Friday, July 31, 2009

Joseph Pictures

All pictures on this page are copyrighted by Gerry Love 2009. Thanks Gerry for doing such a great job of photography!
This is a sample of the girls Canaan costumes--tie dyed skirts, peasant blouses. Each skirt is made of 4 yards of muslin, then dyed. Each skirt is different, using the same colors but different blending of colors. We had a ball tie dyeing these skirts and the men's shirts.
Egyptian women--polyester interlock stretch fabric, accessorized with gold sequin trim and gold braid at shoulders. They have to change quickly, so no zippers! You can see several of the young children in the background, wearing eyelet dresses. One boy child is in white shorts and a tee shirt, with a colored belt around his waist. Each child has a different rainbow colored ribbon or belt.
Joseph in his "tear apart" coat. Put together with about 50 snaps and 5 yards of velcro. The sleeves tore off too quickly several times, now they are reinforced, and it takes special techniques to tear them off, but at least they stay put while he is wearing this coat!

This is the finale coat. He wears it all of 30 seconds before the lights go out! Darn! Lots of work went into this one, more than the first one. I think the bottom and the top don't go together, some day I will change it, but not before tonight! My design team agrees with me, but there isn't time to change it now.

As Joseph sings, "I'm a walking work of art..." They all are, and I am pleased with the results.

The End is Near--NO! IT'S HERE!

This is the day I've been looking forward to for several months. It is the day when my sewing tasks are down to a very bare minimum, perhaps I'll have to spend 3 minutes doing it--shortening a belt for a man who is a "guard".

I've kept my focus on this day for months. I've been quite cheerful with doing this costuming job, knowing that things would get finished, knowing that I could do it, not weighing myself down with self-doubt, which in the past has sapped my strength to get the job done. I don't remember being miserable in the sewing room on this project. Maybe a little bit tired, maybe a little bit adrenalinized (is that even a word?) But, I knew it would be over and done soon, and I'd be looking forward to the next show!

Today, it is 10:45 and I haven't done a thing yet, except chat with my friends on the computer, sleep, loll around, surf the internet, and write my blog. What a glorious feeling! Oh, I have things I could be doing, like a big pile of laundry, stack of papers to be graded, cleaning the sewing room, and the rest of the house, which is in complete disarray! But today, I'm just chilling!

Feels good, it won't last for long. A big long sleepy nap is on order for this afternoon, lolling around with Big Al laying on my chest! Hooray, I'm officially saying, THE END IS HERE!

P.S. Last night's dress rehearsal was great, high energy, we even had a crowd to see it for free, and that energized the actors and actresses. Hope tonight's opening is just as good!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunctions, Zero tolerance!

The term "wardrobe malfunction" was born a couple of years ago when Janet Jackson experienced a rather embarassing incident with her bra top during the Super Bowl half time. Now that term is used frequently in today's lexicon.

In my play Joseph, I'm trying to minimize the wardrobe malfunctions! The one I've had the most problem with is the tear-apart Coat of Many Colors.

This coat was an engineering problem to be solved, because it had to look good, and then be torn apart by eleven brothers and each one took a piece of it for their own. Then it needed to be reassembled for the next performance. So, I invested in many, many heavy duty snaps to try to hold the whole thing together. That and yards of velcro.

Well my first design was OK with snaps and velcro for the skirt of the coat. It is a complete circle of 6 rainbow colors, each section rimmed in black braid and held together with velcro and snaps. Then, it is mounted on a waistband by velcro and snaps, then snapped to the top. The sleeves also need to be ripped off, and THAT was the technical problem.

Four little snaps on each sleeve did NOT DO THE JOB! Every time Joseph put it on, one or both of the sleeves fell off. One time the right sleeve held but the left sleeve fell off. So, yesterday, I reinforced the sleeve to the coat body with a 2" flange of lining fabric, plus 6 strips of Velcro. Last night, it fell off again!

So, today, I put a strip of lining fabric across the upper bodice, sewed the sleeve flange to the fabric strip, and snapped the strip together in the middle. That one worked! But in their zest to tear the coat apart, someone grabbed the wrong part, and a few snaps tore off. But at least the sleeves stayed on!

I guess my lot in life is to sew snaps back on every night. But the effect is good, because the brothers all come out carrying a piece of the coat on them, or wearing it, so you get the idea!

Lots of fun doing this, one needs a challenge after sewing 100+ yards of white fabric into loin cloths, vests and dresses. Oh, and broomstick skirts before they were dyed.

Check out Hawthorne Players website to see a preview!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Crawling to the finish line

My Sunday deadline has come and gone. And yes, I am almost finished making costumes! They had to try them on and in 1 hour do a run of the show with costumes for a photo session. Some hems were crooked, some belts did not make it around the waists, but for the most part, THEY LOOKED GOOD!

Loin cloths and vests fit very well. Our star must be nervous because his loincloth was falling off this week, where it was a little tight 3 weeks ago. So a shortening of elastic in the waist will fix that.

Men's shirts and pants looked so good on stage. Our tie dye job was great for looks, but the shirts are bleeding dye on the actor's armpits as they sweat it out on the dance floor. This is causing a problem because the colorful armpit sweat is transfering to the white Egyptian vests. Don't quite know how to solve that problem!

Women look fabulous in their tie dye skirts and blouses.

And the coats??? Despite the fact that they aren't exactly how I want them to look right now, they do look good, and may just stay as they are unless I can find time to change the one. There is mixed opinion on the finale coat, some love it and some don't. I happen to be one who is not totally pleased, but maybe it is as good as it gets for now, and I'll just have to accept this. When Joseph put the coats on last night, it brought tears to my eyes. This is why I wanted to costume this show, just to make THE COAT!

Here's the final count of what was made. Most were made by me, but my helpers, Miss Em and SS were invaluable helping me with garment construction, as well as SW, GW, RSM and MD, who did a lot of hand sewing for me. And of course, my two darling daughters, daughter in law and sister, who were very helpful also! MMHS, aka Monkeygirl, was a master of elastic after 3 nights of dealing with waistbands and pants legs threading elastic. Couldn't have done it without all of their help.

10 broomstick skirts (4 yards each, tie dyed)
10 peasant blouses
10 sashes to go with the skirts and blouses
10 Egyptian ladies dresses, with gold trim
4 long tunics for Cannaan men
4 robes to match
11 pairs of baggy pants for men
11 tunics/robes to match
1 jacket for Potiphar (gold lame trimmed with black satin)
1 sexy jumpsuit for Mrs. Potiphar (almost had a "wardrobe malfunction" last night when she was shaking that thing!
2 Egyptian tunics
12 loin cloths
10 vests to match loin cloths
6 gold lame Egyptian collars
1 pair of gold lame cuffs
4 gold lame Egyptian belts and front flaps
1 Elvis cape
5 little girls dresses
1 boy's shorts
20 tie dyed shirts
1 top for an actress who backed out as narrator
???headwraps and belts for actors

Made before by me for other plays but used for this play
4 piece belly dance costume
1 bakers coat
1 baker's hat



The breakaway coat required dozens of snaps and yards of velcro to put it together. And yes, it did survive its first ripping session, hope it can withstand the next 7-8 sessions and remain in one piece.

What is the grand total of pieces for this show? 143

That's the biggest job I've done so far!

And I'm almost finished!

P.S. Tonight, Joseph tells me that he sews costumes! Why didn't I know that before? I would have surely put him to work on something!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The deadline looms near!

The deadline for finishing the costumes is Sunday night. That means I have 4 days to go to finish everything. My daughters have helped me the past three nights, we have gotten all the women's stuff done, and have put elastic in the men's pants. Tonight I cut out loincloths--12 of them! I am running out of white fabric, and there is no more white in the fabric store. So, I'm digging in boxes, scrap heaps and desperately scrounging for anything that can serve as a lining for some loincloths.

I have my sidekick Miss Em coming tomorrow and Friday. I am ready for her with all the products cut out and the beginnings of sewing completed. All loincloths and vest are in little packets, waiting to be sewn.

I can only work for half a day tomorrow, because I have to travel to another college campus at 2 to pick up some papers. Then I twiddle my thumbs for a couple of hours waiting for my night gig, a trip to the Muny Opera to see "The Music Man". One of our fellow retirees from the school I first taught in is in this production, and he promises a tour of backstage after the show. That ought to be fun, especially the costume department!

Then Friday, Miss Em, my friend from Steelville and I will make a race to the finish line. Who knows, with all this help, I may just have enough time to finish the coat of many colors. I'll blog about that later, it isn't a good story.

Wish me luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

While I was otherwise occupied....

Nothing got done on the costumes this weekend. I'm now in panic mode. I have so much to do and so little time to do it in.

I did get some help from my sister and daughter-in-law sewing snaps on my coat of many colors. I finished the inside of the coat, and it is ready to be snapped together. I need another snap sewer to finish the job for me.

Meanwhile, tonight, I'm sewing gold things. HOpe to get two gold lame outfits done. I need to get going. My daughter is going to come over tonight to help me thread elastic into the men's pants.

Wish me luck!

So Sweet!

This weekend was a big GRANDMA weekend. I had all 6 of my grandkids in one place at one time. We had a big family reunion Friday night, with cousins we haven't seen in a long time in attendance. Out of towners were my sister and hubby, and my son, daughter-in-law and 3 grandkids. The local grandkids were there, as was the oldest (almost 19) who came when the dinner bell rang, but then we didn't see him after his tummy was filled!

Sunday afternoon, the Grandma job was to babysit 5 out of the 6 while the parents went to a Cardinal's baseball game. I recruited my youngest daughter, which meant the 3 little grandkids swelled to 5, but that was the plan. The oldest two are one year apart, and they are fully engaged when playing with Legos. That's what they did all weekend long. The middle two are 4 and they found stuff to do with each other, even though one is a boy and the other is a girl.

That left baby Cay-Cay (18 months old) for us to entertain. I'm not sure who was entertaining who, because he was so much fun to be with. Balls of any type are his obsession, and he is developing quite a throwing arm. His favorite pasttime was to take the ball and throw it over the baby-gate down the steps, and watch while some sucker fetched it for him. He wreaked havoc on the GeoTrax train setup that the older boys were playing, but they didn't seem to mind too much.

Cay-Cay is very bonded to mommy. I was afraid he'd be miserable while she was gone, and in turn would make his caretakes miserable by his crying. But in the whole afternoon, there was not one peep of crying from him! Whew, did we luck out! Mommy and Daddy snuck out while the kids were playing downstairs, so the departure ritual was not one that brought tears of seperation anxiety from anyone.

This little guy is non-stop energy. He is a little buster, and a very good eater. We went to McDonalds for lunch food, and he did a good job on the cut-up chicken nuggets. But his favorite lunch food was KETCHUP! He spied it on the table, and pointed and made his little word for Ketchup, and as long as there was a puddle of ketchup on his tray, he was a happy camper. He mostly uses the french fries as a way to get ketchup in his mouth, then he puts the soggy french fries away in a pile. He was starting to get sleepy while at the lunch counter, so the ketchupy hands rubbed his eyes, his hair, his clothes, and anything else within reach.

Cay-Cay is not noted for being a napper. I was wondering how this would play out. But after some very vigorous play, eating a ketchup lunch, he found a blankie, and his pacifier, and it was obvious slumberland wasn't far away. Little Miss M was nearby, and was quietly told she could help babysit. If we were quiet, and he enjoyed being rocked in Grandma's arms, he might fall asleep. So she sang him a little lullaby, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", so softly and so sweetly that his little eyes fell closed, snuggled in Grandma's arms in the rocking chair. Not one squall or peep out of him, and here he was, fast asleep. For 2-1/2 hours, to boot!

Grandmas love these moments, it was so sweet. First it was sweet of Little Miss M, who generally looks out mostly for herself, to be so sweet to him. Then his baby softness and relaxed body in Grandma's arms was especially sweet. Things aren't always this peaceful when babysitting grandkids, but this was a moment I will never forget!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My, How Time Flies when you're having fun

Yes, the costuming project is coming along. During the past 5 days, my crew and I have finished many things. Here's a list:

15 tunics
5 robes to go over the tunics
2 Egyptian tunics
5 little girls' white dresses
One loincloth, vest and tidy-whitey underpinnings for Joseph

Plus I made a tied blanket and a dress for my Granddaughter's 4th birthday.

That's quite an output for three ladies.

This week is going to be very short on extra time for me. I have company coming on Thursday, then I might have to babysit all evening. I can't sew when babysitting because the grandma calls for action come every 15 seconds.

I tried on the women's broomstick skirts and tops. All the tops need major altering. The skirts just need the elastic waist put in to them. The tops--major repair!

I had an offer from my main side kick to let her line the coat of many colors. I just couldn't say yes to that, those coats are my babies! Sorry! Another potential helper came to get some Egyptian dresses to add trim! Another potential helper thought her social life would interfere with working in the mornings this week--my only time to work, so she isn't available. My company is coming Friday, so I'm giving up that day of work. Another helper is going to KC this week to a wedding. And our deadline to finish is July 26 (Sunday before the show starts) because that is the only day the photographer can come.

Fine, who knows what the costumes will look like or I will look like on July 26th. But they will all have something to wear, it may be pinned together, but they will be dressed.

Oh, and my Evolve is fixed. If only I had time to go down to the store to pick it up!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The countdown continues.....

The men's costume rack this morning--3 tunics, shirts, 1 pair of pants
The men's costume rack this evening--three tunics, shirts and 10 pair of pants

This is what was done today by Miss Em and I.

Cut 10 pair of MC Hammer pants
Sewed 9 pair of MC Hammer pants--we ran out of steam about 4. I started at 7;45 and she started at 10, so we put in a good day's work.
Sorted the men's costume shirts to coordinate the colors with the pants.
Sorted the lady's skirts and assigned them to specific women
Went to the fabric store for more elastic.

I knew the pants would not be hard to make. The organization of colors and fabrics to use was harder than actually sewing them. Once I got that worked out, I could more or less go on autopilot to do the work. It was a good thing about 4 that I could work without thinking, because my brain was fried by that time! Body also!

Miss Em, who is a good seamstress, was surprised that she completed one of her pairs in 10 minutes. I told her it would be easy. I've made tons of boxer shorts, and these are just longer boxer shorts. We have not completed the hems or inserted the elastic. That will be for others to do later. We've had offers of help from many who say, "I can't really sew that well on a machine, but I can sew on a button" Those are the people who will be getting a workout soon. We've done the machine sewing and they will have to help us with elastic, snaps, trims, etc.

Tomorrow we are going to work on the tunics to go with the pants and shirts. These will be more colorful, and will be different from each other. I dug out some mock sheepskin fleece, and perhaps we will trim some of the tunics with that. Not much, though, it is summer after all! One of the lines that Joseph sings is "no more sheepskin for me anymore!" after he puts on his coat of many colors. And my friend from down in the country is coming up, she will be working on the little girl's dresses, to finish them. The bodices are done, the skirts need to be attached and zippers inserted.

Count so far:

10 broomstick skirts, sewn, dyed, and hemmed. Still need waistband elastic put in
10 matching peasant blouses. Need to try them on, adjust and finish sleeve hems.
10 Egyptian womens dresses made, 5 need elastic at waist, all need gold trim
10 men's pants, need hemming and elastic at waist
3 tunics made and trimmed
1 long undertunic made, needs hemming
6 Egyptian neck collars made, bejeweled, 5 need edge trim
2 coat bodies made, one fancy and one plain, need lining and finishing
1 plain coat skirt made, needs snaps
Total 53 costume pieces done (more or less)

Yet to do:
1 pair of MC Hammer pants sewn
5 little girls white dresses
17 men's loin cloths
6 vests to match loin cloths
5 tunics, 2 Egyptian and 3 Canaan
1 Canaan overcoat
Mrs. Potiphar's outfit
Potiphar's jacket
Elvis cape
Headgear and sashes ???? Unknown quantity
1 fancy coat skirt made and attached to fancy coat body
2 sleeves to be used for both coats.

41, plus unknown quantity of headgear and sashes

We do have a way to go, don't we? We do have a few weeks to go, thank heaven! Will we make it? Sure! When? Who knows? By the third weekend? Absolutely (P.S., there is no third weekend!

Why don't you come to see the play? You'll really be entertained!

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, July 31, Aug 1, 7, 8, at 8:00 p.m. Aug. 9 at 2:00 p.m. Florissant Civic Center Theater, Parker Road and Waterford Drive. Florissant, MO. 63033 Box office 314-921-5678. Produced by Hawthorne Players.


In designing my costumes for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I wanted the look of the baggy pants that is seen in many biblical films and plays. I had absolutely no concept of how to make them. I called them MC Hammer pants--remember him--"Don't Touch This.." That's about all I can remember of him, other than his gold lame pants always were a fascination for me when I saw him perform.

I was so happy to see that Kwik Sew Patterns had such a pattern available, and so I saw how the bags in baggy pants were constructed. Basically, they fill in the ordinary curved crotch seam of pants and make it shaped like a triangle instead of a curve. So simple, but my brain couldn't get the concept until I purchased this pattern.

I was right, they are easy to make. My colleague, Ms. Em, actually completed a pair in 10 minutes and was shocked! I told her they were as easy to make as boxer shorts. Here's the result of todays work--10 cut, and 9 sewn. Then we fell exhausted in the couch cushions after about 9 hours at the job. Even though they only take 10 minutes each to sew, they take longer than that to cut. I cut and she sewed, then I sewed some more. We make a good team


Tomorrow, we'll make the tunics to go with the pants and shirts.

Daring to count

When people ask me about my progress in costuming Joseph, they often ask how many costumes I had to make. Up until this time, I've refrained from counting. The number would be so large as to be scary. My finger does inch toward the "PANIC BUTTON" at times, but right now I am remaining cool.

Today I start on the men's costumes. I've finished the women's costumes, except for some hand sewing, which many people have promised me they would help with. The men's costumes are more numerous than the women's costumes, but they are much simpler. Instead of gathering and sewing 16 45" strips of muslin together to make a broomstick skirt, or a blouse with a collar and puff sleeves, the men's costumes are a loin cloth (wrap skirt) and MC Hammer pants (sewn like a pair of boxers, which take me 10 minutes each to sew, tunics (two shoulder seams, two side seams, and maybe a straight rectangle for sleeves. So, while they are more numerous than the women's costumes, they are much simpler. That is why I'm not pushing the panic button, YET!

So, I dared to make a count the other day. My estimate as to how many costumes I will be making is about 100. There is very little that is ready made that I can use for this show, not too many thrift stores carry Old Testament garb. My narrator has saved me by finding a lovely purple dress to wear, and I am going to use a couple of suit coats for three characters. I have one costume from a previous play, which I had to alter to fit the actress. But all in all, the number of costume pieces we are making is about 100. Pretty awesome number for a play that was supposed to be simple! Now that count doesn't include headwear and belts and scarves, I haven't even given that a thought. My highest count so far for plays was Music Man, in which I constructed 120 costume pieces. This one will probably outnumber that by the time we are finished.

Here's what is finished so far.

Men's tunics, pants and shirts--only three completed out of 17 sets, all shirts are tie dyed
Egyptian collars--there are 6 of these--all finished except for edge trim
10 White Egyptian ladies dresses all finished, 5 need elastic pulled, all need hem adjustment
10 Women's skirts and blouses, skirts need elastic waists and some blouses need sleeve finishing

I'm down to a couple more weeks of work, I'm sure it will become a round the clock marathon. This is my last weekend to really work non-stop, so I hope I get a lot done this week.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Exploring my inner "wild child"

What were you doing in the 60's? It was the decade of love, peace, halucenogenics, free love, the Dead, Beatles, burning bras, name it! What were you doing? For me, I graduated from an all girls "convent" school, went to college for a year and a half, got married, and spent the rest of the decade "birthin' those babies!"

No wild parties for me, smoking made me throw up, I did have a few too many drinks at times, but once I became a mother, the wild life was given over for Sunday School classes and bridge games. B-O-O-O-R-I-N-G!

Now many know the 60's by several iconic symbols. One was the peace symbol, the circle with the upside down Y in it. The other was tie dyed t-shirts! The Grateful Dead were popular (or was that the 70's? Bro, help me out here!) and with them came the tie dye phenomena. The wild child usually was wearing one of these icons to identify them as someone VERY DIFFERENT.

So, in costuming Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I chose this iconic color scheme to camp up the Canaan scene, circa 1000 BC.

First I had to make the clothing to be tie dyed. It took 40 yards of white muslin to make the skirts. The shirts were easier to come by, 5 for $10 at Walgreens! They were all 100% cotton, just what we needed and at a price we couldn't pass up.

Then we needed to plan the tie dyeing session. What fun that was! The one thing I knew I didn't want is dye all over my house. So we did it in the back yard, where we could use the hose to wash things off, and we just dumped our rinse water on some plants to make them extra colorful. We laid them all out on the lawn to dry off a little and stop dripping then hung them up to dry. They turned out very nice, and we got so enthused about the project that we went back to Walgreens for 5 more shirts, so we could make some for ourselves. What fun.

Beautiful skirt for some lucky Canaan lady

My neighbors wanted to see what we were doing when they saw this array laying on the lawn!

The only thing that is problematic about this whole process is that the cheesy rubber gloves we used were less protection to our hands than we wanted. So I'll have to wait for a week or two before the evidence of my tie dyeing session wears off my hands. Oh, and my feet are decorated also! But it was a lot of fun exploring my INNER WILD CHILD!