Saturday, February 26, 2011

The week in review...Fitting and pinning!

Progress report time!

Glinda and the Wicked Witch are ready for their initial fittings..

How amazing is that bodice pattern??  It's #2106 from Tutus That Dance.  Such pretty lines.  I'm totally smitten. 

The white section up the center of the Glinda bodice is where that lovely piece of "magic" smocking will be sewn on.

Here it is sort of laying in it's spot.  It's too bulky to be included in the seams, so it'll have to be top stitched in place later. 

I cut enough brown yarn and ribbon to circle the earth twice...

Or to make a cowardly lion mane.  Tutorial coming up later this week, so stay tuned for that! =)

Lots of pink and white flowers stripped from their stems...
All ready to be sewn onto head pieces for the Lullaby League.  Preeeetty.....  Somehow I've controlled the urge to toss them into the air and watch them fall.  It's really SERIOUSLY tempting though.
And was scarred for life.  I found the silver lycra unitard I need for the beginning of the tin man costume...
I will NEVER search the internet for "silver lycra unitard" ever EVER again. 

There are some very strange people on the internet.........   o.O

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Keeping it Together....Where'd I put that pattern???

So, um...confession time. I have a lot of patterns......which is a little like saying the ocean has a lot of water, or the sky has a lot of air. I have a LOT of patterns.

The thing is, I use them! (No, really! I'm probably one of about 6 people on the planet who actually use their home pattern collection on an almost daily basis. lol) So, obviously, organization is key.

I'll show you how I do it, but only if you all promise not to report me to Hoarders or something. heehee

Okay. When I get a pattern, the first thing I do is label a 6x9 manila envelope with the manufacturer and pattern number, then take the pattern and instructions out of the original sleeve and move them to the manila envelope.

These get filed into plastic storage boxes in number order, with no regard for manufacturer.

Next I cut the original pattern sleeve open so it will lay flat.
Yes, even the vintage ones.
~* insert collective gasp here *~

Before my fellow pattern hoarders seamstresses get the tar and feathers out, I have patterns to use them. It's fun to find vintage goodies, and the pictures are adorable, but it's MORE fun to use them.
So, my now flattened pattern sleeve goes into a sheet protector and filed into one of two pattern books.

Patterns in the books are sorted by category.

Now, if I want a skirt pattern, I go to the books and look in the appropriate category. No need to rifle through the ungodly number of pattern boxes in my sewing closet. If I find a random pattern piece for Simplicity 2526 laying under the sewing desk, I can go directly to that number in my pattern envelopes and return it to it's friends.

I dont' have a clue how many patterns I actually have. I'm afraid to count, to be perfectly honest. But here's an idea....
Two 3" binders worth of patterns...or 9 boxes.  Remember, you promised not to call Hoarders on me! ;o)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sewing by the Recipe: Beaded Smocking.

This is a really cool embellishment trick that takes absolutely no sewing experience or skill. It's a little bit like following a recipe.

Fusible interfacing
Sparkly fabric of your choice
Pencil or tailors chalk
Needle and thread


1. Iron interfacing to the back of your fabric.

2. Draw a grid on the back (in this case it's 1" x 1.5")

3. Using a contrasting thread for visibility, take a tiny stitch at each + on the grid,

And then pull on the threads....
It will fold up like an accordian. You may have to fuss with a little and "help" it fold in the right places.

4. Count the space between each fold on the front side, and sew together the even numbered spaces, then the odd, then the even, etc...using the threads as a guide for where to place each row of tacks....

(I added a bead to each stitching point, but you don't have to.)

5. Now, pull the gathering stitches out and open it all up...


This piece will go down the center front of the Glinda dress. SPAAARKLY... =)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shopping success, and some more sneaky peeks!

It's all official. I have a cast list, measurements, and a budget. Yay shopping!

A few of the costumes are sketched, shopped and ready to start sewing. :D

So...some sneaky peeks, just for you.

Glinda is made from two shades of lame, with serious lining to stabilize the fabric. The sparkled sheer was PERFECT for her over skirt, and it'll be built on a very full romantic tutu.

Munchkins! I'm still working out which dress I'll make, but I'm leaning towards the bottom left. Each munchkin has two fabrics, a nice bold plaid or strip, and a "solid" to match.

And the Lullaby League. My cell phone picture just does NOT do this fabric justice. It's so so so sweet. The girls will have little powder puff tutus and pretty, flower covered head bands.

Oh, and a moment of funny. Someone asked me this week how big my sewing studio is, and it kind of made me giggle.

This is where I sew...

That is the teeny dining room in my dinky house. My poor family rarely sees the top of that table. lol I would love to have a dedicated sewing room someday, but for now we just make it work. =)

More fabric and pictures to come. Tomorrow I dig into my stash and see what I have tucked away that might fit this show. FUN!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

All the pretty pictures....

Sketches serve a lot of purposes for me. They give me a place to work out changes and shapes without making costly mistakes on my (sometimes expensive) fabric, I can work out placement of fabric colors and trim, so I know how much to buy. They let the director into my head so she can SEE what I have planned and approve (hopefully) or ask for changes (that's okay

MOST importantly....they're FUN!

Here's a little bit of the process...

I will generally start with a croquis. Basically, it's a body sketch that I can trace into my book and then 'dress' with a costume. Using a croquis means that once I've drawn a pose I'm happy with, I can use it over and over without redrawing it. A huge time saver because I'm still learning to draw the human figure, and getting things in proportion takes me AGES. This is still a bit wonky, but it's a good starting place and I can tweek it as I do my costume sketch.....I hope. lol

Now the body gets sketched into my book and the costume laid over the dancer sketch. Here you can JUST see the outline of the croquis underneath. I was adjusting the position of the leg. Even paper dancers must have good technique! ;-)

This will go through several incarnations before I'm happy with it, and each revision will be more detailed and textured than the last.



Stay tuned, lots more sketches to come! :D

Saturday, February 12, 2011

We're Off to See the Wizard!

A girl, a witch and a dog.
A scarecrow, a tin man.
Lions, and tigers, and bears.


It's time for the spring ballet show, and this years production is a trip down the yellow brick road. Join us for 13 weeks of dance, excitement, and learning because we're....

Creating Oz!!

We had auditions today, and there was a LOT of excitement in the air!

Every studio has their own audition system and most run like a fine oiled machine. At our studio, the audition is split into groups by age. A little while before their appointed time, dancers arrive with complete paperwork and receive a number. They have a few minutes to warm up and prepare before they head into their audition.

After each group auditions, they come see me! Everyone gets their measurments taken right then and entered into the computer. There are seamstresses who take MUCH more detailed measurements than I do, but I find that I only need a few. Bust, waist, hip, girth, back waist, waist to knee and waist to floor. The girls who get platter tutu parts will have more detailed measurements taken later.

All of the dancers turn in their numbers, pack up their things, and go home for the long wait. :)

Everyone did a beautiful job today. I can't wait to get the cast list. Good Luck, ladies and gentlemen!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Where does it all come from?

The question I get most is "Where do you get all of your ideas?" Inspiration comes from all over the place! A crazy fabric, an interesting texture, a feeling that comes from the music chosen by the director. Some costumes will need to accomodate a very particular style of movement, or need to portray a certain mood. I try to work with costumes in sets and keep a thought towards what will be on stage together.

This fairy costume started with a pile of left over fabric from another project. At the beginning of a show, I will pull my boxes out and make piles of any fabric I think I might be able to use for that production. I had all of these beautiful fabrics and ribbons and bits of things..... but only had little pieces of them.


The inspiration for Mr. Hatter came from a WILD cotton quilting fabric that I found at a local shop. I tried really hard to convince myself that I could use something else (it was a little pricy) but then found the shiny vinyl to match..and lost the battle.

(Please excuse the pins. We were still fitting.)

I doodle constantly....multiple sketchbooks full of sleeves, skirts, tutu plates, you name it.

My cell phone is full of pictures of random things...Snow flake ornaments, architectural elements, fabrics (okay, that's not as I have fashion books in my coffee table, from current to...erm...not so current. (15th century armor anyone?) I really get my ideas everywhere! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Audition Time!!

Most of the audition advice floating around on the internet applies to older dancers auditioning for advanced parts or ballet companies.

The audition process can seem a bit intimidating for parents and dance kids who are trying out for the very first time. Don't worry! It's not as scary as the movies. I promise.

Here are some Do's and Don't's to help you through your dancers audition.

*Come prepared. Your class uniform is fine, but everything should be clean, neat, and in good repair (No holes!!) Hair should be in a stage-ready bun with no whispies. Remove any jewelry before going in.

*Arrive early. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out paperwork, have measurements taken, and get comfortable with the process.

*Encourage your dancer to warm up and stretch if they are old enough to do so.

*Remind your dancer to curtsy and thank the instructors.

*Bring your calendar! Many studios will have a tentative rehearsal schedule in place and will want to know about any conflicts or family trips right away.

*Don't load on the stage makeup. If your dancer is old enough to wear makeup on a day to day basis, then light and natural looking make-up is fine. The younger crowd does not need makeup unless instructed otherwise.

*Don't try to watch the audition. It's not allowed. Period.

*Dont talk and chatter in the space outside the audition room. If you can hear their music, they can hear your voice.

*Don't rush out the door the second they're dismissed. Hang around a little bit. Some places will need to see your dancer again in combination with other dancers, or have questions for you. Be sure you're REALLY done before you go home.

*Please, don't ever tell your child that you're sorry they didn't get a bigger part. They are ALL big parts. The so called "small" parts are the ones that tell the story, and there wouldn't be a ballet without them.