My first dance dress

15 Nov

I got my very first dance dress!

I had a bunch of silver coins that my grandfather had given me when I was a kid. I found out last spring that they were worth about what a new custom-made dance dress would cost. I thought my grandfather would maybe rather I have something I would love and use than keep the coins in the bank safe deposit box forever. So I asked my dad if he would care if I sold the coins (they were given to me by his dad), and he said I could do what I wanted with them. My friend AW has a friend who collects silver coins, so I made arrangements to sell them to him.

Knowing about how much I could get for the coins, I asked Rachel to recommend a dressmaker. Rachel’s dressmaker does costumes for amateurs as well, so she sent me to her. Marsha has been making costumes for dancers for years, and she used to be a professional dancer as well. So she totally gets it. I called Marsha back in June and talked about wanting a dress for smooth (waltz, tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz) for Showcase in November. We made arrangements to meet at the end of August to get going on the design. In the meantime, I had homework to do. Marsha asked that I ask Nate for three words to describe my smooth dancing. I also had to find between one and twenty pictures of things that were inspiring – colors, fashion, art, flowers, anything.

Luckily, I use Pinterest, so I had a collection of photos of styles I liked. For his words, Nate came up with “regal, elegant, and poised”. Just for the heck of it, I asked Rachel for three words too, and she said “clean, lighthearted, and demure”. So I took the photos and the words and headed over to Marsha’s.

Watching her work and following her process was fascinating. She had me try on three dresses she already had (she also sells used gowns) so I could get a sense of what a dress felt like and also see what I liked and didn’t like about some. You know I’m not the most girly-girl, so I kind of have a sense of what looks good on my body but I had no idea if that would translate or how it would translate into a dance dress. But she does. I didn’t have to worry too much about that because she’s so good and just knows. She looked at my pictures and although I thought they were random photos, she was able to see themes through them. One theme was a classic style, and another was hints of floral motifs. (Flowers? Me? Apparently so.)

As we talked, she was forming ideas on what my dress could look like. She sketched a bit, and then we started talking about colors. I told her I was drawn to peacock colors and deep jewel tones. When we looked at fabrics, there was a purple I liked right away, and we went with that.

It’s very hard to for me to see a swatch of color and be able to picture it big. So I could look at her drawing and look at the swatch, but I wasn’t entirely sure how it would look. But I knew the concept she had and I liked it, so I had no worries about it.

I told her I wanted to glue the rhinestones myself to save costs. Rachel had already shown me how to do that for another dress for my rumba routine last year, so I knew how to do it.

I had my first fitting in September and then a few more after that. It was so cool and very fascinating to see this dress being built on me. At the fittings, Marsha would adjust things based on how the dress was looking. She actually changed the whole skirt design at one point. She would often ask my opinion, and I tried to give it but I also recognize that she’s the expert and she’s going to know best about most of the dress decisions!

We spent a lot of time at one fitting talking colors for the rhinestones and the underskirt. If we went with all one color, that would be very regal. But if we went with multi-colors, we would be more light-hearted. So she always kept those words from Nate and Rachel in mind. We ended up with lots of colors for the rhinestones and an electric blue underskirt.

I picked up the dress and had a week to glue rhinestones. I’m obviously not as fast as Marsha at it. I set up my station for gluing:

Notice the pillows that I sat on to be at the right height, the fan pointed at the open window (E6000 glue has NASTY fumes), and all the little Tupperware containers (each container had a different color/size rhinestone in it). Marsha did the necklace and earrings for me to give me a guide to do the rest.

It took me 20.5 hours to do the front…

the back…

the cuffs…

and the barrette.

I danced in it at my lesson a week ago. It was amazing. I kept screwing up steps because I would catch glimpses of it in the mirror and get distracted by it. I took it back to Marsha after that lesson so she could glue the purple rhinestones on the bodice and sew in the underskirt. I picked it up on Friday and danced in it at Showcase yesterday.

It was amazing! I just can’t describe what it felt like to have such a dream come true. I never thought I’d own a smooth dress. It was number two on my bucket list behind going to a Dance-O-Rama. And Marsha made it such a fun, enjoyable experience. I’ll miss talking to her about it, but I know that I’ll be back for a rhythm gown as soon as I can afford one!

So if you’re ever looking for dance costumes (including menswear – she does Nate’s clothes too), go see Marsha at Made for Movement. You will have an amazing experience, and you’ll get a gown you will love. And you will have zero regrets.

(If you want to hear about the making of my dress from her perspective, check our her blog post.)

Thanks, Marsha, for making a dream come true!

4 Responses to “My first dance dress”


  1. Weeks in review « The Reinvented Lass - November 21, 2011

    […] *Gluing a boat load of rhinestones on my fabulous new dance gown […]

  2. Flowers in my hair « The Reinvented Lass - November 29, 2011

    […] them in with bobby pins is an option, but I knew they wouldn’t stay well. When I had my dance gown made, I saw that my dressmaker glues ultrasuede onto hair clips, then glues the rhinestones to the […]

  3. Weekly roundup « The Reinvented Lass - February 6, 2012

    […] the first time – went really well. I did my tango open – went great (and I got to wear my dress again!) And I did my rumba open – which was the best we’ve ever done that one. Woo […]

  4. Prepping for Showcase « The Reinvented Lass - May 12, 2012

    […] the hotel, I change into my fabulous dress and start dancing! Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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