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University Challenge

In recent years there has been a huge growth in the popularity of dancesport for students with many Universities throughout Great Britain having thriving dance clubs with large numbers of members.   Competitions are held across the country throughout the academic year with each competition having a hotly contested intervarsity team match.

 With the high prices even of pre-worn dance dresses, tail suits and mens latin wear, one of the problems encountered by some of the clubs is that of funding and sourcing nice dancewear for their teams. On receiving an enquiry last year from the Southampton University Dancesport Team I was therefore pleased to rise to the challenge of designing and making four new team ballroom dresses for them.

Liasing with one of their committee members, Louise Johnson, we first established a budget for the four dresses and then looked at what fabrics, stones, designs etc we could realistically use to be able to produce the dresses within the budget agreed.  They wanted the dresses to all be in their team colour (Turquoise) and to be of a similar style but they did not wish them to all be exactly the same. It was therefore decided that the dresses would all be made from the same fabric and in very similar designs but that each dress would be decorated in a different manner and that other small changes would be made, for example different floaters.

We then turned to what was probably the most difficult part of the whole process, that of deciding which sizes to make the dresses in and which designs and fabric would be most suited to fit a range of sizes. The team hope that their new dresses will give many years of service and be worn by a lot of different students, so it was very important to try to ensure that the dresses would fit students of all shapes and sizes.  It was decided that the dresses would be made from lycra to give maximum stretch and give and that they would be backless which would also help them to fit a good size range.  We also looked at the sizes of the current team and worked out average sizes from their measurements before deciding to make one small dress (short length)  two medium (one short and one long) and one large (long) dress. 

The design process took some time, with many e-mails, drawings and fabric samples going back and forth but once the designs were finalised and agreed by the committee orders were placed for all the fabrics, stones and other items needed and a huge very heavy box dutifully arrived on my doorstep!! Hannah and I cleared the decks of all other work, threaded all machines up in turquoise and our own little production line was ready to go!!  With Hannah cutting out all of the dresses and myself sewing, the first dress was soon ready for Hannah to finish with the stoning. All four dresses were made in just over a week and were delivered to Southampton in readiness for the start of the new season in September.

 The team were delighted with their new dresses and I received the following comments from them:

"Working with Elaine to design the team dresses was a pleasure.  She was there every step of the way to advise us and help put all our ideas together to create four lovely (and much more comfortable!) dresses which our dancers can be proud to be seen on the dance floor in for many years to come!  Huge thanks to Elaine and Hannah from the whole of Southampton team." Louise
Hannah and I wish the team good luck and sucess for 2009 and hope that we may work with them again in the future
If you are looking to have dresses made for a university or formation team, please contact me for further information.

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