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.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A Snowy Afternoon....

Well, well, well, there are visible flakes in the air in the Rocket City and, despite the fact that the whole system is going to blow through really fast and the ground is crazy warm as it's been in the 60's for the last few days... one of the local school systems closed early, which mean my office also closed early, as we follow the schools.

There are perks to working for a ministry, even if the salary might be below industry standards.  I got to come home at 2 today.

So I thought I'd take a minute and catch up on some stuff.

Like, where I have been for the

I have been appointed the head seamstress (NOT the costume mistress, lol...I am only in charge of the costumes being sewn) for an original production we are doing at church the weekend before Christmas.  I've held off on posting pictures, because, well, I don't want to spill any beans.  But I have made a couple of angel costumes unlike any other angel costumes we've used in the past.  They did some video taping Saturday, and the only change I have to do is add a wee bit of velcro hook to the hem of one of the guy's britches (yeah, britches) so the pants will grab his socks and not work up out of his boots (yeah, boots).  I will post some pics after Christmas and you can see what we had, lol.

But that wasn't the end of it.  Spent Friday and Saturday at church, working on the Tiny Sheep.

Four years ago, we did the first version of this production, and we had some tiny sheep who were, like, 4th graders.  This year, our tiny sheep are, like, kindergarteners.  The costumes from the previous show are way too big, but I didn't want to cut them up in case we needed bigger ones in the future.  So we got some more of that crazy curly poly fleece and made 8 little v-neck vests for the current crop of tiny sheep.  Remembering the mess from the first set, I  was determined to make them at church, instead of either a) bringing the mess home or b) sending it home with someone else.  So we had a workday and a friend cut them out.  I gave her my coverall apron and a construction filter facemask...she was puzzled but wore them when I insisted.  She soon saw what I meant.  'This stuff is worse than styrofoam!' she said.  We swept the floor about a half dozen times but there was still feathery fluff on it on Sunday morning.... The fleece did NOT play nice with my serger, which seems to be having knife issues again, and what I thought would take 90 minutes took all day Saturday and then some...I still wasn't done.  Grumble grumble grumble.

Fortunately, I have, like, 17 hours of sick leave to use or lose by next Thursday, so I am going to burn sick order to avoid getting sick by staying up until way late trying to do stuff.  I got a good bit caught up yesterday afternoon, and should be able to do the last bits in a couple of hours.  The other ladies worked on alterations and ironing all the Bible costumes we have for the nativity scene at the end; unfortunately, we seem to have lost a number of our Bible costumes pieces over the years.  I'm short a few robes, but I am REALLY missing the head drapes that we use.  I like to use two for the ladies and I don't even have enough for one apiece at this point.  The guys wear smaller drapes and can actually go bareheaded if necessary, but the ladies MUST have something on their heads.

So, I will be hitting my stash this evening at some point to see if I can find some 'why did I buy this?' fabric that will work for head drapes...our cheap fabric sources have gone away and I can't do $5/yd for the head drapes that get lost so easily.  So maybe I have something up there that will work... I hope.

I haven't forgotten my 12-months - 12 outfits challenge, either.  This month Janice posted dressy outfits...mostly sweaters and skirts...with accessories.  I'm not sure I'm going to get anything done on it; certainly not before Christmas.  Maybe after, which is a shame since the dressy outfits are intended to be worn to the Christmas festivities.  And I really, really want some black stretch velvet pants. Cross your fingers for me, lol.  I actually HATE sewing stretch velvet, but after that sheep fleece, it should seem simple...