Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas crafting

In spite of the busy-ness of preparing for White Christmas, we managed to put together a few handmade Christmas gifts.

I made a moebius scarf for Thalia.  Since it was truly infinite, being a moebius,  I thought Tardis blue was appropriate.

I got some Sherlock-themed fabric from Spoonflower, and made both girls regular infinity scarves:


I also got ratty knit fabric from Spoonflower, and made a skirt for Annabeth:



Continuing to celebrate Annabeth's role of Theda the Turtle back in October, Thalia got a purse from Goodwill and stenciled a design on it for Annabeth.  She cut the stencil herself. 

And my personal favorite -- the combo of this quote (Loki in The Avengers) and the picture of Theda makes me giggle:

Thalia also cut stencils of Sherlock and John to decorate another Goodwill purse


More Christmas gifts that celebrated Legend of Sleeping Beauty -- Christmas ornaments were in their stockings from Santa:


And Santa also left a giant stuffed sea turtle, shown here with the turtle ornament on its back:


It's worth noting that the role of Theda the Turtle was a small role in a musical that wasn't that big of deal, but one day we decided (or else we realized) that Theda is THE role in ALL the musicals.   Coincidentally, people were coming up to Annabeth after White Christmas and asking if she was the one who played the turtle -- they get it!  That Theda is really meant to rule the world!  Burdened with glorious purpose, indeed.

Really, my memories of this entire Christmas are fairly hazy.  I was sick, and somewhat incoherent.  We had also made some things to take to a Christmas celebration with the extended family, but by the time we were supposed to leave for that Annabeth and MrV were sick.  So those are still around here, and may be delivered eventually.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

More White Christmas Sewing

The weekend before the show opened all the tickets sold out (4 shows at about 400 tickets each), and the Powers That Be decided to open up the dress rehearsal for anyone else who didn't get a chance to get a ticket -- reduced price, no programs, no concessions, some orchestra members missing, etc.  But it was a great idea, since some of the cast members' families hadn't yet purchased tickets.

In the meantime, backstage a discussion was taking place that Judy Haynes had nothing to wear for that one scene in Act 1 where they go out to the barn.  Oops!  Since I'd been cranking out outfits for Susan Waverly with wild abandon, they asked it I could come up with something. 

I hit up the Simplicity pattern catalog since Simplicity patterns were on sale.  Simplicity 1882 has princess seams, which the actress likes, and looked like it could have a circle skirt put on it, which the actress also likes.  We had decided that the dress should be blue, although not navy blue.  A trip through the store for cheap, appropriate fabric revealed some quilting cotton that looked the right color.


I only had the high bust and waist measurements to go with, so I sewed the bodice front to the skirt front, then the bodice backs to the skirt backs, then sewed all the way up the side seams to the armscye.  I reasoned that would make alterations easier.  I also didn't actually hem the circle skirt, partially because I didn't know how long to make it -- I just serged around it.  In spite of the wonky bow, the actress LOVED the dress, and the lack of hem wasn't apparent from the audience.  It also fit amazingly well, considering it was straight out of the envelope with no alterations.

That dress was a twinkle in our eyes on Sunday afternoon, delivered to the theater for the Wednesday rehearsal, and the open-to-public dress rehearsal was Thursday.  Fun times.

I also made a dress for Susan for the finale.  In the stage play Susan is supposed to be about 9 years old, so something dressy yet age appropriate.  I used Simplicity 1873 in a dull satin from Hancock fabrics.  I added a taffeta sash and bow to give it some interest.  The sash is bias in the front, but not in the back; the back isn't bias mostly because I didn't want to purchase that much of the plaid taffeta.  Shown here after a show with General Waverly, her grandfather:

I love this dress, and dearly wish it had been done in time for our church's Christmas concert.

And a couple of shots of the finale (actually, these was taken before the Saturday matinee, which is why Susan's hair isn't curled yet.  Also, the general isn't in the shots because he was taking the make-up ACT from when the ACT was snowed out the Saturday before -- he arrived during the photo shoot, ate lunch in the green room, then did 2 shows AFTER taking the ACT, which he took AFTER doing a show on Friday night -- YIKES!):


Behind the Christmas tree you can see the barn door they open in the final scene to reveal the snow -- and, yes, they did fake snow back there.  Which ended up all over the building during strike.  And, lo, there was much vacuuming.

The cast was about 50 kids.  They all tap danced in the finale.  


Thalia was in the chorus.  I was thankful to have nothing to do with these dresses, as they involved much angst:



Overall a fun show!  But really a big show to put on the weekend before Christmas.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Random slice of December sewing -- circle skirts

This year most of our December was sucked away by White Christmas performances.    Annabeth was Susan, and this version of Susan is heavily into circle skirts, mostly because circle skirts are just a matter of math. 

Version 1 was some doubleknit red plaid (Susan apparently loves plaid, or maybe that's Susan's seamstress) that I found for $1.39 a yard at Hancock.  Bonus on using a knit -- no need to actually hem!
In the show she wore white tights and ballet flats.  She wore this with a red sweater with 3/4 sleeves, found at Goodwill, and a black cardigan, also 3/4 sleeved, from H&M.  The leggings-barefoot look is how she wears it around the house now that the show is over.

Version 2 was pink plaid wool-poly blend from JoAnn super-discount area, seen here in the green room:

I actually hemmed this one.

Then more of the $1.39 knit, but this time in green, and with a bodice added to make a jumper.  I used the bodice of a Simplicity pattern, but made it into princess seams, made the neck a V, and added those little belty things at the waist, which are bias cut mostly because I think bias cut plaid looks snappy.  Using knit fabric meant I could skip facing the sleeves and neck -- I just folded them over and stitched them down.  Again, no hemming.   People loved this jumper, which is sort of funny considering it was slapped together from cheap fabric and worn over a Goodwill blouse.

If you're familiar with the stage version of the show you know that Susan has a bigger role than the movie,  including a solo.  It's still sort of mind-boggling that she had so many costume changes.  Still more to come.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November's Performance

Annabeth was cast in a ballet and modern dance performance last spring; the performance itself was just last weekend.

Part one was a fairly short (20-30 minutes) rendition of the Israelites fleeing Egypt, Waves of Mercy, which was modern dance.  Annabeth's character was named Jael, although, much to her regret, she didn't pound a tent spike into anyone's head (she DID tell the other dancers in her group that she was in charge of pounding the tent spikes in when they set up their tent, because, after all, she was Jael). (Digression for an observation:  When joking around about Jael and tent spikes, it's a crapshoot as to whether a Protestant will have any idea what you're talking about, regardless of how much they talk about studying the Bible.  On the other hand, Catholic moms always know.)

They started out in Egypt (which had a really nice pyramid gobo which you can see if you enlarge the picture)


and then fled through the desert with their tents; the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire went before them.  This is the pillar of fire:

They reached the edge of the Red Sea (which had some really cool wave action going, by the way)

which miraculously parted for them to pass through.

Then Pharaoh's army started to come through the water, but was drowned.  And Miriam took out her timbrel and led all the women in a dance.

My contribution was making the sashes for the Egyptian soldiers, and helping bind the edging of Red Sea so it didn't unravel.

After intermission, the main event, which was Pinocchio.


Annabeth was Figaro, the cat, who you can see in the background above.  She based her facial expressions and general body language on the Disney cartoon.  

I helped make her costume.  The director supplied a black body suit, and I added fur.

The ears are on metal barrettes -- the director didn't want a headband.  The tail is on 1/2 inch elastic that belts around her waist and fastens with a small parachute clip.

The toughest part was figuring out how to put the fur around the ankles, but still allow her to get in and out.  We experimented with different methods, and ended up sewing one end of the strip to the inside leg seam, and then putting velcro on the other end.  Part of the issue is that she has quick changes to become a bad guy -- Gideon, shown in the middle here:

Gideon had baggy short trousers, and big coat, tambourines on a scarf around his neck, and tap shoes.  Gideon is silent in the Disney cartoon, and the director wanted to go with the opposite effect by making him the loudest character in the ballet.  Annabeth played him like Harpo Marx, although she was apparently unaware of it at the time.

The ballet followed the Disney story arc, with Stromboli, 

a visit to Pleasure Island, going under sea to find Monstro the whale,


and even a Wishing Star, and the Blue Fairy.

Thalia ran the light board during Waves of Mercy, and worked backstage during Pinocchio.

The director/choreographer does an AMAZING job of fitting the choreography to her dancers' abilities.  Overall, it was a great experience for the dancers, and a fun show to watch.



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

October's Performance

The other day I realized we're doing a performance per month for three months in a row.  That's really a bad idea, in case you wondered.  Especially if you're trying to do college applications at the same time.

Anyway, October was The Legend of Sleeping Beauty.  Thalia was Malicia, who is equivalent to Disney's Maleficent.  Annabeth was Theda the Turtle, part of the cohort of Forest Friends (because, you know, princesses living in woods always have forest friends who can speak human language).

The director had purchased a Maleficent costume, but it was made out of thin fabric and cut fairly skimpy. (The hat was also purchased, and is totally awesome.) I ended up making a new version of the costume using some black crepe suiting from JoAnn Fabrics.  It's essentially just a giant poncho:



That center stripe hides a long zipper.  The stripe fastens over the zipper with velcro.  You can see in this photo that there's a seam across the shoulders -- that helps provide some structural integrity to keep it from stretching out so much.  The purple is some cheap not-really-stretchy knit.

I sewed purple fabric to the inside of the outer edges.  Then I sewed up the "underarm" area by making a long vertical line of stitching starting several inches from the top, but leaving the purple exposed.


Then I chalked on the flame-y side pattern, offsetting the front and back to maximize the amount of purple showing.  I serged the cut edges with purple and black thread so it didn't become a mass of ravels by the end of all the shows.


Then the hot pin insets -- I just made giant slashes in the bottom fronts, and inserts hot pink knit.
I hemmed the outside of the front (the part past the inset towards the purple "sleeves")  shorter than the middle of the robe since the fabric hung lower when she lowered her arms. On the back I just slanted the hem towards the edges.  There's so much fabric involved that no one really notices WHAT you do to the hem, as long as you make the outside edges shorter.

The collar is pleated to fit onto the neckline.  I just made that freestyle based on a mental image of what collar pieces usually look like, and included a bunch of stiffening.  I used the heaviest Pellon I could find, cutting it into vertical strips.


The divine Theda the Turtle, ruler of the universe, is wearing a hoody from Ottobre 1/2011, #34 Sporty Goodies. I left off the pocket.  Ottobre has hoodies in every single kids' issue, so it's a great choice if you're looking for a hooded pattern.  I liked the invisible zippers on this one.

 It's made from some dark green interlock.  The leggings are also an Ottobre pattern -- I can't find the issue right now, but it's the one with all the long underwear, tshirts, and other practical things.  Annabeth loved these items, and started wearing them around as comfy clothes as soon as I finished sewing them.  (I've made another pair of the leggings for her in another color, and have requests for more.)  The turtle tummy is fleece which was quilted and then drawn on with oil pastels.  It velcros to the straps that are holding her shell on.  The shell is fiberglass, and was made by the dad of another performer.  It has an old backpack glued into it to provide the straps, with the green interlock sewn over some of the straps to help hide them.  Here's a shot that shows the actual shell:


Their makeup is mostly Ben Nye Lumiere powder mixed with Liquiset ... this was a HUGE deal to figure out since Annabeth reacts to most makeup.  We're happy to report that Liquiset plus powder does  not cause any problems, although the Ben Nye creams turn her skin red and itchy.  Annabeth's turtle makeup changed practically every performance and every rehearsal, mostly because they were messing around trying to decide what looked good -- they mostly went with a snake/reptile style that wasn't turtle-ish, but still looked "other", since the mostly-green-literal-turtle (seen above backstage during a rehearsal) didn't look that great from the audience.

A couple of more random pics of the goings-on.  It was a very colorful, fun show, in spite of the rather twee script.  Annabeth was an awesome turtle -- she played it with a southern drawl (think Pogo Possum, although her character was more Miz Beaver in personality than it was Churchy LaFemme).  And Thalia was an imposing Malicia/Malifecent, as you can see:

She was cast in the role based on her ability during the audition to do such a loud witch cackle that small children in the auditorium were covering their ears.  It helped that she had been the Wicked Witch of the West a couple of years ago.  Really, though, if you want someone to imperiously command people around, she's a great choice.


I've tried to select photos that don't show much of the other kids, but Malicia's minion is going to be famous some day, so I think we're okay with this one to give another closeup of makeup and costume:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

The concept:  Since the weather forecast calls for rain, find a slicker and be Kathy Selden.



The live action version:


The pumpkins:



The candy:

Thalia and friends dressed up and distributed candy to those coming to our house.  I only managed to get blurry photos of them.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dance Leotard

Annabeth only had one leotard for dance classes this past year.  When we signed her up for the dance intensive we decided we needed another so that the laundry didn't get too crazy.

We asked one of the teachers, and she said that it was okay to have a solid color that wasn't black.  Annabeth decided she wanted bright red.  She chose fabric from JoAnn Fabrics swim-and-dance knits section.

I considered getting a Kwik Sew pattern to make the leotard, having browsed their catalog online, but when I went to JoAnn Fabrics they had a very skimpy collection of Kwik Sew patterns (I've since figured out that Hancock Fabrics keeps more of the Kwik Sew patterns in stock, so if I'd gone there I might have had better luck).  I ended up ordering a Jalie pattern, #2792.

By the time the pattern arrived at our house we were on a compressed time frame to get the leotard done.  I traced view B.  Annabeth's girth is a size P, but her width is a smaller size.  I decided to make it narrower by laying the front and back a bit over the fold of the fabric -- not the best way to alter, but spandex on a skinny kid is forgiving of fitting quirks.  As I worked I realized that the pattern has enough negative ease that I could've just made a straight size P without fiddling with trying to make it even smaller.

The biggest problem I had with the pattern was attaching the bands around the neck and the back.  When I read that I should baste them I assumed I needed to use a long straight stitch, so I kept sewing in little wrinkles at every straight pin.  I tried to fix that by putting in even MORE straight pins, figuring ... well, I don't know why I thought that would help.  It didn't -- I just ended up with more wrinkles.  Eventually I caught on that I needed to baste the bands on with a wide zigzag.  It's moments like this that I know I'm not a very advanced seamstress, you know?

I got it all sewed up, having attached the bands, picked the bands back off, re-attached them, etc., and Annabeth tried it on.  Oh, oops, the fabric was way too sheer.  But, aha, I had purchased extra fabric.  I cut out a new front and back, took those off of the yoke, and sewed them back together (noticing that I had forgotten to tweak how I laid it on the fold line, so the lining was bigger than the outer shell, but I just whacked off any extra because at this point we were on Day 1 of the dance intensive).  I simply held the lining plus shell together, zigzagged around the edges to baste them together, then treated them as one piece.  I left off the crotch lining piece, figuring we had enough layers, flipping the seams so the crotch seam is totally incased by the lining.

I left the yoke a single layer.

If you look closely you can see some of the zigzag basting showing on the main body just underneath  the yoke.  I try not to think about it.




The back hook is sort of mashed into place in a very inelegant way.  By the time I got to that bit I was DONE with this project -- she needed it right away, plus I had a boatload of Shakespeare costumes to make.  It's workable, but could be much nicer.

Actually, "workable but could be much nicer" is sort of a summary of the project.  It's a simple pattern, assuming you don't make the sorts of mistakes I did.  It looks nice when complete, fits comfortably, she's very happy with it, the other dancers liked it and asked if they could have one (no, I"m not going into business).

I've already used the pattern again to morph into a swimsuit.  More about that in a future post.