Saturday, May 30, 2015

week 19 and 20, so far so good.

I think all my "get up and go",  got up and went!

Here we are at the end of week 20 and I have fallen behind in my posting.

Well the table still looks tidy in week 19. The sample modern suit is still hanging around, and I have someone working on the one I cut, getting ready for a fitting. We were just finishing up our understudy costumes, so many fittings were still happening. Sometimes another actor is just the right size to wear someone else's costume, and that saves us time and money when that happens. Occasionally the understudy is no where near the same size as the original actor, but luckily we have 60 + years of stock costumes to find something appropriate. On the rare occasion that nothing fits and nothing is found to be appropriate, we build an understudy costume.  I have been lucky so far this season and nothing has to be built from scratch for the understudy.

That being said, we were still working on the Naval uniform which is the actual costume that will be worn in the show. The actor has a stand in uniform that will do for pre-views until we can sub in the new one.
Here it is in process.

I don't think I got a final photo of this one, so I will have it sent back next week to do so. I was trying to take some pictures of the patterns as well, so in the fall I may have a bit of a pattern show and tell.

I have also started on one of my next shows which is set in the mid 1600's, and here is my table in week 20.

I confess I feel a bit battered by bouncing back and forth between the centuries sometimes. 
I had the 19 century going on with the Naval coat, still doing fittings and notes on the 18th century show, plus I have a modern mid 20th century suit to make and now the mid 17th century plus an Elizabethan show to start next week.

Enough for now, it has been an intense few months of work and a few more months are coming before I will be taking a well deserved break- of course that means I will be unemployed! 
such is the life I lead.
Take care, and  enjoy your days off when you get them.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

week 18 begin again

This is the time of the season where you find youself dazed after pushing through with that last show only to find that the pressure suddenly ceases and you wonder what happened. It can feel like racing towards a brick wall and then hitting it in full stride! Hey you made it!
This is also the time when we try to get the understudies fit and start on another show or three.
Here's what is on the table this week-
Slightly tidier! 
I haven't really sorted my patterns out completely as I needed to make a suit mock-up for a fititng this week. I rarely have to make really modern present day suits and when I look at a modern rtw suit jacket just to check out details, I am often astounded by things. Armhole size for instance. I am accustomed to cutting a small and high armhole. I don't think it is excessively small, but in comparison to modern rtw it is. Of course I am cutting one offs to fit an individual -not the masses- but the modern Brioni jacket that I got to look at after the fitting had an armhole that measured 60cm for a 40R size. That was 7cm bigger than the armscye measurement on my pattern. It was also very broad across the back maybe almost 18 inches if I recall correctly and the shoulder point to shoulder point measured 18 1/2 inches, yet the fronts measured a scant 15 inches across. Very interesting.

Most of the fabrics have been returned to the cage, the dresser bags- which consist of repair kits of fabric, buttons and trims have been made up and delivered to the heads of the maintenance crew. I also had meetings for the two other shows that I need to start right away, and while doing that I will be dealing with 7 outstanding understudy fittings and building a Naval frock coat. 

Speaking of the Naval frock coat, I cut directly into fabric for this, and the whole team took part in getting it basted together for a fitting. I have never built anything for this actor, so I was a bit apprehensive about cutting right into fabric but I did it anyway. 
Here it is after the fitting.
He is a rather portly gentleman, and the stand isn't padded out for his belly, so this photo isn't a great indication of fit. 
I had to lift the skirt at the waist where you can see the pins, (it was falling in towards the body slightly) and I took in the side back area about a full 1/2 inch on each side of the body, and 3/4 inch at the waist. It needs to fit tighter than you might imagine because he will wear a belt (and sword) and as soon as a belt goes on and is fastened tight enough, you almost always need to snug up the fit at the waist. 
I need to flare the skirt a bit more, and adjust for the CB skirt overlapping slightly at the hem. I also need to adjust the run of the waist seam slightly to hide the seam underneath the belt he will be wearing. We debated about leaving the waist seam at the bottom of the belt which is where it lay in the fitting, indeed in some references there is a visible button beneath the belt, but that was a bit later in period.
What else?....Oh I misinterpreted the lapel shape so I will change that and the sleeve flashes are a bit big, so a slight reduction there too.
Now to rip it down, mark the alterations and get it trimmed and finished.

We are all a bit tired at this point in the season, but we have a long week-end to rest and gather our wits about us as we head into the build period for the later openers.

Today, I was hoping to go to the lake and do a bit of beachcombing and wandering about, but it is raining! nevermind, sometimes that is the best weather for it, so off I go....

Sunday, May 10, 2015

week 17 = relative calm?

Well that was a crazy couple of weeks! Those coats that were lined up in front of the table have finally  gone to their place in the dressing rooms. Even the cape that was standing sentinel for weeks made it to the dress rehearsal. It had a bit of basting left in it and needs some finishing, but it was wearable. I even had time to clear up some of the mess and I have found my table top again!
Friday was particularly hectic as I had three fittings, a quick change rehearsal at another location, and a tech dress in the afternoon. After the rehearsal we went out for a well deserved beer and some food, then home where I immediately sat down and fell asleep.
I think everything went well apart from a pair of breeches in a horrible ultra/fake suede. I don't know if you have ever fought with a fabric but I sure did with that one. I think we will be making a replacement pair  this week!
in case you were wondering, this ultra/fake suede is likely upholstery quality- it has absolutely no give, it is extremely bouncy and resistant along the weft, so much that you cannot gather it- it just fights you- yet along the warp it will fold completely flat. If it is cut as you normally would, it looks like you are wearing a barrel, and cut the other way, well, lets just say that the seat of the breeches was odd looking! It also has horrible static cling, so the legs kind of clung to the actor in odd ways. Not good.
Note to self- just plead for real leather or suede!

Here was my table on Thursday- I was trying to organize some paperwork and also to draft up a pattern for that Naval frock coat you can see in the sketch.
It is a tale of woe, and a mistaken belief in Internet purchasing to solve budget crunches that leads me to be drafting again for our 19th century show.

Beware you who think that you can order quality costumes off the Internet to save money.
Give your head a shake too if you think that anyone will even look at the measurements you send even though you think you are getting a "custom-made" product.
The "thing" that arrived (on the day we were onstage) was so bizarre that I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It wasn't just the fact that it did not fit the actor, nor had any proper shaping, or proportions that related to the human body, and it was not a full skirted frock coat but a weird tailcoat like thing.  The skirt was a strange one piece apron of fabric, bagged out with coarse cotton duck as a lining with no centre back vent opening, no relation to anything that it should be.
We dubbed it the "manatee" perhaps because it reminded me somewhat of Tenniel's drawing of the walrus from Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Suffice to say that I am making one now.

That is for tomorrow though.

Friday, May 1, 2015

week 16 with trim!

This was the view on Monday at the front of my table. Three of the five coats for the 18th century show are prepped after the fittings with their respective trim and buttons. That pesky cape is still there, and honestly, it was still in the same position on Friday. This show is on stage a week from today so I have to get someone to work on it next week- it has just come down to the wire.
Now the view from the front looks in control but the view of my table is not.
Bags of trim and buttons for all five coats, waistcoats and breeches were in the process of being dumped out, pinned on, discarded, confirmed, mixed up, reassigned, organized and kept track of all through the day. I did finally get some space cleared to actually cut something- it took a concerted effort to make sense of it all, go to other fittings, answer questions, and get out 19th century show on the racks for Wednesday. 

Do you ever get to the information overload point? I sure did this week. At the end of the day I just felt the I couldn't make another decision- I was just out of answers. On that note, I am taking the week end off, and recharging because this coming week will be very busy. More on that later.