Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tail tales

So here we are further along in the process of making the wolf's tail.

The props department has provided us with a way of attaching the tail to the body. The tail gets this metal button end that screwed into the spring.
This then will slot into a metal plate that looks just like a large escutcheon/ key hole. The metal plate has holes drilled into it so we can sew it to the basque. When we get to that point, I will take some photos of it.

Before we get to that point we started to cover the tail with the fake fur.
Beginning at the end of the tail, I cut a piece to try out. The darts are cut on the lines and zigged together, then we tried it on the form, made some adjustments, and sewed it to the net fabric at the first segment.

The trick with cutting fake fur is to not cut the fur, just the backing fabric. I often use an exacto blade, or use just the tips of a very sharp pair of scissors. Wear a mask while cutting and sewing and have a sticky roller nearby so you can go home not covered in fibres!
Even with careful handling, the fibres get everywhere, just the same as glitter does!

There is a separate piece of fake fur cut for each segment, to allow the segments to bend. 
Each of these pieces overlaps the previous one, and needs to be loose enough to allow movement.
You cannot predetermine the segment sizes as overlapping the fake fur adds quite a lot of bulk. After conferring about the process, Silvia happily took on the task of figuring out the best size for each segment, and attaching them to the base.

The loose edges of each section are cut with jagged edges so there is a not a defined line between them.
Here you can see we have added a darker covering fabric close to the base of the tail where a lot of the bend will happen. If there was ever a glimpse underneath one of those layers, you will not see the white or pink of the structure.
We covered the tail up to the button, and are now waiting for a fitting of the costume base and the basque.

It is fun to have a chance to createsomething different every once in a while!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Cutter and Tailor forum?

As you can see in the comments recently, many of us are wondering what has happened with the Cutter and Tailor forum. It just stopped being accessible last week and attempting to access it results in an Internal Server error message.
Some of you with whom I have interacted with there have emailed me through the blog to ask if I knew anything about this.

I am sorry to say that I don't know what is going on. I have been unable to contact Sator -  the owner of the forum. I have been in touch with one of the moderators, SG, and he seemed to be as surprised as we all have been about the sudden changes. He also does not have the means to contact Sator, so here we are.

I sincerely hope that the site has not been shut down intentionally. I would have liked the chance to help support its existence, if money for hosting was an issue. I found the information to be quite informative, and the knowledge within quite useful. I also enjoyed the connection with other like minded people pros and amateurs alike.

I know there were discussions recently amongst the professionals who did post, about what the purpose of the site was, and what it should be. I believe the purpose of the forum was to facilitate communication amongst professional tailors, but strangely,  many professionals were members but never contributed.
I am not sure why that is, maybe people are too busy or too unwilling to share their processes, the field is quite guarded after all.
Many thought that too many amateurs were trying to access information and assistance with processes far beyond their knowledge or capabilities, and yes that did happen, but on the other hand, you cannot expect otherwise in a public forum.

Myself, I am at the point in my experience that I don't need stacks of information to do my job, but I like having it around. I like to see other ways of construction past and present and I enjoy learning.

The bigger concern in my mind,  is for the up and coming people interested in the field. I know a lot of what was on the site is available if you google hard enough, but the site was an invaluable resource  of accumulated materials all in one place.
I miss it.

I have contact with a few members from the site, and if I do hear any news I will post it here. Likewise if you know what is going on please let me know.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

structure: pool noodles and springs

Okay, we are heading off into other territory here, definitely away from tailoring, although I do have some nice 1930's and '40"s suits to make this season. More about those later.

So what the heck is this on my table?
Any guesses?
Well it is going to be a wolf's tail. Yes indeed.
Many years ago I worked on a production of Wind in the Willows at The Grand Theatre.
If you know the story, it has animal characters and they are often charmingly portrayed as animals with human characteristics, wearing Lovely Edwardian clothing. It was a fabulous production, the actors included Douglas Campbell as Badger, and, well, if you know who he was then you can imagine his presence in that role.
The costuming was properly Edwardian and the characters had tails which emerged from their velvet breeches or wool trousers.
The tails were made by a very talented woman, Elaine Ball, and I was recently asking her about how she made them (as I could only remember snippets of something we did almost 20 years ago-wow).
Strangely enough, she was in the midst of teaching this very thing to a class of costumers.
She graciously shared some photos that jogged the old memory. I shared these with Kim my colleague who made the prototype as well as the structure above.

So, the tails are made of pool noodles, shaped and tapered a bit as you can see, and each pool noodle segment is separated by a large wooden bead.
The base of the tail uses a door spring, that feeds through the first few sections, as well as a heavy elastic shock cord which goes through to the end section.
We will construct a snug fitting basque for the actor to wear, and it will have an attachment plate at the back for the tail. The tail here still needs an attachment at the end of the spring-but the spring allows the tail to sit flush against the basque and hang quite naturally.

This tail has had a mesh fabric applied over the segments in preparation for covering it with fake fur.

I hope I will get to that task next week, cutting out fur sections as well as making the basque and getting the whole thing together, including another unitard that is worn with this. Oh and there's armour too.

I will also post about the suits as I have a couple of challenging figures to make for and they all need to look the same. Interesting challenges this season for sure.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Radio silence has ended! plus cool stuff

Hello one and all,

I realized today that I have not had much to say on the blog recently.
I am trying to figure out why that is.

I do have a lot of thoughts, but the topics are either so complicated that I give up trying to write about them or so fleeting in nature that they don't prod me to write.

For the moment though, you may may be interested in the fact that as a tailor- cutter in a theatre, I am called on to make all sorts of garments, and this year I do have some suits, yes, but I have a bit more of things like this.

yes, unitards or variations on the theme!

I often joke with people as I am taking their measurements, that I need to take some certain specific ones, in case we have to make them a unitard! Sometimes that happens.
We actually don't take the detailed type of measurements that a place like cirque will take for their costumes, so when unitards or other stretch wear arises, it can be a bit of hit or miss.
These types of garments and the patterns required for them depend greatly on the fabric chosen.

Can I put a public service announcement here for all designers? Please, please, buy good all way stretch. Spend the money for it. Fabric that stretches in both directions makes for easier pattern making and for wearing. 

In this case, I have basically a one way stretch fabric. I had to cut it with the stretch around the body and the non-stretch vertically. The upper body will not be seen, so I have worked around the lack of stretch in the crushed velvet legs by adding a very stretchy fabric above the waist. In this manner I hope to have given the actor some comfort in being able to sit down easily at least.

This was a first fit, all zigged together with somewhat incorrect (old) measurements, so I have some work to do, tweaking the pattern.

Oh, what is that thing he is attached to you ask?

It is a wire frame body of an animal. You will have to wait for a bit for more details, but it also is a first trial fit on the actor. Our prop maker Kenny (a mastermind of an artist, sculptor and maker of cool things)  has built these frames for the show we are working on. The bands around the actor's thighs are attached to wires that connect to the back legs of the sculpture, so when the actor walks, the animal legs walk as well. Very cool.

Strange co-incidence, Kenny and I trained in the same fine arts program but he graduated just before I started. We have been working together for 25+ years and only found this out last month! We had the same instructors and had a moment reminiscing about that time. Isn't it funny how these things happen?

I think this season will feature structure quite prominently as I look around the wardrobe these days, so I will endeavour to get some postings up about that and rekindle my blogging spirit.


here's a little video link to a bit more of Kenny's work....please watch it, it gives me goosebumps.