Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tie One On!

In Springtime for Hitler (The Producers, Hawthorne Players, July 30--Aug. 8, 2010), the chorus all needs to dress in German military uniforms. I found the shirts last week, found the insignia for the hats and shirt pockets, and made some other insignia. I designed the skirts for the girls and the men are wearing black pants. The director is making the arm bands. I bought leatherette for "Sam Brown" belts, and then needed to get the ties. The number of cast members on stage at this time is about 25. At least 15 of them will be in uniforms, and all the uniforms need black ties.

This has led to quite a search. Google is my friend, but in this case, I didn't come up with any ties that weren't crazy expensive. My search at stores has yielded nothing, until today. My favorite store, JC Penney outlet store, had all the black ties I could want. Exept that they were $10 each! Now, for 17 cast members, this is quite budget buster! The shirts didn't even cost that much!

So, Plan B was to try to make ties. How hard could they be?

I remember doing it years ago, and it seemed to be a very complicated process, and the result wasn't that great. But I did purchase raw materials for ties, and so I decided to go ahead and try my luck.

Here is the pattern. I absolutely love Kwik Sew patterns, especially for men's wear, they are practically the only pattern company that carries men's wear patterns. Every Kwik Sew pattern I've bought has been excellent. The only problem is that they are expensive.

The cut out tie, including the interfacing--very important!

My first attempt was not that great, I tried to do without the interfacing, but it was twisted and couldn't be pressed to lie straight. So I tried once more and followed the directions for installing the interfacing and that made all the difference, I was amazed at how good it looked, and how easy it was! Absolutely no hand sewing, HOORAY!
Finished project, looks good!
Here it is with the shirt and hat and some of the insignia.

So, I did save the group some money, it always comes down to time or money. In this case, it is probably worth the time because it would have cost an awful lot of money to get ties for everyone.

Now, I have one more trick in my bag of tricks!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The big number in "The Producers" is Springtime For Hitler, requiring many military looking outfits. My desire for the show was to have everyone looking sharp wearing one of these caps, but at $75 each, that wasn't going to happen. So the next best thing was to make them.
Here are 12 of the 14 military hats I made, I even found the insignia online that matches the expensive hat.
Our original concept was to make paper insignia, and it didn't look too bad, but it would be LABOR INTENSIVE! This was cut on MonkeyGirl's Cricut machine, slightly modified from an American Eagle to a German one.
I about smashed the paper insignia trying to pin it on to the hat, really another way would have been better!

In "Springtime for Hitler", the big production number, a German tenor comes out and sings the song. Then the showgirls, chorus and finally Hitler enter. Hitler looks authentic, but his persona is quite different from the original furror! (Don't believe I've ever spelled that word before, is that how you spell it?)

The chorus is all dressed up in military garb, the girls in somewhat abbreviated version of a uniform! I'll show you pictures of that once I have a full working concept costume!

More to come!

Look at Costume Maniacs for insignia if you are trying to do something like this.

Little Old Lady Land

Kiss me, bite me! No, I'm not really that bold, just a line from the show!
The Little Old Lady hat
Concept design for the costume

One of the biggest chorus numbers in this show is Little Old Lady Land. Almost every female in the show is part of this number. That makes a LOT OF LITTLE OLD LADIES!

The concept is that they come in using their walkers, but kick up their heels later in the number to show there's still some life in those old bodies somewhere! Of course, since this show focuses on stereotypes, and many little old ladies dress in a similar manner, each of these will be dressed exactly the same. That's a LOT OF LITTLE OLD LADIES costume pieces, each will wear a skirt, blouse, jacket, hat, gloves, brooch--which will be built by our costume team.

One wonderful person who is a college trained theatre production member (and a fine actress herself!) volunteered to make the skirts, which I am extremely grateful to her for volunteering to do. She is squeezing this project in between work, teaching classes at night and an out-of town trip, plus she will be our stage manager. I could just kiss her! But not bite her! Save that kind of talk for Max Bialystock!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Progress...slow, but still progress

With all the admonitions of experienced directors, costumers, and friends, saying things like "Are you Crazy, that is a huge show!" the daunting task of getting the costumes ready for "The Producers" has begun. Why am I not panicking?

I'm not sure. I do have a lot of raw materials, which in itself is a very time consuming part of the job. I think I have most of the materials I need to make costumes, and the patterns and designs in mind, but still have some purchased and rental garments I need to arrange for.

I designed my Little Old Ladies costumes to have a plain skirt, a boucle jacket, a jacquard design blouse, hat and gloves. Since there are 15 LOL's dancing with walkers, we had a pretty big fabric purchase to make them all--in this show, they are all dressed alike. I didn't know where I would find enough fabric to make all the outfits, but I did find some boucle that matched perfectly with some other fabrics I found that was so cheap, under $2 a yard. When you need lots of fabric, often you have to pay a premium price for it, but this was on the VALUE FABRIC table at various Hancock stores. Hooray for Hancock!

I did 5 skirts so far, really 6 because my prototype was made Sunday, and after I tried it on one of the dancers, it seemed too skimpy. So I enlarged it. It is an 8 gore skirt with 6 godets at the bottom to make it fuller for dancing. I think it will work out well.

The fabric for the skirts is from my special bag of tricks. When I need lots of cheap fabric, I look for sheets. I am famous for sheet skirts. They work so well for period shows, just sew a casing and a hem, and you have a great colorful skirt in about 15 minutes. These took about 30 minutes to do, but still very simple. I think they will work out well.

I had a few ounces of creativity left after the 5 skirts were made, and back spasms hadn't set in yet, so I made a prototype hat for the LOL's, I think it will work OK. It's a little circle of velveteen with a huge ugly flower attached. Should be very funny.

So 5 skirts and a hat for a night, if I can keep this up, I'll be OK. It is just keeping on track and making myself meet my short term goals that I need to focus on. I hope to get my 15 sheet skirts done by this Friday.

Wish me luck!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rearranging the furniture

The annual parish garage sale is just around the corner. I'm not interested in buying stuff from it, but I sure am happy to donate stuff to it! I filled my entire RAV4 today up to the ceiling and took it over there for the sale.

One of the things I deposited with them was a very nice toddler bed. Seeing as our toddlers are now school age, I figured it was time to say goodbye to the little bed. Miss M thinks of it as "her bed" and begrudgingly lets her cousins from Iowa sleep in it when they come in twice a year. But she likes to jump on the bed, and I knew that someday soon, she would go crashing through the slats, they were not made for jumping on! Especially not by a 5 year old!

Several months ago, I scoped out new daybeds at my favorite bed store, The BedRoom Store. I've bought quite a few beds from them in the past 25 years. My son's first waterbed came from there (when he was a teenager, and he's now past 40!) Next came a beaufiful waterbed for the Mr. and I, the frame is still in use as a mattress holder in someone's basement. In 2005, I bought a really pretty daybed for myself when Hubby and I had to move into an apartment while he was being treated at the University Hospital.

When I bought that daybed, there was the prettiest daybed bedding set on the bed. The colors were perfect, a crimson red and a deep forest green, plaid on one side, and floral on the other side. I loved it. I inquired how much for the bedding set, and the answer was $500! That was a little out of my price range. So I went online and found the same thing for much less, I bought it, with pillow shams, throw pillows, valances, the works.

When we moved to this house, the daybed became the main bed in the guest room, and also Little Mr. M's bed. It shared the room with Miss M's princess bed. It is very comfortable, and nice to look at.

So my current plan began to develop. I would buy two new day beds, move the one that I already own downstairs to the bedroom down there, and get more bedding to match what I have for the second day bed for Miss M.


I had purchased that bedding 5 years ago, and in the meantime, nobody else must have liked it as much as I did, so they stopped making it. My plan to get a second set did not materialize. Nothing showed up online, from any of the sources I could locate.

Today, after delivering the toddler bed to the garage sale, I decided to move ahead with the plan for buying two daybeds, and I would figure out something about the bedding later. As I strolled around the store, I spied that old original daybed set that I had fallen in love with 5 years ago! Still here! A little shopworn, so who would want it? ME!

I begged the manager to sell it to me, and he reluctantly agreed to sell it to me for-----ta-da!---$50. That's right, not $500 but $50!

Small things make me happy and this really made my day! Now I can go ahead and rearrange the furniture, put my two daybeds in the same room and have the bedding match. The plaid can be for the boy and the flowers for the girl. No, it is not pink and purple, Miss M, but I hope you will like your new bed all the same. I'll find some princess sheets to put on the mattress to make you happy, and grandma will love the new arrangement of furniture. And my school age grandkids will have taken another step toward becoming all grown up!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Procuders---first steps Part I

Last summer I was asked to costume "The Producers". In a weak moment, I said yes. (I'm just a girl who can't say "no"!) So, I've had a whole year to think of it, and now it is showtime for me!

So I've started gathering fabrics. Some of them I found in March, but with the end of school and my Galapagos vacation, I haven't done anything more until this week.

Here is the result of a frenzy of activity with coupons, sale flyers and many miles from one end of town to another to find the stuff I needed. Luckily, my favorite stores came through for me and I found a lot of great fabric for a very reasonable price!

I'm showing you the raw materials, and the potential costumes, then when they are all finished, you can see from whence they came..
Here are all the costume fabrics I have so far, set out for the director with patterns and pictures of what I want to create. He came over last night and liked what he saw, and we worked out some of the final details.

Ulla is the main female character in the show. She is a very classy and well built blonde, who wears white in the first scene, then she paints the whole room white! Later, she shows up in blue. She dances and looks fabulous at all times.
The first big show number is "I Want To Be A Producer" and 8 beautiful girls come out in Las Vegas style costumes covered in pearls. I ordered $200 worth of pearl strands last week, they haven't come yet. This coral will stand out on the stage, and I think it will look great on the girls. Each outfit will be embellished with yards and yards of pearls.

So the work begins. I have a plan for making kits, cutting out the fabrics and hopefully finding some helpers to sew them. Nothing of the costumes that we need a lot of are difficult to make, except for Roger DeBris's Chrysler building dress, and making the headgear for the showgirls.

I will have to dress the men in suits, and I need uniforms for the Nazi dancers, Hitler, and the Storm Troopers. I'm going to buy or rent that stuff.

So, that's the plan, here we go!

The Producers...first step Part II

Little Old Lady Land 15 little old ladies with walkers
Prisoners of Love lady dancers
Roger DeBris dressed as the "Chrysler Building"
Franz and his cohorts in leiderhosen
The showgirls in "Springtime for Hitler"

4th Anniversary

Today is the 4th anniversary of my dear husband Ed's death. Death came stealing into the night on June 2, 2006, and took him quietly after a few days in the hospital under Hospice care. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in July, 2004. My two daughters and I were by his side.

Today was a day of remembering, a few tears, a beautiful bouquet of roses on his grave marker, singing sad songs. getting ready for our dear friend Jim's funeral next week. Other than that, it was unremarkable, except that a very loud thunderstorm woke me about 2:30 a.m. and that started the day off rather early.

We remember you, Ed, and all the love and care you showed every member of our family. You were a good friend to many, many people. I still remember a line 5 hours long at your wake, I didn't know we had that many friends!

You are deeply missed. No one can take your place. Al the cat tries by sleeping at my side every night, but even that isn't the same. Love you!