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Love Story Dancing Dress

As for my interpretation of the theme, I've been a little Valentine's Day challenged in the past (but I'm always optimistic for the future), so hearts and cupids weren't in my plans. But as I pondered the theme, several things came to mind. The first, my grandparents. My Mom's folks were married for decades and going dancing was one of their favorite activities. In fact, that's where they met my Dad's dad and his wife (Grammie Augsburg), who had a wonderful second marriage that lasted 40+ years—both were widowed young and remarried young. They all went dancing at various venues throughout the Chicagoland and surrounding rural (now suburban) areas. When I danced with Grampa Augsburg in my 20s, he'd always tell me I was trying to lead (surprise). So a few years ago, in an attempt to make new friends upon my relocation to Milwaukee, I started taking swing dance lessons. For five years, I've been learning and practicing my East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop moves. I've made some great new friends AND learned to follow and let my partner lead (Grampa would be so proud!). So my love story project has two meanings for me. It expresses my love of dancing and it also honors the love that I have for my grandparents and the fact that they encouraged me to dance. When I'm on the dance floor, I can almost imagine them smiling down on me.


The added benefit of this particular garment is that the dress has a little twirl to it, which is very important when you're dancing, but it's still "office appropriate". Right now, I only have the band and a few couples on the dance floor, but I'm thinking about adding the dancers all the way around the back of the skirt as well. Since the freezer-paper stencils are reusable (as you'll see below), this should be a quick update.


Want to take a spin around the floor and try to create something like this of your own? Here's how.



•Garment (My dress was too long, so I saved the part I cut off and used it to audition paint colors and types.)

•Fabric paint (I used Jacquard Lumiere, pewter)

•Paint brush

•Freezer paper

•Patterns (I used clip art from a Dover book)

•Iron, ironing surface, press cloth

•Cutting surface and craft knife (X-Acto)

•Transfer paper and pencil



1. Size your patterns to fit your garment. My dance couples are three different sizes, and one is flipped horizontally. Prewash your garment as indicated on the care label, paying attention to any instructions from the paint manufacturer.

2. Layer the following things from bottom to top: freezer paper wax-side down, transfer paper chalk-side down, pattern. Use a pencil to trace around the pattern.

3. Using the craft knife, cut the image out of the freezer paper, creating a stencil.

4. Place the freezer-paper stencil wax-side down on the garment. Use an iron to temporarily attach the freezer paper to the fabric. (Really, this works. Just use a heat appropriate for the fabric.) Note: I'm reusing one in the photo, which is why there's already paint around the edges.

5. Place cardboard under the to-be-stenciled area. Use a paint brush to apply paint within the stencil area. Brush in from the edges so you don't get paint under the edge of the stencil. Note: Mine was a pretty dense knit fabric, so it didn't bleed through, but if your garment is thin, place wax paper over the cardboard under your garment so the cardboard doesn't stick to the fabric.

6. Peel the freezer paper off. You don't want to let it get very dry before you do this, because the paint can stick along the edges of the stencil. But I'd let it dry a little so you don't run the risk of smudging.

7. Let dry and heat-set the paint according to manufacturer's directions.

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Taken on December 3, 2008