Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Finished Object: Red Team Dance Costumes

Ok, so while I think my solo costumes are more to my personal taste, these team dance costumes are probably some of my proudest creations, just because of their complexity.  I mean, seriously guys - I tailored sequins.  Let me repeat: I TAILORED SEQUINS!  Not actually as complicated as I had feared, but not exactly the easiest fabric to work with either.  My sewing machine dealt with it pretty well (at least, until one of the plastic gears finally gave out and cracked - and, yes, I finally figured out how to open up the machine and check it out, and, yes, one of the plastic gears that turned the bobbin casing did break), but my serger could not deal with this stuff.  My new machine was a total beast and didn't bat an eye.  Regardless of how Lacey (my new machine) works from here on out, I will forever be grateful that these costumes got sewn before I left for nationals.

Actually, worse than sewing this fabric was cutting it - such a pain the butt!  There are sequins EVERYWHERE.  A month after I cut this stuff out, sequins are still floating about.  I mean, I will walk outside and see random sequins on the pavement that had been stuck to my shoe.  I find them in my washed laundry.  I find them in my hair.  I spent an hour picking them up while cleaning my sewing space.  I went back to my school apartment and they are all over the floor there.  Everywhere!  *Sigh*  But, well, I think it was worth it:

My red sequin dress!  Oh, and I made the sequined tux too.
The only thing I didn't make was the white shirt.

A close-up of the skirt fabric - large sequins on a stretch-mesh.
Fabric was chosen by the partner.  (Photo courtesy of my sister)

Close-up of the bodice - also made of entirely sequined fabric.
(Photo courtesy of my sister)

I used a tan mesh over a tan lining fabric to get the perfect skin tone.
(Photo courtesy of my sister)
This was by far the most complicated dress I have ever made - it took seven different fabrics to construct it.  I used a tan mesh over a tan lining for the skin-toned sections, a red mystique foil spandex for the main body and straps, liquid sequin fabric for the bodice, meshy-bangle sequins for the skirt, foil-dot illusion for the arm piece, and regular illusion mesh as underlay for the skirt (to ensure the main mesh would not be see-through at any point - this is to comply with the costuming rules).  For his tux I used the mystique spandex under the liquid sequins to make the jacket, and I used "jumbo spandex" to make the pants and boot covers.  I also added some of the bangle fabric to his jacket as a design feature on the back.  The large stones are crystal AB Korean knock-offs, and the glue on stones are size 30ss Czech Preciosa in crystal AB.  The stoning was finished literally the night before we skated, and the final hooks and snaps didn't get sewn on until the day we skated finals.  Yes, very last minute, but, then again, aren't all the best sewing projects finished at the last minute?

To create the bodice design I cut a large section of the liquid sequins, pinned it to the dress while I was wearing it, topstitched it down, and trimmed off the excess.  Not the neatest finish, but the crazy sequin material and rhinestone decorations hide a lot of the stitching.  I did sew side-seams on the skirt, but in hindsight it would have been better to overlap the sequin material at the hips and tacked the front and back skirt to each other, rather than sewing the seam.  Ah, well.  There are a lot of up-close messiness that simply disappears at a distance (one of the ultimately good and challenging things about costumes - you have to think about scale and perspective).  And, oddly, one would think that the sequin fabric would be rather itchy, but this costume is actually really comfortable.  I mean, I do have to pet down the skirt when I stand up, but other than that this costume really is pretty easy to wear.  I knew that we would be skating in a really large event, and I want a very "Look At ME" type costume.  Subtlety, maturity, and sophistication were not part of it.  This was about all-out gaudiness.  I think I got what I wanted, crazy as it made me to achieve it.  And, well, in the end, it was worth it:

So, those were my costumes for this year.  Took me much longer to create them all than I had anticipated, and it was a lot more time and effort than I usually put into my costumes.  But, in the end, I am pleased with the results and I really like what I have created.  Much as I have missed sewing clothes for myself, I am always proudest of my skating creations, and this year was no exception.  I was totally exhausted when they were done, and I really don't want to sew skating costumes again for a while, but I am pleased with the results and I looking forward to wearing my creations again in the coming year.


  1. Nice work (on the dress and the medal!)

    I hope you'll do a review/link dump about crystals and fabric in the future. I'm curious about these Korean crystals and also "jumbo" spandex!

  2. I love both of your team dance costumes ... especially the blue. Which dances did you do?

    I have to say as an ice dancer whose partner is a former roller dancer, and who dragged me out on the floor in rental skates and made me do the Viennese Waltz among other things, skating on quads is really difficult. Much more difficult than ice.

    1. In the blue costumes we did the Century Blues, the Chase Waltz, and the Collegiate. In the red costumes we skated the Swing Waltz, the Casino Tango, the Academy Bues, and the Denver Shuffle.

      I love the Viennese Waltz! Fun dance, though I am still working on getting tight footwork on the crosses. I couldn't imagine doing it on rental skates though.... How could you get a good edge? Crazy. I have heard it said that learning the basics and getting balance is harder on ice, but that doing any of the advanced skating is harder in roller. I did try ice skating when I was little, but I wasn't too much a fan of the wet or the cold. Pretty sure I ended up in the right sport for me.

    2. We had just spent the season working on Viennese and Silver Samba (I don't think that's a roller dance) on ice so we tried them both on the floor.

      Let me tell you -- I can't hold an edge on quads AT ALL. OMG, I slide all over the place. Holding on to a stable partner I could do the steps, but I'm sure my technique was awful. A bunch of people spotted me and said immediately "ice skater"! So my faulty ice technique was obvious to everyone.

      I'd like to learn roller some day but it will have to be when I have a lot of time because it is HARD!! I have a lot of appreciation for what you can do on the floor.

  3. WOW! You know, I was admiring some sequined fabric in a shop the other day, and wondering how the hell one sews with such a thing. I would LOVE to see a post on how to sew with sequins!
    That aside, your costumes are incredible and I'm seriously blown away at how much work you've put into them. You guys look great on the floor too!! Woohoo for the medal!!!! :)

  4. I've really enjoyed seeing and reading about your skating costumes. All that hard work has really paid off; they look so beautiful.

    Well done :o)