Thursday, July 26, 2012

Where the Wild Things were once

Recently I finished working at a community centre where I was the Arts Coordinator. This title incorporated many things, art and not so art related. It came with a lot of self-teaching, guessing and improvising...and of course, grant writing! One of the grants we received was to put on a children's performance of Where the Wild Things Are. My boss, the child care manager at the centre, was the director of this play and also took it upon himself to figure out how to stretch out a minimal text without adding dialouge. He also threw in a couple of songs he wrote himself. You would think he had spare time on his hands, he does not, but he knows what he's passionate about.

I was forunate enough that I could flee to my workroom to cut and glue and sew all day, while getting paid! If I could find a full time position letting me do this, I would have it made...and a lot of other things made too for that matter. Zing! Sorry.

This is the crew of the first performance! We had an afternoon and evening show in one day. Both were really well attended and by the end of it we had raised a nice little sum for our theatre troupe's future endeavors. So, it was worth all the whisper yelling at children behind the stage, the red face make-up on lovey white costumes and frustration in trying to find the hole in a shirt to get over a child's head in under one minute during a costume change.

A friend of mine was kind enough to lend me her children for a proper photo session with the costumes! They were enthusiastic models who come in really convenient sizes.

This is the first guy I made...I know they have proper names, but I forget them. So, I'll use the names that were in my head while making them. This is Big Horns. I love this laid back pose.

This is the Girl. She was the second one I made and it took quite awhile because of all that yarn hair. It moves nicely though and was pretty fun to trim once I had it all attached. I also like her wittle puffy tail and pointy teeth.

Man, I love this pose! It really makes Bullhead come to life, in a nervous and anxious way.

Bird! Yep, the names aren't getting any better. Nor will they. The bird is a favorite. It looks so great with a five year old running around in it!

Greyhead I call this guy. Really got into forming the cheek bones on this one. It works in a lot of ways but adds to the overall weight which isn't always good. Something I didn't really consider when making these was the weight. Those poor kids and their weak necks.

The king is last. The mischievious look on the child below comes with the suit I believe, because so far every kid that has played Max really seems to own it. The last time I saw it performed there was a little girl playing the role and man, she was great!

These costumes were surprisingly easy and affordable to make. Each one took a couple of days work, and despite letting out crotches in onsies because an older kid got switched into the role last minute, I didn't run into any real problems. I found out how to make the basic structure on the internet and took it from there!

The costumes are still at the centre but I hope to someday own them once they've run their course. I have an irresistable urge to try them on when they're around and I'm sure more than once I was caught sneaking down the hall in the centre to see myself wearing one in the bathroom mirror. So, if like me you have child sized head, maybe you can sport a wild thing mask for your next semi-formal monster occasion.

Bonus backstage fun shots!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Last and the New Year

I have no excuse for not blogging in awhile, so let's skip that. I have however, been very busy at a new job that is riddled with daily challenges. Most days this is a good thing. I'm learning a whole heck of a lot and discovering that if there is something I don't know how to do, I can ask someone...simple as that. Took me 28 years to figure that one out. I don't like to ask questions, but I'm coming along.

I've also been enjoying some independent project challenges. Word has been getting around that I sew. It helps that I have a sewing machine in my living room window to act as a beacon for potential customers. People have been coming to me with projects and I've been doing a few of my own, mostly as gifts, but also a little something for myself.

First up! Brandi! She contacted me, out of the blue, to make her a dress for engagement photos. I hadn't talked to Brandi since High School! So, along with a fun challenge, was a chance to catch up with a lovely person I lost touch with. Working from a picture she sent me, I made a mock up first in a hideous burgundy velvet (not sure what I was thinking there) and then had her try it on before cutting into the good fabric we shopped for together. All in all it went quite smoothly. Little to no cursing or stitch ripping, which is my measure of success!


After seeing this in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric crafts, I either had to make it for a little girl, or a larger version for myself. I did both. Above are the two I made for my boyfriend's nieces. It's incredibly simple. You take a man's shirt and either using the print out pattern or eye balling it, chop off the sides in the shape of an A-line dress. I cut some off the bottom and then reattached the bottom of the shirt to the bottom of the dress, making it shorter but keeping the nice dress shirt bottom shape (I realize how awkward that series of words are together, my apologies, I write as I sew) Then you sew some bias tape around the arms and neckline. I used some fancy satin, like you see on blankets. Then thread really narrow elastic through until it looks snug enough. A couple of matching belts to go with them and they were probably the most adorable things I've made to date (except for maybe the baby moccasins, impossible to beat those). When Christmas came however, they didn't stand a chance against Barbie in a convertible.

This is Jeff, ever so patiently, and handsomely I might (and did!) add, sporting his new tie so I can take a couple of pictures. Doesn't hurt to practise tying ties. I still need to watch a youtube video every time I attempt it. Turns out making these things isn't as terrifying as I thought. I made one for my Dad out of the most beautiful shade of silk dupioni. It is sort of a light green silver...but not really. I don't have a picture, so it will be up to your imagination to fill in my gaps. The one pictured is from straight up cotton shirting and I think it's smart.

Against my best efforts not to, I caved and made a New Years dress. Not that I mind, but I was trying to take it easy over the holidays and adding a dress to the list of things to finish usually results in me still sewing about an hour before it's time to go out. And that's what happened. It came together and worked out though. This fabric was a georgette, a lovely sheer fabric that doesn't have that icky sheen some sheers can have. This one however, had sparkles! Luckily it fell into my criteria for working with sparkle fabric; sparkles must not shed, nor should they be sewn in via sparkly thread. This was more of a sparkle smear, which doesn't sound great, but actually worked. A lot of pleats later and I got a fun little versatile over-dress, to layer with and wear many ways. Like with a great leather skinny belt made by Paige Harris!

This is my newest project. Using a 1975 McCall's pattern I bought at the Green Man for the main part of the jacket, I changed up the front slightly and added a hood. The pattern called for hooks and eyes, but I find those things miserable at times so I went with big buttons! Much easier for fumbley fingers. There's something about survival clothing that really appeals to me. Survival isn't really the right word though. Pioneer clothes maybe? Jeff called this a ranger jacket, and I like that as well. If I had sewn a lining in, this would be a proper jacket, but as it is it feels incomplete on the inside...maybe that explains the sad far off look I have in the last picture. Seeing shots like this makes me wonder if that's my sitting face. The face I hold when nothing in particular is happening. Working in retail gave me time to look at other people's sitting and browsing faces and there are some...peculiar ones. Ones that seem like they take more effort to hold than a deadpan face.

Now that I've trailed off from the topic at hand I'll end this post. There are a couple more projects to report, but I'll save them for another time.

If you are interested in getting something custom made, I may be able to help you out.