Dress Alternatives?

So, did ya see this dress on dance.net?

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Saw tons of these in the pics from AIs…seeing them everywhere now. Guess they are the new thing, eh?

As usual folks are bitching about the cost…so I have found some alternative sources…ID has turned into a long array of beauty pageants, so…for about $200 and all you have to do is add sleeves…
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Hey this one already has sleeves!!
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Or, for a little more flavor, let’s go over to the square dance shop!
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And for the adult dancers…
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We also have the pageant dresses with a more ballet flair for those who want to retain an air of class…here’s the long skirt…
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My favorites are the short ones…why not? We look at their bloomers now anyway!
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Hey, how about just add a jacket top to this?
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One personal favorite…
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Or, they can just add sleeves and lop these off to the correct bum-baring length…
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But this is my ALL-TIME favorite! We can start a new width trend! Although, this is really expensive again, but we KNOW the world qualifiers are not satisfied until it costs more than a car!
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Griping & trying to Grin

So… I borrowed the following quotes from another blog because I have never read them:

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. –Helen Keller

To stand in your now, looking forward with deliberate intent and anticipation of what is to come, is infinitely more satisfying than to stand in your now, looking back, retracing your steps as to how you got where you are.–Abraham-Hicks

They were part of a nice blog post…that did not speak to me…but these little quotes spoke to me.  They rather rattled my cage and the thoughts stuck in it.  Let’s see if I can articulate…

I will be honest here and say that sticking to my resolution that I will no longer post on Celtic Flame at all and only rarely on the others is difficult for me.  My practical Buddhist brain asks me why I bother then if I am not going to add anything helpful to the discussions.  My cranky lizard brain demands that I stop reading at all since it can have no satisfaction by setting some of the stupidity to rights…or at least by calling it out for the stupidity it is!!!  But, I am starting to find I am becoming more removed from it since I am not using valuable energy to formulate hopefully helpful answers anymore.

When this blog went private, so many of you told me of your reasons for no longer posting on or even reading the boards anymore…I understand even better now.

Why do I keep reading?  Part habit, part wanting to stay informed about the happenings, the opinions…the occasional altercation…I know, I am a rubber-necker!  But who can resist the morons when they tap dance on a train wreck?!?!?!

But since I changed the blog, other doors have opened for my energy, even in my own head.  Other thoughts are formulating in different ways because we are a smaller more open group.  (I feel the need here to apologize to anyone who was gearing up for a very active group here…we have slowed down…mainly because I wanted it to.  Don’t get me wrong – the number of members that we have is incredibly gratifying…I feel more like a rock star than a loser now that there are so many “friends!”  But I did feel very overwhelmed there for a bit.  I am figuring this out, and we can be as active as we want.)

My current thoughts are spawned by the continuing questions about how the BNs do things, make and design dresses, etc., as if there are rules that must be followed…fsm forbid anyone should be creative on her own…

You may remember this from my response to the first CCD:  [A] thing I have stopped doing is letting the nebulous “rules” about how these dresses are “supposed” to look influence me.  The only thing that influences me anymore is what the client wants.  I suppose if I made OTRs I would pay more attention to the trends…or maybe not.  The fact that the dress styles actually have very little to do with the dancing offends my artistic sense of what is supposed to be important!  The costume should complement the dancing, not hinder it.  The heavy, stiff dresses that have developed over the past 20 years are actually quite astounding to me.  As a choreographer, dancer, artistic director and professor, I stood my ground many a time with a costume designer who tried to force an undanceable design onto a dance!  The dance and dancer are most important and the role of the costume is to enhance the message and look that the choreographer wants.  It is not the role of the costume designer to force change and accommodation…I fired or failed those designers who could not understand their complementary role! 

Don’t get me wrong…I love making these wild, amazing, “ridiculous” pieces of wearable art.  These fanciful confections have developed in a very specific environment and would not be worn by anyone else!  But I find that I am increasingly interested in the comfort of the dancer.

I would very interested in that particular moment in time when someone decided that the ID dress needed to be more prominent in the dancing picture, because from there ID costuming evolved with no real thought as to the dancer or the dancing.  I think this strange mindset is what informs the creation of these dresses still.  So many questions about dress construction make it clear that the triangular, wide, flat, stiff shape of the dresses is considered to be traditional!  Granted, there also seems to be a renewed interest in the history of ID costuming which may or may not shoot that thought down…

But what is interesting to me are the objections, subtle or not, to dresses moving towards the soft skirt again, and my fascination is partially because it is still in my head that the dresses still need to be wider than any normal person would wear…although some of the fashion links on the boards have shown the fashionistas to be wearing pretty poofy skirts!

There is also, and still, this irritating idea that somehow the BNs are the gods of ID costuming who must be emulated at all costs!  Why?  Not too long ago, someone who claimed to just be making a comeback to ID pointed out that all of the current dresses look the same, no matter who made them!!!  I have to agree!  We are ALL doing panel dresses right now.  There are more folks trying to solve the soft skirt problem in many creative ways…but how many times have you read the same question on the boards:  “How do ED/Gavin/SR, etc, etc, etc…make their skirts look like that?”

Susan said something to me about how the harder people try to be different, the more they conform…  Wouldn’t you say that most dancers want to set themselves apart from the other dancers?  So out come the wild colors, the sequins, the crystals, the feathers, the 3-d flowers, etc, etc, etc…and what happens?  They not only all get lost in the cacophany of dazzling color, they all look the same!!

I have no earth shattering solution…I love making these dresses.  Each one is my baby.  When one client says subtle and elegant, that’s what I do.  When another asks for more sparkle, I do that, too.

I love our new tunic dresses mainly because I think they are constructed with the MOVING dancer in mind.  But being panel dresses, am I a sheep, too?  I think Susan and I, like so many other dressmakers, were interested in a different shape for designs so we were drawn to the panel look at probably the same time as everyone else!  I am quite sure it was a lone dressmaker somewhere who came out with the first one, but the second that a BN produced one, they were given the credit and proclaimed GODS once again…gag.

What is my freaking point?  Well, maybe it is that we all as dressmakers ought to slam the door on what OUGHT to be and open a new one doing what we want to do.  Yeah, when a client comes in asking for a dress like ED, you have to deal (or not), but when I expressed that I wanted to explore these soft tunic dresses, we got 3 clients in a row!  And we just turned down someone who wanted us to make a new jacket to match her ED skirt…I understand what she wants, but I am the wrong dressmaker for her!  I am not interested and told her the reasons why.  I suppose I could simply have said that we are booked up for quite a while (as we are), but I actually felt a bit insulted that I would be asked to essentially recreate someone else’s work, so I explained why I was not interested in taking her on.

Maybe this is it…newbies or not, we are each valuable artisans in our own right.  Perhaps not every one of us calls ourselves an artist, but we are.  Maybe our first attempts are less than stellar and actually petrify brain cells when we look back, but they are still created by us is “artiste mode,” sublime or not!

When a young choreographer is beginning her journey, yes she looks to the masters for information, inspiration, and guidelines, but she is also taught and guided to find her own voice.  The point is to bring to life her OWN vision.  We as dressmakers need to change our mindsets to #1 realize that the BNs are NOT the masters (far from it), and #2 that our visions are just as valid as any one else’s!  Maybe they are not all ready for prime-time right out of the gate, but we have to start somewhere.

So, open a door…and I’ll get off my soapbox before the swelling music in my head deafens me…

Letter to Dressmakers…or…Cogitating on Popcorn Thoughts…whatever

Dear Dressmakers:

I have been thinking…or rather percolating which is an ongoing activity that I do not have to be consciously aware of. 

Sparking events:

*A family member asked again if people use the info on this blog and if I get paid for it. 

Yes.  No.  My choice.

*Last night, Susan pointed out to me that Rebecca W’s ID dressmaking website and blog had disappeared.  My email to her bounced right back.  Called out to her on the dressmaker’s board…and she emailed me.  Her email got me thinking and the percolations began to rise…do-do-do-do, do-do-do-do {twilight zone}…

*I have noticed recently how many times folks have tried to start positive thought trends on the ID message boards.  They are lauded for their efforts and folks chime in and add wonderful things to the discussion.  There were a few postings about our new tunic dresses, which I found gratifying, and some interesting comments.  But, so much of the boards are taken up by screaming, mind-numbing, destructive negativity…why?  Are more endorphins produced by causing trouble rather than inspiring laughter? 

*Today on the knitting site Ravelry (I am SOOO enamored of this incredibly creative site!), someone brought up the issue of others using her photos without permission.  She said all anyone had to do was ASK!!!  I was very flattered when I was asked by a designer to use one of my pics to illustrate a pattern…in my hermit universe, I felt like a rock star!!!  The discussion was wonderfully constructive and educational…someone wrote about the benign internet mentality that what we can so easily find in the ether must be free!!!!  Most folks really do not seem to mind while understanding that some others are really bothered by it.  And technically, the law is on the side of first documentation. 

*And prior to this,  Susan and I had a conversation about the “sharing” of ideas that happens in ID dressmaking.  Folks in the ID world “share” differently than the rest of the children on the block.  Knitters do not “share” ideas the ID way because everyone calls them on it!  Every message board calls out the offender as the idiot they are!  The offended designer will visit you in your dreams!!!  Consequently, very, very few share without asking, attributing and/or pointing out VERY specifically how they changed things.  It creates a very open culture of folks that share in the true sense of the word.

And then there is my other world…dance.  If you borrow from another choreographer and yet present it as your own, you are very quickly nothing more than mud.  Everyone knows… a critic will take you to task in print.  In dance, as in so many other art fields, a true artist talks openly and with pride about who and what influenced them.  Training and working and studying with different artists are encouraged.  There is dignity in discussing the lineage of your artistry, if that makes sense. 

Plagiarism in all fields, artistic or not, ruins your DNA for generations to come.  In the performing arts, literature & art worlds, artists publicly acknowledge their influences as badges of honor! 

But ID is different.  We are not allowed to videotape competitions for fear steps will be stolen (how many different ways can you do a batter/treble?!).  Dancers can only train at their ONE sanctioned school (although I do find the rise of ID summer camps to be wonderful).  Transferring schools is cause for much teeth gnashing, many bad feelings, and nasty bad mouthing!  The case for the over-use of the trinity knot is before the Supreme Court…knot not.

All of that, and public and private dressmaker angst (I use that word for its power, not as parody) brings me here: even ID dressmaking is very weird…still.  I do think that it is much more open now than it used to be because of the great influx of newbies over the past year or so.  Yeehaw, Newbies!!!!  When I finally discovered the boards (a year or so after I started) getting real help was difficult as the secrecy thing was still in full force.  There were a couple of websites to go to for info…I still see them in my head as I studied them with awe and absolutely zero comprehension. 

My first foray onto a board went something like this:

“Are there patterns for Irish dance dresses?”

“Yes”

…after a length of time… “Where can I find them?”

 “IT.”

…after another length of time…”What is ‘IT’?”

…doo-do-doo, twiddling thumbs…”Irish Threads.”

“Great!  Where can I buy it?”

…time…”Search on Google.” 

My frustration knew no bounds.

I will say that the first ID dressmaking person I ever talked to was Pat at Irish Threads.  She was extremely knowledgeable about all things ID, and very helpful & patient, especially considering I really knew nothing.  She was the first to warn me that getting info and help from others would prove difficult…to put it mildly.  She was also encouraging and I appreciated that.  So I plugged along in my frustration until I met Susan…and she blew my mind.  That experience here.

Even now, still, the old guard seem to continue to be very quiet folks.  Perhaps they pay us no heed at all, but I do think they are there, listening and even contributing to the boards and groups, anonymously for the most part, though I imagine the old culture of secrecy, of “guard your trademark secrets for they are your identity” is still at work.  And yet, as Susan pointed out to me, everyone used to use mainly the designs from Seven Gates!!!  The designs had the same source but no one would talk about it!!!

My blog was the first ID dressmaking blog, and I only started it in March 2006 {what a hoot this is now…notice my tiny font…did not want to seem presumptuous}.  I searched and searched and I was really surprised at the time that there were no ID dressmaking blogs (update: turns out there was one t I did not find!).  I started mine because I was encouraged by reading knitting blogs, and I was so tired of feeling alone in the ID virtual reality.  But, I did it with much trepidation because I was afraid I would be perceived as an interloper, a fraud too big for her britches even though I really only started it as a way to share things with my family who live way off in California and Louisiana!! 

So…what is my freaking point?  I dunno…do I have to have one?  [[[whine, whinge, snarf, snurf…]]]

I feel like there is an elephant in the room…only I can’t see it to point it out.  It is part of what drove my whinging about no one talking to me a while back…it is part of the mild surprise that we at Feisdress felt when we actually heard very little from our fellow dressmakers about our tunic dresses because we value those discussions, those insights.  We do thank those of you who responded with such enthusiasm!  Kisses!  We also want to hear from those of you who did not feel enthusiasm…there is nothing better than a good, thorough, Irish dissection and debate!  My favorite “criticism” of the tunics from the boards was that they resembled Renaissance armour, and then pics were provided.  It was specific, and I understood.  My laughter was appreciative as well as highly amused.

ID is a very strange and irrational world.  I really do not understand because my Irish heritage is filled with people who looked/look you in the eye and told/tell you when you were/are full of shit!  Quite frankly, if it weren’t for Susan I would not be doing this.  I truly appreciate her blunt, take-no-prisoners attitude as my tendency is to take most things to heart.  Even though I can be perceived as a hard ass, once you get past what is a facade wrought by stellar teenage shyness coupled with the rigid ballerina posture, I am basically a marshmallow (as my sister Katie puts it).  I do think Susan and I make a good great team, and that is why I continue.  My former dance life was about collaboration… this dressmaking life is also a collaboration.

That’s it…collaboration.  We dressmakers are in collaboration.  We share and borrow, spy and steal, evaluate and re-format.  The Celtic Flame dressmaker’s message board has become quite a wonderful thing…except when we feel there is a sacred cow/elephant in the room.  We have become pretty wonderful about sharing in the true sense of the word…except when we don’t.  We are so giving…except when we aren’t.  We are supportive and funny and forthright…except when we are silent.  And we do all of this in packs.

Am I making sense?

I, for one, vow to start thanking any dressmaker that shows me something new.  I vow to look at all pics. I vow to answer all specific questions if I have something even remotely valuable to add. I vow to give feedback if asked.  I vow to help/support/validate/educate any dressmaker in conflict with a TC or client.  I vow to get over myself and be the collaborator I know I can be.

That is what this blog has evolved into.

The ID world, the TCs and parents, can be hard on dressmakers.  (So far my experience has been nothing but good, great and amazing…I KNOW I am lucky.)  Human psychology is a bitch to begin with, but the psychology of an art form that finds its validation in competition is so freaking complicated!!!!  So much of their anxiety gets taken out on us…we are ONLY people who ONLY work with our hands and EVERYONE knows that takes no brain power, for goodness sake!  (I am stopping there as THAT crap is a sure-fire way to get my juices flowing in a non-constructive way…)

We as dressmakers have a rarefied, immensely stratified and separated support system.  When we are dismissive and uncommunicative, we hurt each other.  When we are good, we help people fly.  I was so struck by the support Rebecca W received in the IDD group…it was not only wonderful, it was ‘us’ at our best.

I vow to try to support everyone who asks for it.

Sincerely,

me

Reality Check!

Hoo-boy…see this dress?
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This dress was made by Rachel from Silverlode Needlecraft… gorgeous. I am a huge fan of her spectacular work. She is quite the artist. Look at the detail…and this is one of her simpler dresses. The River Silverlode is my all-time favorite. It is like an incredibly complicated quilt! Unbelievable!! If it was mine, it would be hanging in a shadow-box frame in my living room.

So what’s the reality check?

On Dance-Again are scores of used, old dresses for $1600 on up. There are hundreds of worn BN dresses, cookie-cutter designs, priced ridiculously high because their owners want to recoup some of the price they originally paid. There are new ones made by experienced folks priced reasonably that do not get even a nibble. And there are so many brand new dresses made by inexperienced people that are priced unrealistically at $1200 -2000.

Guess how much Rachel is asking for this dress, this gorgeous, one-of-a-kind dress made by a highly skilled, very experienced, accomplished dressmaking artist?

Only $850…it is on Dance-Again for ONLY $850!!!!!!

Reality check!!!!

……………reality is shifting………….

(SOMEONE needs to snap this dress up. Better yet, I hope there is a bidding war so that Rachel gets what this is really worth!!!)

We all know that the ID dress market is changing. Rapidly. Used dresses now typically languish on sale sites for a very long time. I hear that the numbers of dancers are falling which affects sales. Styles change so fast that the perfectly good and beautiful dresses that were stylish 1 year ago are considered out-of-date…which affects sales. Even the re-sale market for the BNs is stalling because there is a glut of them. This is of course not the BN’s concern because the dresses belong to others, but as the BNs are increasingly being called out on their unfair business practices and dresses that cannot be danced in, I do believe that their future sales will also be affected if they haven’t been already.

It is a rare dressmaker (any?) who makes a living from the sale of Off-the-Racks (OTRs) because there are so many dresses for sale. But there continues to be an influx of new dressmakers who seem to think there is high money to be had for their first few attempts. Do many of them actually get what they ask for? I have no way of knowing.

Let me say here that I have nothing against newbies…the more the merrier. It is great fun talking to all the new people on IDD and the boards. Yes, they ask questions that have been asked a thousand times before, but when we answer, we get to define and refine our thoughts about our respective techniques. I am always learning something new from a “newbie,” especially the ones who think and work outside the box. I learned something great from a seamstress who alters ID dresses but has not made one yet herself because she is not sure she can!!! (Slappin’ my forehead!!!)

So many of us encourage newbies all the time, because ID dressmaking should not be an elitist art form. But it takes time to become proficient, and the learning never ends. It is the weird pricing by the inexperienced that makes me twitch. Having made the journey myself from newbie to now, I know that my skills and therefore my dresses are INFINITELY better now…no way would I have asked $1800 for my 1st dress…or 2nd…or 3rd…you get it. On the ID dressmakers board, Celtic Flame, someone did take the time to ask about pricing and there was a great response: “If you are looking to build your name/reputation, then price on the low side of ‘reasonable’ to get your name out there. If you do this a few times with some great looking dresses, you’ll begin a ‘following’……” Great advice! I know I have done it.

Another pricing issue…I have not really commented on this before, but I have had a big problem with the fact that the BNs were/are still charging BIG bucks for dresses that now have very little embroidery and/or appliqué. Quite frankly, it would be a breeze for me if I got to make a dress that depended mainly on the fancy fabrics for its “identity.” It would NOT cost as much as a dress dependent on embroidery and appliqué for it’s look. I have a breakdown of what I charge for everything…if there is little to no embroidery or appliqué, the price is significantly lower. In fact, this next solo will cost less because the underskirt will be completely soft! The one after that will have no stiffening anywhere which brings my labor cost down again!!!!

But here, in Rachel’s dress, we have a skillfully designed, carefully constructed stiff dress with detailed embroidery and appliqué made by a well-known and respected dressmaker…and she is only asking $850. On her website, she states: “We were recently trying out a new skirt style** before beginning a dress for another dancer. It might have been overkill, but we designed a whole separate dress as our test dress with its own design and color scheme, and we are happy with the results and have decided to sell our finished ‘test dress’!” We should all be so lucky to make a “test” like Rachel’s! And, she is only asking $850!!!!!

Reality check!

Does Rachel really think her work is only worth $850? I hope not. Or, is her (too low) price a reflection of an honest, realistic look at the current dress market? Perhaps this is something we should all be doing.

Reality check.

Teacher Responsibility

On one Irish dance message board, there is a posting and discussion about toe stands…the usual one about the teacher simply putting toe stands into a child’s dance because she is 12 now…the usual one asking how they are done…on a message board……can you see where I am going with this?

Why hasn’t the teacher prepared the student for toes stands? Why hasn’t the TEACHER PROPERLY TRAINED THE STUDENT SO THAT THE PARENT DOES NOT HAVE TO GO ON A MESSAGE BOARD TO ASK FOR TECHNICAL INSTRUCTION???!!!!

Someone suggested reading On your toes and another answered: “Thank you SO MUCH for the “Taoknitter” site-my daughter is starting toe stands too-this info is invaluable for saving her feet! Amazing how many kids do it in an injury prone way…” Gratifying to read that…but there are 2 issues that this answer brings up.

1) Notice her statement about “how many kids do it in an injury prone way…” Where does the onus lay in that statement? On the kids. Where should the onus lay? On the teachers.

2) The mind set of this and the other posters is that it is ok that the dancer must figure out how to do toe stands on her own. It is ok that mom is on the boards asking for help…and other folks are being helpful. But no one has pointed out that the TC has failed the student. It seems to be ok that the students are left to their own devices. Why?

Makes me sick to my stomach.

Is this mind set unique to ID? No. Is this behavior unique to ID teachers? No, as illustrated by this interesting comment that came in on “Dear An Coimisiún le Rincí Gaelacha…”.

From Anonymous:

“It’s interesting that the post providing a link to your kinesiology posts has been removed AGAIN from the TCRG voy forum.

When I was in high school (several decades ago), I hated gym class. Actually, I always hated gym class and any form of body-movement activities. It was always presented to me as a form of punishment (“You are so awkward, so I’ve signed you up for tap dancing…”)

One particular gym class is still very memorable. The teacher (name and face long forgotten) had hauled out the “gymnastics” equipment. There was a set of uneven bars. We all stood there looking at it wearing our bright red, IRONED, cotton “gym suits”. She explained that in a few weeks we would be graded on a routine and some itsy-bitsy little girl went up to the bars to demonstrate. First thing she did was haul herself up around the lower bar feet-first. Now I could sort of do it the other way – straight arm up and then let gravity do it’s work and around you go. But this way? It was a mystery. “How do you do that?” I asked the girls who could. They didn’t know, they just did it. The rest of us (most of the class) just stood around and stared. We were told to do it.

We did not have the upper body strength to pull into the bar (not that we even knew that was what we had to do). Did the teacher ever have us do any conditioning exercises for this activity? No. When we couldn’t do it, she just told us TO do it and don’t be lazy. I didn’t get an “A” in gym and just hated it even more.

Here’s my point. Any of you TCRGs out there reading this: It is all well and good if you can recognize the steps and moves and know whether they are executed well, but if you can’t help a student get to the point where they CAN dance those steps, you aren’t worth any more than my long-forgotten gym teacher. Reminding a student to turn out or get up high on their toes is not the least bit helpful to the dancer who can’t. The good teacher needs to be able to sort the CAN’Ts from the WON’Ts. The can’t-do-it-yet dancers need background strengthening work and encouragement that they will someday be able to dance the way you want. The won’t-do-it-yet dancers are the ones that benefit from the “reminders” because they can do the move, but aren’t doing it consistently. Nagging a CAN’T only makes them feel worse.”

This way of teaching, this neglectful technique, is wrong, lazy, ineffective, counter-productive, ignorant and even dangerous. Why do people accept it?

Demand more. Demand and expect that your teachers know their craft, that they KNOW HOW TO TEACH!!! Change the mind set that teachers are gods that cannot be questioned. Question them all!!! The good ones will smile and and answer every question, even if it is to say, “I do not know the answer to that right now, but I will when next I see you.” The bad ones get mad…and then behave badly.

I like to think that there are more good teachers (of all kinds) out there than there are bad ones. We just hear more about the bad ones because the good ones do not send you off to the message boards to get answers.

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology

Ignorant Dance Teachers

(Someone has been irked by this post, so she ANONYMOUSLY accused me of making MANY assumptions in this post and insinuated that I did not understand the difference between ID and ballet training… obviously not a regular reader of this blog. As I state at the beginning of the post below, I was sent off on this rant by a post on dance.net, but day after day I receive emails from parents and dancers asking for help, recounting their stories and their injuries. Up until now my dance kinesiology posts have been about the body as a way to encourage dancers and parents to take responsibility for their own body knowledge. I have been thinking that I should also say clearly that it should be the professional responsibility of every dance teacher, no matter the discipline, to understand the human body and how it moves. So, I say it now.)

Ok, can’t take it anymore…got up this morning, perused the web a bit to wake up, and unhappily came upon this:

“im 19 and have been dancing since i was 4. I have beautifully turned out feet but recently i have been getting serious pains in my knees and ankles. i went to an orthopedic who was shocked at how bad my leg alignment had become, presumably from ID. I was always told to ‘push my ankles forward’ in order to turn out my feet. Nothing was ever mentioned about my hips. I have never heard anything about using my hips. This might be the underlying cause to my problems. can anyone please shed some light on what i’m supposed to be doing with my hips when turning out my feet and trebling etc??? Any advice is welcome.”

PUSH FORWARD IN THE ANKLES TO TURN OUT!!??!! NEVER HEARD ABOUT USING HER HIPS!!??!! This teaching stupidity is stunning. Poor thing!

Why is any ignorant moron allowed to mess with young developing bodies just because they call themselves a “dance teacher”???!!!

I have always had a problem with bad teaching, regardless of the subject matter. I have walked out of many lectures, workshops, studio classes and university courses…I make no bones about ill-prepared lecturers, lazy presenters, and ignorant “teachers” of all kinds, no matter the guru they profess themselves to be. As a university professor, I probably shocked many a student when I would take their former teachers’ ignorant and dangerous ideas and teaching methods to task. What inflamed me more than anything were the “chronic injuries” that dancers owned as if they were badges of honor…these injuries were a sign of bad teaching, of damage done to them by ignorant teachers… they were not good things!!

Dance teachers work with the human body, therefore they should know how it is put together, how it works. They should know the bones and their articulations. They should know how each and every joint is constructed and how it is meant to move. They should understand the role of bony formations and ligaments in supporting and restricting movement in the joints. They should know the difference between ligaments and tendons and muscles, and they should know what bursae are for. They should know how muscles work by acting as the forces that move the levers that we call bones. They should know how muscles create movement by working with or against gravity. They should know the physics of jumping, turning, kicking, leaping, etc, etc, etc. They should understand correct skeletal alignment and effective and safe dance posture inside and out!

They should know how turn-out is accomplished if they want their students to use it. They should know how to strengthen a dancer’s legs and feet, and that it takes a few years of concentrated, specific training before a dancer should be put en pointe. They should understand how much stronger an Irish dancer’s feet really should be to perform toe stands in shoes that are not supportive or designed for such a maneuver. Irish dance teachers should understand the particular demands that the very specific Irish dance technique places on the body…the fact that dancers’ heels are not to contact the floor and that their knees are always to appear straight is very stressful on the legs. The fact that they are required to jump with out the benefit of the full use of the foot lever OR the arms requires unbelievable strength. They should understand the stretching that should be a MATTER OF COURSE for any dancer. If Irish dance teachers are going to continue to borrow movements from other dance techniques (ballet, in particular), then they themselves should be taking classes so THEY are trained to perform these steps. What has ID taken from ballet? Changement, entrechat quatre & six, cabriole, pique, pas de bourree, gargouillade…don’t know what these are? Then why are you trying to teach them to your students!!!!??

It should be a GIVEN that dance teachers understand the human body completely! Period.

There are bad teachers in every dance form. The mind set that the art of dance and the science of dance are mutually exclusive was quaint 75 years ago when the dance star of the day was no better than the average intermediate-advanced student of today. But as the athleticism of dance advances, so should our understanding of movement, of motion. The dance training needs to be more specific, more careful, more focused as we try to defy gravity in more and more complex and innovative ways because the HUMAN BODY DOES NOT CHANGE AS THE DANCE FORMS EVOLVE!!! Our bodies are put together the same way they were 50, 100, 1000, 10,000 years ago. This is not new news…so why is knowledge of the human body not a given?

If your dance teacher will not take responsibility for your body, then you take it. And find a new teacher. Good ones do exist.

Click for more kinesiology info: Dance Kinesiology
To start educating yourself, try here.

Per use fees for patterns

On the Celtic Flame dressmakers board, the subject of a per use fee for patterns has come up again, and those taking it personally are misunderstanding…again!!

It is standard industry practice to pay a per use fee or a licensing fee to re-use commercial patterns. And this is how it should be! A pattern is the product of someone else’s design ideas and skills…they SHOULD be paid every time someone makes something using their pattern! (See “Why do patterns cost so much?” ) When you buy a pattern for personal use, it is yours to use for PERSONAL use. If you are making 10 first communion dresses for others, a pattern must be bought for every person…that is your license, your per use fee.

So, when we buy an ID dress pattern to make one dress, we have paid for that use. If I am going to make my daughter 6 dresses from the same pattern, I can do that. But if I want to make 6 dresses to sell, I must either buy 6 new patterns, or purchase a licensing agreement from the pattern maker. This is standard industry practice!

“Most pattern companies, including the small independent pattern companies, have strict policies that prohibit the use of their patterns for manufacturing. It is a direct violation of copyright laws to manufacture sewn products from a commercial pattern and claim it as your own design.

You can, however, sew custom garments for customers using a commercial pattern if you buy one pattern for each person. For instance, if you are making four of the same style of bridesmaid’s dresses for four different people, you need to purchase four separate patterns, one for each bridesmaid.” – Copyrights and the Sewing Industry: Part 1 By Susan Wigley

(More info here.)

All of this is so confusing that no home sewer really pays much attention to it and the pattern industry is not policing this issue, though it would have the right to do so. It does however police trade shows and craft fairs to catch folks using one pattern to create articles for sale.

Even though a per use fee is standard industry practice, Susan decided not to require this with her pattern. She understood that many of her customers would be using the pattern to make multiple dresses. Not wanting to deal with this, she decided to charge enough for the pattern that she is happy and comfortable with her customers using the pattern as much as they wish. She is not being taken advantage of. But that does not mean the pattern can be copied in any way and distributed to others. (We do, however, advise that if a dressmaker is making dresses for multiple schools, each school should buy a set of patterns so that they [the school] own them which makes it easier to have multiple dressmakers or to change dressmakers at a future date. This is not policy for us, but it highly recommended.)

Now, one of the other ID dress pattern makers takes exception to the fact that Susan openly and clearly states that there is no per use (commercial) charge. She thinks it sounds like Susan is accusing her of collecting these fees. So? If she is collecting fees, she should be and more power to her!!! If she’s not she is also going against industry practices which works to the benefit of the small ID dressmaker and more power to her again!!!!! So what’s the problem here?

And there is a larger issue here in this objection to Susan stating that she does not charge a per use fee : she is accused of under cutting someone else while in actuality her focus was not limited to ID dress patterns at all and her reasons for stating that she does not charge a per use fee is because of her experience in the pattern industry.

“When I developed this pattern my personal challenge was not to make the best ID dress pattern. I wanted to make the best garment pattern of any kind. I was looking at the entire home-sewing pattern industry, not a small niche segment. ” – Susan Gowin

Sincerely,

Ann & Susan

Client from Hell

(Any former clients of mine who read this, I am NOT talking about any of you! Any folks who were this rude, did not get a dress…and I do thank Susan for keeping the pitch fork in my behind until I came to my senses.)

A dressmaker on the Celtic Flame board asked for perspectives on a situation with a client…a client that should now reside in the “former” category but instead has been allowed to bulldoze her way into the “current and continuing to be rude, condescending, grasping and non-paying” category. As I wrote in my short reply to the original post, this chaps my ass!!!!!

I feel bad for the dressmaker. She has allowed herself to be badgered into this situation…yes, it is her fault. But this happens a lot because the smaller dressmaker does not want to make anybody angry, does not want an idiot client like this to say bad things about her because it might affect her business. I understand that…I bet most, if not all of us understand that. In fact, I’m sure many of us have found ourselves in situations when we are completely taken aback by potential and/or current clients who make the astoundingly condescending assumption that because we are not a BN (big name) that we are there solely to be taken advantage of, to work for nothing, to spend our own money making them happy just so they might pass our name on to other prospective clients….what do they call that crap? Oh yeah, EXTORTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I found the definition of extortion here in this internet law library:

EXTORTION – The use, or the express or implicit threat of the use, of violence or other criminal means to cause harm to person, reputation, or property as a means to obtain property from someone else with his consent. USC 18

The Hobbs Act defines “extortion” as “the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.” 18 U.S.C. S 1951(b)(2).

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? Well it is. The feelings that this behavior from clients brings on are depressing & overwhelming! And it has to be downright mind-blowing when you get clients who are bold enough to actually threaten you with a bad review as I have heard about from dressmakers but thankfully not experienced…I have this image of my head exploding were I ever to be confronted by such subnormality! Where do they get off treating dressmakers so badly?

So what is this behavior?

This current story goes like this (I have made things a bit more obscure to protect the dm, NOT the client who should be locked in the stocks and pelted with rotten eggs): The dressmaker sold a semi-custom dress 3 months ago, an OTR (off-the-rack) that was bought during construction, so it was fitted to the dancer and a couple of time-consuming design enhancements were made at their request at no extra charge. At the final fitting, 2 days before a feis, they asked for another whole “addition” to the dress and that was delivered, also no extra charge. Should have been the end of the story.

The client called not long ago to say she was dissatisfied with the dress as the side panels were not laying flat. She wanted it fixed in less than a week. The dm offered to look at the dress to see what needed to be done, not wanting to have a dissatisfied customer sharing her opinion with all who would listen. The problems were OBVIOUSLY caused by the dancer – an obvious crease line across the panels from being sat in and side panels that were distorted because of the dancer’s particular way of pushing forward with her arms. The dm agreed to take the dress to flatten the panels and pull it up a bit at the side seams to make it harder for the dancer to distort the panels as she danced. Then, the mother says that the (emergency) “addition” was not what she had asked for.

Here is when the dm should have said that seeing as how the “addition” had been thrown in free of charge, if the client wanted a new one, she was going to have to pay for it…and the alterations she was about to do. But she did not. She spent more of her own money, spent valuable time fixing the dress, and gave it all back. At this point, even though our dm had not said up front that there would be charges for her work, an ETHICAL HUMAN BEING would have asked what the charges were. But this piece of work simply took the dress. THEN the dm saw her at a feis, and the client mama from hell and her dancer complained that the “addition” still wasn’t what they wanted -they liked one her friend had better- and they told her how to make it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The dm had one last question for us: “Do you other folks think I have any obligation to spend another day and $20 in materials to make her another gift???”

NOOOO!!!!!

Here’s another: The dressmaker spent hours consulting with an entire family on a dress. (Right there, Susan would have fired the clients!) The dm went out of her way to help them, spent hours searching the world for their desired fabric. She made a mock bodice which fitted perfectly, did two fittings, and at the final one, the girl had the dress on for at least half an hour. There was never any mention about the dress being tight, uncomfortable etc. 6 months later, they are not happy with the fit of the dress. And this is all her fault, and they want the dm to alter the dress. For free.

This dm is getting ready to tell them a firm NO, thank goodness. She says, “I provided a well tailored, perfectly fitting dress made to their requirements. (Dealing with this dress is) NOT AN ONGOING SERVICE. It is not my problem if the girl has had a growth spurt or wants the dress to be as loose fitting as her pajamas. This time I am going to be firm and not be taken for a ride.”

One of my dressmaker friends had a former client come to her to say that the dress did not fit and it was her fault…although they were happy because it fit “so perfectly” when she danced in it at the Southern Region Oireachtas 6 months earlier! And, in the same incredibly long and convoluted email, the client went on to blame this dm for the fact that a dress she had bought from her 18months EARLIER was not selling…and she really was hoping not to have to resort to telling folks what a bad dressmaker my friend is!! It was the weirdest piece of deluded rationalization I have ever read.

Idiot dressmaking clients (if you are not an idiot, please disregard this question), would you call Gavin or Siopa Rince or Elevation or etc, etc, etc to tell them that you no longer like the cape/applique fabric/lining/tutu or that the dress that they made for you 6 months ago/ 1 year ago/ 18 months ago does not fit now (because your daughter grew, but you don’t admit that) and that IT IS THEIR FAULT AND THEY HAVE TO FIX IT? FOR FREE???!!! And then threaten them with smears on their reputations if they don’t? No, of course you wouldn’t! So, why do you do call your lone dm and tell her that? Why is her work of less value? What is it that you think she owes you?

I choose to believe that this kind of client is not the norm…if it was, there would be no lone dressmakers. I have really been lucky with the clients I have worked with so far, knock on wood. But, I know there will be a time that a loony gets by Susan’s PITA radar (she IS my first line of defense), and it will be my luck that the fireworks will start after Susan is done with her part, so I will have to figure out how to handle it myself. I know it will not be easy, believe me.

After writing this, I am thinking I should finish my contract and state very clearly where and when my obligation stops. Perhaps we all should.

Irish Dance Dresses: Beginning of a Revolution?

On the message boards lately there have been posts about the cost of dresses, the cost of competing, the fact that there have been a couple of feiseanna that have prohibited solo dresses…as you can imagine, the ranting can really get going. Here are a few links to some of these discussions:

Main board #1, #2 , #3
Southern region board
Board for UK, Ire, Eur (The post here was removed by the moderator because things apparently got nasty. Gotta love that moderator! But I have included this as a link to that board.)

This is the first time since I have been doing this that I think a change may actually be in the offing. And then this morning, I read this:

Our TC would love to see simpler costumes and is aware of costs. Our parent org. pays for entry fees to majors, warm-ups, etc. Classes are very reasonable. However, the costs to compete are beyond her control. We are not compelled to buy new dresses but, you reach a point in Open and PC when it is obvious to break the ceiling you have to shell out for a Gavin or Siopa Rince, also, have seen a middle of the field placer suddenly take the podium in a new Gavin. have to believe it is just not my imagination! — Mo Dance Mom

Have some guts, Mo Dance Mom! Say no!!!! You are feeding into the psychology of it and that influences your daughter.

I find all of this very interesting, because believe me, if I was not able to make solo and school dresses for my own daughters, we would not be dancing beyond the recreational level. Yes, I make Irish dance solo dresses, and yes, they can cost a pretty piece of change because of what folks want….but they do not cost what a Gavin or Siopa Rince or an Elevation or a few cocky others cost, and even better, when it comes to my daughters, they love what I can do. They have yet to look at one of those other dresses and swoon. Because I am clear about the must-have-because-I-will-win psychology of the BN dresses, my divas are VERY clear that the dress will not MAKE them win!!!!

My perspective:

What is driving this market for expensive dresses?
I do not have a definitive answer. From my perspective, I see a few things.

First, there is that such a mystique has been built around the BNs (big names) that we have a severe case of the Emperor’s new clothes permeating our gullible ranks. (Look under Rants if you want to read more of my squawkings about these folks, and no, that’s not me on the boards posting about the Emperor…I was so taken with the analogy that I now use it.) And for better or worse (and perhaps more power to them), the BNs are riding the wave. For now. I do believe a backlash is in the workings.

Then, there are the teachers (TCs). You read time and time again about TCs insisting that students buy their solo dresses only from the BNs. And for parents that accept this CRAP, this means that they HAVE to pay what they are told to…for a dress that they probably have no input in, will know nothing about until the day it arrives, and if it does not fit (which seems to be the usual case), they are stuck because the BNs do not take returns or fix their mistakes. We are paying the TCs for their Irish dancing expertise, not their dressmaking abilities. (Just in case it is not implicitly understood, I am not including TCs [or ADs] that are also dressmakers in this category…I think the reasons are obvious.) I give our TC the respect of passing ideas by her and she is working personally with her students that need new solo dresses, but not only would she NOT insist on spending outrageous amounts of money, I would not agree to it! One of the discussions that I posted links to above includes a post that says their TC accepts commissions on all dresses she gets her students to purchase from a particular dressmaker…not the first time I have heard that. And this is actually pretty common practice at non-Irish dance studios that put on end-of-year recitals…but those costumes are usually less than $100 a pop! I am thinking that making money is getting in the way of common sense and ethical behavior. And it brings me to another thought that has been percolating in my brain about teachers as gurus…but that is for another day.

One of the above links also includes posts about adjudicators who think that WHAT a dancer is wearing is very important. Perhaps I am naive, but I truly find this hard to completely believe (quiet, Susan!). Ok, at the very top, when dancer A and dancer B are so good that you cannot decide, maybe the dancer in the soft floral dress appeals more to one judge than the amazon in the modern black dress…and vice versa for the next judge!!! And yes, I had one very credulous TC tell me that she had changed her stance on solo dresses for her school because 1 (ONE) adjudicator told her that she looks at the dresses before the dancers even begin and decides who to watch and who to ignore. What makes me MOST INCREDULOUS about this is that this TC did not see this adjudicator for the twit she is! I know this ridiculousness exists, but you also read time and time again about (and I have witnessed) dancers who place first in school costumes or out-dated costumes. I choose to believe that the majority of adjudicators are looking at the dancing first and foremost. Aren’t we here for the dancing?

And then there are the parents. I have read posts that blame the current state of things on the “mamas with the checkbooks.” Yes…but no. First of all, I would assume that most parents trust their TCs and follow their advice. Remember this post of mine about the dress that need “jazzing up?” Case in point…yet what I appreciated about this mama is that she came to me to hear another point of view, I gave it to her, and she compromised. And, I do understand how those of us who take our daughters to feis after feis can get caught up in the look, the pageantry of it all. But, I do not blame parents…most are simply trying their best to make sure that their daughters feel and look their best. Why? Because we love them to distraction, and a happy dancer has happy feet.

But, as the post above reminds me, we as parents have got to keep this in perspective so that our children can. Ok, so a mid-level dancer suddenly won in a BN dress? I am venturing a guess that she felt pretty spectacular that day and danced that much better…is it the magic of the dress or the magic of the idea of the dress? Don’t know about you, but I feel it is my job to make the difference clear to my divas.

Do the BNs charge too much for their dresses?
Yes.

Why?
I am going to go way out on a limb here and make this statement: Because they do not make them as well as I do…Ha! I have now put that in print! And I am not the ONLY one who creates well-made dresses. My experience has been this: until this weekend, every time I have examined a dress made by a BN, I have been amazed and appalled by how poorly made they were. (Go here for that first rant.) And dress after dress on the for-sale racks that do not tell you who made them are beautifully made – neatly, precisely, carefully. (I have already posted about the SR dress I saw this weekend…beautiful and totally unlike the others I have inspected… except for that zipper!) I think most of us lone dressmakers are driven by our own demons/angels/neuroses to do good work.

Here’s the thing, though: if the BNs took the time to craft their dresses as carefully as most lone dressmakers do, their would be no question that their dresses are worth the price. Why? I am looking at this answer from my perspective which is this: wherever it comes from, clients now want so many bells and whistles that Vera Wang would tell them to mortgage the house! (I know, I know, which came first? The BNs or the bells and whistles? The chicken or the freaking egg!?!) There is a simple fact here…the dresses are so complex, made from such expensive fabrics that take such great care to use well that the labor alone is expensive. It is time that ID dress consumers understand that FACT!

Some clients come to you and want all the bells and whistles that they see on the BN dresses…but they do not want to pay the same amount. I now set forth my basic price list (and it is rather detailed) so that clients get a good idea what it will cost to get what they want. And I think it is fair. I could charge more…if I actually charged what my inner Donald Trump thinks I am worth, my dresses would cost as much as the BNs. But I do not do it…mainly because I love doing it and do not want to price myself out of the biz! The point is that what clients now want (because of the BNs!) is costly! And this brings me to this:

If you want your dresses to be cheaper, work with your dressmaker to CREATE a cheaper dress.
What makes a dress cheaper? Many things, but ultimately it all comes down to how long it takes to create one of these wearable pieces of art: all the embroidery & applique; the expensive fabrics and overlays; engineering the stiffness of all the various skirt styles; the expensive threads & crystals & feathers & beads, etc, etc, etc, etc…

You cannot cut down on the price of a good design…but you can cut down on how much of the dress it covers which lowers the embroidery costs.

Good fabric that will last is worth the money, but are you going to turn around and sell it in 6 months? No one will care in this market now how much you originally spent. Having trouble myself with this mentality. If you plan on keeping your dress for quite awhile, invest in the good stuff that will stand up.

Do you need that $30/yd overlay, those $99/yd sequins? Do you know that it costs more to make a dress like that?

Can you apply the crystals yourself? I have good sources for the supplies and it will cost you less if you do it.

How about taking a risk on a soft dress…you know, the way they used to be way back when!?! I will charge you less if I do not have to keep working out to deal with the wrestling matches aka attaching that damn skirt!!!!!

Ultimately, what is important to you? I understand wanting to satisfy the daughter’s inner diva…but we all have to remember who the parent is. I know, easy for me to say…but I am resolved to continue instilling in my divas a sense of the dancing being most important, not the dress. I would love nothing better than for my daughters to dance in simpler costumes. If I have the guts to make it, maybe they will have the guts to wear it. Perhaps I need to put my money where my mouth is, eh?

Should the ID commission ban solo dresses?
That’s a tough one. I do think that suddenly making plain costumes mandatory, as some folks are calling for and some feiseanna are trying, is a bit heavy-handed and reactionary. As with any change, it goes over better when it is phased in slowly. But I am not sure we fractious, independent Irish would take all that well to being taken in hand that way. Many are frustrated with the way the costume rules are written now…maybe they are written so obliquely on purpose. For those that need rules, they are there, but for those who chafe, we can laugh that they really do not seem to say much!!!

And considering that the commission did set rules about what levels allow solo dresses, maybe they are thinking ahead. Maybe there will come a day when they set a deadline for having simpler dresses in place at the champ levels.

Would I mind that? No. As a dressmaker, this would mean a change, yes, and dress prices would fall, but I am sure I could make more dresses in the time it takes me to make just one now. As a parent, I would love to see more of my divas when they dance and less of the dress.

What about the current dress glut?
Interesting situation. And it reminds me of the housing situation here where I live. Between one road and the next, there are 14 houses for sale. And they have been for sale for a long time. These houses were bought when the market was booming and houses did not stay on the market for a day! Folks bought them thinking that in a few years, they would turn around and sell them for 3 times what they paid! Well, it’s not happening. Folks are in a panic. Each house goes up with an astronomical sale price…and then they sit there. They drop the price…and sit there. If they really want to sell, they will have to drop the price to something attractive to people and get over what they wanted to make off of it. Every once in a while, an owner takes the house off the market and decides to stay for the long haul.

Seems to be the same for the dresses. I do not think the glut of dresses will abate any time soon. Perhaps we should live in our dresses for a while. And wait.

There is something frantic in our Irish dance world right now. That is what struck me like a runaway truck when I walked into that feis this past weekend. The energy that greeted me was not happy, it was agitated. Have we let things get too out of control?

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!

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