Sunday, November 30, 2008

No photos but . . .

The first dress rehearsal came off . . . well, with a few hitches.

First hitch, I forgot the camera, so someone could snap some photos of my costumes in all their glory. I'm hoping tomorrow will go a bit smoother and I'll remember the camera. So stay tuned for photos.

Second hitch, I managed to pull a drawstring out of my Fezziwig dress, leaving me with a repair to be made before tomorrow's dress rehearsal. I was supposed to wear that dress to a promotional performance this evening but had to switch to my Wealthy Victorian Woman costume instead. Not a big deal at all but driving to and from the event in a full crinoline and corset was a bit awkward.

Third hitch, Dancing Diva managed to slip and fall on the stairs in our garage and has a massive bruise forming on her hip. She's finding it difficult to walk and I'm very worried about her ability to perform for the next few days. Time will tell . . .

Obviously, I did manage to finish all the pieces I had on my to do list, although I still want to make some minor alterations to a few things (adding lace to petticoats, making a few alterations to make things fit better, sewing hooks on skirts - that kind of stuff). I also would like to make a jacket for the Middle Class Victorian Woman costume, but won't push it too much this week. If it doesn't get done, I'll cope.

Well, off to fix dinner and do a few chores. The DH is making a valiant effort not to let things fall too far behind but, since he's out in the cold putting up Christmas lights, I should step up and get a few things done, too.

Or I could take a nap. Oh so tempting!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Sewing, Sewing, Sewing, Keep that Gal a Sewing . .

No time to chat much but wanted to give a quick update. Five Elf Doublets were delivered on Tuesday and I was free to finish my own costumes.

In 48 hours, we'll be getting ready for our first dress rehearsal and I'm frantically sewing away on the remaining pieces of my costumes.

Here is the corset, minus the seam binding and lace trim on the top and bottom. I figured I can rehearse in the corset without the trimmings but I can't go on stage without some outer garments. So the finishing of this is on hold, temporarily.

I'm currently finishing a blouse. I've yet to finish the crinoline but it only needs a couple more layers of netting and the outer petticoat. I also have a jacket cut out and ready to start.

Last, I'll whip up two skirts. If I have time, I need to make a pinafore for one of the little girls but that will be a big maybe, depending on time.

Forgive my brevity, but must get back to the sewing machine. Ta-ta.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Let the race begin!

Ten days until Christmas Carol opens . . .
Six scheduled rehearsals left . . .
Three of them dress rehearsals . . .
Nineteen costume pieces done . . .
Eleven costume pieces yet to complete . . .

Yup, stress levels are high here at Christmas Carol Costume Central.

Latest FO . . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let the Dancing in the Streets Commence!

I'm deep in the last minute world of A Christmas Carol technical work. Hours of costuming, set work and everything else that goes into a large production is keeping me from posting about all the exciting things that are going on around here.

However, I did have to let my friends know that Hockeyman has completed his try-outs for the High School hockey team and received word today.

He has earned a spot on the J.V. squad!

He has worked so hard all these years on improving his skills with making the H.S. team as his long term goal. I am thrilled that he has had this dream come true and will keep you posted as to how the season progresses.

Woot! I'm now returning to my regularly scheduled happy dancing.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Victorian Unmentionables

While I would never show a picture of modern undergarments in a post, doesn't it seem like an ironic twist that I should be posting photographs and details about Victorian undergarments? Especially considering the almost absurd level of modesty and decorum exercised during the Victorian Era.

One of my favorite scenes in "Meet Me in St. Louis" is when Majorie Main's character, Katie the Maid, was shaking a pair of freeze-dried bloomers in Rose Smith's (Lucille Bremer) face - outside in the yard, no less. Rose's shame and embarrassment is funny to me. Totally cracks me up every time. Yet if someone started shaking a push-up bra in my face in public - oi!

Yet, here we are with a progress shot of Victorian Unmentionables going out into the public domain. Weird, huh?!

This is the corded petticoat that took FOREVER to sew. There are 24 corded pin tucks in it. Forgive the rather rumpled appearance but I had just dipped it in liquid starch yesterday and am just getting ready to finish the rather complicated pressing process today.

Next, I will need to dampen the petticoat, roll and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it outside for a few hours. Then it will be ready to steam press into crisp, voluminous fullness. While very time consuming, I'm hoping the stiffness of the starched cords will keep the rest of the costume from tangling around my knees and ankles. And allow me to slip through the rather tight spots behind the scenes, where hoops would be extremely difficult to maneuver.

You'll notice the deep yoke on the corded petticoat. I am actually constructing a full crinoline on this base piece, so I have basted guidelines into the yoke, to which additional layers of gathered netting ruffles and muslin petticoats will be attached. It will take a few more hours to complete but the end is in sight on this complicated piece of VU.

This morning, I worked on a pair of pantalets. A little hand sewing and some added closures, and that VU will be off the list as well.

That just leaves the corset. I'm hoping to get that finished by the end of the weekend, so I can start the actual outer costume pieces next week. In the meantime, I will start practicing some of the scenes in the Fezziwig dress, just to get used to moving around in a full-length dress.

After all this complicated VU stuff, construction the rest of the actual outer garments will be a piece of cake.

I hope!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fezziwig Ball Dress Done

"The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold, wet day."

Well, that accounts for the lousy photos in today's post. I was so looking forward to donning the finished Fezziwig Ball Costume to do some in situ shots but the weather just wouldn't cooperate.

Being the immediate gratification kind of gal I am, I decided to post some bad photos of the dress on a hanger, rather than no photos at all. That way, when I finally do get a beautiful day when I can model the dress in all it's glory, you'll all gasp and wonder if it is the same dress at all.

Initially, I felt the dress by itself would be very bland, so I found some silky gold fabric to make the sash. That had triggered the idea to use some ecru lace around the neck. Not being content to just buy lace, I hunted through all the magazines until I discovered this little pattern. Though I would have preferred to have the lace flat all the way around, there is a drawstring around the neck to take up the fullness of the neckline. (All in all, a good design choice when I'll be gallivanting all over the stage in this thing.) But it made the lace gather as well.

From a distance, no one will see the lace detail anyway. It just makes me feel pretty and talented to have it on the dress. And there is something to be said for boosting one's confidence in this manner, when you have to perform on stage.

As you can see at the bottom of the dress, the lining shows. This is because the original pattern has a slight train. I left this on for now but plan on trying this costume in the dance number long before opening night. If the train interferes with the dancing, it will be removed. I will have no mercy (although it really is much prettier with the little train).

This morning, I started constructing the crinoline I'll be wearing under my WVW costume. At the moment, I'm cording a petticoat. Very time consuming but will be more authentic than going without any skirt support. The hoop skirts in the production are going on the younger girls (and frankly, I would look like a house in a hoop skirt). I'll be adding multiple layers to the crinoline, as recommended by Demode. I have yards of netting cut out, as I do sections of ruffles and petticoats. Also waiting in line is the corset (I'm a little intimidated by this one, because it requires some careful fitting) and some pantalets.

Once the crinoline is finished, I'll use the finished circumference to design the skirt to go over it. The corset will also need to be finished before I start the pattern drafting for the blouse and jacket. No sense in fitting it to my natural form when I'll be squeezed and tucked a bit by the corset. (Not much, mind you, just enough to smooth the ol' silhouette a bit. Still gotta be able to breathe to sing, you know.)

On the knitting front, I'm still working on the shawl. I started at the point and have been increasing my way up the thing and have gotten to the point where the rows take FOREVER. I want this to be a very generous, large shawl, though, and will persevere until it suits me.

Or I just can't stand it anymore.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Crochet Lace Obsession

I've rediscovered my passion for crochet in my hunt for Victorian accessories and trims. Pictured are the cuff length lace for the "Wealthy Victorian Woman" or WVW costume. Not shown is the long section that will be used on the bodice.

After starting the blocking for A Christmas Carol, I've found that I'll need a minimum of 2 costumes. Three would be ideal, though. First, I need a WVW costume for the opening scene in the Royal Exchange.

Also needed is either a "Middle Class Victorian Woman" (or MCVW) costume for the street scenes, or at least accessories that will tone down the WVW costume. What I do about this costume depends on how much sewing time I have after finishing the WVW and LRERW costumes and when I figure out if I have enough time between scenes to do a full costume change or not. There is only one very short scene between my first and second stage appearances, so I suspect it would be a very quick change - oi.

Lastly, I need a "Late Regency or Early Romantic Woman" (LRERW) costume for the Christmas Past Fezziwig Ball scene.

I have started the LRERW costume. It is going to be a very simple Regency-style dress, in a dark olive green color, with a gold colored sash and ecru lace trim. The goal of this dress is to quietly fade into a muted background, against which Emily (Scrooge's love interest) will shine in her brighter, more brilliant costume.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about when I mention terms like Regency or Victorian, here are some links that show the transition from Regency (1797-1825ish), to Romantic (1825-1845), to Early Victorian (1837-1860). Since Dickens published A Christmas Carol in 1843, most productions are costumed in the late 1840's/1850's time period. Our production is more in the 1860 time period. Depending on how far back you put the "past", you can end up in either the Regency or Romantic period. Frankly, these are some of my favorite costuming time periods. There is a lot of political and social reasons for the changes in fashion during this time and it makes for a fascinating historical study . . .

Okay, the History Geek in me is showing. Better stop before I put you all to sleep.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm running out of clever titles

With all the updates here at Costume Central, it's hard to come up with new headings. Bear with me if I get boring and repetitive.

However, here is the latest installment in the ongoing sewing saga. Two little bonnets for two sweet little girls.

I have to admit, these took more time than the dresses. All the trim needed be be hand sewn, including a wire around the brims to stiffen them, which were then covered with braid. Very futzy, putzy work but the result turned out to be worth it. My fingers are a bit raw, though. Gotta find my favorite leather thimble before I make my own bonnet. Ouch!

I also finished the petticoats and bloomers for the girls. Everything the girls need are finished now, so I'm on to my own costumes.

On that front, I did manage to finish my chemise and have cut out one of the three dresses I need for my characters. I also whipped up a little more crocheted lace to trim one of my dresses (I haven't decided which one yet) and have finished the drawstring bag. Next post, I'll show the finished bag in all it's glory and maybe even a little bit of lace.

Gotta charge the camera, first, though. Seems Hockeyman has found a new passion and he keeps using up the memory card and battery of our digital camera. Hmmm, guess what he wants for Christmas . . .

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Costume frenzy continues . . .

Progress is occurring, in little bits of time, here and there. Most importantly, today's sewing had to be scheduled around voting. Fortunately, it only took only 45 minutes to get in and out of my local polling place. Even waiting until 10:00 am, which was supposed to be the least busy time, there was still quite a line. You know I thought ahead and brought a knitting project along and managed to knock off a few rows while waiting in line.

When I got home, I was able to finish the cape for Bubba's dress. She absolutely loves the color of the dress and cape together and is enamored with the rosettes I added to the ribbons. Add the Mary Jane shoes, white tights, and (eventually) some crinolines
underneath, then give everything a good pressing and and I think we have a winner.

While in the cape-making mood, I whipped up Peeps little cape. I have to admit that the pattern I adapted for them was one of the quickest little projects. The serger was ideal for getting the two layers stitched together and then a quick turn and press job and I had a cape. Throw on a little bias tape around the neckline, some braided trim around the edges and some ribbon ties with extra florish and, voila, we have Victorian Capes.

I also managed to get the zipper in Peeps dress as
well. I still need to put a row of buttons down the front of Peeps dress, but all in all, I think we can call this project done as well.

Next on the list is petticoats (with a bit of crinoline to add width) and little bloomers for each of the girls. Those should be really quick projects, given my recent speed training in the ol' bloomer making department. Then I'll be working on my own costumes at full speed. We just started blocking movements this week and I should have a fuller understanding of my character by the weekend.

If you all see some signs of fire from the Twin Cities SW metro area, don't worry. It'll just me be smokin' through the ol' costume to-do list.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Christmas Carol Costumes Part 2

Sewing has taken over my life. I spent more than 20 hours sewing this past weekend. Unfortunately, most of it was spent on shortening dance costumes for an entire performance company. These were, bar none, the hardest alterations I've ever done. The fabric was a thin, slippery satin, which would not crease, no matter how much you pressed it. After much experimentation, I figured out how to use the rolled hem foot on my machine to make a narrow turned hem. I am so glad to have those off my "to do" list.

In my "spare" time, I managed to finish Bubba's dress for A Christmas Carol. I still have a zipper to install on Peeps dress, then petticoats, bloomers, capes and bonnets to make for each of them. All in all, I'm very pleased with the progress I've made, even though I still have a lot to sew.

Well, the grindstone is still spinning and my nose needs to get back on it. Ta-ta from costume central.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Progress Report

Another Victorian accessory to check off the list. Here is a crocheted bit of lace I am using to embellish Bubba's costume with.

Again, I found this simple lace pattern in an old McCall's Needlework and Crafts magazine. However, I have done some Internet searches and found some interesting websites online.

One of the more fascinating is The Antique Pattern Library. What a wonderful resource for old patterns. Of course, deciphering the old patterns take a bit of know how . . . or just guts to guess and make it up as you go. I've only scratched the surface of the patterns available here but, believe me, I'm going to be spending much more time browsing through this resource, after Christmas Carol.

As for this weekend's agenda, I'm assembly line sewing the two little girl dresses at the moment. Both bodices are done and I'm busy assembling the skirts. I'm hoping to polish off these two dresses today. I have a little work to do for the dance studio as well (17 costumes to shorten and hem - ugggh), then I will be off and running on my own costume pieces.

As for my Not-So-Mini-Me, I still haven't figured out how to get it onto a stand but I haven't given up on her. More to follow . . .