Wednesday, April 29, 2009

lace collar

It's been a bit hectic this week.
We have a show onstage tomorrow afternoon, and our next show deadline is the 12th of May, so I am doing things like marking alterations on finished suits for actors who have lost weight, and continuing with this project that I've been documenting.
This is the beginning of a large lace collar that will go on this doublet.
I started with draping a collar in muslin with the garment on the stand. At the last fitting, we fit the collar and looked at the overall proportions. At that point I didn't know what kind of lace I would get. I cut the collar base out of a light nylon crin that we have in stock and thread marked the outline of the design. Then the designer brought me some lace and I have pinned it roughly within the design lines. There will be another lace to go into the open area. We will cut away pieces of the lace where required to create a pleasing arrangement of the patterns of the lace.
Now we just have to figure out how to sew it. That task will go to my most experienced team member who has a knack for figuring out the most difficult tasks. I'll show you her samples as she does them, after she finishes the military uniform jacket she is working on.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

an embarassment of riches/ bijoux

The bijoux department is an embarrassment of riches.
Of course there is a history here of over 50 years of productions and it shows.

Over the last few years, staff have been making these display hangers for this department so as to make it easier to organize and find items in stock.
Watch chains for instance. I had a fitting the other day and I asked the designer if the character needed a pocket watch and chain. The answer was no watch, just the chain and fob. The assistant produced a possible chain to which the designer replied, "That's good, but maybe something shinier". Some one from bijoux then produced two of these hangers and the actor said," Only here could you ask for something shinier and be presented with a choice like this".

Monday, April 27, 2009

crunch time

Well, here we are getting down to the crunch.
Time seems to get shorter and the projects seem to last longer than they should in crunch time.
We will be teching a show this Thursday the 30th.
This waistcoat fabric arrived on my table along with trouser fabric a week ago Friday (17th) and the velveteen jacket fabric arrived on the 21st, with a little sketch as to what is was supposed to be. I had the trousers and waistcoat cut out by the Friday night, the jacket pattern made and cut out by Wednesday afternoon. The trousers and waistcoat were ready to fit by Wednesday and the basic shell of the jacket put together enough for a fitting on Friday (24th). Then there's trim to put on both garments, although I'm not showing you the trim on the jacket here.
Oh, add in a new waistcoat in addition to this one. Out of this fabric. Cut it out Saturday morning and it's halfway done now, Yeah team. I work with a great bunch of stitchers!!

Gotta have them ready to wear on stage by this Thursday. Yikes.

I hope they choose the buttons tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

velveteen doublet

Here's an updated photo of a doublet we are working on. It was previously shown here
in an earlier state of completion.
The trim banding is made from a piece of lightweight wool with a narrow gimp trim applied on one side of the banding.
The buttonholes in the sleeves are done, but the designer is now changing the buttons. Sigh.
What is left to do?
Well, linings to be slip stitched, change buttons, buttonholes down the CF, the armholes will be bound, as will the sleeves to finish them off. We will then attach the sleeves to the body from the front pitch point, over the shoulder, to the back pitch point, leaving the underarm open.We use heavy grosgrain under that section and stitch in the ditch of the binding into the grosgrain to hold the finished sleeve to the finished armhole. I hope that makes sense.
Attach and finish the collar permanently as well as the shoulder crescents/epaulettes.

In other news.....
I was given a piece of dyed velveteen yesterday morning for a jacket. The one piece of fabric I was missing for one of the shows. The problem is that the show techs on April 30 which doesn't leave much time to put it together, have a fitting and get it finished in a week. Especially since almost all hands are busy finishing up the other 15 garments for the show, and fittings get more difficult to schedule as the deadline looms.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

grey cutaway coat

Here is a costume in progress for this season.
This waistcoat fabric has been dyed to this specific yellow. Since it was quite flimsy, I fused the fabric completely with "Sewer's Dream" a nice lightweight tricot-like fusible. Even though it is fused, I still have a strip of canvas put in the front to support the buttons and buttonholes, and neckline. We will add a small laid on collar to this and finish it up. Right now it is just basted to the back lining at the shoulders and sides.
The grey cutaway coat is wool, not a great one, it has some weight to it but I think the weave is a bit coarse and loose. The sleeves were just pinned quickly onto the stand and the only alterations I need to make are to take it in slightly on the side back seam, adjust the armhole slightly, and shorten the sleeves a half an inch. When the under collar is stitched on permanently, I will correct the angle of the notch and then the collar can be finished. He wears a pair of dark and light grey striped morning trousers with this and the white shirt and separate collar that is on the stand. The cravat is going to be something dark grey with stripes I think.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

one more doublet

One more doublet. I'm at 6 so far for the three characters that I am doing for this show. That doesn't include coats breeches, shirts and capes and all the rest.

This one was just basted up for a fitting. The fabric is flat mounted to washed and preshrunk white duck-I can't remember the weight but it's sturdy and tightly woven. We usually flat mount things like this by machine, not by hand.
I think that we will need to put in some spiral steel boning down the front edge, side fronts and side back, to keep him looking crisp and neat. We'll have to unpick a bit so the boning tape can be mounted on the duck and not go through the outside fabric. I should have done that before it was flat mounted but I obviously wasn't thinking clearly at the time. Don't even ask!
If the casing is in but the boning isn't needed there's no harm in having the boning casing there unused.

If the fabric frays easily, we will serge the seam allowances to keep it stable, and then the body is machined together. The sleeves are flat mounted on a lighter weight washed cotton and machined. The sleeve head has some gathering in it so that is put in, and the sleeves are basted or pinned to the armholes.
The skirts are mounted on duck as well, the edges basted back by hand, and then they are basted by hand to the doublet body. The collar is also just basted onto interfacing that we prepare for collars and basted to the neckline.
The reason it's done by hand, is that it is easier to take bits off in the fitting for either fitting or design changes.
After the fitting, the designer and assistant have chosen a lining for the sleeves, and the trim/banding that will decorate the fronts and skirts and sleeves.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

stripes or no stripes

I don't know how I can manage to get photos mere seconds apart and see such a colour change!

Well, to stripe or not to stripe- today that is the question. Since I wasn't getting an answer, we basted on stripes on one side for the fitting and afterwards we tacked on some tailor's tape to give an idea what it would look like if the edges were bound in the cream lining.
We fit. No decision came....
Then we waited some more........
Everybody had their opinions, some even kept their opinions to themselves, others just rolled their eyes as I dragged the stand out to the fitting rooms again so the designer could look at it in proper lighting.
We waited some more. I was kind of hoping that whatever was decided, it would magically be further ahead each time I looked at it, but no, that wasn't happening either.
We waited some more.
no stripes. Just binding. OK. Done. I think. I hope.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Here again on the other side of the room, ladies wear is appearing on stands. I liked the design of the pleating on the skirt, it's unusual. The skirt is black velveteen, the blouse worn with it is lace over an ombre lining and it will be worn belted. There is also some kind of wrap or shawl affair draped around the shoulders. It's all very dark and a bit dramatic .

Compare it to this which is in the large wardrobe. Just a bit of contrast don't you think?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Striped Suit

I fit the jacket today that I think we have to stripe, but now the designer if feeling iffy about it. We will look at it again tomorrow I guess and hopefully move forward with a firm decision.

So, in the meantime, to keep you amused (and me sane), here's a photo of a different striped outfit that we made a few years ago. This is "Billy" from the show Anything Goes, dressed as a gangster. I loved this suit. We make a lot of interesting and unusual garments but I really love making suits and it was a lot of fun doing this bit of exaggeration.
Designed by one of my favourite designers- Patrick Clark.
(I wish we had a clip of him talking about Anything Goes because the set and costumes were fabulous, but that was pre web cast days here at the theatre. If you like, you can listen to him talk about costuming for a production of Oklahoma! here.
No we didn't create the stripes for this- the wool just came that way.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

day to day

Do you ever have one of those days? The ones when everything you've done over the last while, seems to change? I had one of those days, well all week was one of those days so far. Anyway......

Wool stripes Twill stripes

One thing that we have been trying to get ahead on is a striped jacket. The problem is that it is impossible to get the kind of striped fabric the designer was after so that means making stripes. We did some samples of striping with twill tape which comes in various widths, so the designer could play with the patterning on the fabric. The other thing we did was make stripes out of a cream wool- of course, the edges of straight grain strips need to be turned or finished somehow, so the twill tape was winning as a technique. After sourcing some
1 1/4" dyeable cotton twill to go along with the 1/2" and 3/4" twill in stock, I was set to give it to the dye room, and the designer changed his mind.
O.K. This show techs at the end of the month. I haven't been able to have a fitting in real fabric yet because I've been trying to get the striping decisions, and just when we were so close.....
So, we're going with the wool. Period. I hope.
I'm not even going to get into the discussions that happened today when 4 different tailors in two different cities are trying to make uniforms that look the same. Or how I was feeling when the tuxedo I have to make for one guy might not be needed but no-one is sure yet about that scene. Or the fittings yesterday that kept getting postponed for an hour at a time until finally one was cancelled.
Tomorrow will be better. I'm sure.
I hope the buyers pick up that bolt of "Wonder Under" tomorrow so we can stripe on!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Bravo broadcast: Caesar and Cleopatra

Tomorrow, April 4, at 9 pm you can see last season's production of Caesar and Cleopatra broadcast on Bravo!
Check it out.
We made Mr. P's costumes among others.The trailer can be viewed here.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

getting there...

Well, I think we're getting there, wherever that is, at least we're on the way!
Here's the gold doublet in it's next stage, ready for another, maybe a final fitting. The major pieces are figured out and together. I need to make a shape for the lace collar which will attach to the doublet collar, and fancy lace cuffs.

The sleeves are still changeable at this point and the skirts are just basted to the body.
We've basted a zipper in the front to make it easy to do up in a fitting. There is still trim to put on around the slashes on the chest and ribbons with Spanish points around the waistline.
It feels like we're heading in the right direction so I hope the designer thinks so too.
It's getting really hectic around this place and the energy in the building is changing.................first show is teching on Friday.