It’s starting to feel like Oireachtas season extends right into St. Pat’s season!!! Once the costume orders are finished for the various Oireachtas, we are beginning work on the orders for the dance out season. Now you would think that St. Pat’s day is March 17th and that is all there is to it…..no! No I tell you. It all depends on where you live! And that’s why we call it a season rather than a DAY. Up here “in the Woods” we have a very early start to “the season.” Our parade is the first Saturday in March. That gives many of the out of town pipe bands a chance to use our parade as a warm up to their own parades which are in fact closer to The Day. Then depending on what day of the week, “The Day” falls, well…you can have parades for days and days, with dance outs stretching for weeks before and after. So each school might need costumes at any point from mid-January until the end of March. The end of March…why you say…..that leads right into the World Championships…..YES it does! And thats how it goes year round for the dressmakers of this activity!!!!
So lets see if we can get some pics up here! It’s been tough with the flickr app not working, and the uploader for the pc being pretty crappy. OK, so here is one! These are the adorable jumpers for the Kinlough Academy. A total of 26 of these were made for them. Pretty busy!!! Front and Back. I’ll have some more photos of the girls wearing the dresses and the jumpers. Six more dresses were just finished for them as well. Now the whole school is costumed which is quite an accomplishment. Thanks to the hard work from the teachers and parents these kids will be very proud Irish Dancers!
To finish off 2012 I can say that in the world of dressmaking and dancing it has been a wonderful year! So many things to be thankful for. New friendships, new customers, watching children grow and learn, supporting dear friends in the lowest moments of their lives, learning so much still about my craft, and always keeping an open mind. I am really excited about 2013!!! I am thrilled with the new schools that I will be working with, the longstanding schools that I will help grow their dress programs, the many solo dresses that I will be lucky to contribute to, and lots and lots of dancing!!!
I have to work on my website because the way I use to add photos no longer works. So I’m going to have to figure that out, because I think an interesting site needs some good pictures. That will be a priority in the new year. I really like to keep my customers up to date with real time photos when I can. For now I can still post photos to my Flickr albums which anyone can see if they click through the photo album in the upper right hand corner of this site.
I want to say that a giant thrill for me professionally are the fantastic women that I work with. While we all maintain our own business’s we are able to really capitalize on each person’s expertise and allow it to work for all of us. An accomplishment that I do believe is uniquely female!!! Women supporting women is very important to me in all aspects. I do believe we always do the best we can at any given time in our lives. That means different things at different times…..and lucky for me it is that way.
On the home front….Wow! a lot going on there. There always is. I am so thankful that I can continue to work out of my home studio. Being available to my family is critical to me. I am happy that I can continue to give my time and passion to my children and husband in a way that keeps us all together, and supports each of us when needed most. That’s a difficult job to do when you have no flexibility. I am grateful for my circle of friends who keep me happy and entertained, and supports me in so many aspects of my life.
So lets welcome 2013, and all the challenges and fun it will bring!!!
December 28th, 2012 in
I’ve recently experienced the highs and lows of childhood.
A dear young dancing friend passed away last week.
Cassidy and Tara danced together for many years while at the Montague School. Tara helped as an assistant coach, and enjoyed helping Cassidy. Then as Cass caught on and moved up they enjoyed Feising together. Even when Montague closed and both girls moved on to different school we still had the pleasure of keeping up with Cass and her mom Kate and many competitions, Hooley’s, parades and dance outs. It’s amazing how many things can bring Irish dance families together even from different cities and schools. Plus it helps when you have a great Teacher like Katie Montague-McCarthy to instill the love of dance and friendship to all her students. Hearing of Cassidy passing was a shock to our system. I was in disbelief even though once I learned of the circumstances I certainly understood. My daughter just fell to pieces. We had just seen Cass and Kate not two weeks before at a feis. We hugged and chatted and admired Cassidy in her beautiful solo dress. None of this seemed real, but sadly it was. So I’ve tried to help my daughter, and some of the other dance and school friends of Cass by making a banner that they could sign and write a note or a thought about Cassidy. Whatever might help them feel better. Taoknitter Arts worked with me on the design and did the digitizing. I made the banner.
We brought it with us to the calling hours, and it has made the rounds to be signed by her friends. I do hope it helps them in the grieving process. I’ve made another for just her parents. We will give them that framed to hang in their home. I hope it helps them know how much Cassidy was loved by so many people.
Then there are the high points!
I had the lovely job of making a solo dress for a young dancers American Girl doll.
I enjoyed working on this project because I knew how happy it was going to make the young dancer when she received this gift. I received a photo from her Mom and her sweet face says it all!
This is the sweet face of childhood we all want to see everyday!!! May this gift bring her happiness for many years to come.
October 18th, 2012 in
2nd Place at the AOH feis, they took her picture right after awards and put it in this cute little frame. The picture is really nice and we might actually promote it to a nicer frame and let her use this for a feis friends photo!
Syracuse Feis 5th place
East Durham 5th!
Tara and Erin at the Southern Tier Feis….4th for Tara! She did very well at the Catskills Feis, but did not wear her dress as it was so hot that the judges let them dance in an outfit of choice….somehow I don’t have a photo of that! But since she did well, her prize was a beautifully framed picture that was taken on the day. The Background for the photo is personalized to the Catskills feis. Very thoughtful and beautiful.
So it has been a fun summer of dance for her. Starting off with Nationals in Chicago and ending with a 2nd place finish. She is have a great summer and her hard work is really showing. I always hope she achieves her goals, and enjoys the journey toward them. We have had some lovely adventures this summer, and made many new friends and still enjoyed the company and laughter with our longtime buddies. Oireachtas practice kicks in full gear this weekend with a workshop. And another year of dance begins!
September 19th, 2012 in
That is kind of the place where I am right now. Have bunches of things that need embroidering for all of the Fall orders….but except for one things, I don’t have everything I need. So my sewing order is a mess, and it’s frustrating to me. This is where the picture of the frantic dressmaker comes into play….cause when you finally get what you need, you no longer have enough time….so you work like a mad person to get it done for the deadline. Not my cup of tea…but I’m not totally in control here. Alas things can be done in a not ideal order…..but that just adds to the confusion sometimes because you wind up starting and then stopping on some projects. Then you get in the one that you’ve been holding on, and then you have to get back to the others. Yikes…it just all causes me stress. Don’t we all have stress in our jobs though? So your friendly Irish Dance costume maker is no different! I’ll try and post some photos soon of my Fall projects with some commentary about how things are going. Love all of the schools I am working with, and the costumes are all so unique and beautiful. I know the dancers who will be wearing them are going to feel very special!!! That’s the goal after-all.
September 9th, 2012 in
Made my daughter a new solo dress. As a very creative 16 yr old she has lots of ideas of her own….to say the least. The original plan was to make an all red dress, as suggested by her teacher. Then she saw a dress on a dancer that was all white and she fell in love. Had to have an all white dress with no embroidery, and just crystals as decoration. (And yes the irony is not lost on me, her mother the embroiderer) So we struck a deal. I’d made the all white dress and the all red dress, so I could ease my concerns about how an all white dress would look on her. I know she looks great in red so thats a no brainer. The white dress had to come first though.
So we designed the dress. Searched for all the right elements. Picked a design, created by Susan Gowin from feis dress who was happy to help us with a great picture. The design would be done in crystals instead of embroidery. Big experiment for us. She wanted a petal skirt, which I was excited about making, but I wanted it to be a little different from every other petal skirt out there. I experimented with a trim that had some dangly things…but eventually settled on ostrich feather trim. Not a ton, but enough to give some different texture and movement. I did use the trim for the belt and sleeves and it all tied together. Here are some pictures…..
this is the trim with all of the dangling bits cut off. It shows up great on red which helped with the photo, but this fabric is not in the dress.
White on white. checking out different crystal options.
Petal fabric that is remade into skirt panels. Want to provide good coverage. This is prior the addition of the feathers.
Here is the dress all assembled without any of the crystals. Underneath the skirt are deep rose red ruffles, some netting, and some white ruffles. All provide some very nice body to the skirt.
The last time she wore this very special dress, at the Albany Feis. Was a great day!
This is the design on which we based the crystal work. We did not used colored stones. Our plan was to use Mostly clear, and some AB stones in different sizes and shapes to define the ribbons in the design. Here’s where my nerves start kicking in. Crystals are expensive, I love this design and would love to have embroidered it on the dress. Wish I had done that even if it were all done in white, because the crystals would have stuck better to the thread than to the fabric. (hindsight is great)
So here is the completed dress. front
Tara wearing the dress! Minus lots of the crystals that fell off. She really wanted to help put crystals on, and she is really good at it. I did not want her using the toxic glue down where I work, so we used a less harmful one….less harmful really means less effective. So I crawled around after her picking up all the stray crystals! But I also figured out how to get them to stick better, along with the E6000 glue I will put some interfacing in small bits between the fabric and the glue to provide more texture for the crystals to adhere to. We will see how that goes. She loves the dress, got lots of lovely compliments. Plus we sold her red one to an adorable girl who dances with Tara at our school!
Here they are together! It was a great debut for them both. Yes I am still going to make the red dress because the fabric is already purchased and it is going to be just as fun to make as the white one!!! It’s good to be a dressmaker, and it’s good to be the dancing daughter of a dressmaker!!!!!
August 12th, 2012 in
It’s been a hot summer for us. Not lots of rain, but a one or two good storms that have knocked our power. The heat is intense, but it does keep me happy to be indoors working instead of outside working!!! So what have I been up to…..well here are some updates to some previous posts.
The first one is the completed dress that I showed the black and white bows embroidery pictures. What a cutie this little one is. The dress was made by MJ. Farr of Trefoil designs, the design by Taoknitter, and as mentioned I did the embroidery. Glad she danced so well in her new dress!!!
I did some alterations which I totally did not take pictures of. Silly me!! I have also been working on the cutest American Girl Solo Dress.
Here is the dress almost finished. Still needs the zipper and some shoelaces and cape. This is an original design by Taoknitter, which can be made in different colors and fabrics for anyone interested. We like it so much that Ann is going to make the skirt available as a circle skirt as well. I can see this in bright pink and green embroidery! Would be so very cute. This one is already sold.
Here are some of the inprogress photos:
It’s lots of fun to make these, because I really do make them in the same way as real solo dresses. But I am limiting the number that I make each year because my schedule has gotten very booked and I hate to have customers wait so long. Real girl dresses and school orders do take priority, but if you are willing to be flexible with your deadlines I’m will to make more!
Still working on some school orders. Two schools that are in the process of developing new costumes. Can’t wait to post some photos of those. Absolutely beautiful. Another wonderful development has been collaborating with some new dressmakers. When we are each doing the aspect that we love the best, the work just flows so nicely. Plus it is great to have “coworkers” to chat with about the whole process! Whats not to love!!!
We had a great time in Chicago!!! Saw just the best things, and enjoyed almost every minute. The heat was the only difficulty. Really takes your energy away. But we carried on and tried to do all of the things we were planning with a few modifications. The girls had a blast!
I could post a zillion photos, but I’ll spare you. If you wish to see them head over to the flickr album and enjoy.
Of course I was quite busy before we went to Chicago. Working on embroidery for several solo dresses and vests. It was nice to meet some of my customers while I was there. Seeing them wear their costumes in person in such fun. Gives such a feeling of closure to know that things fit, and they are happy, and able to dance their best.
This was a lovely dress I did the embroidery for just before leaving. You would be amazed how the embroidery was done, and then the dress assembled!! Sometimes it is like magic! Mary Jo Farr of Trefoil designs made the dress, and Taoknitter arts did the digitizing. Beautiful work by all.
This was another group effort. So stinking cute!
Here was an embroidery job that I did as soon as we got home from Chicago. I just love these bows!!! So creative. Again this will be turned into a dress by Mary Jo Farr and the digitizing is by Taoknitter Arts. I love working with these women!!!!
I need to do a better job of loading my photos on the computer. I have more to show. Will try and update soon!!!
I really have been so very busy that I have not had much time at all to post! Plus there were things I wanted to take pictures of that I never got to because I just needed to send them out in the mail ASAP! Thats how things go sometimes…deadlines must be met whenever humanly possible!
Here is the latest creation….and it is FOR SALE!!
This is the front and back of a Black Velvet Off The Rack Vest.
OTR Vest Ready for Nationals!!
Men’s small to med. black velvet vest. Appliqued with flouro green sparkle satin and lt blue shattered glass lycra. Lined with 100% black cotton. Heavy duty molded plastic zipper on right side. Front is sprinkled with Jet black Swarovski crystals, and embroidery is tastefully done with lt. blue and teal blue swarovski crystals. Center back has flouro green center insert for some extra interest during those turns!!
Available Immediately. Will be available to try on at MDL Feis in Syracuse NY on Sunday, June 17th, or at Nationals in Chicago is not already sold.
Asking price for this outstanding vest is $400.00. There is room to let out and let down an inch both ways. Can always be taken in, and made shorter through the shoulders.
Here are measurements:
25″ from Rt shoulder to front point.
12″ side seams
14 1/2″ shoulder to shoulder
17 1/2″ front hip seam to seam
18:” Underarm seam across front chest to opposite seam.
Center back neck to hip seam 23″.
Some nice up close photos of the embroidery, applique and crystals.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of embroidery lately. Here is a sample of some skirt panels I sent down to Florida. Wish I’d had time to take pictures of the bodice pieces of this dress because I know it will be beautiful when all put together. The dressmaker is MaryJo Farr.
Here is a Custom Vest made for a young dancer in Tennessee.
I did have to put a few things on hold while I did these orders. I hope to get back to them, they are for the Chicago Irish Center. There are still items to be made before Nationals so off to work I go!!!
We are back in our home dance studio!!! The parents worked so hard, and the studio owners (who are parents also) went all out to make our studio a healthy, welcoming, and wonderful place. Now Jerry here in the picture has been a dance parent for a good ten years or so. And for all that time he has been bringing various history books with him to keep busy. In fact at many a feis, oireachtas, Nationals , and Worlds you may have seen him sitting in a chair quietly reading an anonymous book in a plain white dust jacket. So we felt it necessary to make him feel especially at home with his own reading spot! Another parent suggested a small sign saying “Jerry’s reading corner.” But having just finished this test dragon, I knew this would make the perfect addition to the studio. So I added the words and finished it off. This is one of the best smiles I’ve ever seen Jerry give us, and he is so worth the effort! He has kept us in stitches with his hilarious sense of humor for years, and as a retired high school history teacher he always seems to have a story for us!
This is a nice close up of Jerry and the banner!!
This is such a good chance to use a test piece for another purpose. Sometimes we have a test that turns out so well we don’t want to leave it sitting. I am making table runners with this design which was done by Taoknitter Arts, for the Chicago Irish Heritage Center. We really needed to test, to get a few things right. We have done that, and the actual runners will be ready soon. The colors will be different, as well as the fabrics, but for a 72′ runner you want things in the right place. Glad I had the chance to make someone smile, add a nice piece to our dance studio, and give a purpose to a beautiful piece of work.
Here are a few other pictures of items I’ve made this past year that I just received or recently found!
Brittany in her dress after alterations! Just beautiful!!!! She designed her dream dress, and now it fits just right. She is a beautiful young woman, and one of the kindest dancers I have ever met. A true Irish dance role model!
The Adlam reproduction doll dress all fixed up on her doll!!! This will be a lifetime of memories for such an accomplished dancer and her family. I thank them again for letting me make this dress, along with Taoknitter who did the digitizing.