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.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Working class day dress 1820's

It's long been a worry for me that we mostly make glamorous evening dress or court dress when we reconstruct period clothing, possibly with the exception of Viking or early Medieval. I guess we all aspire to being a Lady or a Princess etc. Even most blokes want to be a knight, or a king, or a dandy, or Luke Skywalker, not the lowly townspeople in the tavern in a Star Wars movie.

I'm researching Australian convict women's clothing at the moment, for an exhibition in August in Parramatta which will be touring around Australia. So I'm looking for images and drawings of everyday clothing worn by the working class.

On Saturday I volunteered at Hambledon Cottage Parramatta and wore a dress I sewed up on Friday. I had pulled out my Regency evening dress to wear on Thursday, but then had a change of heart. The temperature was predicted to be very warm and that dress is silk taffeta, so I thought it might be a bit warm to wear all day. I thought it was high time the working class was represented, so I graded up the pattern I made for Elizabeth Farm guides' costumes, changed a few details, pulled out some pre-washed 100% cotton fabric and started stitching!

The photos show the front bodice in detail, and the back bodice and sleeves. The seams are piped and there are small imitation mother of pearl buttons down the back. I may change the buttons and work over the buttonholes by hand in the future, but you understand that this dress was produced on a strict timetable, LOL. I tried to keep the visible machine stitching to a minimum, but the seams are overlocked internally. I wore my 1825 chemisette with collar (from Jean Hunisett's excellent Theatrical Costume for Stage and Screen) under the dress, a calico petticoat with a long frill on the bottom, and an 1820's cotton cap. I did cheat with the cap a little, since I have short straight hair. I slicked back my fringe with hair spray and sewed a small plastic comb at the top of the band to hold the cap on my head at the required place. It didn't move all day, and I got quite a few compliments on the outfit. The photo at the house was taken by a visitor, sorry about the quality, LOL.