Friday, November 13, 2015

My Venture into Costume Making

Have you ever thought that you would never get the opportunity to do the work that you love the best? Personally, I never thought I would get to work with a theater group as a costume maker and designer.  I have dreamt of doing this, but the chance never came along.  Last spring, I got a call from a friend who wanted to give my number to her former employer who needed someone to make a costume for a local musical.  Of course I accepted.  My job was to design and create a tunic for a player in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. I also had to embellish a jacket and make an outfit for his daughter.  Little did I know that this would lead me on the path down the road to the work I have always hoped to do.  
Mr. Tom, as I'll call him, was pleased with his costume.  He passed my cards around to his fellow players and soon I was getting calls for the next production- Beauty and the Beast, Jr.  I tend to take on more than I can sanely handle and that is exactly what I did.  I not only said "yes" to everyone who asked, but I offered to do more.  That is how I got the opportunity to do a more complicated costume duo.... Mrs. Potts and Chip.  
Here is the process of making them, from conception to birth:
My initial sketch.

The bare bones of Mrs. Potts. I used pipe insulation and duct tape.

Fitting the batting to the skeleton.  Notice I am working in the evening.

Getting the satin skirt fitted.  Night has fallen.  I do my best work in the wee hours of the morning.

After adding the gold strip.  A new day.

Here, I've added the appliques.  I used Heat n' Bond to apply them.  Later I found that a fabric adhesive would have been better.  The satin and the gold lame had issues adhering and had to be reglued.  This is because you cannot super-heat the tissue lame and satin.  Cotton holds up fine and stays put.  

The teapot lid hat. I used a straw hat as the base, along with foam core board, styrofoam, and lots of spray adhesive and fabric glue.

Here you can see the inner skeleton of the teacup.

I glued and hand-sewed the fabric around the brim.

Almost finished.
Close-up of the appliques.

Here is the dress that goes under the teapot.

And the suit under the teacup.

And here are the finished products and the talented actors that brought them to life.  You'll notice in the pictures onstage that I remade Mrs. Potts' spout to a curvier and fuller style.  Much better!

And here are the other costumes I made.  
The children really carried them off so well. 

What a fabulous experience I had working with these children and getting the opportunity to design and create for them! 

I want to give a shout out to Beth Glisson Photography for the stage pictures.

Dressing up is so much Fun!

I love making costumes. When my children were growing up, I made all of their costumes for parties and school dress-up days.  Every year of elementary school, Red Ribbon Week (say NO! to drugs) consisted of five days of dress-up.  One year my oldest son, who was in kindergarten, had to dress up as his favorite book character.  It just so happened that his favorite book was about snakes.  So, he decided that he wanted to be a cobra.
I got busy and 
this  is what I 
came up with.

                       The next year, he wanted to be Captain Hook:
My daughter once had to be the explorer Vasco deGama.

And then, a colonial woman.

Later on, she was on the Flamenco Dance team in high school and I made her costume for that, as well.

My youngest son wanted to be Pinocchio in kindergarten.

Later on he was
 Leif Ericsson....

                  ...Chief Tuscaloosa...

...and General Grant.

These are but a few of the many costumes I have made throughout their childhood.  In all of my years of sewing and designing, I have dreamt of doing this for a theater group.  I finally had the opportunity to do just that.  Check out my next post for pictures from my latest venture.