Saturday, December 30, 2006


I made this dress last April (2006) for a lovely girl from Germany. Susie danced in the WIDA European championships in Amsterdam and got this wonderful trophy! Congratulations! It always makes me very proud when a dancer who wears one of my creations does well. The design I used is made by Susan Gowin and came from the Colleens of Canberra site. The base is made of falling rain satin. The applique is in a myriad of pink glitterdots. The pale pink has a lovely mother-of-pearl finish to it (Lynne picked up this fabric in Ireland calling me on the phone: "look, it's pink, it's nice, do you want it?").
Susie got this dress only the day before she was dancing in the Championships. She was very calm under the circumstances :-) I only had to alter the length of the bodice a bit. I live close to Amsterdam and she was actually staying in a hotel only 1 mile away from me! After the fitting I got on my bicycle, rode home, altered the dress and cycled back to the hotel all in the same time Susie was having her dinner :-)


A dress between primary and intermediate, with a touch of traditional design. The base is made of a lilac satin. Applique in a variety of holographic jerseys and satin. Lining in a holographic pink swirl design.
What I like most about the dress is the hemline. I just really like the pointy shapes. It kinda makes the dress a bit stronger eventhough it has all those sweet candy colors. This dress was a dream to put together. I do not think I ever broke a needle on this one! Good thing about it is that the girl it is for is dancing in my school, and I can see this dress in action every feis :-) It has been updated since, with a few strung sequins around the hemline and some scattered rhinestones. A tutu might even be added if it gets too short in the near future (in which case I will re-post a picture).

Oh Boy!

A new machine. I had to get one. I really, really loved the old one, but it just wasn't meeting expectations anymore. I mean, I had to sew faster, more quiet, and I really needed that elusive 7mm wide stitch. A little more power and a little more room under the presser foot to get that horrible bulk of vilene under the machine. It would make the dressmaking life so much easier! So I made the switch. I promised myself another Janome, so I got another Janome. The newest, most powerful, (most expensive) Janome 6500P. And boy, do I love this machine!

Friday, December 29, 2006

The ice dress

This dress is truly one of the most sparkly I made. It has holographics on it from top to bottom. The design is a Lowland Design original. The base is a lovely white velour with holo dots on it. The applique is made out of blue metallic silk, turquoise falling rain satin, and gold holographic and lilac holographic shimmer lame. The inserts in the bodice and on the panels are a blue holo spandex with gold accents in it. The underskirt is also made of gold holo shimmer lame.

The picture is a bit small and dark, but I could not get the shine of the fabrics on camera any other way. I was also quite rushed trying to get this dress to the post office.
In the middle of the production of this dress I had to make the switch from my old sewing machine to my new sewing machine. I really wished I had my new machine before I started on this one. It made the finishing of the hemline soooooo much easier!


I love this dress. The design, the colors, the fabrics... everything! I had secretly planned it for myself as a new solo dress, but someone from the UK also fell in love with the design :-)
For me it was a first time making someone other than myself such a 'flashy' dress with the works (shaped pleats and hemline). It was a great experience to work on something of championship level.
The base of the dress is made of the black metallic silk from Whitelodge Fabric (one of my favorite places to shop for dress fabrics). The blues are square holo dots and the silver is a holographic foil of some kind. The underskirt is made of a fabric called 'heavenly mermaid'. You can see why :-)

A machine to be proud of

I had to get my own sewing machine. Bashing the borrowed machines of others producing these dresses is just not a nice thing to do. So what does one do? Visit the OSMG (short for "old-sewing-machine-guy") and his shop. There, I bought a Janome 415 for a few hundred euro. Brand spanking new, and it was mine to mistreat and distress in any way I saw fit.
That little machine taught me a lot about how to treat a sewing machine. It never gave out on me. Of course, the occasional needle would break, I would jam too much stiffener under the presser foot so it would seize and the needle would not move up or down anymore...but those are all minor things. Looking back I think it is amazing it survived my "care". (clean the bobbin house of lint? Is that necessary??)
I was very impressed with my Janome and the nice satin stitch it gave. It did not have a wider stitch than 5 mm, but I still decided if I was going to upgrade - it was gonna be another Janome.

My second dress, going solo for the first time.

After I had danced for a year in my Paul Keith solo costume, I decided I needed a new. I had worked on some dresses together with Lynne, who I did the embroidery on the black velvet dress for. We had been making dresses together for dancers in our school. Everytime I was the "embroiderer" and she was the seamstress that put the dresses together and did most of the construction work. So, after she explained to me what a lining was and how to make one, I felt I could now make my own championship solo....Boy, that was a lot more work than I had anticipated! I wanted it all, shaped hemline, shaped pleats, and sewn sequin. At that moment shaped pleats were completely new and mysterious to small time dress-making-hobbyists like me. The fashion trends in fabrics were also rapidly changing!

I was still borrowing the neighbours machine and I would cringe if somebody would do to my machine what I did to hers at the time (of course, she had no idea). Specially the battle of embroidering the shaped hemline and the sewn sequin is still a vivid memory. I cannot remember how many times the thread or the needle have broken during the construction of that dress...
I DO remember the lovely people of Voy's Celtic Flame Dressmakers Board . I would not have been able to make dresses without them. They are a wonderful bunch of dressmakers willing to help and share their knowledge with everyone who needs it.

When the dress was finished it was quite to my satisfaction. More importantly, I was now able to make a dress from start to finish, completely by myself (not counting the many hours spent on Voy and on the phone asking Lynne how to work out that puzzling lining :-)

The dress base is made of a green metallic cotton mixture. The applique is in black chiffon sequin, silver holographic foil, holo dots on black knit, cerise glitterdot and purple sequin on stretch fabric (never, ever get this kind of sequin to put on your dress!!! It is horrible to work with). The lining was a black knit that had green and purplish/cerise metallic effect on it.

Growing into a business

Dressmaking is addictive. Once you start, you will probably not stop. The following pictures are the proof of that statement :-)

Lynne got herself a new solodress. I made a design for her according to her taste and did the embroiderywork. She chose all her own fabrics and put the dress together. I simply love the way it suits her. Very elegant and perfect for an adult beginner.
We did not want to "overdo" it with putting in a shaped hemline (a new fashion trend that was still only reserved for Intermediates and Open Champs). The purple border was an alternative to create a more interesting hemline without shaping it.

Many adults were still wearing 'Riverdance' -style costumes in stretch velvet. In mainland Europe there are a lot of adult irish dancers that also dance in competitions. Yet none of them were wearing a "real" solo dress.
Anita was the first customer to order from Lowland Design and this is her second solo dress. The base is made of a dark green taft and the applique is in copper foil and silver and mint green satin. To give her a bit of a flash, we took a gold satin for the lining.

My designing skills were growing and I have always tried to keep a balance with the 'celtic feel' . The cerise dress is a perfect example of my earlier stage in design work. I am a firm believer of using larger shapes to create an attractive dress with stage-appeal. In dresses today, there is a stunning amount of detail and although it's pretty, not everything is suitable for larger distance between the dancer and the adjudicator (JMHO). Of course, it's the dancing that is judged -not the dress.
But if we stay with the point about contrast we can clearly see I did my best to get it. All the primary colors are there, large shapes, shiny with different textures...this dress has it all! It was the first dress (except from my own solo) I got to put a holographic glitterdot on as applique. When first approving the design, the customer wasn't too sure about it. She did not want the dress to become a "Vegas" number. If we only knew then how the fashion was going to change!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My first entry

OK... I have decided a blog would be easier to keep up than my own static website ( ). I hope to show off my work in this blog, and would like to believe the people visiting will enjoy the dresses I have to show them.
I will soon start to add some pictures of my recent work. Older ones first and then work up to my most recent projects.

To start things off, here is the first dress I ever worked on. The lovely lady in the picture is Lynne. She has shown me that you *can* make your own solo dress. If she would not have made this, I certainly would have never dared to start the dressmaking adventure.

Lynne in her new dress, designed and made by her,
embroidered by me :-)