Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Tropical Paradise for Jeannie

Vivacious Jeannie dances on the other side of the Twin Cities from our studio, at The Tropical Ballroom.  Although I doubt she set out to get a gown that would represent her studio, our results call to mind a tropical paradise for me, both because of the profusion of pink blossoms and the lushness of the deep spruce green velvet fabric.

Pretty, dark-haired Jeannie did the homework I always request of my clients, and brought with her to her design meeting several inspiration images.  Some were illustrations of style silhouettes she liked, and a couple were ideas for skirt finishes and details.  She carried in a rich suede jacket that represented the color of her dream gown, and she also brought a friend, but that is another blog post entirely!

I knew from the moment I saw the jacket that I would be doing some hunting to find the color she wanted, in four fabrics: a lycra for the bodysuit, soft sheer for the skirt, shiny fabric for the skirt binding and a rich spruce-y something for the bodice itself.  The suede jacket had a nap, and part of the beauty of the spruce color was in the richness of that nap.  Also, I had just hunted for blue-greens for Patty, and knew very little was readily available in dancewear fabrics in that hue.  We spent a little time looking at my British fabric swatchbooks, and my favorite American lycra sources, but nothing that matched the jacket was immediately to hand.  

I told Jeannie that I would have to hunt for fabrics in the colors she wanted, and keep her posted with swatches and photos of my quest.

As you can see, I had a scrap of crushed velvet that had been custom dyed and it did the jacket justice, but was too textured for our needs.  I also had a piece of lycra from the hunt for Emerald for Patty that would serve for the body suit, since it didn't have to be an exact match. Our first find was a luminous piece of georgette that became the skirt, and next that I discovered a piece of charmeuse that could be made in to shiny skirt binding.  Finally Michele said she had seen a piece of velvet in a local shop, and with these fabrics in hand, we got underway.

After we had the shell of the gown complete, we looked a a myriad of different possible flower options.  We even considered three-dimensional silk or fabric flowers, but Jeannie wanted a something flat and I wanted an exciting edge, since it would be strongly featured against the deep velvet.  Jeannie also wanted shades of pink, and nothing else.

We finally settled on a lycra print with lots of pinks and interesting shapes, and we cut out bits and created applique, for which I found we needed yet another piece of fabric for the backing of these bits.  Jeannie was disturbed by the olive greens in the leaves, but I assured her that our embellishment would change that.

And indeed, it did change!  We also emphasized the edges with Crystal AB outlines and I just love this result!

I am also really pleased with the skirt movement.  When a gown is a darker hue, it must compensate to achieve visibility with sparkle, texture, and action, and Jeannie animated it beautifully.
I apologize again, for my photography.  My camera is not sufficiently sophisticated to capture action on the far side of the dark room, and rhythm dances do not travel around the room, but stay in one spot.  Sadly, Jeannie was never close to me when dancing, but although these are not great photos, they do at least hint at the shiny skirt and sleeve edges in action.
Thanks Jeannie, for letting us work with you on your delightful new gown, and we hope to see you back in our studio again!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Word About Ed

WOW!  That is the word that best describes what I saw when I watched my client Ed dance at the Snow Ball.  I could use some other words.  Like fast, powerful, controlled, and expressive, but this is supposed to be a blog about costumes.

I really need to spend more energy featuring the men of Made for Movement.  Since they almost always wear black, and are intended to provide both a physical and visual frame for the ladies they partner, it's very easy to let them slip away in to the background.  But they really look great.

We like to try to help all of our clients, men included, find a powerful competitive image for themselves that flatters and emphasizes their movement and body, but also reveals something of their personal character.  Ed works in the banking industry, and we wanted to hint at that with his double breasted, immaculate, and conservative look.  We chose a matte black gabardine and beautiful matte satin tuxedo facing with satin buttons for this sleeveless jacket, and Made for Movement tailor Michele did a great job with it.

Our sleeveless jackets are very popular with our gentlemen.  We make ballroom suits as well, and they are an engineering feat, allowing the dancer to raise his arms while the shoulders of the suit  stay neatly down and flat.  But for American style smooth dancing especially, the sleeveless jacket provides the illusion of a full suit, while offering our clients the freedom of movement and coolness of a vest.

Ed's beautiful partner is his teacher Julie, a National Nine Dance Champion, and the person deserving some credit for my opening WOW! But Ed can take a bow as well, since teachers cannot dance for anyone, and Ed is clearly doing his part. Julie is also a Made for Movement client.  Her gown was re-done this summer, a renewal project to give a gown made several years ago a new lease on life.  We added the color to a gown that was originally white and re-furbished and replaced some jewelry and the results are splendid.

Please do not miss Julie and the rest of the Beyond Ballroom Dance Company, February 3-5th at the Cowles Center.  We are working on costumes for two of their new pieces this week and are really looking forward to the event.   We hope to see you there!

Congratulations to both Ed and Julie, on a successful Snow Ball.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Celebrating 25 Years!

Made for Movement was born 25 years ago this month, in 1987, and a little celebrating is in order.

We have had 4 different locations, and by my estimate, created nearly 1000 costumes for Twin Cities competitive ballroom dancers in those years.  I believe I have managed to make the things I love the most; 3 dimensional design, beautiful fabrics, all things sparkly, and dance, into a perfect career.

As I finish the last of three new gowns for the Snowball this weekend, I wanted to look back a little, and look ahead as well.

First, let's look ahead.  Of greatest importance, I want you to know that we are raising our rates this year.  Each year, the cost of rhinestones, fabric and notions goes up, but Made for Movement has charged the same hourly rate for our labor since 2005!  After seven years of holding the line, it's time for an increase.  But for all of you who book with us by the 15th of January, for any project for any time this year,  we will honor our 2005 rate.  So stop by our display at the Snowball and make sure your projects for this year are on our schedule to take advantage of this offer.  To give you an example of the savings you can get by scheduling NOW,  I just finished a new gown at a cost of $2050.  At our new rate, this same gown will cost $2300, so book your costume needs for 2012 by the 15th of January, and save!

Now for a quick look back!  In 2011, we made 22 new gowns, dressed 15 men in either Latin, Smooth or Standard attire, and sold 12 Gently Used gowns, plus did several "renewal" projects, (a new skirt, a new sleeve, a new look for an older gown) working at our usual project-a-week pace.

The average new, custom-designed Latin or Rhythm Gown cost about $2000 and the average ballgown cost was $2450, which makes us a huge bargain by industry standards, and this will still be true when our new rate is in place.

For those of you looking for an exceptional price on a beautifully made gown, I just got a couple of new Gently Used listings, and they are being cleaned and readied for the rack on Friday, so, VISIT US AT THE SNOWBALL!

OH!  And here's a little sneak peek at a detail on a new gown that I am loving.  I can't wait to see it (and it's lovely and talented owner) dance!