Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Keeping busy?

      In March of 2020, when everything shut down,  I was up to my eyeballs in work. It was quite astonishing how in the previous year and a half we had gone from worry about not having enough work being available, to way too much work, and then absolutely no work at all.

At the time of shut down, I had a large ongoing project for the new Swan Lake for the National Ballet of Canada, I had a project for a suit and overcoat for a tv show, and I had started back at the Festival. (once those projects get onstage or onscreen I will share, but for now I cannot)

On paper, and in our most positive outlook, it was all scheduled to pan out properly but of course it didn't. Unexpected delays, fabrics or fittings unavailable pushed all these projects upon each other. It is exactly the kind of situation that I try to avoid.  

When we were sent home from the theatre two weeks before the tech dress, I frantically used the strange gift of time we had been given to get everything back in order. Ballet costumes done as far as possible, check! Overcoat and three piece suit finished?Check!

Then what? If you work in this business you get used to deadlines and gearing up to the finish line, but the finish line became a distance blur.

We made masks, yes, many masks. When the call came from the local hospice, we were a well oiled machine of co-operation, organizers, cutters and sewers.

then what?

Well, we (myself and Lela- with whom I share the studio space) started creating projects with deadlines for ourselves! Honestly! Old habits die hard.

The first project was stretch wear- specifically bathing suit drafting and construction. Luckily for us, Pattern School Online run by the amazing Stuart Anderson had resurfaced from the depths of neglect on the internet, and it proved to be a valuable learning experience.

I made three bathing suits, and not only did I finish them, but I am very happy with them. The first was the trial run and mock up of a basic rather modest pattern. Cheap and cheery too. 

I went on a shopping expedition. I found this basic floral print fabric and I found something to use as lining- not marked as bathing suit lining per se, but something I felt would perform well as a lining. Since I was making a trial garment that I hoped would be wearable, I went old school and hand basted in the lining, and left a fair bit of seam allowance for alteration purposes. It was zigged together and tried on, then serged using a domestic four thread serger for the main seams and an industrial three thread serger and domestic zig for elastic application. I think I found patience to be a virtue in this endeavour especially with the elastic and how the machines handles the fabrics.

I think the calculation for elastic was the most challenging and most interesting part of the process. I really appreciated delving into the why and how of it all. Stuart does an excellent job of examining and explaining how stretch works (or doesn't). 

By the time I was ready to hit the beach, there were shutdowns at the lake due to overcrowding, so this piece had its debut at a friend's pool! My daughter thinks it is matronly looking but I don't care. The next one has a lot more flair!

That will be next.



  1. I was SO glad to see your blog reappear in my feed. Your viewpoint and writing are clear and interesting. I look forward to following your continued adventures in creativity.