elizabeth_mn: (seaside)
I danced with my group, Mooncoin Ceili Dancers at this year's Irish Fair last weekend. This is the big Irish cultural event in the area, a 3-day weekend with every dance group, dance school, band, and cultural organization participating. Lots of music, lots of beer, a good time generally.

I've been attending the Irish Fair since I was a teenager, and I've been performing out there with Mooncoin for about 8 years. It's fun but also tough to be an adult dancer representing a social style of dance. We do not wear the flashy costumes with sequins and neon and we don't wear the huge curly wigs, like the school dancers do. Our dances are mostly couple dances, not originally intended as performance pieces.

I asked my HB to do a little video this year to share. Here are two (not quite complete) dances; the first is a traditional 2-hand jig danced by me & TJ, and then it cuts to a waltz I choreographed for Mooncoin. Oh, and you get to see the dresses I sewed in action! I shall refrain from making comments about either my sewing or my choreography. Music here is provided by the wonderful Twin Cities Ceili Band. Enjoy.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

I delivered the new dance costumes at last weekend's practice.  It's nice to have them done, but they really didn't feel as burdensome as the last set.  Of course, there were only 5 pieces this time as opposed to last time's 33.  Good news: our one male dancer asked us if he should wear his kilt for the performance.  Obvy, we all said of course!  He's got a shirt and vest now that matches our dresses, and with a black kilt, he'll be dapper.

[livejournal.com profile] katriniac got us a gig performing in her hometown of Maple Lake this weekend.  I'm anticipating chilly (we're performing outdoors) but fun.

Unrelatedly, everybody seems to be talking about Costume College.  Sigh.  I had really, finally promised myself that this was the year I would go, but my. . um, family situation has prevented that.  Oh well.  I don't suppose Costume College will stop happening any time soon, and there's always next year or the year after.  The best bonus I have for this is family living in L.A. that I can stay with.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Well, since Crewel Day last week, I've been working on nothing but dance costumes.  St. Pat's is rapidly approaching and I want to deliver the costumes this Sunday.  I think I have about 5 or 6 hours of finishing work to do.

I eked one dress out of the very, very last of the double gerogette.  I had to piece one sleeve from scraps.  I'm glad this fabric is done.  It is very comfortable to wear and drapes beautifully, but it is so wiggly and spongy and difficult to sew.  Plus it snags like crazy and everybody's damp sweaty spots show up very dark.  Making 12 dresses from it was a learning experience.

So now the georgette dress is done but for the tie cord, and then it's smooth sailing because all the other pieces are in lovely, stable silk dupioni.


elizabeth_mn: (Default)

Knitting is just not doing it for me lately.  I'm getting a bit bored by it.  I've done about 5 rows of sweater cuff.

I got a bunch of dance costume work in over the weekend.  Also I spent some time mending a few thrift store finds. 

I tried to work on my wool skirt, but I really, really have a knack for choosing difficult colors that match nothing, so I couldn't find any fabrics to coordinate with it, or even to harmoniously clash with it.  The green has too much blue in it.  So I finally decided that I'll make self-fabric pockets and put a few buttons on them to make them less plain.

Mostly I have the feeling I am working on insignificant stuff just for the sake of working on something, so my sewing muscles don't just atrophy.  I'm hoping something will inspire me soon.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
About the only things I've been sewing lately are dance costumes.  And really, it's turning out not to be so bad as I thought it would.

This project is about using up the last of the fabric from the set of 11 dresses I made for my ceili dance group a couple years ago.  I'm just making a few more pieces to outfit our newest members.  The list is:

One basic dress (the dark red silk double georgette)
Two vest-overdresses (pink silk dupioni)
One shoulder cape/drape (gold silk dupioni)
One gent's vest (gold silk dupioni)

I've got the georgette dress about halfway together and I did a fitting on the dancer in question last week.  I fitted one of the vest-overdresses yesterday.  I also fitted a mock-up of the gent's vest on our one male dancer.

This week I want to get a few more hours in on these so I can do another fitting at next weekend's practice.  Then about a day of finishing work and they'll all be done in time for St. Patrick's Day.

I'm still not super fond of the dresses generally, but I think they accurately reflect what you get when you design a dance costume by consensus process.  Everybody had their say, so the dresses have somewhat disparate elements mashed together that don't necessarily work.  I'm starting to realize that a lot of that is not the fault of my sewing skill or lack thereof.

This project has really got me thinking about sewing for others again.  I feel kind of bad even considering it, since I promised myself I wouldn't, for my own good.  But I'm starting to feel like saying never again in such a definite way was silly, because real life doesn't work in absolutes like that.  But, assuming I could even find work to do, I think I'd like to selectively take on sewing projects for pay again.

elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
Here's a few of the pictures of the group wearing the new dresses and dancing at irish Fair last weekend:

L1010076.jpg 07 mech picture by ashamanjababu

We had a good time dancing and there were no major mess-ups.  We performed on Friday and Sunday and taught a class on ceili dance on Saturday. The only thing that I guess I could say went "wrong" was that on one day we had a really rude, crummy announcer who kept basically insulting our group. In essence, he said that we are all old women who are only in this group because no one else will have us, that we aren't good enough dancers to be in the dance schools or in competitions -  that we basically suck at dancing generally.  Everyone in the group felt bad and was pretty angry.  

It was still a good time, though.  I love dancing, even when there are poop-heads in the vicinity.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I tried attaching the cord trim to one of the dresses yesterday and it was such a huge pain!  The cord really doesn't want to make sharp corners, and I couldn't figure out a way to finish the cut ends nicely.  So I fiddled with it for half an hour and then ripped it out. Oh, and of course that was all after I spent an hour making a template of the design!  I suck at geometry.  I just could not make this triangular knot balanced!

So anyway, even if I could make it work (which I don't think I can) I would expect it to take me probably half an hour per motif, and with 4 on each dress and 11 dresses, well, yeah, I'm not going to wear myself out trying to accomplish the impossible by this Sunday.  I'm really disappointed, though - the cord design was the coolest part of the dress!  I hope everyone else isn't as disappointed.  I guess it was silly of me to take on such a large project involving a desgin element I have little experience with.

I have two dresses left to hem, do seam finishes on, and iron, and then they all need buttons.  I think I can manage that tomorrow. I haven't even started my own dress, I think I'll do it next tuesday.

In other costume news, the Victorian Society here has announced the date of the Autumn Ball: October 13th.  I'm so glad a ball is coming up!  I think I'll wear my wedding dress with the ballgown bodice.  It needs new sleeves but that's not too difficult to do by then. 
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
6 dresses done and ironed, ready for buttons and trim.

2 ready to be hemmed.

2 fittings done, dresses ready for alteration, then hemming.

I'm totally wrecked, thank goodness I'm stopping now!
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I'm taking a break so I just had to share where I'm at.  I hemmed and finished (as in, now all they need are 2 buttons and the cord trimmings, and to be ironed) 3 more dresses this morning.  It has taken me about 40 minutes per dress at top speed.  

So now I have 4 done, I have 4 more that still need minor alterations before they can be hemmed, and I realized I have 2 that still need fittings - I'm expecting the dancers in question to drop by later today.

If I can finish the second group of 4 and iron them all, I'll be perfectly happy about my progress. 
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I really didn't get as much done yesterday as I had hoped.  I trimmed the excess fabric off the bottoms of all the dresses where the hems were marked, I made some little alterations on some of them, and I managed to do hems and seam finishes on ONE dress.  Poop! 

It's frustrating because I worked all day!  Now, I did forget about having to do seam finishes (zigzagging), and I guess I did kind of underestimate the concept of hemming; since these are only one layer dresses, I'm using narrow hems to finish all the edges, so that's the neckline and front opening, the armholes, the bottom edge, and the edges of the 'panels' where the seams are split open to show the underdress.

Anyway, I'm in a mild panic now.  I figured on the hems being quicker and the cord trim being more time-consuming.  I suppose I'll just have to do the hemming as quick as I can and just see how much time I have for the trimming.  Theoretically, I have until August 10th to finish, but I was really hoping to deliver them this Sunday at practice instead of hauling them along to the performance to be handed out there.

I know I have no right to whine about the time crunch because I willingly and knowingly ignored this project when I felt like working on something else.  I'm still glad I did!  even if now I have to rush.

Today I have until 5:00 to work, but I need to get moving.  Now would be the perfect time for that alternate-universe-me to hang around and poke me with the sharp stick so I keep working.
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
I did the last set of fittings for the dance dresses last night at practice, so now I need to spend the rest of the week doing minor fitting alterations, hemming them all, adding buttons and loops, and applying cord in little celtic knot patterns at the closures.

Basically, all the real work of the project.

I think if I can make it a goal to get all of them (10) hemmed today, I won't feel too crazy-overwhelmed about the cord applique part.  They're just getting simple machine topstitched hems, so I don't think it's too unreasonable a goal.  I just need to ignore that little discouraging voice that reminds me that they all look a little different, and that the hems of the underdresses are all wonky and these will make it more noticable, and that there are any number of wierd things wrong with them.

I need to focus on the voice that says "just do this, don't think about it too much, and then you will be done, and you'll get paid, and you'll be free to sew something more fun!"

Since we have a performance in two weeks, we added an extra hour onto our practice last night.  I think it helped, but after dancing for 3 hours I feel pretty wrecked today.  Ceili dance can be pretty intense. 
elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
This morning I finished the binding on Ms. Teal's corset, so now it's done!  For the binding, I found a lovely Indian shot cotton at Treadle, with bright cherry red weft threads and royal blue warp threads, making a wonderful, multi-toned purple that really went well with the batik.  I washed all her dress fabrics this morning and this afternoon I'm going to start her skirts.

When I went to get the binding I also bought a piece of apple-green Indian cotton for my next embroidery project - one of my State Fair pieces.  I'm going to make a pillow (this has been a them lately!) with an Arts and Crafts design embroidered on it, maybe with gingko leaves, I haven't decided.  I think I'll start it in a couple days.

And the dance dress fittings went suprisingly well last night.  The style is so simple, it is only fitted at side and CB seams, so I was a little worried they would look lumpy and/or boxy, but they looked nice and everyone was happy (it may have helped that I brought some of the boozy chocolate truffles I made yesterday with me to practice!)
elizabeth_mn: (needlecraft)
I finished my dragonfly a couple days ago, and yesterday I blocked it.  Today it is dry and I'll sew the pillow.  I'll post pictures when it's done!

I tore apart a pair of my honeybunny's old jeans and made a pattern, yesterday I made alterations to it, added seam allowances, and cut it out.  I might make a mock-up today.

Yesterday I made alterations to my suit coat pattern. I took in the waist a little in back, took in the top of the front princess seam where it was gaping, trimmed the shoulder seam a little, and trimmed a little off the back part of the armhole; even after I cut off the seam allowances from the mock-up, there was still a stress wrinkle coming from that area, and the trimming helped.  I think I'm ready to cut out the actual fabric now.  I should probably do another mock-up, but I'm antsy to finish!  I doubt it will need more than little alterations now, and I can make those on the actual coat.

Yesterday I also (finally) dove in and drafted a simple pattern for the dance group's overdresses.  I'm hoping to cut and sew 3 or 4 of them today so I can do fittings at tomorrow night's practice. I have this feeling that everyone is sort of politely but impatiently waiting for me to finish.  I'm sort of scared I won't finish fast enough - I hate letting people down like that!

Today I need to bike over to Treadle for some purple cotton for corset binding.  I bought some the other day for Ms. Teal's corset, I matched it to the thread I used to topstitch the boning channels, but when I got it home I realized it really doesn't go.  It looks a lot more like MN Vikings purple than it did in the store.  (Yuck.)

So, to do today:

-sew dragonfly pillow
-parlty sew 4 dance dresses (to fitting stage)
-get purple binding fabric, wash it, cut binding
-jeans mock-up
-also, transfer dark crystal stout to secondary fermenter
-and make some bread

I'd better get started!
elizabeth_mn: (socks)
I made a little mock-up overdress to show my dance group last night.  It's really simple, it's sort of a sleeveless vest thing that's almost as long as the dress, with the front, side seams, and back seams split up to the hip, so they swing out while moving and spinning.  I put two buttons and elastic loops on for a closure, one just above and one just below the bustline in front, with some rattail cord applied in a little celtic knot design on each side.

Everybody liked it (yay!!) and now I just need to get samples of buttons and cord colors, show them to the group, then I can start sewing them.  And the sooner I start, the sooner I will be finished!  Our next practice isn't for two weeks, though, so I'm going to try to be productive and use my 'sewing-for-me' time well.
elizabeth_mn: (blue linen)

Last Sunday night was my dance group's meeting to discuss costumes, group issues, etc. We're moving into Costumes: Phase 2, the Overdresses. As before, we had a good deal of idea-throwing, with no real consensus at the end and, also as before, I am left hopelessly confused about what everyone wants me to do.

elizabeth_mn: (Default)
My HB managed to take a few pictures of us dancing on saturday.  None of them came out very well - the lighting was pretty crummy and also he couldn't get very close to the stage as it was very crowded.  Also, we move so fast! (ha ha.)

Anyway, they're pretty grainy but you get the general idea.

elizabeth_mn: (socks)
Our dance performance on Saturday went pretty well, with the exception of one dancer getting hit in the ankle with a guitar case 5 minutes before the performance.  She was bruised but basically okay, and even insisted on limping through some of the dances, but for the most part, we took her out and had other dancers sub in, which meant that I was thrown into a dance that I haven't done in months.  It went okay, though.  There was one more too-wide-neckline-almost-becoming suddenly-naked issue.  I told everyone that if they wanted me to do alterations, they can just bring their dress to next weekend's practice.  Not looking forward to that, but it does mean that I have this week all to myself!

I finished my pattern for the 19-teens-inspired skirt and cut out the dark red wool crepe last night.  I need to go get thread and button forms before I can start sewing it.  For the band of trim, I cut 4" bias strips of coordinating silk, and I'm going to wrap them around 2" bias strips of some kind of stabilizer.  I was thinking of horsehair canvas (mostly because I have some on hand already) but I'm wondering if the stiff fibers might not work their way out of the silk eventually.  I guess I'll just look at the interfacings when I go to buy thread today and see what they've got.  Maybe I'll use silk organza.

I really want to finish this today!  I feel like I haven't actually finished anything for myself in ages.


Mar. 16th, 2007 07:22 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
Yesterday (after I basically loafed all day, although I did also buy birthday presents for my HB) I managed to do a little work on the new skirt pattern.  I traced the fitted, adjusted pattern onto plain paper, lengthened it, added a little width to the hem for walking ease (I don't like vents or slits in long skirts) and I split the front along the dart line so I had a seam running down the front where I can insert some trim.  I guess I could have just applied the trim to the surface, but I like to have more options for enclosing all the seam allowances.  

I wasn't able to cut it out, though, because one of my fellow dancers stopped by so I could fix the too-wide neckline on her dress.  I ended up just taking in about 6 inches on the CB seam, tapering to the hem.  I think this pulled the shoulder seam a little too far back, but that's probably just a nitpicky detail and not nearly as noticable as a dancer suddenly becoming naked as her dress slips off her shoulders on stage.  Oh, and random thought: I think the fabric is double georgette. I didn't think it was georgette before because the fibers didn't look crunkled, but the other day I realized I just wasn't looking closely enough.  It feels really nice to wear, it really flows, I guess that makes up for it being a pain to sew.

I have a little more work to do on the last remaining dance dress today, but I also want to get back to my skirt pattern.  I'm making a wool crepe skirt, and I want to finish it before we run out of cold weather!
elizabeth_mn: (blue silk back)

So now it's time for the aforementioned complaints, or 'the inner workings of my sewing and design process."


Mar. 14th, 2007 11:03 am
elizabeth_mn: (Default)
And not a moment too soon!!!

dance dress 1

dance dress 2

Of course, since I only had a couple hours, everything that could possibly have gone wrong did.  I can be relied on to complain further about this later.
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