Sunday, April 2, 2006

My Psychedelic Trip

No, I have not started taking hallucinogenic drugs! I've finished the dress, I know the color rhinestones I'm going to use, and I needed to purchase some. I was torn between two different colors for the body of the dress, so I really want to look at them in person. I think I mentioned in a previous blog entry that the ONLY stones to use for a ballroom dress are Swarovski Flat Backs. They are pricey, but worth it. About a year ago, I scoured the internet looking for the cheapest place to buy them. I have purchased in the past from MJTrim - their prices are good, but they are in New York and it takes a bit of time for them to arrive. The only place that is near to me where I can purchase in person is a place called General Bead in San Francisco. However going to the store is an adventure. It's on a very desolate side street in a not-so-great area that has turned into a homeless haven/bathroom in which the sidewalk is scattered with broken glass, liquor bottles and smells like poo. The last time I ventured there by myself I was followed back to my car by some homeless guy who kept saying he liked my hair (eeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!) Now let me just state that I am not a naive chick from the burbs, I have lived in a big city. But this made me nervous.
So yesterday I dragged my husband along as escort and hired him as official photographer (these photos courtesy of Shawn's Treo, his second love). To describe this store without pictures is just impossible. Other than the pictures, you just have to GO there to believe it (with sufficient mace, if by yourself)
When we arrived at the store, I reminded Shawn before we went inside, if he had any trace of a headache, to put his shades on. AND also to OBEY THE SIGNS. A supply of order forms and pen is located at the entrance, and you must fill this out with the proper order numbers to place your order.
The store is well, it's a trip. A cornucopia orgy of beads. A WALL 'O' BEADS. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING has been adorned, including the calculator, stapler and employees. I was almost surprised the cat was still grey and white! Besides the bad location, this store is great and the selection is just incredible. For Swarovski rhinestones, they offer wholesale prices if you buy by the gross (144 pieces). I am using Tanzanite for the neckline, straps and back. I already have a supply of this color and just needed to decide on what to use for the body. I decided to go with Black Diamond for the body of the dress. I wanted something to blend into the dress but give an added sparkle and I think this will really fit the bill. I ordered 5 gross of 20ss. I'm not sure yet how many I will use so I may have some left over. If you ever watched Seinfeld, paying for your purchase at General Bead is akin to the Soup Nazi episode. You MUST line up on the psychedelic rainbow circle underneath the sign - or you may be ignored... Most of the staff are very knowledgeable, helpful and very...colorful. I even got a freebee out of the grab box with my purchase!

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Making the Floats for the Tatum Dress

Part of the beauty of watching ballroom dancing competitions is seeing the beautiful dresses float and sparkle across the dancefloor. Floats are a lovely acoutrement to the ballroom dress. They can attach anywhere on the dress and can extend to one or both arms and are usually made out of light, sheer material - thus the term - floats.

On Dancing with the Stars, the Tatum dress floats appeared to be made out of a heavier type of material - possibly georgette. Since this was a smooth dress on the show and I am making a standard dress, I decided to go with the same light chiffon I used on the underskirt. I cut a haphazard triangular piece from the chiffon and worked on draping it to the front and the arm just by pinning it and cutting any excess. This is not an exact science - but draping onto the costume is the best method - especially if you can drape onto an extended arm because you need to leave enough material for when the arm is fully extended.

The longest side of the chiffon is on the bias, which means it runs diagonally from the grain. The reason for this is it gives a nice wavyness to the chiffon. I spread out the chiffon on the arm and proceeded to create folds from one end to the other. I then stitched the folds from one end to the other. This fold stitch line is where I will attach the chiffon to the arm. I sew on 3 snaps to the part of the chiffon that will attach to the front.

I also finished the edges of the chiffon piece by stitching a rolled edge on my serger.
When I am done stoning the dress, I will hand sew the chiffon to the arm in several spots. I sew snaps to the front of the dress and then attach the chiffon to see if everything fits and voila.

I made an identical float for the other side. In the picture, I've tried to have the dress form in as much a dance position as possible to give you an idea of how it will look!