Midnight Blue Contemporary

The dance world seems to be awash with contemporary costumes consisting of a crop-top, dance pants and an attached skirt. So it’s a delight when I’m asked to make something that varies from the trend.

This one piece costume is a gorgeous midnight blue with black appliques and crystal AB rhinestones.

Midnight blue

midnight blue

What I love about this Jalie pattern is the yoke and sleeves are one piece so there are no seams in the mesh to distract from the dancer’s line.


yoke has no seams

And the back has a nice deep keyhole for some added interest. I’m looking forward to using this pattern again.



Sapphire Blue Figure Skating Dress

Sometime things don’t go as planned. A friend of a former client ordered a figuring skating dress online and when it arrived it didn’t fit.  I received an email asking if I could make something in time for a September competition in Melbourne. Having got my rhinestone mojo happening with my last figure skating dress I said I’d love to help. Cheryll and daughter Chloe chose a beautiful sapphire blue velvet which has been of my most popular colours this year. First step was an elegant ad classic figure skating dress with dropped shoulders and a 2 tone skirt.

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dress shell

The long sleeves have points with an elastic loop attached to keep the sleeves in place. I used some tea-dyed 6mm elastic so that it disappears on her skin.

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glue dilemma

Now in the world of rhinestones you’re usually a gemtac gal or an E-6000 gal. I normally glue rhinestones onto trim and rarely glue anything directly to a leotard. But this is ice skating and bling is integral to the costume. I used gemtac to glue rhinestones to the lycra of the recent Spanish figure skating dress I made but I was warned that gemtac and stretch velvet are not good friends. Here’s a little experiment with gemtac, gemstone glue and an epoxy that was lurking in the glue draw. While the gemtac was a little runny and did seep into the velvet the rhinestones held. The other glues were complete failures. I didn’t get out the brand new tube of E-6000 because it was too cold to have windows open to get the fumes out of the studio. I found that very gently lowering the rhinestones onto the gemtac was the best technique. Pushing them onto the velvet just forced the glue further into the velvet. However, it wasn’t successful in the acrylic jewels I used or the heavy teardrop shaped crystals so … I hand sewed them on! Lesson learned. E-6000 for the big guys and the pretty but  recalcitrant gems of unknown provenance.

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tentative first steps

I kept looking at the bare “canvas” of the dress wondering where to start. Once I got into the idiom there was no stopping me. I’d put the dress aside for the glue to dry and I’d see another spot for another row of rhinestones.

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more sparkle

We decided to pull the decoration onto the skirt as well. It gives a lovely effect with the glittery tendrils.

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reflected sparkle

It’s so heard to show how beautifully sparkly the Preciosa AB rhinestones are but here is a cute little picture of the reflected sparkle inside my studio.

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front design

The tendrils trail across the front from a dense concentration of rhinestones on the front right. These continue around the back and trail out again in tendrils across the back.

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back design

The whole right side of the dress is encrusted with rhinestones.

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side design

And the flowery tendrils also twine onto the nude mesh on the top of the bodice …

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bodice detail

and onto the skirt

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skirt detail

I definitely have my rhinestone mojo. Now for a ballroom dress!



Spanish Ice Skating costume

Last year I made a lovely Phantom of the Opera ice skating costume for a skater from Tasmania and this year I have been asked to make a Spanish style costume for her sister. The design is not mine (how I wish  could design like that!) but I am so looking forward to starting this one. The picture is not clear because I don’t want to post the original design until the costume is finished.


sketch and pattern

I decided to adapt Kwik Sew pattern 2601. This is a beautiful leotard pattern with a deep back. The costume will be made from black lycra, black and nude stretch mesh with a double layer black stretch mesh skirt. I have the perfect lace for this that I used on a Spanish tutu a few years ago. Oh and there will be rhinestones; lots of rhinestones, and then some. Did I say there would be rhinestones?


I’ll use this lace for the ice skating costume

Because the skater lives in Tasmania I sent the unblinged leotard down for a fitting, then back in the post to me for finishing. The safety pins indicate the skirt line.


finished and fitted leotard

The 2 layer skirt was cut from stretch mesh in higher at the left hip. I simply place the centre hole off centre (truly eccentric!) to give the sloped effect.

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eccentric skirt



When it came back I started applying the sequinned floral appliqués. These were cut from an embroidered and sequinned net fabric. This sort of fabric is wonderful as the appliqués can be cut from it with no fraying. It’s even better when the net and the fabric they are being applied to match although that’s not always necessary

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I pinned the appliqués to match the design, from the upper right bodice, left hip around to the back and the right shoulder at the back. then sewed them to the lycra while on the mannequin. This means that the threads are relaxed when the costume is off the mannequin and have enough slack in them for the costume to be taken on and off. The black plastic is there to stop me sewing into the mannequin fabric and for the next stage … stoning!!!

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placing the appliqués


the back has faux corset lacing

Next came the stoning. I used 4 colours, hyacinth, light siam AB, red and AB crystal.

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I love the textural effect


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side profile



Phantom of the Opera Ice Skating in action

I love getting photos of my costumes in action. Here is the lovely Caitlin skating as Christine to the Music of Night from the Phantom of the Opera. We had to be careful in the colour we chose for the costume as the ice can bleach colours quite a lot. A white dress would have disappeared into the ice so we chose a very warm buttery cream colour.


Ball-gown into ice skating dress


the lovely Caitlin


Phantom of the Opera

Ice skating dress

Ice skating dress


A favourite trim with rhinestones added


This Ice Skating dress was made for a performance of the Music of the Night from the musical The Phantom of the Opera. It combines features of 2 of Christine’s costumes, her dressing gown and her ball gown. The creamy colour was chosen so that the costume would not disappear against the ice. Venise lace was added for a luxurious effect and embellished with Topaz AB and crystal AB Preciosa rhinestones.


low back adorned with same trim