Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mad Hats

I love hats. One benefit of working as a costumer is that I get many opportunities to exercise my inner mad hatter. The hats for Seussical, my current show, are an eclectic bunch. The hat for the Mayor of Whoville needed to make a bold statement, and contain all the colors of Whoville. This gave me an opportunity to play with structure and design. I started with a standard top hat pattern, which I redrafted and tweaked into a top heavy oval with crown and brim pointing in opposite directions. 

The Cat in the Hat wears the traditional red and white stovepipe, while Horton's cap sports oversized ears made of Pellon Peltex and felt. The Sour Kangaroo doesn't really wear a hat- just curlers.  Don't her ears look like weapons aimed at Horton? 

Since the Musical Director will be working in costume, she needs a hat, too. She often wears a beret, so I chose a similar style. I got this nifty vintage hat pattern from Etsy seller kalliedesigns a while back. It is easy to make out of ordinary felt and interfacing. I Seussed it up with checkered piping and multi colored musical embroidery from

We also have wigs and do rags and ears and antlers and antennae, far too many for this blog post. And last but not least, we have Costume 1 and Costume 2- because we need to have a little fun, too.  :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Steampunking Dr. Seuss

It has been a wild and crazy, no time for blogging couple of weeks, as I having been working feverishly on costuming Seussical the Musical. The director wanted the "human that looks kind of like an animal" look for the main characters, which is harder than you might think to do well. The most challenging costume design was for Mayzie the Amazing Bird. She is what you might call a "bad girl", but this is a youth theater musical, and we wanted to keep it clean. The costume needed to be G rated and still express Mayzie's style and attitude. I drew several versions of her costume and none of them satisfied me. Then one day, it hit me- I needed to Steampunk it. For those of you that aren't familiar with Steampunk clothing, think Victorian plus punk. Very often clothing items are also worn differently than they would have been when they were worn routinely. 

In this instance, Mayzie is wearing things that are traditionally undergarments on the outside (corset and bloomers).She is dressed in red, black and white. She has a bustle and train, a funky fascinator, and the costume is rather sassy. She is also wearing a striped cami, striped tights, feather earrings and hair extensions, a choker, knitted mitts and a boa. 

The feeling of a tail was created by adding marabou trim to the layers of sparkle tulle that were used to create the bustle and train.

Red high heels would have been a nice touch, but she needs to dance and navigate stairs and we don't need any broken ankles, so we settled for black character shoes. This show also features a gang of monkeys. In keeping with the theme of pop culture, we have decked them out in hip hop style.  :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Bonnets

Irving Berlin's song "Easter Parade" conjures up images of Marjorie Reynolds and Judy Garland looking lovely in their new spring hats.

Easter bonnets weren't just for the movies, though. When I was a child, Easter meant it was time to break out the new spring dresses, gloves, patent leather shoes, and of course hats. My mother wore hats all the time- stylish ones- with great panache. On Easter Sunday, we all (my mother, my sister, and myself) wore hats and and new shoes. As we got older, we wore gloves and carried patent leather purses like Mom's. For Easter one year, she made my sister and I coats and she made me a tulip hat. 

As our culture has changed, many of our traditions- and their meanings- have been lost. Easter is the Christian holiday commemorating the Resurrection of Christ. New clothes, new hats, and new shoes were all cultural symbols of the spiritual renewal and a fresh start in life that day brings. 

Since most women no longer wear hats, the Easter bonnet is a tradition that has nearly been lost. I am happy to report that some cities, such as Seattle, NYC, and Asheville, NC still host Easter Bonnet Competitions. Get your hats on, ladies, and join the Parade!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Jacket of my Own

I sew all the time for other people, but rarely for myself- I just don’t have the time. Once in a while, though, I do treat myself to a garment that I know I will wear and enjoy for a long time- something I love that fits as though it was made for me.

This jacket is one such item. I started with Vogue Pattern #1036, a Sandra Betzina. The design of the pattern allows for easy size adjustments, such as for narrow shoulders, always an issue for me. The cut of the jacket also lends itself to embellishment, in this case with embroidery. I chose black linen for the exterior and a heavy satin charmeuse for the lining. Most of the pieces were embroidered prior to assembly. 

The exception was the motif on the right front shoulder, which I created as a free standing piece of lace. This enabled me to angle it properly after the garment was assembled.

Double topstitching was made even and easy by using a double needle. Hot fix nail heads make the embroidery pop. 

Silver gripper snaps close the jacket down the front. It is a pleasure to wear. The only problem is that no one ever asks me if I made it.