Thursday, January 16, 2020

Clearing the slate

Although I have to confess that I was in such a sewing frenzy at the end of last year I neglected to total anything up...I really don't know how many yards I donated from the stash for costuming efforts (at least 6) Or how many yards I bought and sewed up for costuming efforts (at least ...lord have mercy, I don't have a clue.  I didn't turn in receipts...they disappeared....) Or even how many yards I bought with INTENTION to sew and then ran out of time (8?  Maybe?)

So...these fabric in/fabric out totals are Before Christmas Costuming Started. reflecting the fabric left in the stash at the end of the best I can run it down, anyway, lol.  I dug through the fabric that was left and matched it up to emailed receipts...I at least wanted to account for the stuff I DIDN'T sew...

Fabric In: 87.35 yds
Fabric Out: 46.125 yds
Last fabric added:  who knows, lol
Garments made for me: 20
Garments made for other family members: 0
Home Dec Items: 0
Wadders, er, Unintentional muslins: 0
"Donations" : 0
Muslins: 2
Misc. Church Sewing:
armbands/ yellow stars for Holocaust Remembrance dramatization
Pants, tops and tabbards for two Angel costumes
7 tiny sheep toppers
One black under-robe
I think.
I am not even sure I recorded everything I just got crazy at the end.  So I'm wiping the board and starting fresh. 

And hoping to actually get my 'December Outfit' sewn up this weekend. 

Laundry and sewing is the plan for tomorrow....

Saturday, January 04, 2020

What Happened to the 12th Month's Outfit?

I have debated a while what to do.  Should I just consider that I blew it the last month, write it off and start over?  Or should I let it drag into the new year?

Well, I decided that, since my sewing got diverted to volunteer work for the last six weeks...well, for the last two months, if I'm honest...of last year, I would cut myself some slack.  I'm letting myself sew that last outfit this month.  So...sometime in January, I'll post what I come up with and finish out the year.  Yeah, I missed the Christmas party season with the fancy clothes but, if truth be told, I didn't have anything on my social calendar that required fancy clothes anyway.  So I'll finish up this month and still have something dressy in the closet should I need it.

I have some black stretch velvet to hand, and I ordered a bit of textured royal blue stretch velvet that should be in hand by the end of next of those things will get used.

I'm going to see about doing a little analysis of what I did last year, too...probably in February.

But I plan to sew some fun stuff in the next few weeks as well...stuff I wanted to make last year but were pushed down the priority list by the 12 outfits assignment.

Interestingly, Janice has chosen more, um, economical scarves for this years 12 months/12 outfits exercise.  Have a look-see; you don't have to buy a pricey Hermes scarf to have a good wardrobe foundation. ;-)

Thursday, January 02, 2020

The Rest of the Costuming...Christmas Time 2019

Once I had the Angels signed off, or mostly signed off, anyway, it was time to get crackin' on the rest of the costumes.  There was a whole shopping crew who was scouring local thrift shops for things like overcoats and leather jackets and such, but there were some things that had to be made.

Like the Tiny Sheep costumes that would be worn in the kids dance number that opened the show (it was part of the plot...Mom and Sister watch Little Sister in the school production).  Anyway, we've done Tiny Sheep before, when we did the first, much scaled down, version 4 years ago.  And I covered my sewing room and myself in feathery fleecy bits from the faux fur we used; got it down in my bronchial tubes and had a hacking cough for weeks.  Those were about 5 sheep, who were, oh, about 9.  This year's production had 7 tiny sheep, who were all about first grade.  The original costumes were much too we made another batch, in a slightly different shade of white (the original fleece came from Hancock' it wasn't going to get matched).  THIS time, I called a work day to make those puppies at church.

Since we are in a recycled high school building, there is a room that used to be a home ec sewing lab.  With LOTS of outlets...some of which stick up from the floor and are a tripping hazard, lol.  It is currently used by our usher/greeter team, and they have stuff stored in the cabinets...pens, offering envelopes, packaged communion sets, etc.  But we got permission to come in a couple of weekends and set up for sewing.

And the sewing team was pretty much the same folks who have been working on the sewing projects since day one.  There were a couple others who came in and helped, and The Princess herself (oldest DD, to those who are new to the family, lol) brought in her sewing machine; she had volunteered to make the circle skirts for the partner dancers in the 50's scene, so she brought that project in.  I had another crew working on mending/ironing;  Miss A had picked up the fleece for us, and she cut out all of the sheep vests while I worked through who -needed-what additional pieces on the bible costumes. We were flying on a wing and a prayer on the sheep; I had only been given sizes, not measurements, and I altered up a Jalie T shirt pattern based more on gut feeling than solid reasoning, knowing that the Jalie T had negative ease and the Sheep costumes (basically, sleeveless pull-on v-neck tops) had to gracefully skim the kids.  I was kinda skeered to do it, but we were out of time and one plan after another to actually get measurements fell through.

I handed Miss A a coverall apron and a face mask to cut out.  She protested that she wouldn't need them, but I insisted and she gave in.  Of course, by the time she'd gotten them all cut out (a front, a back, two tail pieces and two ear pieces...the ears were lined w/ broadcloth) she was covered in fleecy  bits.

Then, basically because I was the one with the serger w/ the white thread, I got to sew them up.  Wearing the apron and the face mask, of course, lol

That fleecy stuff is a BEAST.  I did a bunch of unsewing and grumbling, but they were finished by the costume check....vests, tails pinned on, and ears to be pinned to headbands.

The best news of the week was that they put them on the kids and they all fit.  HUGE sigh of relief; and I told our director that, with all due respect, the sewing team requested that we cast any future sheep dancers according to who will fit costumes we already have, lol.

The next last-minute project was black sleeveless bible robes.  We have a quilter on our sewing team who made the most FABULOUS costumes for the Wise Men.  I wish I had a photo...they were amazing pieces of art, pieced and trimmed...a full length vest and an overcoat, with a coordinating turban/hat.  However, the vests only closed with velcro and they didn't offer good coverage.  Our seamstress recommended that we put black t shirts and sweat pants on the guys under the garments...but I wasn't about to put those fabulous costumes over street clothes.  I bought a whole bolt of black poplin from Wal-Mart (a store employee actually came up to me and asked if he could help me find something!  After I picked my teeth up off the floor, we had a really nice chat and he found some suitable black fabric, as well as some other pieces to make head drapes).  On the second work weekend, we cut out three bible costumes sans sleeves, to be worn under the vests.  I brought home one, Miss A took home one, and one of the other volunteers took home the 3rd.  We had to have those done by dress rehearsal the following Friday.

On Sunday's rehearsal, a week before the show, one of the worship staffers was designated to watch the run through and we were told that if she had any comments/notes on the characters, we were to follow her instructions.  Now, the character I was playing was the person who was hosting/organizing/ whatever the afore-mentioned children's dance.    The phrase 'school principle' had been used, so my plan was to give my standard line 'thanks for coming, bathrooms are (here), please silence your phones, no flash photography, yadda yadda, enjoy the program!'   in a warm, welcoming, professional manner.   I planned to wear dress black pants, a white shirt and a red boiled wool jacket with a nice little holiday pin on it.  Well, Monday morning my friend on the worship staff came to my office. 'Did your kids watch The Magic School bus?' she asked.  Oh, yes, of course they had.  'Well, I'm going to need you to put some Ms. Frizzle in that character.  She needs to be kind of over the top Christmassy'.

Whoa.  Paradigm shift.

I had no Ms. Frizzle garments in my wardrobe.  I had a luncheon with some friends just down the road from JoAnn's that day, so after the lunch I buzzed down to JA's hoping against hope that they  had something useable that wasn't more than $5/yd.

'Christmas Toys' was the name of the kids show that I was introducing, and I knew Ms Frizzle would wear a dress w/ a Christmas Toys print.  I didn't have time to make a dress, but I thought I could manage a pull on skirt.  Wonder of Wonders,  one of their least expensive Christmas prints was...Christmas toys. At $4.00/ yd (and that was 50% off the marked price of $7.99)  I bought 4 yards, and a blinky Christmas Lights necklace, and proceeded to make a Mid-calf length version of a Basic Dickens Skirt. Cut it out that night, but I did my black Wise Man underrobe first, so it was Friday morning before dress rehearsal that I actually finished the skirt.  I told The Princess about my character shift, and she said she had a crazy Christmas fascinator kind of thing I should wear.  She brought it to dress rehearsal and I looked at it and thought, oh, I don't know about that.  But when I got dressed and put the thing on...yeah, I needed it.  Oh, had lights as well.

I wore that hat through the Friday Night and Saturday dress rehearsals...on stage, back stage, behind stage, around problems.  It fell off three times during the first performance Sunday morning.  Crazy.

I didn't take the time to put pockets in the skirt...I may actually go back and add them just in case I need it again some time...but I managed to make do by pinning a drawstring bag to the inside of the waistband.  It was enough for a tissue and my lip gloss, lol.

Now all we have to do is get the costumes cleaned and sorted back and stored up again.  Probably next week...I'll be really glad when that's done!

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Tale of Two Angels....

Once upon a time, some time ago (6 years?  8 years?  I don't even remember...)  I watched something on stage at church (I don't even remember what that was, either) that involved an angel.  Said angel was wearing the typical satiny night-shirt looking thing that passes for an angel costume in most all church-related theater.  And, for whatever reason, at that moment, I suddenly realized that I was DONE with angels in nightgowns.  It was time for something different.

But what?

I pondered it for a while, thinking about the Biblical descriptions of angels...what few there were.  "Man in shining raiment" seems to be about the summation of it.  Not much help.

But I eventually landed on the idea of angels dressed as knights, with a rampant Lion crest.

I even found a pattern to use.
I would need to find something cool to use for the crest; the included one wasn't quite right.  And I wanted to find basically gold and white metallic knit...where could I find that?

I chatted with our incredibly creative Children's Pastor, Pastor Dave, who also happened to be something of a scholar of all things chivalrous, just to see if he thought it was a good idea.  He loved the concept and said he had some sources for me for swords, armor, etc.

With the assurance that I wasn't totally off the wall, I began a search for suitable fabric.

A trip to Sir's Fabrics up in Fayetteville, Tn netted some very unusual fabric.  They had a bit of thin white poly knit printed with a pale gold foil.  It was subtle...and I suddenly thought it would look fantastic under stage lighting.  As I recall, I bought all they had left.  But it was kind of sheerish, so I also got a knit w/ a kind of burnout ribbed texture, thinking it would show through the goldish top fabric slightly and give a look of depth, movement, hinting at multiple dimensions.  I figured I'd make the trousers and top from the two of them paired up, and bought some snow white poly woven for the tabbard, as well as some gold lame' for the crest.

I took it all home and, by piecing it a bit, managed to get two shirt/pants sets from the gold knit and the lining, and easily got the two tabbards with a good bit left over from the white.  I bagged it up and began playing around with a lion crest, intending to put red beads in the paws and side.  But I was having trouble getting it right, and then I got involved with other stuff and the bag of cut out pieces just got shoved to the back of the sewing nook.

Where it stayed for the next 6 - 8 ish years... Since this was costuming, I didn't add it to my yardage or note when I bought it.  So I don't even know. To be honest, I kind of even forgot about it.  We weren't doing productions at church and it just dropped off the radar.

Ok, fast forward to October of this year.  Our original script idea was to have two lady angels do the  basic narration of our Christmas production, but after the auditions the decision was made to switch to guys...and we had two guys who were sharing one of the roles; one would do the role for the two morning performances and the other would do both evening performances.

My first instinct was to put them both in blazing white tuxedos, but in our first costuming meeting that idea was rejected; Pastor Dave had worn a white tuxedo (with a fair amount of red accent pieces, but still a white tuxedo) as the Angel of Christmas Past in both our productions of The Gospel According to Scrooge 15-ish years ago and they didn't want to repeat that concept.  They actually wanted something a little modern, a little jedi-like, even.

Suddenly I remembered those cut-out things from years past.  That would work...or, rather, I could make it work...if I could find them.

They were interested, so I came home and began digging.  The bag turned up fairly quickly, and I did a quick construction of one of the elastic waisline and no hem...and took it in to see if that would work.

The fabric was a hit, and I had the green light.

But I didn't have a lot of chunks-of-time.  I worked on them off and on for a couple of weeks, and got the bottom layer, the tops and trousers, assembled to the hems...and brought them in for the guys to try on.  I pinned up the hem for the guy who would be playing his angel character all weekend, but one of the two double cast guys needed just the edges turned under.  His alternate actually needed some hemming.  BUT...they were going to wear gauntlets that were being made by another lady on their forearms, and we decided to have them wear painted army boots, so the legs could just be stuffed into the tops of the boots.  Sleeve and leg length became much easier at that point.

One of the angels could wear the tabbard pretty much just as it was; but the other needed a wrap style, with a bit of shoulder emphasis.  I had enough of the white fabric left over; I cut the front that I had in the bag on an angle and shortened it to the short-tunic length of the pattern, then flipped it over and cut out a mirrored piece for the other side and cut two football-shaped pieces for the shoulder extension.  I also made an obi waistband from the white, with a gold overlayer made from the remnants that I had saved.  I had JUST BARELY ENOUGH.

Brought the costumes home and found that my sewing machine did NOT play nice with the fabric when the right side was out.  The right side was almost sticky...definitely kind of tacky...and my sewing machine does not have a variable pressure on the presser foot.  I did a lot of unsewing.  I knew they would be hidden THIS time, but who knows what will happen in the future, so I wanted them, well, at least, not horrible.

I had to have them done for a photo shoot that was scheduled for Dec. 7.  It was a close squeak...but I got them done.  (Then they decided not to use the footage with the angels but have them do that scene live).
Poor hanger shots before delivery:

After the folks saw the costumes on them, they decided they weren't quite edgy enough and ordered some white overgarments from a trendy online vendor (yes, they were MENSWEAR).  We also added a long tie belt to the one on the left, which had to be pieced from several scraps, and an actual purchased Jedi-costume belt to the one on the right.

I looked at the result at dress rehearsal.  I felt like the amazing shimmery fabric was just so covered up it wasn't even really showing.  One angel had on a long kimono type garment...only with short, non-kimono sleeves.  The other was a cascade-type jacket with long sleeves.  As I looked at them the day before the show, I suddenly realized that I could remove the sleeves from the toppers.  I approached the director, who said she liked the longer garment just as it was, but gave me the ok to remove the sleeves from the other one.

I hung out about an extra half hour after the rehearsal and performed a double sleeve-ectomy.  I could live with that.

Here are the morning-performance angels in makeup (although you can't see the gold glitter on their faces in the gym / backstage lighting), courtesy of Wayne T., who is the angel on the right:

Actual army boots proved to be cost prohibitive, so, well, the painted barn boots were good enough on short notice.  Maybe next time for the better boots.

The guys did a fantastic job.  And I'm delighted they weren't in nightgowns.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Curtain Tomorrow....

Well, well, ready or not, tomorrow is IT.

I stayed after this morning/afternoon's dress rehearsal to alter up a costume my opinion, it would look better without sleeves, so after some discussion I actually got permission to perform a double sleeve-ectomy.  I hope the directors like the results; I know the actor will like it because it will make his costume cooler, lol.

The show has come together nicely.   It's been over 10 years since we did a major production; we're kind of relearning the ropes.  If you're will be online at 9, 11 and 6 PM tomorrow, and 7 PM on  Monday, at

I will hopefully post some costume shots and talk about them after Christmas.

So... it's only 5 PM and I am home with no costume sewing to do.  It feels really  weird.  But, you  know, I think I'm going to go on a search for the bottom of the laundry hamper...and at this point, I have to start by unearthing the hamper, lol.

I need to wrap a few Christmas presents as, all of them...LOL

Still don't know if I will get my December Outfit made by the end of the month...although I did order some black stretch velvet from a certain vendor's moving sale, lol.  I could POSSIBLY sew it up in the week off between Christmas and New Year's.  Possibly.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Bummer, man

Ok, blogger has changed the way they display the comments on the moderation/ manage screens, and I didn't realize it.  I have gotten a boatload of chinese-looking-character spam comments this evening, and whilst deleting those I also deleted all the comments going back to June of last year.

Because I didn't realize they were all showing on the same page now.

So if I deleted your comment, I'm sorry...really, really sorry, because it's not like I get a boatload of comments. 

I am taking myself off to bed before I whack up something

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Down to the wire...

I still have two pieces to finish before dress rehearsal on Friday...and today, I had a rather unexpected sewing project....

Right after our staff Christmas luncheon, I got called to the auditorium; there had been an accident.  My heart was in my throat for just a moment, but turns out the only harm done was that while the stage was being adapted for the weekend production one of the wing curtains had been damaged by a falling beam (I still am not sure quite what happened).  There were about a dozen corner slashes from starting about 10 feet off the ground and going almost all the way to the top (I don't even have a guess as to how high 'the top' was...).

Being the resident seamstress, I was called in to do a quick mend job.  With the production 5 days off, there was no time for a real repair.  My suggestion to slap gaffe tape on the back side was not accepted...only sewing would do.

But, my sewing box was in my office, so I fetched it, climbed up in the lift and, with a little instruction, raised it all the way up to the topmost gash.

Now, a little backstory.  I actually am afraid of heights.  One of the most terrifying things I did as a teen was to 'cap the grain bin'...pull the lid down and lock it after it was filled.  There was a ladder up the side of the bin, and another set of rungs along the roof, so I had to climb all the way up to the roof, then onto  the roof and up that ladder, pull down the access hatch  and secure it...then back down the ladder to the edge of the roof and rather blindly find the  top rung of the ladder going down the side.  Scared me spitless every time I had to do it.

I have nightmares about climbing ladders or rickety stairs and getting vertigo and freezing, unable to go up or down, that have recurred from my early 20's (I actually think that is a subconscious fear of aging, but it always is climbing up beyond my comfort zone and then shutting down).

And the lift rocked a bit...which was normal...but very unsettling.

So, I carefully knelt down and opened my notions box, which was sitting on the floor of the lift, threaded a needle, and slowly stood up and grabbed the curtain and began to whipstich the cut edges back together.  I focused on breathing slowly, looking only at the work in front of me and NOT looking down.  I was terrified I would drop my needle or my scissors.  I wasn't worried about falling, really, but just the sheer height of it was enough to make me a little giddy.   I could have touched the conduit that runs just below the ceiling if I had tried at all.

I had lowered the lift back down to about the third slash from the top before I felt stable enough to even pull out my phone and take a photo.

We have an LED wall that can be lowered; it's currently in the raised position; that's the bottom edge of it that you see beyond the edge of the curtain.  If you look closely, you can see the needle and thread and the edge of the gash I was working on here.

I think it took me about 45 minutes to get a poor whip stitch done on all of the cuts.

Faced my fear and conquered it.  Booyah.