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.


  1. Wow, this is so exciting! I LOVE the idea of pool floats becoming a segmented tail. Can't wait to hear any construction details. Little pun intended... I don't have any creatures to outfit this summer, but you never know what the nest summer might entail.... Sorry!

  2. It's something I'd never think about, but if asked: 'how is a costume tail made', well I'd have had no idea...until now.

  3. Hello Teri:
    You know what happened with Cuttern and Tailor forum?.
    Days ago he is saying that there is no connection to the server.
    Thank you.

    1. I am getting the same internal server error message when I try to access the Cutter and Tailor forum.
      I have treid to contact Sator and Schneidergott through another forum but have not heard anything.
      It would be a huge disappointment if the website is gone forever.

    2. also, please don't stay anonymous, please identify yourself

    3. The Cutter and Tailor forum has gone for days now. Such a dissappointment indeed!

    4. Yes, I've been getting that message too. I wondered what had happened. If I didn't know about your blog Terri, I'd know no other connection with a C&T user.

      Henry Hall (on C&T).

    5. I don't have many personal contacts there, but I am glad you have found me here. I am not sure if any information will be given regarding the site. It is a huge loss of very valuable information.

    6. Hello Terri: I'm Carusso.

    7. Oh dear. I hope the site will come back up. It's such a valuable resource.

  4. Hi hi hi, 6th try to post. "hutch" from C&T.

  5. I love the tail! It's amazing the neat things we get to make :) I'm looking forward to seeing your 30's and 40's suits, too.

  6. Hi Terri,

    I found the link you mentioned but as like you, its not my style of site so I have not joined. I have not found any other way to contact sator yet but I will keep looking if it does not look impossible. It would be a shame to lose all of the work that is posted in C&T.