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Time to go Global

It’s always encouraging to get repeat business.  So when I received a phone call from a previous client I immediately said yes and came out of my summer sabbatical 4 weeks early.

The brief is to make 2 complete sets of costumes for 6 dancers – I have just 4 weeks (& 1 lovely assistant).

Thankfully, most of the fabrics arrive a week before I am due to start and my studio starts to fill up with (more) colour.

Bright, Vibrant colours to lift the soul.

The first year I made these (2016!) I had 101 questions to ask the designer (Ashlee Hill) – how big do you want the collars/pockets/sequin cuffs?  Does the balance work better with 3 or 4 buttons?  What type of pockets does Mr. Khaki have; box pleats or inverted pleats?  How wide is the stripe down Mr. Sporty Blue’s sleeves & shorts?  The photos below are the kind that I would send for answers to my questions and what my computer photo files are filled with.  However, this was a repeat order so I didn’t have to worry about these things!

Four weeks later and they are all ready to be packed up and delivered.

Here they are, my costumes on stage at the Global Village in Dubai.

Johanna, 1 of my lovely assistants and her assistant Audrey, working whilst enjoying the summer sun.

Strictly Learn Dancing part 1 – The Quickstep

Our local hospice put on a charity event called Strictly Learn Dancing.  In just 6 weeks you learned 2 ballroom dances then performed them on stage.  My (then) boyfriend/partner and I decided to take part in this.  We love dancing but had never tried ballroom and I really wanted the chance to be swept around a dance floor wearing a big flouncy frock.  What’s not to like!

Of course, being a costume maker I made our costumes.  I asked my good friend (and wonderful costume designer) Emma Waugh to design my dresses and she gave me a beautiful dress.  For the Quickstep we went pastel and frothy with a multicoloured, multi-layered petticoat.

The dress was then made from a layer of pink sequin over a green/pink shot satin with gold godets and highlights.  All with added sparkles.  I even added a fake necklace of crystals to the flesh net.  For Paul I made a cumberbund (sadly un-crystalled) and a crystal encrusted bow-tie.

and to see the costumes in action have a look at this youtube footage:

To be continued …

Strictly Learn Dancing part 2 – The Rumba

As I explained in part 1, I was taking part in a charity dancing competition – learning 2 ballroom dances in 6 weeks.  Now we are on to the dance of love … The Rumba!

For this Emma designed something dark, brooding and sexy.  We had a lot to live up to!

Both costumes were made from the same bright blue base fabric (you can see this in the photo of Paul’s final fitting), then another, shinier, more sparkly fabric was laid over it to get a lovely deep 2-tone effect.  For a bit of added sexiness we decided to use just the purple shimmer for Paul’s shirt sleeves.  I then added even more sparkle to his shirt yoke.

To tie the 2 costumes together I used Paul’s shimmery top fabric for my frills.  It’s lucky that I quite like my legs!Rumba costumes Rumba action C

 

 

 

To see these costumes in motion, watch the you tube footage below.

 

Something Blue

I love making little things for weddings because sometimes it’s the little things that count.

One customer wanted a little ‘something blue’ to be sewn into her friend’s wedding dress, so that’s exactly what she got.

Something Blue embroidery

Something Blue embroidery

I am currently working another ‘something blue’ project.   You’ll see the results in the next few months.  In the meantime – here’s a little sneaky peak!

Lace garter

Bucks Point bobbin lace garter

Heart shaped pochette!

The widower of a regular customer contacted me one day & asked me to make a special gift for the new lady in his life.  He wanted a small bag that she could wear while dancing and into which she could pop her dance notes (they are both keen scottish dancers).

The brief was that it should be heart shaped and able to hold an A4 piece of paper after it had been folded about 3 times.  He also wanted quilted hearts and her initial – ‘P’

The concentric hearts weren’t a problem.  The initial took a little longer to work out.

 With the design finalised I got to work with the quilting.

Can you spot my deliberate mistake?  All was not lost!  I quickly re-wired my brain to work back-to-front and tried again.

With the addition of an adjustable (& detachable) strap held on with beautiful heart shaped clasps and magnets to hold it closed, I think the lovely ‘P’ had a rather lovely bag.

Got to Pick a Pocket

medieval celtic wedding dress and grooms frock coat with hand embroidery

 

In 2007 I made a wedding dress & coat for a lovely couple, Michelle & Stuart (see my previous blog ‘A Celtic Twist’)

 

 

 

A few years later I asked to borrow these to show at a wedding fair.  In payment Stuart asked for some pockets to be added to his coat.   I was more than happy to oblige.

celtic embroidered coat pockets 2

celtic embroidery coat pocket

 

 

 

 

 

 

He didn’t want pocket flaps to spoil the line of the coat so instead I just added a ribbon tab and button to close the pocket & hopefully foil the pick pocket (or2).

 

 

 

His ‘n’ Hers Patchwork

When I have a few spare moments I like to make things for me, friends & family, the house, our lovely campervan.  Well, this time I thought our tired old camping chairs could do with a bit of a face-lift.  The metal had worn through the fabric and the wind whistled through them to chill any sitter to the bone.  So, while out & about I found the perfect base fabric, I then searched through my extensive ‘scrap’ fabric and started some patchwork.

With 1 block each in greens, reds & bluey/purples I created his ‘n’ hers chair covers.

We’ll be lovely and cosy next time we go camping.

 

More than just an Alteration

I will admit now, from the start – I don’t like doing alterations!

I will alter my own clothes (I’m an awkward shape) and, if I’m feeling kind, I may do bits & pieces for my nearest & dearest but, as a whole it takes too long and I am rarely truly satified with the result (though I’ve had no complaints so they can’t be that bad)

Wedding Dress Before

Wedding Dress Before

Having said that I did enjoy altering Danielle’s dress.  She had bought a lovely dress which just needed a few tweaks to give it that ‘WOW’ factor.

 

Wedding dress after

Wedding dress after

 

 

So, we altered the neckline, , changed the belt from black to ivory then added lace to the belt, sleeve cuffs and hem.

 

Danielle looking radiant, glamorous and ready for her wedding.

Danielle looking radiant, glamorous and ready for her wedding.

 

 

 

With the addition of an ivory net petticoat, I think you’ll agree that she looks every inch the glowing bride.

This is my kind of alteration!

The Rashomon Effect

The National Youth Dance  Co's latest!

The National Youth Dance Co’s latest!

For the last 2 weeks I have been working on the costumes for the National Youth Dance Company. They will be performing the Rashomon Effect and an extract from Vertical Road.  Both pieces are by their guest Artistic Director, Akram Khan.

They open on Wednesday 16th April at Sadlers Wells, and are well worth going to see. The show includes some amazing dancing from such lovely young people.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it… Here‘s a fascinating piece in the Guardian written by Akram Khan about his experience of working with the NYDC.

A Celtic twist

This couple wanted to lift their elegant wedding outfits with a little subtle surface decoration.  We settled on a simple Celtic knotwork design to enhance the deep cuffs of the groom’s coat and the neckline of the bride’s dress.