A help session…but first some stuff

First, I would like to thank those of you who responded to my last post…you gave me much to think about and to be thankful for.  You are such cool women, and if I cannot meet you all together in one place, this is the next best thing.  Thank you for your thoughts, for what you shared, for who you are, and for being here, being a part of this group.  For those of you who have lost children, I send you my love and intense admiration…you leave me speechless.

Second…I have been getting requests to join the forum from people I do not know.  If some of the applications are from you all, please register with the same user name as you use here on the blog.  If any of you are telling folks about the forum and that is where these applications are coming from, that’s ok, but they have to register a username and ask to be added to the blog.  Remember, no anonymity.  I am denying all applications from folks I do not know.

Ok, important business:  Lisa needs some help and input.  As you all look at this, if you need more input, info or pics, say so.  I will admit to being in a fog at the moment, so if I have not already asked for enough info to help, I apologize. She would also like me to let you know that she is a relative newbie…so we shall be on our best behavior (aren’t we always?) and we will be as descriptive as possible with our suggestions. If you want to add pics to your suggestions, send them to me and I will post them.

Hi Ann: Attached is a photo of the dress on which I am working.
My goal was to jazz it up a bit by remaking the front of the skirt-similar to the DIC or Elevation dresses, where there is a stiff small front yoke to which the petal panels are attached, with a layer or 2 of contrasting fabric attached to the yoke-thereby creating a new front panel. I do have a photo of what I was able to create over the weekend-but there were some technical difficulties in that it would be hard to dance in when kicking up and out. My original skirt, as seen in the photo-was constructed before I had the feisdress pattern-and my goal was to make something very lightweight for the dancer. I used a poodle skirt pattern and only incorporated knife pleats in the front/back and it looked fine on the dancer.

On side note-I was somewhat validated when I read the UK/Ireland voy board today as the new dress styles were discussed-everyone loves the simpler look-so feel right on track with my daughter’s dress–if I just can hang in there and not give up.

Here are photos of a dress similar to what I am attempting:

Another dress is on the Dancing in Celtic site:

My shorter yoke will be rounded-my issue is how to do the sides–and I have already deconstructed the original skirt-don’t want to cut into it yet-have very little of the base fabric left-used a leftover piece for the new yoke I made which is in the forthcoming photo.

If anyone has suggestions for me-I am open to any help. My original skirt has medium wt. interfacing and I wonder if I should try to find a way to insert more stiffener on the sides? The DIC dress seems to have the back of the skirt wrapping around the front from the sides and completing the front of the skirt–does that make sense? It shouldn’t be this hard for me to figure out-but I am feeling stymied lately.

Here are photos of my attempt to remake the skirt-I can see that the yoke is probably too long (waist to end closest to the ruffle).

Have cut another yoke, using different fabric and less stiffener-and making it not as long-and attaching a layer of white sequin fabric with the white tulle ruffle along the bottom-will send those photos when I get it together-still stumped on how to attach the entire thing to the sides/back.

the stumper piece is shown on the above photos-with the tulle ruffle along the bottom-but I will take a photo of that part not attached to anything–will send in a bit

Here are the individual skirt components:

The top is the actual original skirt front-after deconstruction.

The bottom is the first attempt to make a stiff yoke-shorter than original skirt to which petal panels would be attached-similar to DIC styles.

Middle is a revised yoke-less stiff and using different fabric.

Notice the cut of the waistline-I botched the first attempt:


trying to figure out where to include extra fabric to attach to the sides/back of skirt.

the DIC dresses look as though the yoke extends around the sides to the back–and most of their dresses have solid backs

The Elevation dresses have the shorter stiff yoke all around the dress-almost as if the skirt was made and bottom 2/3’rds is cut off, lacy fabric attached and petals tacked on top

The main issue is getting the front attached to the back with this style and finding the good balance of stiffness so the front does not hinder dancing-remember how many complained about the DIC/Elevation dresses bruising thighs????

22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. colmurph
    Feb 12, 2008 @ 23:29:22

    Wow this is really hard to explain….This is my 3rd attempt! The yoke fabric….I had the furthest two inches on each side left unstiffened. This I sewed front(of yoke) to back of tuck side seam. I laid each petal on top of the yoke so that the edge of the petal went just over the new edge of they yoke. I topstitched these down. I had drawn this all out on copies of the pattern so I knew that it would line up. I also clamped those petals in place before I sewed them down (trying to follow Ann’s basting rule!) It was hard to keep everything lined up, and I was still surprised how much everything moved in spite of my clamping. It was difficult attaching the second side of the yoke…but the dress I made had a full zip and that was very useful.

    By doing this, I still had my side pleats which help prevent that thigh bruising, and then attached the bodice same as usual. I can’t tell from the description if the DM has enough fabric to extend her yoke to try this method. It worked for me, and the dress fit just great on the child. link to pic of dress….please do not repost this picture. http://www.flickr.com/photos/colmurph/2102758569/ Colleen

  2. cincysewer
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 06:14:06

    Thanks Colleen-I may try your method-I do have enough fabric on the sides-actually I think the yoke may need to be cut down a bit. Another dress that has motivated me to attempt a new skirt style and that is similar is found at this link: http://www.irishdancingexchange.com/item_detail.html?sku=IDX73335130475ML&searchWords=Siopa%Soipa
    I hope that link works-if not, just visit Irish Dancing Exchange and the listing # is IDX73335130475ML

    And for all you looking for another possible trend starting-take a look at the Live Commentary for today, scroll down to the photo just below the 9:09 time frame-the dancer in purple #153-very interesting dress, the bodice is very unusual. Now why can’t I come up with some funky, fun style like that?

    Am still open to suggestions for ways to make my dress work-Thanks to all.

  3. kktsews
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 06:44:54

    You know I have no experience with this…just giving my thoughts based on looking at the pictures.

    The second example, the one that’s whiter, reminds me of a swoop dress. I wonder if the far right and far left “panels” are sewn down, with the yoke behind them possibly loose? That would make the center three loose and the yoke functioning like the wider CFP as in Ann’s two swoop dress examples.

    If the yoke ends under the sides that have effectively curved around the front, then it would maintain its shape but still have flexibility. At least, that’s the way I think it would work.

    Best of luck!

  4. costumemom24
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 09:16:52

    I made a dress similar to this. I don’t have pictures, unfortunately. (Finished it at 2a.m., dancer danced at 8a.m. – that’s another story.) I did not do a solid back. I made my yoke the same length all the way around and attached a lame’ ruffle to that with 5 petals in the front and 4 in the back. I did not do a side pleat, simply sewed front to back at side seams. The zipper went from the bottom of the yoke to the neck, the ruffle was seamed at the center back with about 3 inches left open before the yoke. The yoke stopped at the top of the dancer’s leg, so when she kicked it was not in her way at all. The dancer loves the way it moves, does not bother her at all. I’ll try to get pictures and post them. Hope that helps!

    On another note: I was trying to find the “Live Commentary” to look at the funky dress and can’t find it. Where should I look?

  5. ReAnne
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 09:24:41


    I’m thinking. I wanted to just let you know that I’ve read your post, I’m studying it, but I’ve never made this kind of dress before. But, I’ll keep thinking, studying, and turning those wheels.


  6. cincysewer
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 09:52:42

    All-Irelands is at http://www.clrg.ie and once there go to the All-Irelands link and then you’ll see on the left links to schedule, list of competitors etc-click on the link that says Live Commentary–costumemom24-might I email you to get more details? was thinking of trying your method-but scared to cut off original skirt-I have no more of the black/silver hologram dot fabric(and I had to get that fabric from England-it took 2 weeks).

    Everyone-maybe I’m stressing too much-I did see several dresses on the All Irelands site where the dress does not lay completely flat across front of the dancer-and that is the look I am trying to achieve. Also, in just a bit I’ll post a link to another dress on dance-again that is similar to what I am trying to make-maybe the dressmaker is part of this community and can help?

  7. cincysewer
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 12:13:12

    another link to a dress made similar to the look I am trying out-www.dance-again.com/X656.html

  8. ReAnne
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 14:59:38

    Okay, I’ve been really given this some engineering thought. Being an engineer, I can’t let it go…it’s sad. I looked at the first photo, and thought that you were attempting a soft skirt under the panels. But, after looking at the photo of your remake on the dress form, I realize that you want to connect the panels with a smooth-looking yoke, and have the soft underskirt peak out the bottom. So, with that understanding, there has to be some point in the skirt where there needs to be room made for a kick. Otherwise she’ll be dancing in a cone. For lack of a better term, I’m going to call that room the “release point(s)”. The skirt will need to release from somewhere in order to move. In Susan’s dresses, the pleats and the tucks give quite a few release points all the way around the skirt, evened out pretty well. On a sandwich board skirt, the release points are large, deep side tucks, since there’s no where in the front that will allow the release. What’s tricky about what you’re doing is that you want it to look very smooth and formed when standing still, but when she kicks, the skirt needs to release from somewhere so that she doesn’t bruise her thigh, crease the skirt, or dance in a cone.

    Now, I was brainstorming some ideas. Maybe one of these could get you directed to a solution.

    1. You could cut the black yoke vertically up behind each of the panels, center. Then, when she’s standing still, it looks like a complete yoke, but when she moves, it will release. But, my fear would be that it would release too much, and those slits will peak out from behind the panels, and possibly not fall back into place perfectly.

    2. Make the yoke completely soft. You said, thought that you may not have enough fabric to do that. A gathered yoke, will create the release you need.

    3. extend the yoke 3-4 inches to the back of the dress, under the “back” of the dress (between the dress and the petticoat). This is harder to explain. I can visualize it almost like a wrap-around-skirt effect. The black yoke will hide behind the back of the skirt by a few inches, attached only at the waist, not down the side seams. Then, when she kicks, the whole yoke will left together, not pulling the back of the skirt to the front. It may give you enough release to allow for a nice kick without bruising. Since you have a petticoat, you don’t have to worry so much about the back and the front panels not being sewn together. If you’ve seen Susan’s directions of her swoop dress, you’ll notice that she does the same idea. The front panels and the under panel aren’t connected, they simply overlap each other, attached only at the waist. This gives a good release point for kicking. But, they’re overlapped enough to be modest.

    Hope that helps.
    I’ll keep thinking, but to prevent thigh bruising, you need to figure out where the release point(s) of the skirt is going to be from. Then, it can be as stiff as you want it.


  9. ReAnne
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 15:29:06


    My comment #5 was supposed to be to Lisa. But, I read Colleen’s comment, then had her name in my head when I typed it out. And, I can’t go up and edit it. So, sorry.


  10. maryhorton60
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 22:21:38

    OK, the way I do mine is very easy. If you have enough cloth you can fix this. If you put in the feis dress front pleat, just like a normal dress plus the sides instead of the side tuck, make this a pleat also and attach to the back as normal. lay your front 2 panels on the front pleat and the outer 2 panels on the front sides. I only use 1 layer of stablizer on the base, 2 layers on the panels. This enables the skirt to have plenty of kick room. I,m not sure if I have explained this right. but looking at your picture you only need to make a centre panel. and cut what you have there for the front sides. I’m at that stage now on this dress so I’ll post pics tomorrow to let you see what I mean.
    Mary H.

  11. cincysewer
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 06:09:26

    Thank you everyone-Rebecca-I have considered doing just as you suggested with the yoke-making division in the yoke so it will move. Another idea which I am working on is keeping about 3-4 inches at the top of the yoke(where bodice is attached)free of any stiffener-and if the yoke is only about 7 inches down on the body,maybe it will be easier for movement. Did you get a chance to look at the Blue/white/pink SR dress on the Irishdancingexchange site? I have close up photos of that dress-and the blue yoke does go all the way around the dress-but is not super stiff. Mary H. your idea could work as well-hopefully you will be able to post a photo for a visual understanding. I am still stymied-every time I venture to the project and work for a bit-I end up back at square 1. But I don’t give up easily-and my goal is to finish this thing by the end of this weekend-thankfully I have Monday off work!

  12. ginafoster
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 07:21:57

    I don’t have enough mental power right now to deal with skirt construction/rehab, etc … but one thing I was ‘drawn to’ in a negative way was the lack of anything on the sleeves … is there anyway you can duplicate the black design on the skirt panels onto the sleeves??? maybe in crystals to catch the light – or in white embroidery?

  13. paulars
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 09:17:29

    I have to disagree with you there, Gina. I like the way the sleeves blend with the sides of the bodice. I like the pattern itself in the black fabric. As for the skirt, I am not a DM and know nothing — but I do know about the thigh bruisers and gut busters. Those ED dresses that look soft but are fully stiffened cones only have a stiffened pleat on each side — definitely not enough give for a high kicker! And I know several girls who have the SR dresses with the stiffened yoke and although they don’t hit into the thighs, the legs push the yoke up and either stab in the abdomen or bend and crease, or both. Just things to keep in mind.

  14. ReAnne
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 10:17:50

    I was looking at your skirt as if it had a full petticoat. I just now saw that it is a trim piece for the bottom. It blended in quite well on my computer screen. Hmmm…my 3rd idea just went out the window. Hopefully I didn’t confuse you too much.


  15. cincysewer
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 10:21:00

    Hi Gina-the sleeves are actually an embroidered chiffon with black sequins sewn on throughout-and are puffy-so any additional items may have impacted the flow of the sleeve-the dancer is very set on simple design elements-and funny enough that black fabric is her favorite of all on the dress–I did use white under the black sleeve/bodice sides, hoping the details of the fabric would be somewhat visible. Paulars-thanks for the info on the SR/Elevation dresses-seems as though they make a dress for show rather than function-so I will keep plugging away trying to make it work.

  16. sewtto
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 10:34:37

    My dd’s dress is a flat front. All I did was put a big pleat on the sides. I also make mock flat panels. I add pleats behind the tulip strips. It gives the dancer more movement and holds the “frill” back.
    I also have one visual suggestion. Is there any way you can blend your applique? Things are more pleasing to the eye when there is an overlap or continuation. Instead of your brain reading applique, applique, applique, it reads design. My suggeation would be to combine the appliques with a contiuous outline.
    Each dress ia a learning opportunity!
    Good Luck! Please post picts when finished.

  17. krew08
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 13:06:17

    I’ve never attempted to make a dress, so I can’t give you a suggestion. However, I can tell you one thing that I saw at the colorado winterfeis that you would want to avoid.
    There was a on stage with a flat front skirt, and she had the sides not sewn together, simply overlapped, as one of the above posts suggested.
    The dress had many, many issues, but a biggie was that when she kicked, the front panel didn’t slide back where it should, and it got caught over and around the back panel.
    She ended up with the back panel sticking out, and it wasn’t until the end of the comp that she could grag the fron, and geit it tucked the way it should have been.

  18. ReAnne
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 14:15:22

    Krew08: Good thing to know! Thanks. It always seems to work in my head, you just saved me from making the same mistake on a future dress. Bummer it didn’t work, though. Seemed like a good idea.

  19. kktsews
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 16:36:23

    Well, the overlapping obviously works in the swoop dress Ann made, which is the same basic concept. Perhaps it’s a question of how far back the front underlaps. Ann??? comment?

  20. taoknitter
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 17:41:29

    I have been reading all of this, getting all of the suggestions in my head…took me a bit to realize that the overlapping idea is a bit like the swoop dress. I say a bit because I can totally understand why this incarnation would not work, why it would get stuck. The swoop dress works because the front side panels almost meet at the waist which prevents anything coming through and getting stuck there…in this kind of dress there really is nothing to prevent that from happening short of attaching springs!! I suppose it could work if the 2 parts were sewn together a few inches down from the waist, but then I wonder how restricting that might be.

    I have to be honest and say that in general I find the look of these dresses to be unfinished/confusing…is it a panel dress or not? Is it a soft skirt or not? Every time I see one I get the impression that someone is trying to find the easiest, quickest way to get an effect without having to figure it out for the whole skirt. And, a single front panel skirt (which is what this type of dress is with the single piece yoke), is an easy way to get the look without having to worry at all about the skirt hang issues…this is for the ease of the dressmaker, not the dancer. The dancer is presented with restrictions, problems and bruises as well as a skirt that will eventually crease horizontally. That is not aimed at any of you but at the lazy big nameswho should know better but who are looking to make a fast buck…don’t get me started…

    If this were me, I would have a complete soft white skirt underneath and the rest would all be separate panels…and this dress would not stand flat. If standing flat were absolutely the issue, I would not choose to use a single panel yoke at all. I would be using the Feisdress 3 panel pattern and adding the panels and the tulle/lace. In fact, I would make the stiffened 3 panel an extreme mini-dress so that the area with the white tulle would have nothing behind it, but the stiffened skirt would still have the pleats necessary for dancing ease. Imagine Emily’s 9 panel dress with the bottom 6 inches lopped off and replaced with gathered eyelet:

    Hope this has not sounded bitchy.

  21. cincysewer
    Feb 14, 2008 @ 21:01:12

    Not, not offensive or B—–at all-I had thought of completely remaking the skirt using the FD pattern(I think I mentioned I had made this dress prior to ordering the pattern)-but not sure if I can pull it off using the existing skirt-I have no way to get more of the base fabric in time to make the skirt from scratch-it is needed for a big recital/show on Mar.1. I may get the pattern out and see if the pieces will work with the existing skirt-hoping there is enough to create a proper 3 panel.

    I cannot thank everyone enough-if I come up with some fabulous miracle solution-I’ll let you know. And I will have Ann repost new photos once I get it finished.


  22. maryhorton60
    Feb 15, 2008 @ 22:35:07

    Ann you hit the nail on the head. That’s what my dresses are, it works for me.
    Mary H.

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