today and I’m sure no one is surprised that I ran out and bought it first thing.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is NOW AVAILABLE on Blu-ray & DVD Combo Pack! Plus, don’t miss the exclusive short, Dawn of the Dragon Racers! http://bit.ly/HTTYD2_AmazonBD

I can’t wait to watch it tonight, I’m so excited that it seems as though I’m watching it for the first time except this time I KNOW it’s fantastic and I’m not worried that it won’t live up to the first one.

 To celebrate, I’m posting my last minute Halloween costume.

Astrid Hofferson

Astrid Hofferson

This costume took two and a half days to make, two days to put together the skirt and pauldron/shoulder piece, and the last few hours before I had to leave to throw together the axe. Luckily I was able to save some time by using a tank top that was the perfect color and the furred gloves from my viking costume. Even with these time savers, this was a time intensive costume. Each bird-skull-thing had to be molded by hand from clay, baked, painted, then hand stitched to the skirt. The pauldrons were whipped together from craft foam, then painted to look aged and adorned with metal studs.                              Astrid 2 For the skirt, I made two pieces, the fur underskirt than an overskirt consisting of the leather straps (this is what the skulls are sewn to). Astrid has big spikes down each strap, I wanted a more realistic size since I am converting this from an animation to real life. I lucked out and found these absolutely perfect spike beads at Michaels (On sale!!!) they were the exact size I wanted and since they were beads they sewed right on.  Since I didn’t have the time or fur to make Astrid’s fur hood I had to make due with the rabbit skin shoulder wrap from my viking costume. Since she rarely wears her hood up I don’t think it made a huge difference in the costume’s appearance.After that, I threw on some leggings and added some fur to my boots and I was ready to go train dragons. Or take a child trick or treating. Whatever.

Ready to take on a legion of girls dressed as that damn Frozen lady. Come at me, I dare you.

Ready to take on a legion of girls dressed as that damn Frozen lady. Come at me, I dare you.

 I will try to take some close ups of the costume for those who are interested. I’m pretty proud of how this last minute costume pulled together and I can’t wait to wear it again. Maybe for Snoggletog? (Extra points if you know what that is!)