Monday, 16 August 2010

Some housekeeping in progress

I've decided to progressively move posts on historic costuming topics to a newly created blog called Camisoles to Bustles in order to tidy up a bit. This blog will eventually contain other costume sewing such as for entertainers and private clients only. I hope that makes for easier reading in the future.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Renovated this blog too !

I decided a change was as good as a holiday, so I've fiddled with some colours and fonts to make this a bit more interesting (I hope!)

Just now I'm doing some alterations to costumes for the Dancing Studio principal's new show. Le Ballet Rock is advertised as being ballet set to classic rock tunes. The show is touring regional NSW and Victoria. Click here for a newsletter with dates and venues. I'm replacing invisible zips in 11 dresses and altering some coats which I made for Davin many years ago, all before full dress rehearsal straight after the long weekend here in NSW on 11th June. So what am I doing sitting at the PC you ask??? Bye !!!

Monday, 11 January 2010

10th Anniversary Show for the Dancing Studio

On Monday 7th December Davin GJ's School of Performing Arts held its 10th Anniversary show at Parramatta Riverside Theatre in Sydney. I've been sewing costumes for Davin and his school since the beginning when my middle daughter was dancing with him. She's returned to the Studio this year after sitting through last year's show in the audience with me. I knew she still had dancing in the blood, she sure didn't get it from me, but I believe her maternal grandmother and great grandmother could dance a little, LOL.
Here are a few of the last batch of some 30 cocktail hats I made for the opening number, very quick shapes covered and trimmed with flowers, net and glitter sticks.

I also made some boys' calypso style shirts, those damned neon frills almost blinded me!

I was making this late at night in the week prior to the show, as usual I put off making these till the last minute because I knew exactly what was required and thought I could run them up quickly ! I didn't count on being ill or the extreme hot conditions being such a problem, did I?
There were also 11 clown dresses and one clown shirt required, with pink net "buttons" on the front.

Nevertheless, I completed all the required work and delivered it on time to the theatre. These costumes joined the other pieces made throughout the year for the Studio, and of course lots of my previous work from the past 10 years was also used throughout the 4 hour marathon show. I felt extremely proud to see all that work up on stage.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

April and May sewing

With our house renovations finished in late March it was time to set up the sewing room again and get into the costume sewing. The Dancing Studio booked 4 circus costumes in the Cirque de Soleil style.
A fortune teller,

a strongman

a Pierette clown

and a hooped clown (before oversized beret was made)

were needed for a club circuit talent quest heat in April. I was given fabric and a couple of photos for the clowns, and a brief for the other 2. The costumes were very successful and the group has progressed to the finals.
I don't think house model Bron enjoyed this photo session, it was a bit cold !!.

Then straight after finishing with the Circus, I started the 1870's costumes for a gent and his partner from Bathurst. He owns a restored original Cobb and Co coach, and his partner wished to dress suitably for a Colonial Day display at the end of May. We had a few issues, mostly that the gent is extremely tall, about 6 ft 7 inches tall and the lady has an ample figure and failing eyesight. I chose a Truly Victorian pattern, the polonaise gown for her. It doesn't really need a large bustle, which L. couldn't cope with, and was not so fitted over the front area as some styles. She left it to me to choose fabric and trims. After she approved the colour I decided on black grossgrain trim with some lace bows and a lace neckline trim. I blocked a felt capeline hat for her in proportion with the outfit and her figure, adding some vintage veiling and a pouffed fabric band. Then on the front a white feather and a beaded flower over a lace bow which were also featured on the dress.

R. needed a Victorian style shirt and a waistcoat with watch pocket for his drivers fob watch. He supplied his own Moleskin trousers and brown lace up boots, and a felt hat to complete the outfit. On the day, they were both much admired and had lots of photos taken, and the local newspaper took photos as well I think. L. was very tired by the end of the day, and had to be helped into the car with her bustle and hat because she had forgotten to take a change of clothing. I hope she'll wear it all again soon, but before then I need to make a few minor adjustments to the frill at the neck and add another bow down the front. We only had the one fitting in early May so I think we did quite well. I'm pleased with the resulting photos anyway.

The golf umbrella isn't very 1870's but necessary due to intermittent drizzle on the day.

A rear view showing the bustled polonaise, the petticoat underneath it all

and a final closeup of the very happy lady herself !

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

My birthday gift to myself

On a recent car trip to our nation's capital between Christmas and New Year, we stopped at historic Berrima in the Southern Highlands of NSW. Peppergreen's Antiques is one of those shops a true collector cannot pass by without going in to see what's new. My antique and vintage underwear collection has a few gaps which I hoped to fill from the Peppergreen's inventory. I wandered around for a while before spying a few likely containers of clothing, and since signs everywhere asked us to call an assistant, I did just that.

I sorted through a bin of salmon pink 1920's and 1930's bras and corsets just out of interest, after all they are a little later than my focus area of pre WW 1 back to the Victorian era. Then I asked for the bin labelled pantaloons, where most of the stock was cotton and similar to those already owned. Then in the bottom of another bin some interesting knitted combinations. 2 pairs, one with longer legs and very cute slit gussets for accomodating milady's bosom.

The other pair was shorter, with a lower neckline and the more traditional gussets let into the neckline. Both were in good condition, possibly unworn which is called "new old stock" in the trade. Not really sure of the exact age as they have some chained flatlocking type stitching on the gussets seams inside, but they are divided crotch. This says pre WW1 to me, so until I can prove otherwise with an old advertisement or such, I'm assuming this to be true.

Then in a display case I spied some stockings which were brought out for me to inspect. 3 pairs were mine by the end of the transaction. I'm really spoilt, aren't I? Photos of stockings will appear in my next post, please come back again?

PS Many thanks to House Model DD#3 Bron, I think she enjoyed modelling these more than Pooh, see previous post, LOL.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Is there a Pooh in the house?

Here is a last minute addition to the costumes for the Dancing Studio show which I was asked to make 1 week ago. My DD3 Bron is my fit model as usual, VBG. Don't know how I could manage without her, as my dress mannequin just didn't do this justice, having no legs and all that!!

The Principal of the studio was bidding for a suit on Ebay and was pipped at the post at the last second. He purchased the yellow toy fur and satin as I requested and this is the result. The tummy padding is seperate to the suit, as I find it sits better on different sized dancers that way. I made elastic "braces" crossed in the back to hold it up and left instructions to push it down before closing the front zipper on the suit. The dancer who wore it last night had 2 VERY quick changes, and I noticed she failed to push it down as far as Bron did in my photo. Anyway, it was a dance with 15 under 5 year olds, called the Tiny Tots, so all eyes were on the cute dancers, not the Pooh. I noticed though !!

I also made a Blue Genie from Aladdin, but was not able to put that on my "model" as the dancer was a 10 year old girl and miniscule !! I hope to get some photos when I see her next, for my own records. I copied from an image courtesy of Google as close as possible, and I was quite pleased with the result on stage.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

"Narnia" Lion

This photo shows the before and after of a recent Lion's head project.

When I was training in Theatrical Costume at SIT East Sydney no-one told me I would be making historical repro costume one day and animals the next. Talk about variety being the spice of life! This week I turned a child's lion suit into a "Narnia" style lion for the Dancing Studio I frequently work with, using completely recycled or stash materials.

We canibalised a bear suit which I made several years ago, added some fur to the tummy area, and added paws taken from the too-small lion's outift. Next I tackled the too-cute head. It sits on top of the head, so the face needed a "curtain" and the face was far too baby looking. Aslan is an adult Asian lion. I used mr Google for some images, then decided to add patches around the eyes in felt, and some whiskers from 12 pound fishing line. I highlighted the mouth with some braid and felt, then after several unsuccessful shoppping expeditions for long haired fur in a suitable colour, the Studio found some fur vests in their store room. I ripped out the linings, cut through the shoulders and after making a toile in calico I cut a "hood" pattern to suggest a full mane. I made a padded "sausage" like a bum roll and stitched it to the head behind the ears to give some height. The "mane" is quite full and will cover the shoulders of the dancer. The Studio covered some long rods with beige fur fabric as the dancer will be leaning over like the animals in the stage version of the Lion King. The production number is part of the entertainment at a major banking conference, and about 30 dancers will be on stage. I hope to see the number later in the year, as I'd love a photo or two for my albums.