Once you select the phot0 that you want to paint from, you need to reduce it down from details to sections of color. So I edit the original photo (I use Jasc Paint Shop Pro, but there are many other photo editing software products that will do this:

From my editing, I finally ended up with this image:

Final Altered Image

Final Altered Image

So, open your image in the photo editing tool:

Edit the original photo

Edit the original photo

Then you can reduce the number of colors to 16:

Reduce to 16 colors

Reduce to 16 colors

Which will produce this:

Image reduced to 16 colors

Image reduced to 16 colors

Or you can use the posterize function (if available):

Posterize the image

Posterize the image

Which gives this:

After posterizing

After posterizing

Whatever method you use, play around with the settings, brightness and contrast until you are happy with it.


Fraudulent Art Painting

As I mentioned before, I can neither draw nor paint to save my life, so I have to cheat by printing from my computer. This project explains how I went from this self-portrait circa 2008:

Original photo

Original photo

To this almost finished 4′ 3″ x 2′ 8″ painting on canvas:

Almost finished canvas

Almost finished canvas

I wish that I could give exact instructions for making the dress floats, but unfortunately it’s really a matter of draping until you get what you like.

For the purple gown, I made matching large float for each shoulder-to-wrist, and then added an extra handkerchief float at each wrist because it hung better that way:

Because I forgot to take pix while I was working on the purple dress floats, I’ll show ones for the peach gown instead

1) With the dress on the form, drape and pin the chiffon where you like it

2) Adjust the folds and pins until you like the look

3) Carefully trim the fabric along the lower drape lines and across the bottom where it hangs to the floor.

4) Remove the floats from the dress, and lay out on a large table or the floor. Retrim the edges to make them even. If you have 2 floats, make sure to trim them so they match.

5) For the peach dress, I pleated the folds across the right arm. Once the float was off the dress, I adjusted the pins on the folds to even them up, and them loosely machine stitched along the pleat line. This seam will be tacked to the top of the arm whenn it is finished.

6) I don’t have a roller foot for my machine, but I do have a zig-zag foot with a slot in it.

7) Using clear nylon thread and a narrow zig-zag stitch, I insert the edge of the chiffon into the slot so that the edge stands up a bit, then stitch along the raw edge. By having the edge in the slot, it causes it to be rolled over as you stitch.

8) I then repeat the process a second time (as shown in this picture), which rolls the edge once again & hides any raw edge threads that may show

9) Pin the floats back onto the dress, and tack down where needed.  This photo shows the completed float.

NOTE: Be sure to bring safety pins or a needle & thread with you to the competition. When I wore the purple gown for the first time I managed to catch the float on the door to the ladies room & broke the threads where it was tacked! Thank goodness they had enough safety pins for the leader’s numbers so I could fix it!

ANOTHER NOTE: Because of my floats on the purple gown being tacked at the shoulders it caused 2 problems – 1) My partner had to be careful to get his hand *under* the float on my back when we got into hold position, 2) I nearly got choked on it when he spun me out at the end of the first dance & somehow it got wrapped around his arm and my neck!

I got this tip from my mechanic, and it works great.

If you do a lot of highway driving as I do, then you get a lot of deposits from diesel fuel on your windshield. The diesel fumes can’t be removed with Windex and paper towels alone.

Try doing a first pass with Windex and a wadded up piece of newspaper, then do it again with the Windex and a paper towel. The newspaper is abrasive enough to remove the diesel fuel deposits without scratching the glass!

Easy Chair Slips

I was looking for a simple way to change the look of my dining room seasonally, beyond just changing the table centerpiece. The solution? Chair slips.

These photos show some of the slips that I have made, and they are super simple to do.

1) Purchase several yards (depending on the number of chairs to cover) of 54″-60″ sheer decorative fabric. Check the cut edge of the fabric before purchasing to be sure that it does not fray (unless you want to put in the effort of narrow hemming each slip). The holiday “craft fabrics” all seem to work well.

2) With the fabric folded as it comes from the bolt, cut lengths through both layers from the selvages to the fold. The width of the lengths should be at least 1″ wider than the width of the chair back.

3) Using nylon thread, and keeping the fabric folded with right sides together, stitch from the fold down, with a 1/4″ seam allowance. The length of the seam should be less than the height of the chair back

4) Turn the slip right-side-to, and voila! A chair slip that will change the look of the entire room.

I ordered 2 different sequined fabrics from Spandex House in NYC, and loved both of them! One of them turned out to be a disaster however.

This picture is similar to the purple sequined fabric that I used. This one worked great, because the small sequins lay very flat against the mesh that they are sewn to:

This picture is similar to the peach sequined fabric that I used on the dress with the peacock feathers:

It was a disaster from the get-go, and yet I forged ahead. Because of the larger, looser stitched sequins, every time the fabric got folded  right-sides together, the threads from one side got tangled up in the sequins on the other side. Then it grabbed the chiffon of the skirt and floats and left huge snag marks.  Thank goodness I decided to try out dancing in it before using it for a competition! I got onto the floor and 1) one arm got stuck by my side, and 2) I got stuck to my partner!

So my advise is, if you are using sequined fabrics, be sure to play with the fabric samples when you get them.

Before going through all of the effort of making a gown, be sure to check the USA Dance Rules or National Dance Council of America Rules.  There are a large number of restrictions, particularly for younger dancers, regarding the use of light reflective materials, floats, layered skirts, etc. Much better to be safe than sorry!