Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Success for Less for Sally!

This post is to show you that you do not have to spend a fortune to look great on the dance floor.  Sometimes a cocktail dress can become a costume with minimal tweaking.  This great little dress is from Cache, shown at the link in black.  My client Sally found it last fall in Steel Grey, and asked me to adapt it for her as a Rhythm gown.  It had tremendous potential!  The best dresses for adaptation have some things in common.

1)  Made of stretchy fabric.
2)  Fits you beautifully or fits some places and is too large elsewhere.  There is NOTHING to be done if the dress is too small.
3)  Is sleeveless, or if it has some sort of sleeve, you can raise your arms without the dress moving up on your body.  We can add a sleeve cut for movement, but dresses you buy are cut for standing-around-looking-good, and this means you cannot raise your arms to dance if there are sleeves.  Sometimes, existing sleeves can be replaced with something else, or adapted themselves.
4)  Has a lining, which also stretches, and can be made into a leotard beneath the gown.
5)  Has its tags still attached and can be returned if I tell you it will not work.
6)  Is one of several so that a second one can be purchased if additional fabric is required.

Sally brought in her dress, matching all the above criteria, and I gave her a big YES, and she immediately bought a second one to scrap for parts and fabric.  After that first Steel gown, Cache recreated it for Spring 2014 in a fabulous orchid pink, and Sally called again. This is the one I will feature here.  (I apologize, I COULD NOT capture the color in my studio accurately without hauling out the studio lighting, and I didn't do that.  It is a blue pink, not this coral-ish!! As many of you know, it can be very hard to capture neon color with a camera.)

What the Cache dress lacked was interesting movement in the skirt, although the front and back drapes were pretty fabulous.  Also, the straight hemline was tight, and did not allow for kicks and big movement.  So the first thing to do was to cut the hemline diagonally, in sympathy to the lines of the gown, to create a bigger movement potential.  Then I chopped off the overdrapes from the second dress, and they became the drapey skirts.  I installed a bra for suppport, and created a leotard out of the interlock lining, after stablilzing the fabirc to prevent running.

Then we discussed embelllishment.  Rather than weigh down the drapey bits and turn them into spinning Ninja-quality weaponry aimed at her partner, we decided to embellish the parts that did NOT move, in a way that would be visible in motion, but not entirely when standing still.  A peep show of sorts, animated by action.  We both thought floral and tropical, because of the great hot orchid color, and we both scoped out loads of possible images.  I took her ideas, and my own, and began sketching, working to create something that met our joint criteria, and would be reasonably easy to stone and dazzling when finished.

In addition to the peekaboo bits at the left side, I removed the rhinestone cup mesh on the shoulder, replacing it with a shaped piece that boldly stated our motif.  I also wrapped my design diagonally across her back hipline, a place where cuban motion would animate the stoning and call attention the strong action of her back.

Sally has been doing her own stoning for MANY years, so she is an application pro.  I sketched the design on brown craft paper for her, and pinning it to the gown in the correct position.  Then I showed her how to cut open my pattern and fold it back to draw outlines for her application work.

I think she danced in it with the back drape hanging down like this, but we had discussed tacking it up as it is shown in earlier images, and for what it's worth, I personally would prefer just to shorten that drape, leaving it free.  But clients should get what they WANT!

I also patterned and made a cuff for her, for her right wrist, to diagonally balance the shoulder piece.

Sally did a great job with following  my stoning plan on this motif, and I am really happy with my design work.  The rest of the gown could certainly be embellished as well, but it is just not always necessary to be dripping in sparkle.  Sometimes having your own unique look is worth as much, or more on the floor.

So here is stunning Sally, and the gown in the RIGHT COLOR!  I wish I could let you see it move.

Due to starting with an existing garment, and Sally's time spent on rhinestone application, the cost was super reasonable on this project, approximately 1/4th of the cost of a new, custom designed and made from scratch project, including the cost of the two off-the-rack Cache dresses.  If you want to give this a try, give me a call and let's discuss how you should shop for some possibilities.  And call right away!

It has been a while since I posted to this blog!  I have two posts started, which I MUST finish, and many more to catch up with.  Being on my own in my studio due to Michele's accident has forced me to focus on dressmaking, but Michele is back, healthy, and ready to work, so make sure you get on the fall schedule if you want costumes for Minnesota Madness, Ohio, Holiday Classic, The Snowball, or anything else this year!  We are filling fast.


NAAN POCEN said...

This is a beautiful dress. What sort of glue do you use for the crystals used on the flowers? is it washable?

Marsha Wiest-Hines said...

Sometimes I use GemTac, and sometimes I use E-6000, depends on the project. I prefer GemTac, because the fumes from E-6000 are carcinogenic, but sometimes it is necessary to use the E-6000. If used correctly, both are very sturdy and can be washed, although neither can stand up the machine washing, and neither can be dry cleaned. I wash the gowns I made for my clients for a fee of $35.00. Swarovski rhinestones can also be purchased with a hot fix adhesive on the back, even more sturdy, but again, must be used exactly according to instructions, and even those do not stand up to agitation in a washing machine. I think Sally used GemTac, but I am not certain. Thanks for reading!