Digitizing

Almost 2 dress designs down, 1 1/2 left.

This is a design done by Gina Foster for her daughter Shaylah. She sent the designs to Susan who made the vector graphics and then sent them to me for digitizing. Here are pics from my software after digitizing.

Bodice.
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Sleeve.
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Panels.
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I will get them stitched out this week so Gina can get the dress done for the SRO.

This one below is for another O dancer. This will have a double row of panels (front and back), short over long, and a completely soft underskirt. Still have the bodice to do, but we are still working on that idea because we want to construct this bodice differently. More on that later when it works!!!
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I am actually going to be in the dungeon today…I am so sick of being on the computer all week that this makes me very happy. So, TA!

Digitizing & Insomnia

It is late…dammit. Earlier today on into the evening I was so tired I could barely function. But I did not allow myself to take a nap so that I would sleep well. Made no difference as I am obviously not sleeping. I fully understand how folks become psychotic maniacs when sleep eludes them.

But, instead of going postal, I have been amusing myself by digitizing. I have a friend for whom I am going to embroider the fabric for her wedding dress. We have been looking at embroidery collections, but I have not seen anything that is as fine and wonderful as it should be for her. So, I digitized something for her to give her an idea of what we can do.

Here is just an idea of how we can cover the fabric.
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Here is the basic digitized piece in a wreath of three.
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Just for the hell of it, I tried the auto digitize function in my software function again…not really sure why as it never works well, and sure enough it did not. I keep waiting for the day that my EXPENSIVE software will do all the work for me…not holding my breath, tho’. It’s ok. I love doing the digitizing myself.

After I sent off the pics to my friend, sleep was still nowhere to be found, so I did a couple more.

This was fun.
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This was complicated, and if decide to use it somehow, I must go back in and clean up a few things.
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Maybe the next time I can’t sleep I will go embroider these in the sewing dungeon.

Back to the sewing

My last post reminded me why I stopped answering technique questions…the drama is draining.

As much as I have been blogging about dance technique issues you would think I have not been paying any attention to my dressmaking. Not so, not so.

But before I go there, I want to post this link to Kathleen Fasanella’s tutorial on “centered zipper construction.” My blog analytics show that lots of folks come here looking for info on putting in a zipper…I have also put the link under the Feisdress information on the left of the blog for future reference.

Back to the dressmaking…

1) Susan and I have been very busy working with an established school to design new school dresses. Very interesting process, and so far I am enjoying this immensely. I say so far because I know that this is not always an easy endeavor. Yet, the folks that we are working with are wonderful, very clear in their ideas and open to discussion. This is my first time being involved in the school design process from the very start…very interesting.

I have been looking at sources for fabric for this school. We need to find a supplier that can always get us what we want, but we also need to be realistic about the types of fabrics that we choose not only for their sturdiness and washability, but for the fact that they will still be available through the supplier 10 years from now!!

Designing the new embroidery has also been very interesting for me to be a part of. As soon as that is finalized, I will get busy digitizing while Susan develops their school patterns.

2) I have been digitizing the dress designs for a school account that I’ve had. Susan has been doing that by hand, but has decided to give that up. My idea of great fun is digitizing her designs!

3) We are working on our current custom solo dress. This is a client that has worked with Susan before…very nice folks. They chose a new design from Susan’s newest Feisdress design cd. It is a 2 piece, 10 panel dress. We went shopping with the dancer’s mother for more fabrics last week and then did up some panels with different fabric combinations for them to choose from.

Here are the three choices we sent. There is no embroidery yet…useless to mess with that until the colors are chosen.
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I was going to do one more combination, but they like this one. This was the 1st one Susan and I put together…messed around quite a long time deciding which fabrics to put together. It is on the fabric that will be used for the underskirt. Now to start messing with thread colors and finish the digitizing.
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These are the rejects.
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Susan has an incredible eye for color. I know what I do and don’t like, but I do not have her ability to look at a color and know what will work with it. This process was educational and fun once again. But now she gone on a trip and I have to decide on thread colors myself!!! Ack!

It is a sewing dungeon day…and I am looking forward to it.

Dress Observations

(Disclaimer: I love making Irish dance dresses, I love making Irish dance dresses, I love making Irish dance dresses,I love making Irish dance dresses…)

In order to meet & fit a new client, I went to the Nation’s Capital Feis yesterday. I had made the mock-bodice from measurements Susan had taken a few weeks ago…the client lives in southern Virginia and was here, obviously, for the feis. Very nice people. Good bodice, if I do say so myself…only have to make it smaller in the bust.

The young lady has quite a beautiful dress now. Dancer said it was a second hand Siopa Rince. Nicely made except for that zipper…shows on the inside of the skirt, not covered at all. What is that?!!! Dress costs a fortune and no one can take the extra five minutes to tuck the zipper into the lining and whip-stitch it into place? Irritates the bejesus out of me. Had a nice visit with the new clients. Had some musical accompaniment as a dancer prepared to play her fiddle for the music competition. Just love that. Finished with the dress business, Meave and I began our slow trek back to the car.

It felt very odd walking through a feis after all this time. Molly’s last feis was the Oireachtas in December, and Maggie’s and Meave’s was earlier in the fall…it may be almost a year by the time we go to our first one this fall. Anyway, I was hit by a very odd feeling as Meave and I maneuvered our way through the crush of bodies…I felt my shoulders rising to my ears. I felt a twitch starting at the side of my mouth… No doubt that “competing” charges the air in a very specific way. It was a disconcerting feeling.

Of course I was compelled to study every dress I walked by…quickly because I was NOT compelled to stop (had to escape some of this mania. Note to self: remember what it is like before we go to our first feis this fall). There were so many made almost entirely of sequins! And not just any sequins…FISHSCALE sequins! For those unfamiliar with them or who might call them something different, this pic illustrates what I call fishscale sequins:

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Rather pretty, aren’t they? And they make a whole Irish dance dress something to behold. Very striking…and very expensive!!!

I saw every type of dress imaginable…even a bubble skirt bobbing down the hall in the distance. Little girl moved too fast for me to see much before she disappeared. So many ideas…just proves what many on the boards have said…there is no absolute style to these things, no standard to measure yourself against. If you like it, do it because anything goes!!!

I did manage to end up next to some dresses sporting the “newest” trend (translation: it will change in five minutes) of using mainly embroidery and very little applique. The satin-stitched lines are thick so the design can be seen, which is great. I for one am happy to see some knotwork making a comeback. But what I have noticed in pics as well as in person yesterday is that they all seem to look the same. Why? All of the knotwork designs from days gone by did not look the same, but these are all using the same sharp-pointed diamonds, curly Victorian scrolls, and flowers. Can we not be creative on our own?

And it does look as if computerized machine embroidery is close to the norm now. I do not have a problem with that since that is my expertise. It also means that folks have seen the value of what we digitizing artists can do…perhaps there will be no more of those moronic statements on the boards about how this kind of embroidery takes no skill.

Interestingly, there was recently a lamentation on the Celtic Flame dressmakers board that all the new embroidery was being done by machine and that perhaps the hand-guiding embroiderers were now behind the eight ball, that only those with computerized machines can pull this stuff off. I do not believe that to be so. I know that there are ID dressmakers who are capable of doing hand-guided embroidery of all kinds. My Feisdress partner, Susan Gowin, still does the embroidery by hand for the dresses she designed for Dudney and Maple. I am amazed by the clarity and neatness of the stitching. Don’t give this up, too, ladies!!!!

Here are pics of Susan’s gorgeous handiwork:

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Beautiful. You can see more in her Feisdress gallery.

Meave and I both said, “Whoa!” when we passed the for sale area. The rack set up for the sale of used dresses was packed, stuffed, and scarily overwhelming. Meave and I did stop briefly as I glanced over them, but there were so many, so precariously smashed together, that I did not want to really examine any too closely because I might have to pick them all up from the floor! But a couple of things struck me.

1) They all looked new…and beautiful. I could see “used” on many of the info signs attached to them, but the signs of wear were not immediately evident.

2) There were so many of them.

3) The use of fabrics of all kinds was fantastic! Visual feast!

4) The dresses that I could see were ALL 3 panels.

5) There were so many of them.

6) The prices for these “used” dresses were out of this world! From $1200 to $2500 for a used dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Susan and I are about to put a used dress up for sale…it has been worn 5 times and we are thinking of asking $950, half the actual construction price…$1200 is a new dress!!!!

7) There were so many of them!!!!

Conclusions that one might draw…one must not keep a dress too long because you must keep up with the trends, so sell it when it is still technically new. Charge an arm and a leg so you can make up what you spent in the first place so you can buy another new dress that you will only wear 4 times so you can then repeat the process. 3 panels are old fashioned…so why would anyone want to buy it? At that PRICE?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel a twitchybitchy fit roiling…

There have been several “conversations” on the boards about the glut of dresses in the used dress market. It is a very interesting phenomenon, this mentality that a dancer must only wear a dress a few times, that staying “current” is SOOOO important. I am pretty sure that every solo client that I have had still owns the dress I made. They do not feel compelled to keep buying new dresses. Not sure I understand this aquisitive state of mind. I am interested to see what happens in the next year as folks are unable to sell their used dresses. Perhaps a change in attitude is a-comin’!!!

While I was at the feis for the fitting, Molly and Maggie were in Irish dance class. Meave and I went back to wait. Meave spent that time practicing her steps. Near the end of class, I went to watch for a little. Jordan was really putting Molly thru her paces. Loved it. Such interesting, wonderful choreography. After my short trip into La-la Land at the feis, it was nice to see just dancing. I will admit here that going to feiseanna can make me crazy. Competition was nowhere to be found in my classical dance training. I competed as a cheerleader…and that is what competing in the upper levels at a feis reminds me of. Made me crazy as a teenager… makes me very tense as an adult.

Good to have this reminder now. I am resolved to be as cool as a cucumber at our first feis back this fall. I will encourage the divas to be friendly, to talk to their fellow competitors. I resolve to keep all of this light and fun and social. I resolve to meet at least 2 new folks. Maybe I will go introduce myself to ZandB and get myself a MoonPie!

More fun

More playing with the Bernina Designer Plus Version 5 software. I am having such a blast! And learning so much as well.

So I have this shape: Susan designed it, I digitized it (that adventure here).
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After I digitized the piece of lace Susan designed, I began to really look at more complicated designs and realized that many (most?) are really not so complicated after all. (Is that a big, “DUH!!!”?? I slapped MY forehead!!) They are composed of one or two “building blocks” and manipulating them gives you a unique design. So, using more of the amazing buttons (functions) built into the software, I began playing. The design above gave me the lace below:
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A tiny edit and then addition gave me this:
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Then I looked at some of the celtic knot collections that I have acquired and messed with a triskele knot to get this:
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And THEN, I digitized a free clip art knot design I had, put it in the wreath tool, and got this:
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Removed some stitches, but as Susan pointed out to me, this would look much better if the design did not still look as if it was 5 separate chunks. I need to change the knot to connect them all. Told Susan SHE gets to redo the original line design for me. Criticise me, will you? I’ll put you to work!

Putting my money where my mouth is

No, no, no…I am not referring to the “Busy bee” post. No apologies for presenting an opinion and a general critique of Irish dance dress design. Another day I will expound upon the lack of any critical review of most aspects of Irish dance. Touchy bunch, we Irish.

This post has finally percolated through my brain after experimenting with a few things in my Bernina Designer Plus, Version 5, embroidery software. I was inspired by a fellow Bernina user that I “met” in an internet group. Her name is CJ and she is the author/owner of The Wandering Quilter. I have learned much on her website. One day recently, I was exploring her blog and found this treasure about making free-standing lace. I was in awe, and I had found a new challenge…lace-making…and learning to digitize free-standing lace designs. My computer has been getting a work out.

I have stated on my blog, on the Celtic Flame ID dressmakers board, and in a couple of Yahoo groups (IDD, BerninaArtista, etc) that I:
#1 – Love this software in general
&
#2 – Hate parts of it specifically. I dislike the parts that are supposed to make life as a digitizer easier such as the auto-digitizer, magic wand and auto-split functions. I find them not intuitive and usually useless.

So, the past couple of days I have taught myself to digitize lace. Fun, fun. This morning I asked Susan (my Feisdress partner) to give me something that I could turn into lace. I love what we have done, but I have decided that this particular design would be better suited to being stitched onto fabric or net. When I applied the principles of digitizing free-standing lace to this design, too much of what I did changed the basic look, so it evolved into an exercise in using two of the functions I dislike: auto-digitizer and the magic wand.

Let me say here, that I fully understand how the auto-digitizer and magic wand functions work. They must work very well for most folks or they would not exist. I usually try them when first digitizing a new design, but I always erase it and do it myself. I have documented my attempts at using them today…and I learned a few things. I took pics as I went along.

This is a section of the whole design Susan sent me. It is the approximate length of the mega-hoop. Pretty, isn’t it? (Please do not copy this design as it belongs to Susan.)
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This is the basic unit in a jpg format.
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And this is the result of the auto-digitizer. Yuck.  This rather bizarre organization is one of the dead give-aways that a digitizer chose the “easy” way.
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Now I realize it is a computer program and it reads the lines as they are…I expect to clean up the clarity of edges. But what is happening at the line junctions is unacceptable. Susan has sent me designs in an emf format in the past. We did some research and thought this might help the software better read the sequence of lines, but we have not had any better success.

Here is the magic wand at work. Double yuck.
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Here I changed the angle of the satin stitch that the magic wand generated, but in a design like this, there is always going to be a section that is wrong.
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So, before I scrapped the whole thing, I changed the original jpg. Using Paint, I separated the design at the appropriate junctures.

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Then, I tried auto-digitizer again and got this. Better, but still not right.
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So, I ungrouped the design and deleted the part that did not work.
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I fixed all the curliques. The area of each junction needed fixing mostly because my jpg edit was not as careful as it could have been, but also because I wanted them to overlap, not simply butt up against one another.
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Then I digitized the big curl myself, and voila!
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I did this whole thing below here myself before I did my experiments above.
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Now that I have explored further and found a way to use the auto-digitizer, I could use it in the future. It is a tool I could use for parts, not the whole thing.  However, it is not a quick solution.  In fact, it might even be more inefficient because I have to re-check everything and make adjustments.

So have I changed an opinion? Yes…sort of.   Auto-digitizer can be used and manipulated. Magic wand? No, still not magic for me.

Thanks for the inspiration, CJ!

Rose of Tralee Gallery


Rose of Tralee 2007
Designer: Susan Gowin
Digitizer & Embroiderer: Me
Sashmaker: Susan
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Rose of Tralee 2006 winner: Carolyn Kerwin

Rose of Tralee 2006
Designer: Susan Gowin
Digitizer & Embroiderer: Me
Sashmaker: Susan


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