Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Now that all of the costumes are done, I can do what I want.  Which is, believe it or not, sewing.

But now I can sew what I want.  And there was a huge list of things I wanted to sew this summer.  Now that it's late July, I've trimmed the list quite a bit.

And the most important thing to sew for summer is swimsuits.  Especially if you've got a tall, slender kid who can't find a suit that fits.

In between Shakespeare and Beauty and the Beast I made Jalie 3023 using some swimsuit fabric purchased from JoAnn Fabrics.  I used size P for length, and size M for width.

In the above photo, the straps are sewn in the way I think the directions meant for them to be placed.  But that seemed too stretchy-long once the suit got wet, so we undid them and re-sewed them crossed  over in the back:

If you look at reviews of this pattern you'll see that people say that front top horizontal band tends to dip down funny.  And that's what happened to our version as well.  Plus, when she comes up out of the water after diving in it tends to really droop down, and feels like it's going to head for her navel.  I wonder if it's partially a function of the pink fabric being stretchier.  Who knows.  I've now put some quarter inch swimsuit elastic in the top of that piece, but we haven't had another trial of it since then.  Apparently this droopy business isn't a problem when the suit is simply wet, but only when coming out of the water.  Which means it can't be tested in, say, a shower or somesuch -- you actually have to go to a pool, jump in, and emerge.  And, honestly, it's too hot to go swimming this week.

In the meantime, yesterday I traced off Jalie 3134 with a size M width and size O girth (a little more precise on the body length since it's a one piece, plus the size P involved totally different pieces that would require much fiddling to use).  Back in May (pre-Shakespeare) we had ordered several pieces of swimsuit fabric online, but she asked that this first try be the exact same stuff as used above.  

So, that's all cut out now.  And NPR is on the radio (what has kept me sane during all of this sewing -- listening to NPR) (Digression:  If you ever call in to a radio show on a controversial topic, please do NOT start your call with "I just want to say...." If you do you'll sound like an idiot, because obviously you wanted to say whatever you're about to say or else you wouldn't have called in to the show. Plus the last caller just used that exact same phrase, so come up with something new.)

It's a new adventure, sewing swimsuits.  So far it's been pretty fun, if not entirely successful.  

Anyway, time to get the serger threaded and start sewing.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Other Stuff

Other things I want to remember about July 2012 besides all the sewing:

1.  The boxelder tree in the back yard that has had the spectacular branch breaks mentioned in various earlier posts has now been cut down.  This involved a total meltdown by one of the neighbors.  

2.  The road between our house and the nearest drugstore has some construction on it.  This really cuts down on the traffic, especially in the evenings and on weekends.  Rick and Annabeth's new entertainment is seeing if the car can coast in neutral from the drugstore to our house.  It can't.  But there's constant discussion about how far they made it each time.  

3.  Birthday time!  Featuring cake:

4.  Also, Linda took Thalia, Annabeth and I out to eat (Canyon Cafe) and then we took her to the Muny to see Dreamgirls.  Great show!  Really talented singers. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beauty and the Beast Jr.

After a whirlwind 2 weeks, the show was performed last Friday night.  It was really pretty good, especially considering the cast was entirely 6-13 years old, and they only had 10 days they met to work on this.  Annabeth has really grown as a singer and as an actress over the past year or so.

Belle's opening song.

Mostly I've got costume shots here, since that's the sort of thing *I* looked for on the Internet while trying to figure out how to make this stuff.

Mrs. Potts, back view; see details here and here.  Lumiere and Babette in the distance.  Lumiere has painted flower pots over his hands.

Mrs. Potts, Chip, and Coguette (the female version of Cogsworth).  Also, silverware.  Plates are behind Mrs. Potts; the design painted on their foamboard echoed the colors of her skirt and  bodice.  Coguette's clock is made from foamboard, and has both a front and back ... I wasn't involved in this, so I can't tell you much more about how to make it.  She's wearing a skirt and blouse underneath, and there's some sort of sleeve covering her shoulders.  Chips costume was left over from a previous production of the show.

Another shot of Coguette and Lumiere.  Lumiere's pants were found in the costume department, and were covered with sparkles.  His jacket and shirt are also from the costume department, as are any other dresses, shirts, skirts, etc., I don't specifically mention.

Babette again, wearing a black dress (actually, the KwikSew 3294 from last year) with a long sleeved tshirt, then a tulle skirt with feather boas attached, and one of the bazillion aprons we have in the costume department.  Madame de la Grande Bouche is wearing foamboard costume made in the same manner as Coguette's.

Belle's blue dress (more detail here).  Gaston is wearing a shirt and pants left over from Much Ado About Nothing last month, and the vest made for this play.

Lefou in his shirt mentioned in this post.  The orange pants and vests were found in the costume department.  Thalia liked that these 2 had a mix-and-match thing going with the orange, white and black.

More cutlery.  These costumes are cut from foamboard, painted, and attached backpack style with 1 inch black elastic (the elastic was hot glued with massive amounts of glue, plus touch ups of glue whenever they were used).  Thalia spent an afternoon finding black pants and tshirts for everyone.  That was a crazy afternoon.  Well, they were actually ALL  crazy afternoons, mornings, and evenings -- she spent hours and hours working on this show as Production Assistant, working in some way on just about every costume, prop, and piece of scenery used -- but herding small kids through the costuming process is its own special type of wildness.

Belle said when she appeared in the yellow dress, she could see a bunch of cameras appear in the audience and start snapping.  The Beast was supposed to find long white socks like the guys use for the Shakespeare camps, but, oops.

The Beast's jacket, McCall's 6143, also seen here.  His shirt and pants are also Much Ado leftovers (wow, we've sewn a lot this summer!).

When Mrs. Potts returned to human she took off her spout and her hoop skirt.  This bodice and skirt were originally made for Much Ado About Nothing, seen here and here.

And, of course, another shot of Belle's yellow dress, Butterick 4320, reviewed on Patternreviewcom here.

More general shots of various costumes, mostly during Be Our Guest, which ended with glitter cannons shooting off.  All of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.  

We didn't get any good shots of The Beast in his Beastly makeup.  He has on a half mask, a rather elaborate wig, and fur mitts (Thalia called them  Ferret Twin Babies while she was making them).  All could be quickly removed during his magical transformation whilst the smoke machine and lights provided extra atmosphere.

So, here we are in aftershock, watching movies, taking naps, and generally doing as little as possible.  Thalia is sick, having developed a bad cold as they finished loading out the set.  

What shall we do next? 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mrs. Potts' Spout, and More

I used a sleeve pattern from a shirt, but I expanded it.  If you saw it flat before being sewn you'd see that it flairs out wide to the elbow point, then comes back in.  Also, it has to be larger than a typical sleeve since it's so thick --  I cut out 2 from fabric, and one from quilt batting.  Sandwiched the batting in between the layers of fabric, stabilized the batting by sewing straight down the middle. Sewed the whole thing up, then added a cuff over the end of the sleeve from tiny bit left from making the skirt -- note that  the cuff flares out like a spout.

I sewed velcro to the blouse she'll wear, and also to the strap of the bodice she's wearing, so it's attached both above and below, yet can be removed when she becomes human at the end of the show.  It sounds so simple when I type it out here, but it took much of the day.  I was home alone, trying it on myself to see how it worked -- not the ideal way to figure these things out. 

The entire Mrs. Potts costume is cute, but incredibly fussy to get a kid in and out of.  Also, the idea of putting elastic in the bottom of the skirt to draw it in as a teapot didn't work -- the elastic wanted to stay bunched up after it was released during the transformation back to human.  Oh well.  We used plain twill tape to gather it in, then un-gathered it for the final scene.

Lefou needed a shirt at the next-to-last minute.  No shirt patterns for young boys?  Okay, let's use the Simplicity 4927 It's So Easy dress pattern that's in the pattern stash.  Shorten the body and revamp the side seams, lengthen the sleeves (added tuck at the bottom to make them less flappy -- he can roll them up if they're too long, or leave them full length).  Cut back on the fold, add slit to front neck.  Discard neck facings, using bias tape instead.

Last night was partially spent ripping the yellow ribbon off of The Beast's jack, replacing it with gold ricrac.  Also, the tech director found the bag of gold buttons.  So, new, improved version of McCall's 6143:

We also spent some time messing around with the idea of a cummerbund made from the lining fabric, but it didn't come together quickly enough.  

Also adding buttons to Gaston's vest, which came from an OOP vest pattern from ... who knows when ... along with some of pseudo-suede fabric from our source for free fabric.

And, today is the Big Day.  Thalia was there at 7:45am to start loading in the set.  Tonight's the performance!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

As dull as it is to be reading post after post about sewing these costumes, just imagine living this life.  Ugh.  I am so sick of sewing costumes.  And right now I should be hemming pants, doing some detail work on Mrs. Potts, making Babette's feather duster skirt, and making a shirt for Lefou because, oops, he doesn't have one. 

Anyway,  below we see The Beast's jacket, with yellow ribbon pinned on as trim.  The blue fabric was so very light weight that I ended up lining it to give it more body.  I love the lining -- it's  shiny paisley, and has a definite Las Vegas vibe.  

The pattern is view A of McCall's 6143.  One could argue that view C would've been more Beast-like, but it also had more possibilities to turn out incredibly dumpy without a bunch of fittings.

This needs gold buttons, by the way.  Except the tech director claims he never saw a bag of gold buttons; Thalia and I have clear memory of him bringing in a bag of gold buttons.  In other news, everyone backstage is very tired and cranky, and sort of not caring about little things like buttons anymore.  Also, when I took this into the studio, the yellow ribbon looked green with the combo of blue fabric show-through and fluorescent lights -- again, I didn't really care.  

Click on photos to enlarge, if desired.

Oh, crud, I just remembered I thought this jacket needed to be hemmed since The Beast is short.  Again, oops.  Tomorrow is another day.  Moving on.

Belle's blue dress.  Belle wanted something comfortable, and easy on-and-off.  We decided to use Simplicity 4139 the Dorothy Dress since the blouse is supposed to be sewn to the jumper, plus we knew it fit.  I left off the collar of the blouse, substituting a neckline slit made by sewing on a little interfaced rectangle of fabric, then slitting it down the middle (we did a bunch of these with the Shakespeare costumes last month).  Then I finished it off with bias tape around the neckline just like I did for the Beatrice and Hero blouses.

I thought I could just make the jumper top a little taller in the very front, then attach the straps.  But that turned out to look silly.  And very Dorothy-like.

So I ripped that blue bodice back off the blouse front, and drew another pattern front with strap integrated.  And made a facing for it.  For the sleeves I simply extended the lines of the little puffy Dorothy sleeves until they were mid-forearm-ish (not that I measured anyone's arm for this -- it was pretty much a random guess).
Note that I pleated the skirt instead of gathering.  The material was bulky.  And I'm sick of gathering skirts.  Also, instead of 3 iterations of the skirt piece, I only used 2; I whacked one in half to use for the back, and used the other for the front.  That was plenty of fullness for this outfit.

The sleeve has a serged edge, folded up to hem, then a tuck tacked down to give it a more finished shape.

In the back the straps are simply sewn in between the bodice and the facing (the pattern doesn't have a facing, but it isn't that hard to make up those pieces on the fly).  White zipper, blue thread sewing it in on the blue part of the dress, white thread on the white part (be impressed by that attention to detail -- it doesn't come up very often in this adventure).

Then we slapped on an apron left over from Annie ... we had made a boatload of aprons for that, did I blog about it?  Hmm, no clue.  Anyway, I tacked the apron directly onto the front of the dress, and then she can tie it in the back however tight she wants it.

Okay, back to sewing.  Tomorrow is dress rehearsal.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mrs. Potts

We're making costumes for Beauty and the Beast Jr, using almost no money, and in a very compressed time frame (we have about 2 weeks to costume the entire show).  We considered using something like hula hoops to make an armature, so to speak, for Mrs. Potts, but were concerned that she'd get stuck in the doorways of the set.  Also, these are kids ages 6 to 13, so it's important to make all costumes as easy-to-wear-and-move-in as possible.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to use the idea of a hoop skirt made with flat soaker hose (also called "sprinkler hose") explained here.  I'm using some donated fabric, which is a white flannel.

I decided to make my channels out of blanket binding, since it's easy to find in the seam tape/bias tape section of the fabric store.

I started by putting a channel down the middle of the fabric. (I later realized this placement was a mistake, by the way.)  I simply used a ruler and a disappearing ink pen to mark dots at the correct placement, then pinned the binding to the fabric, then sewed it on.

After that I made 2 more channels on either side of the first.  I also folded down the top of the fabric to act as a channel for elastic/drawstring, and the bottom of the fabric to act as another channel for fabric/drawstring.  Then I sewed up the side seam, leaving all of the channels free.

Then I inserted about 90 inches of hose in the middle channel.  I chose 90 inches since that's about the circumference of a hula hoop.  As I said earlier, a hula hoop is about the size we want, but is too rigid to go through the set doorways easily.  I was amazed at how long this took -- the rubber hose did NOT glide easily through the channel made by the blanket binding.

I made connectors by cutting pieces of the rubber hose, and then using them as posts between the 2 ends of the hose.  Then I wrapped the connection in tape.  The only tape I could find in the shop was gaff tape, which did NOT work well -- it kept popping off whenever the "hoops" were subject to stress such as demonstrating to the actress that the hoops were flexible.  I've since re-inforced these hoops seams with electrical tape.

To figure out the length of the hose needed for the next channel up towards the top, I subtracted the waist size I was aiming for (about 26 inches) from the 90 inches, and cut off a piece of hose with that measurement (about 65 inches).

Since I don't have a dress form, I suspended the entire thing from a wardrobe bar using 2 skirt hangers with the hanger clips set about 7 inches apart (since 4 clips times 7 inches gives me a 28 inch circumference, which is about the waist size I want).

For the photo below I've added about 26 inches of 1 inch wide elastic in the top channel, and about 40 inches (an entire package) of 1 inch elastic in the bottom channel.  I decided to use elastic in the bottom so the 13 year old actress doesn't feel constrained by her ankles hitting a solid hoop.

After looking at it hanging there, I decided to ditch the idea of putting more hose in that lower channel between the middle and bottom.  It didn't seem like it was going to add to the structural integrity, but it WOULD add weight, plus take seemingly forever to accomplish.

We put the skirt we're planning on using over it, then.  The skirt is from a performance of a Shakespeare play I costumed about a month ago, and is made out of some sort of drapery or upholstery fabric, so it is reasonably stiff.  This is how Mrs. Potts will wear it when she's returned to human at the end of the show.

And this is how it looks when a drawstring has gathered the bottom -- sort of looks like a giant fabric pinata.  At the moment the drawstring is simply a length of twill tape run through the hem of the skirt, but I'm going to change it out to quarter inch elastic with twill tapes on the end -- the elastic will prevent that "hobbled" feeling for the actress, and the twill tape will be easier for the kids helping her dress to pull shut.  I think.  Gah, who knows.  I also have to figure out what to do with all of that drawstring hanging off the back, since she obviously can't be trailing a couple of feet of string after her.

Of course, after all of that we tried it on another girl -- one of the stage crew who is about the same size as the actress.  And discovered that the hoop skirt is actually a bit too long for the overskirt.  And that the hoops all look too low -- since they're low on her body anyway, they should've been raised up to give the correct look on stage (the stage isn't very elevated, so the audience won't be looking up at her).

Sooo, I shortened the hoop skirt by cutting off the elastic on top, and then sewing a new channel there.  Which was very exciting with rubber hoops already in place.  Also, I then had to shorten the circumference of the upper hoop, since it was now too big for it's new position relative to the waist and middle hoop.

We're holding it up with suspenders.  You can just barely see them at the top of the photo above.  The actress was thrilled that she was able to start rehearsing with the hoop skirt as of Friday. Edited to add:  the clip-on suspenders worked really well for the show -- to return to human at the end of the show she went offstage, unclipped the hoop skirt and stepped out of it, then quickly returned to the stage.

Yes, I realize you can still see the hoops through the skirt.  Something like batting would help smooth that out, as would using a less shiny fabric for the skirt.  But the performance date is barreling towards us, and I still need the top of the costume, plus a bunch of other costumes.  So this is has earned the "acceptable" stamp. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Work in Progress Wednesday

Belle's yellow dress.  It still needs a hem.  It also needs a petticoat, which I want to have before we start the hemming so we can get an idea of length-when-poufed-out.

Butterick 4320, seen also here and reviewed on here

 It's taken way longer to make than I expected -- I thought it would be done Sunday night.  Sigh.  Various neighborhood drama hasn't helped, as it's been quite distracting.  Oh well.

Mrs. Potts.  I'm planning on making a hoop skirt per these instructions using this soaker hose (which I had to go to various hardware stores to find -- I wanted the flat stuff instead of the 1/2 inch round), and some free white flannel from the fabric charity (shown here under the soaker hose).  The director wants that topped with Hero's skirt (which is the blue one at the bottom of this post) since she thinks the fabric looks like a tea pot.  Mrs. Potts will also wear Hero's bodice.  We'll gather all this in at the bottom for a round look.  And figure out a spout, perhaps using the last 12 inch by 12 inch square of that blue fabric.  No problem to whip that right up, right?

And then on to the Beast's jacket, Belle's blue jumper (I think I need to make up a pattern for that), Gaston's vest, Lumiere's cummerbund, etc.  All by next week.  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Coming Attractions

Disney Princess time!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot Times

Thursday night we went to the Cardinals game.  It was, let's see, around 105F at game time, which was 7:15pm.  The temperature dropped during the game, of course, to about 90F by the time we left (the city retains heat).  But it was a fun time. The ballpark here has a great family atmosphere.  We had tons of little kids sitting around us; behind us we had a grandpa who brought his 6 year old grandson for the second ever time he (the child) had been to a game.  Grandpa was explaining things as they went along. 

Plus we got frozen lemonade.  The ballpark has great frozen lemonade.  It's Minute Maid brand, and tastes better than the stuff you buy at the grocery.  It's definitely better than the stuff they sell at the Muny.

Speaking of which, Friday night we went to the Muny.  Temperature at the beginning of the show, 8:15pm, was ... hot.  Around 105F again, perhaps.  The show was Aladdin.
For the record, you're not supposed to take pictures of the set like this one.  Even if you wore your princess outfit and want to pose with that as the background and you're way up in B section and no one's on stage, you're still not supposed to take the picture.  Which is really crushingly disappointing when you're 5 years old.

We didn't have any Aladdin/Jasmine attire, unlike others in the audience.  Although Annabeth did wear an armband and lots of bangles.  Also, she chose aqua for her dress.

And we took some of our fancier fans for cooling purposes.

Not that the fans made us "cool".  It was too hot for that.

Anyway, it was a fun show.  Jasmine was good as the princess -- she had the Disney princess voice, and carried herself just as Jasmine should.  The genie was was great.  The three narrators were outstanding.  The blocking and choreography was well done, and really fun in parts.  The "magic" was well-staged.

On the other hand, the script dragged in parts -- I think they need to do some rewrites (this is an early performance, apparently).    Annabeth thought they broke "the fourth wall" way too often (i.e., the narrators and the genie talked directly to the audience with awareness that they were staging a show).  And Aladdin himself ... um ... would have been really good as Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors -- he had the perfect speaking voice, physique, and body language for that.  As a Disney prince?  Not so much.  As a character whose picture "magically" appeared on that big screen in the back?  Big mistake in the staging -- back in our section we could at least pretend that just because he sounded more like Rick Moreno than a prince he didn't necessarily look like him ... until they flashed those big photos up.  Cringe.

But, over all, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you go and see it if you're in town.  It was Rick's favorite show so far this year.

Saturday morning we opted for a cooler place to sit, so we saw Spiderman 3D.

And then Saturday the rain came, the temperature dropped about 30 degrees in a very short time, and a new era began, so to speak.  More about that later.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Fourth of July 2012

A neighborhood parade.

Annabeth was the Statue of Liberty.

She won a prize for the best Middle School costume.

Then over to Aunt V's house for swimming.  We took a picnic supper over, too.  And stayed until the bats were swooping down over the swimming pool to get drinks.

We skipped the fireworks.  Record heat, plus a lot of the smaller fireworks displays were cancelled due to the extremely dry conditions, which we figured meant the big displays would be even more crowded.

So, some sparklers in the yard.  And a sleepover.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Few More Random Bits About June

Because all I blogged about in June was sewing for Shakespeare, but a few other things happened that I'll want to remember.

Annabeth and Rick played Life quite a bit.  

They made up stories about their characters as they went along.  Rick thought the stories should be part of the scoring.

Since then they've moved on to Parcheesi.  Also, they've moved indoors, since that last week of June the weather got insanely hot.  

After Shakespeare the kids spent a lot of time sleeping in.  I took a lot of naps.  

Also, Thalia went to Six Flags with her Girl Scout troop during the last week.  

We made it to the pool once. That was also after Shakespeare.  

We've seen Thoroughly Modern Milly (which was cute) and Chicago (which was really, really good, although it was about 104F that night when we got there) at the Muny.

I've read 3 books for summer read.  All 3 were read in the last week of June.

And I made a pair of capri pants for myself.  They should've take about 1.5 hours.  I dawdled around, and spent about 3 days on them.  I think the slo-mo sewing was a reaction to the speed-sewing I'd been doing earlier in the month.

And then June was over, and it was time to move on to new things in a new month ....