Friday, August 20, 2010

costume and sculpture 3

Ok, here's the last of this little trip down memory lane.
One thing that needs to be worked out for all costumes is how the actors put them on and take them off- usually, but not always, that is a straightforward issue. These were a bit different. In the costume above, we made a back opening using hammer-in dome fasteners. The rigilene overlapped onto itself and each piece snapped together with two domes for rigidity. The straps came from the shoulders and criss-crossed to the back for stability. The collar pictured here, was attached to the body by means of a dome on a short strap like a bra-keeper, and the wings attached with short pieces of elastic for movement.
The costume below, pictured earlier here, was put on and fastened by means of corset like lacing on the sides. Every so often we like to try things on so we can see how it looks.
After this stage, the costumes went to decoration and they were covered with colourful bits of fabric "feathers" as you can see below.

So another work season has come to a conclusion. It was a year of ups and downs, challenges and pleasures. I'm not sure what's up yet for the fall, I know that I will be doing a month of teaching and training so I am looking forward to that. I have to update a lot of my teaching notes and to be honest I learn just as much from teaching as my students do. I hope to be able to talk about some of that process and show you some of the fittings we do.

I am also going to be on the other end of the fitting process as I have volunteered to be a model for a corset show coming up this October in Toronto. My former apprentice, Jennie will be creating a "tailored" corset design for me to model- I've seen the sketch which is wonderful and my first fitting is next week. I'm looking forward to it- not sure about the modeling part but hey- I figure if something makes me feel nervous, I probably should push myself to do it. What's the worst that could happen?
Don't answer that! I'd rather stay in the dark a while longer.

Enjoy the remains of the summer, more to come,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

costume and sculpture 2

The Birds by Aristophanes designed by Teresa Przybylski was a project that I had a lot of fun doing.
Teresa is a wonderfully creative designer and teacher and I had worked with her on a few other projects before this one. The show was great.

As you can see from the sketch, we were making what I called "bird cages" for the actors to wear. These were a couple of the more complex pieces.
The structures were made out of rigilene and nylon webbing. The rigilene is dyable (who knew?) so we had what seemed like miles of it and the webbing dyed in preparation.
Estimating how much rigilene we needed for the project was it's own challenge!

For rigidity we then stitched the rigilene double so we could be guaranteed that it would hold its shape through the production.
There were some challenges along the way- one was how to hold some of the shapes together while working it out- rigilene is not pinable to itself and less so if it is double thickness, so we had to come up with a technique involving bull dog clips, masking tape and twill tape.
Rigilene has a natural circular tendency, so I worked with that by trying to use circular forms for the main structures, clip or tape them together to try out the proportions, then hang or pin them them on the stand so I could stand back and have a look. The pieces that rested against the body were probably the easiest to deal with and the free form floating shapes more difficult.
If it looked good, we would stitch it together in components at the machine, then we would re clip it and hang it up again, have another look with the designer, take it apart if it didn't look right and continue on until we had our final shapes.
Then it all had to be put together as a whole and I think that is what gives Denise the shivers- trying to mark the placement of each intersecting component and then wrangle it to the sewing machine where it felt as though you were sewing inside out and backwards while standing on your head to get it under the needle.

Monday, August 9, 2010

costume and sculpture

Every so often we get to do something really out of the ordinary and this project was one of them. Instead of wondering how to incorporate period detailing or adapting period shapes for modern bodies we get to make sculpture. Well one could argue that all patternmaking, and the subsequent garments are sculptures, since they are the three dimensional result of the two dimensional pattern, but we don't think of clothing often in those terms.
I had a blast creating these costumes for a 2003 production- not all of my team felt the same way, it was more of a "props" type job and required us to invent the construction as we went.
More to come.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

18th century period waistcoat

I finally managed to find some time to take a few more photos of the garments we've been working on before we wind down our building season here at work. We've made it through three dress rehearsals without too much trauma, the quick changes have worked, actors are comfortable and our designer was happy with the show so it is a nice way to be ending the season.

This is a period waistcoat for our leading man, and the fabric that the designer chose is so beautiful and evokes the eighteenth century to me. I find it interesting that many fabrics and patterns in fabrics are available today that had their heyday centuries ago. They are mostly found in furnishing fabrics, not fashion fabrics per se, but some designs are classic in the truest sense of the word- they resonate with us even now.

This waistcoat fabric had a one way design so it was impossible to have mirror imaged fronts. It had a very prominent branch design in one area that I didn't want to accentuate, so I laid it out with the designer and we chose to have that area under the trim at the centre front, and it reappears under the arm area. I cut it so that if the trim were removed, the overall design of the fabric is not interrupted when the CF is closed. This meant that I had to carefully plan the layout and I managed to squeak it out of the only piece of fabric that we had. As it was, I had to piece one of the pocket flaps to have enough, and I snuck a seam in the centre back of the collar in order to get some of the pink flowers to be more in a more pleasing position.
The back is a piece of rose moire we found in stock and I just had enough to make the ties out of the self fabric.
This is one of the quick changes, so the waistcoat actually closes with snaps CF and the buttons sewn just to the edge for decoration.
All in all, I'm really pleased with it.

As a postscript, I am heading out on vacation and I'll try to prepare something different for you to see while I am gone. A different angle on being a tailor in the theatre and the interesting projects that we sometimes get to make. You'll never guess what it is..............